Very many thanks for two letters which arrived since I sent you my very hurriedly scribbled note and the few souvenirs. The weather is now simply lovely once more, we are a long way behind the line, I have a good tent and everything is most enjoyable. We ran into an old friend today. Tony who was “locum” Doctor when I bust my knee up – he is at a C.C.S. here and came over to see us – rather surprised I think to see so many that he knew: most Btns. have changed more than we have. Hopes of leave are distinctly good. Let me know when Dad returns from his holiday as I do not want to be arriving only to fine that he is away. The Americans seem to be doing well, I only wish we could join them.
Another week without writing, I am really becoming a bad lot. However we have fought a battle and won a great but bloodless victory during that time so have not done too badly. It was a good show and our only complaint is that the Boche ran so fast that we could not catch them. Everybody enjoyed themselves which is the great thing. We have a new general – Thwaites having been appointed to some job or other in the W.O. Boyd is his name, very young and I think a most excellent person, but time will show. We might do far worse than our former monocled one. We had a most tremendously exciting paper-chase yesterday afternoon on horseback. It was a very long run and the Major who led the hounds went much too fast for most of us. However I watch my opportunity and made one or two useful short cuts. Then we had a great moment when we ran smack into the hares in the middle of a village. We gave chase but the mare came down and rolled on me. I got off very luckily with two sprained fingers & a stiff wrist but the mare went lame with a cut knee so we walked home. Rotten bad luck just as we stood a very good chance of catching the hares. Leave prospects are distinctly brighter and I may get away before the middle of October. I shall of course take my turn as soon as it comes unless we are in the middle of a fight or likely to have one in a few days. I am so much part of the regiment that I won’t miss a battle even for leave – the latter can be postponed, & the former cannot. We were to have had a Brigade Ceremonial Church Parade today but fortunately it rained. I say fortunately because I don’t much care for lengthy ceremonials at Church Parade. It means usually standing about for hours and getting thoroughly bored.
Very many thanks for several letters, none of which I have had time to answer. We are not back in the line again after our “rest” so I have for the first moment got time to turn round and think. Griffiths is back from leave and in Command. Jack, the Doctor, is also back, and as usual, very cheery. Ashdowne has gone for a week to Paris Plage for a bit of a rest. I saw the Colonel in hospital 3 days ago. The operation had gone off very satisfactorily though they had to cut away a large piece of the back of his head. He has probably got to the Base by now and ought to be in England very soon. He was very cheerful and does not think he will be away more than a few weeks, thought with head wounds it is not easy to say anything for certain. The finals of the Bde boxing tournament went off extraordinarily well on Saturday. We tied with the 5th Lincolns at the end for 31 pts a piece. It was eventually decided by our best bruiser fighting their best bruiser in a third round. Our man won. The G.O.C. gave away the prizes. We carried off the open, middle, feather, and bantam weights – 1st & 2nd in the officers – the Bde Cup & the Sports Cup. This only left the heavy – light-heavy – and lightweights for the other two Regiments. The weather has changed somewhat suddenly and it is quite cold today – with a few showers and at intervals – quite wrong for September according to my way of thinking. It is very interesting and exhilarating to have the old Boche giving up the ground that cost him so much to win early in the year. All the time I have been in France until now, I have had to sit and look at his beastly line, & wonder whether I should ever see the other side of it – now at last we are able to walk over ground we have been looking at. Only a few days ago I was looking at the squashed remains of a room from which I wrote to you somewhere about the 1st or 2nd of December 1915! It looked somewhat different then.
It is, I know some days since I wrote but the fully old Boche having got tired of his surroundings in this part of the world has decided to go a little nearer home. This of course means that we have something more interesting than usual to do – and consequently not much time to do anything but work, eat and occasionally sleep. As the Colonel discourages letter –writing at meal times I am afraid I have rather neglected you. Many thanks for several letters which have arrived in the interim. Andrews intentions with regard to the Guards sound excellent, and if he is going into the Infantry he could not do better. But no matter what the Guardee may have said, I am certain that life is more expensive with them than with an ordinary line Btn. Andrew being a fairly careful lad might find no trouble in making his pay do all that was required – in France I should think without difficulty – but should he be stationed at home for a bit he might find it hard to live on 2nd Lieutnt pay. However there will be plenty of time to think things over. The weather for the past two or three days has been as hot as I have ever known it and the mosquitoes have consequently done their best to make life more of less unbearable. However the blackberries are lovely, and we are all enjoying life immensely.
