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Parade Antiques Blog

Southgate’s Diary, Part 16 – 2nd January – 2nd February 1942

2nd January 1942

Friday: Headache since yesterday. Took 2 aspirins earlier on, but not much change in my box of tricks. Not overloaded, but quite a lot of work. I saw Jack at the Regent Palace Hotel at 19:45 with Pearl. Had a good dinner in a small French restaurant. Then after a glass or two at ‘Chez Yvonne’, Pearl left us. Jack and I wandered the streets. Light evening and rather mild. Impossible to have a drink in a pub, absolutely packed – singing and drinking. We tried several pubs. Finally a pub, but we couldn’t reach the bar and when we did, time was called at 23:00 hours. We went back out: Oxford Street, Picadilly, Trafalgar Square. All the people spill out of the Bistros, 25% are drunk. The women more than the men. A little WAAF, not more than 18, pretty as a picture, falls at my feet like a ripe fruit. Dead drunk. Her friends help her up, all laughing. Luckily, Jack knows the doorman at the Regent Hotel and manages to get us in. “Only from the closing of the pubs, are customers residing in the hotel allowed in”. We had a couple of whiskeys before midnight rung. We are in 1942. I drink your health; we leave the hotel and go to sleep in the barracks at St James Park.

23rd January 1942

Friday: How time flies little lady. Already 21 days since my last letter and yet no time to write you a few words. Of you my love, I have received a message from the Red Cross. What a pleasure, my darling, to see your handwriting. Inimitable writing that I know so well. Saw jack Starr, who is now a 2nd Lieutenant. For the last few days it has been very cold with lots of snow. Yesterday I had a tooth out and as usual, it was an awful job for the poor dentist. The tooth broke into small pieces and he had to pull the roots out one by one. 6 minutes with my mouth open and another two teeth still to be pulled out. Not to mention another three that need fillings. About 15 days ago a dog bit me on my right hand. I think it touched the bone, but it is healing well. Today it is raining, so the snow is melting away. W/Commander Wells is always in meetings, the squadron leader is ill and Miss Sherwood is on holiday. P/O Hardy and I are holding the Fort as best we can. Thank God there isn’t too much to do at present.

2nd February 1942

Monday: The last two days it has been snowing my dear. Yesterday there was 30cm of snow on the ground and the countryside looked beautiful. 2 weeks ago I had to march in the snow from Slough to Windsor and back. I have just received a letter from Cuba from Mrs Lasselin. What a joy my love, to get a photo of you dated 21st August 1941. I instantly answered by airmail and will send others in the hope that you get them, but mainly to get some from you. Last lunch today with 1st Lieutenant Owen and dinner tonight with John Starr. I’m so anxious to be able to hold you in my arms, to kiss you and this may only be possible thanks to the Russians. If not we may have to wait years before seeing each other, if it was left to the… but this is another story. Until later little lady

Maurice Southgate’s words
Translated by Parade Antiques

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