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Parade Antiques Blog

Southgate’s Diary, Part 15 – 7th December – 31st December 1941

8th December 1941

It is 18 months since I arrived in England, in London and hugged my parents. On the 20 June 1942 I must be in the Celle St Cloud, Seine & Oise, France

Wife’s Note

You were nearly a year late, my dear love. The 31/5/43. I was in your arms very briefly. When will I be again?

10th December 1941

Wednesday: Bad news these last few days and even worse today. The Japs have sunk the Prince of Wales. It’s a bad knock for the Navy. The Americans have a sleeping pill and the Japanese are nearly in Alaska. New York has had air raid sirens and they have been taken entirely by surprise. I think this attack will wake them up. Thank God, the Russians are resisting admirably and are even attacking in the main sector. Our troops in Libya are fighting equally well. I am more and more tied up – I love you dearest and miss you terribly. I try to get messages to you, but unfortunately I do not receive any.

On Friday I intend to go out with Pearl, Jean and Miss Dunlop. Miss Dunlop is a young woman of 21, with a French mother and English father. She arrived in England about 2 months ago and has been in the ministry since Monday. She escaped from France with her parents, but unfortunately, her boat was sunk at night off the coast of Portugal and after being on a raft for about 4 hours, she was recovered and brought to England. The only person she knows is an uncle in Hendon.

11th December 1941

Thursday: Today appears to be calm and extremely joyous. Last night when I got here, there was a message from you dated 7th July. What joy my darling, to know my old uncle is still alive. I thought he had been dead for a while. I am looking forward to hear from you. I want to get a long, long letter! Quite frequently I send you letters by cooks, but you do not seem to receive them. The other day I was able to get a letter to Mrs Regnier and am trying by direct mail via Lisbon. Maybe one day I’ll be able to communicate with you more easily.

12th December 1941

Friday: Little to do yesterday or the day before and today is looking calm. In half-an-hour, I’m going to collect my pay and I have finally heard that my request from about 6 months ago for an allowance in your name has been approved. Therefore about 700 francs will be sent over each month, in order to supplement the payments you have received from the US embassy with British pounds.

31st December 1941

Wednesday: Last day of 1941, the year has been a very hard one, my lady, for me, for you and for thousands and thousands of others. But on Balance? It is Better, much better than last year. We are stronger and the Boches are less so. The Russians are admirable and thank god they are on our side. I am homesick and very low, another Christmas spent without you and another New Year.

With the New Year approaching, the War from an Allied perspective was becoming less arduous. Thus far, nearly everything that had happened had been the Allies reacting to the Axis advance. Britain had fought a major defensive War, Russia the same. If 1942 was the year the war turned in favour of the allies, 1941 was the year it was held down long enough for this to be a possibility. The Allies would now enter the New Year with American help; they would also enter it with the initiative in Russia and North Africa.

Maurice Southgate’s words
Translated by Parade Antiques

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