Dear Home Folks,
This letter is written in Northern Italy where three
Australian Squadrons are camped side-by-side with other Desert Air Force teams;
and it is designed to reach the loved ones in the several homes who are counting
the days till our ship casts anchor in a home port and we take our place again
in the circle to which we belong.
The thought of going home is exhilarating and exciting.
can scarcely wait. But common sense tells us that ships do not always come in
when we think they will. With sane minds, therefore, we are just waiting; and
service life has taught us, we cannot do much else.
I want to suggest that these days of waiting are not easy
days. Our tents are pitched not far from the Austrian border, in grassed fields.
We scan the distance and we mark off our calendars.
We think of the task
finished, and of the task unfinished. We watch the loads of German prisoners who
pass almost daily. We put our own interpretation to the conditions all about us,
for the country is war-sick and poor. Meanwhile, and in contrast, across the
canvas of our minds there race the loveliest pictures of the day when we can
hold the hands of our 'ain folk' again and take the place they have kept so
lovingly for us.
For you, too, waiting will not be easy. But you also will
have learned that service plans cannot always keep pace with individual hopes.
And there was a good man who once said that patient optimism is among the
greatest of graces.
Your letters have always been our stay and strength.
these days they mean more than ever. And, whereas it may be unwise to send
parcels etc by sea, yet air-mail letters reach us within short time - and our
spirits never flag when the post-bags are full.
And in the end that glorious day must come when we will bound
across the familiar threshold again, and show you our wealth of gratitude for
all you have done for and meant to us during the days, the months, and the years
of war separation.
I think you will completely realise what your boys have done
in Italy. Their contribution has not brooked competition by anyone.
invasion of this country, and even long before that, our ground staff lads have
done constant front-line work - and their serviceability and efficiency records
are unequalled. Nor has Italy always been sunny!
There have been months of mud,
and cold, and wet. And the war-scorched countryside has helped little in
supplementing monotonous rations. But the work has gone on - and the battle; and
in the evenings tented men have written comforting and brave letters never
mentioning their own exploits.
We all fore-gathered a few days ago to see our aircrew boys
take part in the grand Italian finale of the Desert Air Force, when more than a
proportionate representation of Australian pilots and aircrew gave their last
salute to the Eighth Army, at whose side they have given a coordinated service
for so long.
Italy will have lots of memories ... many happy; many sad;
many gallant. And there will be countless folk at home who will one day make
their lonely but proud pilgrimage to the graves of heroic sons; for in this far
away land it is an eternal flame which Australian airmen have lighted, and it
will burn on undimmed.
To you all, in this my last letter from Italy to home folks;
to you all, I send my warmhearted greetings. Yet a little while and your boys
will have definite news of future movements. Yet a little while and you will
have that sure reward which comes to those who never lose sight of the ideal of
the happy home.
We never cease thinking of our loved ones ; we never cease
thinking of the romance of home-making; we never cease thinking of our unborn
children. So, life has a purpose and a meaning - and around that purpose and
meaning all our endeavors and plannings are set.
May God bless you all,