Still hanging on my Balkan beam. Time for some recollections of the Hague I feel.
I live in the Grand Hotel Terminus, room 110, with an extremely comfortable bed and a bathroom. The maids are efficient, and being well primed with chocolate, do all my darning etc. My room overlooks the station, and every morning, early, a crowd gathers to catch the train to Rotterdam and sometimes someone plays a guitar whilst waiting.
I mess across the road with the 11 P.W.S. team, and it is not much good when we change from U.S. to British rations. At the same time we lose our P.X. rations – the U.S. candy and cigarette racket. The office is originally in the hotel writing room, with a board of directors table and eight chairs to match, overlooking a patio with goldfish and an intermittent fountain. The telephone girl next door is full of curves. At one period I organise lunch for passengers, before shipping them off by bus to 18 S.P. P&F section on the airfield, where they are manifested. Later we move into Muller’s travel agency, Plaats 33, where we use about ¾ of a long bar with a glass top, later cracked by Mr Sonderland’s char lady. Mr S. retails train tickets over the other quarter of the bar. We have our three telephones installed and a weighing machine and do all the manifesting on the spot, having a waiting room upstairs with some fairly recent magazines presented by Micky, being surplus from her library. The afternoons I take off alternately, as our two services – Croydon and Brussels – depart in the morning and all that is left is bookings and our tame Dutch Auster squadron commanded by Captain Harry Niemhuis.
I go sailing occasionally at Varmont, where I go in one or two boats out on the Kaag, where the Dutch are accustomed to sail practically all the year round. Some have houseboats and live there. There is squash, which I play whenever I can, but find that I am not too good. All this of course is done by jeep. I go down to the beach too, before the West Wall, where there are anti-invasion stakes and occasionally some interesting flotsam and jetsam. Germans are removing mines up towards Nordwyk, and occasional explosions occur. We bathe sometimes, and I give some rifle instruction to two young lads in the Interior forces.
The evenings – Christ! – there is drinking / dinner at the Dyers restaurant, the Naafi ‘Ambassadors’ Club, where I am on the committee and latterly secretary, at little tables downstairs with lashings of Scotch – double for 60 cents. A piano and string band performs, its favourite being “Lily Marlene”, and the violinist wanders from table to table playing at the pretty girls. Then the Officers Country Club at Varmont, 20 minutes jeeping away and slightly drunk, where there is a horse shoe bar with high stools and a foot rail, a dance floor with a crooner, and dinner. Outside the garden runs down to a canal, which runs into the Kaag, and there are swing seats a la summer with awnings above them.
And the people – my friends are: Bart and Betty Ijssel de Schepper, with a small house near the Plaats for 40 guilders a month, and who are friends with some Colonels in the Canadian army HQ in Hilversum, notably Col Leslie Chater. Henri and Freddy Van Berger, whom I discover are not married, Louki who lives below them, and then a variety of women, some dumb, some beautiful and some without any English – “Yonker”, Katie, Lilly, Ellen with her U.S. accent, and many others whose names I have forgotten. At Wassenaar are some more, and also one or two messes belonging to semi-political intelligence units who never do much work. Major Henry Druce DSO bar, MC, Croix de Guerre etc is one of them and apparently mad as a hatter. The beautiful Iris Peake (the “Bitch”), is another.
I never ever get to bed before 12 and about once a week there is a bottle party of sorts at 69 Apollolaan in Amsterdam with John van Ligten, but latterly these are not so good. Here Jock Toothill and I meet the gallant Trat Moltzer. Occasionally I long for hills and jungles after months of pavements, but I am only here three months and had arranged to have Dutch lessons when I had to leave so suddenly. I must not forget the U.S. Embassy girls…
What of the future? I come on the strength of 1 P.H.U. Innsworth (JDW: 1 Personnel Holding Unit, formed at Innsworth March 1945), and when I am fit, about January I suppose, they inform the Air Ministry that I am available for posting. If I can’t pull a string so that someone asks for me, then God knows where I shall get to!