Sheila’s letter from aboard ship

Physiotherapy Service,

RCAWH.,

E6.,

APO 6950.

My Dear Miss Tomkinson,

It is with a feeling of great thankfulness that I am able to write – “I am at last on my way”.  I am still not allowed to tell you my ultimate destination, as I am hoping that this letter will be put ashore at my first port of call.

I am enjoying the “pleasure cruise” immensely, in spite of that fact that I am one of the only four females aboard.  (I feel Rachel should make some rather cryptic remark at this stage).  The accommodation is excellent.  We all share a state room with our own bathroom & seem to have plenty of room.  We have even mastered the art of climbing up into the bunk and landing with our heads on the pillow.

I had lunch with Rosemary before going down to Fleet – & of course my kit was inside the flat with the rest of us outside, minus the key – & 20” to go for my train.  Luckily we forced a panel in the door, & I just caught up to the end carriage.

We were (ushered?)  out of the mess with a terrific round of parties & were then faced with a train journey lasting sixteen hours, taking every station in the British Isles.  I feel you would have been quite at home, & known exactly your location.  As it was when we eventually arrived, I stumbled through the customs to a weak “nothing to declare”, knowing full well that my trunk was full of seditious matter.

Apart from these small inconveniences everything has been grand.  Although I haven’t yet succumbed to Bridge my skill at chess is improving enormously.  And I must confess (in a whisper) that I have been playing poker–dice – & even won £2 on it.  I know – its definitely bad & I shall properly (?) land back in England a very degenerate member of human society.  To-morrow I shall indulge in the more wholesome pursuit of deck tennis.

Its really quite amazing to think one can do all these things in the middle of the war – but then, I rather gather that we are particularly lucky.  We even get pure white bread aboard – a sight I haven’t yet accustomed myself to.  And it tastes like cotton wool!

It was grand, & still is – to sail in convoy – a truly magnificent sight.  Rather like a crowd of small boats sailing in some enormous bath.  I haven’t felt in the least seasick, although the dining room has been somewhat depleted during the last week.

I often think of you all at Tusmore – but somehow it all seems very far away until I look at some of the snapshots we took.   And then I am back again in last summer having tea on the lawn – or trying to keep up with you in a game of tennis.

And now I am going out to sunbathe “aft” – yes the CO even allows that.  Soon we hope to be sleeping on deck.

Give my love to Rachel & the rest – & please remember me to Lord & Lady Bicester.

Love,

Shelia

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