Just a line or two with a blunt pencil while I have got a moment or two to spare I have had a piece of real bad luck costing me my most excellent servant Findlay. They shelled round here the day before yesterday and a largish piece of shell caught him in the back. It was a most marvellous escape for his ”spine”, but made a large round wound which is going to take some time to heal up I am afraid. In any case he will go to England and I don’t suppose I shall ever get him back again. He was a very good servant and a first class lad in every way – looked after me with most faithful devotion. Perhaps not quite as good as Bosworth in polishing boots and buttons, but quite as good and even better in some things. I have got a new man named Warwick whom I intend to train to take his place. Warwick has never been anybody’s servant before so there is every hope that he will make a good one. It is a tiring business having to start all over again, but I suppose one must put up with it as there is a war on. I very nearly came to a sad bad end last night over a gas shell most of the contents of which I swallowed before I realized what was happening. Today I feel rather as though I had a corroded wind pipe, but nothing very serious has happened so I suppose I am all right. In any case it was only one of the arsenic variety – not chlorine, phosgene, or any of those horrors – nor thank goodness, mustard which personally I object to most strongly of all. I cannot remember whether I told you that while the Brigadier is Commanding the Division he has taken Banwell as A.D.C. I believe the latter does the job very well, but he is the last person one would usually select for that particular employment – he seems much more suited to wielding a bayonet than opening the motor- car door and arranging dinner-parties. It seems rather funny sometimes having Burnett as CO and calling him Sir instead of the usual John. I am afraid he rather leaves things to me so it is a good thing I am occasionally scrupulous. He and I are going for a stroll together this afternoon, I hope I bring better luck this time than I have during the last few days. I seem to have managed to walk into some sort of shelling every time I have been out. A miss is as good as a mile.
I have been most horribly busy and have not had any time to think of writing for the last few days in fact I cannot remember when I last wrote, though I have a dim recollection of sending one to Somerset St. by absent mindedness – which was of course very remiss of me. I enclose another book of certificates – it makes me feel quite rich – and is the result of a better looking balance than I expected. You will also find some post cards of various people in the Btn. Please keep then somewhere for me in a safe place. The matrimonial affair is a picture of my recently married Orderly Room Sergeant and his wife. I shall try and get some more someday – they are the best souvenirs one can have. My clerks have all been ill, one after the other – most annoying of them – and of course a great nuisance as it all means extra work for me. However I am proposing to have a rest for a week. The C.O. is going away again to Command the Brigade – Griffiths is on leave so Burnett will Command, and I shall be second in C – a slack job. Ashdowne is going to do my work.
Many thanks for several letters which I have not had time to answer. I am glad the weather is not being too appalling at Bromley, and hope Dad has managed to have a fine day or two for his fishing. We had the great Neville Talbot here yesterday afternoon to talk to the officers of the Brigade. He boomed at us for rather too long – its length on a hot afternoon spoilt an otherwise admirable talk. He was very humorous to start with and then got serious – and with the latter shouted – a mistake in a small mess full of officers. He is senior chaplain in the Army. We are having much better weather and camp is consequently quite pleasant. We had the Brass band for dinner last night and are having a string orchestra tonight for our guest night. The news is excellent and we only wish we could be allowed to do something instead of sticking in this same old series of ditches day after day. It must have been absolutely great for those fellows on the first day marching practically unopposed and capturing bags of stuff and men. However we live in hopes and our time may yet come before the end of the war.
Many thanks for your letter, glad to hear that you are all enjoying yourselves, and that Tom’s arm is better. It was a piece of good fortune for Dad to run into Dr Smith: I expect you will all enjoy a trip over to tea with him. We have just had a piece of very bad luck. Pearson only returned from sick leave a few days ago, and went out on a patrol this morning. He ran in to large numbers of Boche, and apparently has been captured. At all events he has not returned and we can find out nothing about him. It is a great pity as he is a brave lad and we cannot afford to lose him. Mosquitoes are a terrible plague just at present and we badly want some sort of netting but of course cannot get any. Some unfortunate people get bitten all over their faces, which are now covered in large red bumps – most ‘orrible. My clerk Lincoln is a sufferer in this respect. Banwell has returned to us from Hospital; he is not very strong yet, but being naturally hard and fit will probably not take long to regain all his former vigour. We have one or two new Subalterns but no one very striking. Todd is waiting to take the letter down, so I must stop.
Very many thanks for your letter giving me your address at Bromley Common. I hope that by this time you are enjoying plenty of sunshine and sitting in the fields getting some fresh air. I am afraid that at present there is no chance of my getting leave and coming along to join you. This time of year is always full of sports and things of that sort. Horse shows are like flies, all over the place. This afternoon there is a swimming gala, and in a few days time there is to be a boxing tournament. They are undoubtedly good fun but always seem to me to mean endless work, all extra to the war. Just at present I am feeling more or less on top of the work, but there are some occasions when I begin to look like being submerged in a flood of paper. We have one or two new officers – one Griffiths by name, is from Uppingham, so we will hope for good things. Just at the moment we can hardly raise a Public School in the whole mess. There are one or two distinctly curious officers, I hope they won’t go palming off dishonoured cheques, or anything of that sort – they look as if they might. I am glad the War savings turned up all right. I meant to write a letter to go with then but forgot.
Very many thanks for the Hunting Songs, also the young library which arrived the day before. I shall now be kept “quiet” for a long time. I am glad to hear Tom’s arm is going on well, I don’t think you need worry about rheumatism. The pain is after all what one would expect after having ones joint fixated for some time in the same position. I remember my old collar bone was nothing compared to the pain in my elbow while my arm was strapped across my chest. The weather has improved, and though we cannot say we have real clear summer weather, at all events we have had no more deluges for the last three days. Trenches are not very bad and most of us manage to keep more or less dry. Personally I am very comfortably situated and manage to lead a very pleasant existence. At this point I was interrupted by a chanting maniac – to wit – the Adjutant of another Btn who came to talk “shop” and burst in the sanctity of my room with some common tune. The Transport Officer is here and the post is going so I must stop.