April 1943 - England
April 1943 - England
“So this is England” said Alex stepping off the ship and slinging his duffle bag onto his back.
“Yeah, home for the next however long” replied Nick casting his eyes around the drab looking Liverpool Docks. It was a grey and miserable looking place and even though it was April it felt bitterly cold.
They were ushered into trucks which were waiting to take them to their base, many miles away from the docks. Nick and Alex climbed up and took a seat in the back so that they could get the best view of the country as they travelled. Before long they were out in the open countryside.
“Pretty country, look at all this green” Nick exclaimed dreamily as he looked out at the beautiful English landscape.
“Wonder if the girls are as pretty” chuckled Alex, lighting up a cigarette and taking a long drag from it.
“Is that all you can think of?” laughed Nick, giving his friend a nudge.
“Well someone has to” he said, turning the collar of his jacket up against the chilled morning air.
It was a cold spring morning in a small northern town in England, suddenly the roaring of trucks disturbed the peace and tranquillity, bringing the locals out of their houses. Truck load upon truck load of American soldiers were arriving, there must‘ve been hundreds of them.
“Look at them all, they’re taking over” mouthed one woman to another as they stood gossiping and watching the Americans descend upon their town.
“Well, it’s about time really” said another with a cigarette dangling from her puckered lipsz88;“we could do with their help”
The trucks passed through, the soldiers waving to the people in the street and calling out to the pretty girls, who‘d put their brightest lipstick on especially for the new arrivals.
“And I thought English girls were all plain looking! There sure are some beauties here” said Alex scanning the crowd and winking at a few pretty girls as they drove through the streets.
They eventually arrived at their destination, the base that was going to be home until they were sent to France or wherever the Army decided. Stepping out of the truck, Nick and Alex stretched their legs and followed everyone else, it had been a long and bumpy ride and they were in need of something to eat and drink.
There was a Red Cross marquee set up with various refreshments including tea, coffee and donuts which were being offered to the new arrivals. Nick and Alex followed the crowd and got in the queue with everyone else.
“Welcome to England” smiled a Red Cross volunteer as she handed Alex a cup of coffee and a donut.
“Thanks” replied Alex as the cup warmed his cold hands.
“Thanks” said Nick also as he accepted his drink and donut gratefully.
They stood outside in the cold, hungrily eating their donuts and drinking their coffee in an attempt to warm up. April in England was a lot colder than they’d expected.
“Beautiful country ain’t it, but it’s a little chilly; maybe they forgot to put the roof on!” came a friendly voice beside them “I’m Brian…Brian Littrell, from Kentucky”
“Nick Carter and this is Alex McLean” Nick replied.
“We’re from Florida” Alex added.
“Ah, so this weather is gonna take you guys some getting used to also” commented Brian. They stood around for a few minutes, chatting to the other guys and taking a look around at what was to be their new home.
Nick soon settled into his job in the kitchen, quickly progressing to the role of head chef due to his previous experience (and the fact that the previous head chef’s cooking skills left a lot to be desired), although feeding hundreds and cooking on such a large scale was not something he was used to doing and was a bit of a challenge at first. But challenge was something Nick relished.
“More onions Alex” he requested as he tested a stew which was simmering in a huge vat.
“Yes chef” replied Alex as he jokingly saluted his friend and then began chopping the required extra onions for the stew.
“Clear this area, it’s gonna cause an accident” Nick called out to another person and pointed to a spillage on the floor. He could not tolerate working in a sub-standard kitchen and everything had to meet with his high expectations. A dirty workplace wasn’t acceptable.
Later that evening Nick was lying on his bunk writing another letter to Emily whilst Alex checked his reflection in the small mirror on the inside of his locker. After a month without any leave, they had finally been given passes to leave base.
“Come on Nick, these girls have waited years for men like us” said Alex excitedly, making sure his hair was just right.
“Well, I’m sure they can wait a little while longer” Nick replied as he carried on writing his letter to Emily.
“Oh come on man” pleaded Alex “there’s a town full of girls and if you hadn‘t already guessed, there‘s a shortage of local men. We could get lucky…or maybe I could get lucky seeing as you‘ve got your girl back home”
“Give me five more minutes” said Nick “and then we’ll go to town”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll join you both. Not for the women obviously, but just to get out of here and get a change of scenery” said Brian. Brian had been a farmer in Kentucky before getting called up. Married with a son, he hated being away from his family. He’d never been out of Kentucky before arriving in England and he couldn’t wait to get home again, but at least working at the base’s goods inwards/outwards department wasn’t as physically challenging as his role back home.
“Sure Brian” replied Alex “we’ll see you outside Carter, don’t be long or we’ll go without you”
“See you outside in a few minutes” Nick replied and then focused back on his letter.
I hope you are well. I miss you so much you wouldn’t believe. England is such a beautiful place and I hope some day we’ll get the chance to see it together when the war is over. I think you’ll like it; it’s so different to Florida… but so cold! I’ve settled in quite well and found my place here in the base kitchen and to be honest, it’s not too bad. The men can be a little lazy, but you know what I‘m like in the kitchen, they will soon be whipped into shape. I’ve not had much chance for much poetry writing yet, but here is a little something I wrote when I was thinking of you. Never gone, never far Love always Nick
In my heart is where you are
Always close, everyday
Every step along the way
Even though for now we've got to say goodbye
I know you will be forever in my life
I hope you are well. I miss you so much you wouldn’t believe.
England is such a beautiful place and I hope some day we’ll get the chance to see it together when the war is over. I think you’ll like it; it’s so different to Florida… but so cold!
I’ve settled in quite well and found my place here in the base kitchen and to be honest, it’s not too bad. The men can be a little lazy, but you know what I‘m like in the kitchen, they will soon be whipped into shape.
I’ve not had much chance for much poetry writing yet, but here is a little something I wrote when I was thinking of you.
Never gone, never far
Nick folded the letter and placed it in the envelope, carefully sealing it and leaving it next to his bedside ready to send in the morning. He looked at his photo of Emily, stared longingly at her image and wished he had her close to him. Then he turned and went in search of his friends.