beer and skittles

November 12, 2016 12:31pm CST
The following is the last letter my Nana's nephew sent her in World War 2. His nickname was Bubbles. And as it's the day after Remembrance Day, what better time to post it. "200299 Lt. A O Humphreys 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment BLA Monday 16/10/44 My dear Glad [my nana Gladys], I am extremely sorry to have delayed so long in my reply to your welcome letter, but there just hasn’t been an opportunity. To Mother and Eileen [his wife] I try to make things appear as light as possible, but here I can say quite frankly that things have not been all ‘beer and skittles’ and I have seen real war, where a man’s life hangs on his ability to be just that little bit smarter than the other fellow. No doubt you read the glowing account in the newspaper of how we battled our way into Le Havre. That was a good show, and I quite enjoyed the spot of fun. Then we chased the Boche [rascal] right across France and Belgium, having periods of fierce fighting whenever he tried to offer determined resistance, but all the time we continued forward. Gee! That’s a great feeling to be moving on always. I’m not going into any gory details, but believe me Glad, it’s the weirdest life you can imagine. Eileen and home seem to be in another world, which seems fantastically clean and decent compared with this. Still, I’m happy and having plenty of fun. Oh! Yes, it’s great fun to knife Boche, ‘cos they’re not human beings at all. At present we are in a fairly quiet section, resting on our laurel’s and I had the luck to get a 24 hours leave back in Antwerp last week. Can you imagine what a stupendous luxury I appeared to have – a really magnificent room (with bathroom attachment) in a first class hotel after living in holes in the ground for weeks. I think I spent every possible minute eating ice-cream and fancy pastries – that certainly is the life. Still, I’m not too badly off at present, but am all for getting the war over soon. It’s good to know you all are keeping well, and I hope you’re having no buzz bomb problems nowadays. No doubt you have heard that Eileen has gone to Birmingham for a while. I don’t know which she disliked most – the bombs or the old man. Please give my regards to Frederick [my grandad], and tell Brian and Doreen [my half-uncle and half-auntie] that I’m looking forward to some more fun with them soon. I hope John [my dad, aged 2] is still doing well. He must be a big chap now. Well, I guess that’s all, so cheerio Glad, and all the very best. With love, Arthur." He was dead within a month, still a boy in his twenties. The saddest bit about the letter is the sentence, Oh! Yes, it’s great fun to knife Boche, ‘cos they’re not human beings at all. It really brings home the futility of it. We are all human beings. Whatever our beliefs, nationality, religion, colour ... we all bleed red blood. We all feel pain. We all feel joy. We all have family and friends who love us. And look what war reduces us to. *sad face*
5 people like this
5 responses
• United States
13 Nov 16
bigotry 'tis been 'round fer centuries, one'd think we'd learnt better. 'ppreciate 'cha sharin' this letter, this glimpse 'nto his life. i try to give the benefit 'f the doubt, his crude ideas 'f killin' perhaps a self-protect reaction.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Nov 16
@Poppylicious 'tis diff'cult to imagine 'n i'm thankful i've ne'er been'n that sorta position. yer correct, if'n not fer war time, many'f those who fought throughout the centuries'd prolly been perfectly content to sit'n a pub 'n toss a few back together. big hugs!
1 person likes this
13 Nov 16
There is a lot of sarcasm and humour in this letter. I suppose that's how they dealt with the horror of having to kill men they'd probably enjoy a drink at the pub at in saner times. Other men who were also writing these letters, albeit in a different language. :(
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@Happy2BeMe (96994)
• Canada
12 Nov 16
So sad to know he did not make it back. What a treasure to have his letters.
1 person likes this
13 Nov 16
I only have this one. Maybe it's the only one my nana kept because it was his last to her. She kept it with his photo and his obituary from the paper. They're in my possession now. :)
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@Happy2BeMe (96994)
• Canada
13 Nov 16
@Poppylicious that is nice that you now have it
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@jstory07 (132726)
• Roseburg, Oregon
12 Nov 16
War makes killers out of good men. That is for sure.
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@gudheart (12659)
15 Nov 16
It is so sad :( amazing how powerful words can be.
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@xFiacre (12432)
• Ireland
12 Nov 16
@poppylicious So many ways to react to bits of that letter. So sad, so unnerving, so delicate.
1 person likes this
13 Nov 16
Lots of pain and sadness, covered up with sarcasm and dark with. I often wonder how my nana felt to be burdened with his anguish whilst his parents and his wife only heard the toned down version.