Thursday, 4 December 2008

dispatches

I am delighted to report that the main offensive is at long last concluded in one sector, and only mopping up operations remain to be carried out next week when a stiff final test will face my troops. I shall then seek to assess them fairly on the basis of this performance, and report to the general staff. Having seen some very promising efforts so far, I remain optimistic in the face of this last endeavour. Divisional HQ is still busy though: in the other sector there is still more work to be done, one last week of struggle before in this area too a final challenge can be mounted and then assessed. All being well, operations can be wound down and reports written up by 18 December, and winter leave will then commence.

News reaches me via wire that a successful piece of business has been transacted on the home front. Much to my relief, the division will be freed of the onerous responsibilities of maintaining former HQ back in Blighty, which has been sold off with only a minimal loss incurred. Funds will shortly be reinvested to guarantee the future stability of the division, though I have not at present the liberty to consider where and how this might best be carried out; your advice is most welcome.

The monotony of field service was broken this week in a most welcome way by an evening reception to which my adjutant and I were kindly invited by one of the troops. He informed me that his family traditionally held a celebration each year of the anniversary their country's independence from Britain, an impertinence which I considerately overlooked, and that he would be delighted by our presence, so I graciously condescended to look in on his festivities. The chap had neglected to mention to me that his father is in fact his country's Ambassador to the Italian Republic, and the festivities were consequently rather more sumptuous than I had anticipated, with lavish catering which far outstripped the normal style of dining at HQ. An entertaining evening, in fact, though my adjutant seemed somehow disappointed and kept mumbling something about Ferrero Rocher.

Morale here at HQ has been boosted greatly of late by some impressive performances on the sporting field: our chaps seem to have overcome their malaise of the early autumn and are back to their old ways, with some stirring victories and a great revival of spirit. Sunday's performance was most encouraging and wholly beneficial to the mood of the staff, though my adjutant was very out of sorts upon hearing some news from overseas where apparently his boys in blue had suffered a serious reverse at the hands of some heavy artillery. Such are the vicissitudes of war, I told him, but he seemed not to appreciate my pleasantries on the matter.

In the meantime I have concluded that with matters so very nearly wound up, a little R&R is more than overdue and consequently will be taking a few days away to recuperate my energies a little, by way of belated celebration of my adjutant's birthday. We will visit Innsbruck, I have decided, and have booked a train for tonight. My troops can perfectly well prepare for their last actions without me, and I need to prepare myself for the responsibilities of report-writing and assessment which lie ahead. True, there was some grumbling from the troops when I revealed that I would be enjoying myself abroad whilst they prepared for their last serious trial, but how little the men understand the burdens of command. Civilian animadversions on this conduct are equally unwelcome.

In conclusion it remains only to report that the fruits of these months of hard labour appear at last to be showing, but that I am nonetheless counting the days until the cessation of hostilities for Christmas. On which note, stores have succeeded, at no little expense and inconvenience, in laying in some mincemeat. Mince pies await. What more joy is there in life?

8 comments:

Brian said...

Quite right. Quite right indeed!

Anonymous said...

someone spends waaaay to much time reading military and/or diplomatic dispatches.

ginkers said...

The victory of the Roman legions over the Florentine fighters must have been a welcome one at your HQ. News from the front was less well received by Lieutenant Rinaldi.

Spangly Princess said...

surely, ginkers, no mere provincial could hope to stem the advancing legions of mighty Rome? at least when they're at home.*


* I don't consider the Lombard barbarians here of course, they are unworthy of my attention

Still, I sympathise, it was a good & well-matched battle.

bernardlion said...

Great news about the house, spangles! Have fun in Innsbruck and remember to sniff out the cabbage.

We've sorted someone to look after the cats, BTW

ursus arctos said...

Bet those Lombard mercenaries (Argentine brigade) helped make your Saturday evening, though . . .

Reed said...

Err, what? Has something happened to you?

Spangly Princess said...

in what sense, Reed?