Letter written by my father to his father, June 5, 1944. D-Day minus 1. Captain Wheldon of the RUR was about to board a glider that would soon be landing in occupied France.
I have just finished packing. I wonder whether any major crisis will ever find me ready? The soap I meant to get, the bootlaces I put off buying, the holster which should have been repaired…yesterday’s procrastinations are at last bearing fruit! Wheldon goes to war pitifully ragged.
My recent letters have been very colourless, I fear – I could not help it, hated doing it, the partial deception. We have been in a closed camp for some time, sealed off entirely from everybody, and the tentacles of security have reached into everything. Free at last, at least to tell you that the last few weeks have been very very happy ones, working away at our operation orders (the whole thing has been very like working for an exam) – sunbathing and taking things easily.
We are off very shortly, and the sounds of whistling and shouting, odd songs, the gang round the goal posts, reach into this tent. Everyone is amazingly happy. We have studied the whole thing so deeply that the natural apprehensions are submerged in a general feeling of elation based on this great preparation and on the knowledge that the job is well within our capacity. The Staffs have indeed done their jobs well. Our job is one which, if done to any extent whatsoever, will relieve pressure on other large groups of chaps. This too is heartening. The possibilities of service are there to be seen and there is no feeling of futility. We have much to be thankful for. I personally would not like to miss it, and I am going much more firmly based – spiritual values apart – than ever I hoped.
There is nothing else I can say. You know what my feelings are about most things – and you will realise that nothing is being thrown away in this venture. No matter what happens I personally feel that a service (again, on the purely tactical, not to mention any higher plan) will have been rendered. This makes everything worthwhile.
So please don’t worry – this, like the note I scribbled to mother is ludicrously inadequate; but the depths can’t be plumbed in a phrase or a letter.
All my love and affection
Coupons herewith! These will buy socks, etc. I don’t fancy they will be much good in France.