Wilhelmshaven ( continued )
The Writing Room, Church of Scotland,
Wilhelmshaven has been bombed quite efficiently, and is largely in ruins, at least, it is in the centre of the town, and by the docks.
Out of the window, in the tranquil air, I can see a few gaunt walls and grotesque brick remains, that are rapidly greying to silhouette. A church tower, sturdy, but gutted, points a purposeless finger at the urgent clouds and emphasizes the delicate tracery of the trees, black against a fading sky.
A lorry has pulled up in the street below and vomits soldiers and their profanations on to the pavement. They enter the canteen and are happily lost to hearing, and the scene assumes a strange peace, somehow a harmony, from its intrinsic decay and senility.
At Dusseldorf you left barracks, turned left, turned right, and thumbed a lift into the town, over two miles away. There were shops plentifully among the devastation.
At Dortmund you turned left, crossed a field, and turned left again, and then hitchhiked or walked the mile and a half to the centre, as you pleased, and there was scarcely anything but rubble in the centre.
At Osnabruck you turned right and hoped for a lift. It is two miles from barracks to town and though the town does not appear excessively damaged, there are few shops open there.
At Oldenburg the camp is but a mile from the town, where all shops are open, and full of many things to take home, if you have marks or cigarettes.
And here, at Wilhelmshaven, you leave barracks and scarcely any vehicles pass you as you walk the mile and a half into the uninteresting town.
However, we are only two in a room, and each room has running water.