Very many thanks for a letter which arrived last night; it has given me a tremendous fright. In it you say you got my letter about the medal ribbon parade “though that is not what you call it”. What did I call it? Did I in a moment of mental aberration use some unparliamentarily language or anything terrible? My temper has become very short and if some villain came and interrupted me in the middle of the letter I might unconsciously have written down some of my thoughts about him. Please relieve my mind next time you write by telling me exactly what I did say. The Colonel returned from Brigade the day before yesterday in a terrible temper or liver attack or something, and for several hours there were scenes. He has now gone on leave to Deauville for a few says. The weather has not been quite so good lately. There have been two terrific thunderstorms; one mixed up with shells and gun flashes was a very impressive sight, there was some of the finest fork lightning I have ever seen.
There is no news but another spare minute. We have had another casualty; this time Banwell – nothing very serious fortunately and I expect we shall have him back very soon. A little bit of anti-aircraft shell came and hit him in the wind – a most ignominious performance for such a very great man. He is so enormous that it did not go in very far, and has not reached anything important. He was in the most wonderful spirits through it all, and went away full of “buck”. I hope he re-appears soon as we cannot afford to lose him. It is horribly wet today and the ditches in which some of us live are beginning to show signs of filling up with water – as one might expect. However its fairly warm so nobody worries very much. I am sorry the Bryn Egwlys deal did not come off –it must be very disappointing to Dad. However it gave him a breath of Criccieth air which is a very good thing. People in Petrograd seem to be having an appalling time; I suppose some of our folk are still there; does anybody ever hear from any of them? There seems to be a serious shortage of everything, if one can believe the papers. Things here go on just the same as ever – we are all very fit.
Here is a letter – quite soon after the last one for a change – not that there is anything to talk about, but I have a minute or two to spare. Heavy showers all day have churned the paths and tracks into sticky mud and going round the line is once more the slippery slithery performance it used to be in the jolly old winter. However everything dries very quickly, and as there has not been a shower for the last two hours, I dare say the mud will have all gone be the time I want to go round the line. We have got quite a decent little headquarters in our present position, the only objection being the lack of Orderly Room. The latter consists of a small table poked away in the corner of a very dark signal office. Work there is of course quite out of the question. Apart from the lack of space one cannot do anything in a room with two buzzing telephones going the whole time, so I have to do all my work in the mess. I have learnt a most entertaining new patience – very fascinating, and one which seldom comes out. I will teach it to you when I next get leave two or three years hence I expect. The C.O. has discovered that he is so far down the leave list that he has put in for leave to Deauville or some such spot. I expect he will get it all right. In that case he will probably be away for the end of July & the beginning of August. Griffiths should be going on the 19th but won’t of course be able to go until the C.O. comes back. Thomson will go instead. Barett seems to have gone right away down to the base with his fever attack so we shall put him back on the rota. Banwell, Wace, Argyle, Griffiths and Barett have all got to go before me.
The weather has broken today at last, and we have had several very heavy showers of rain. So far the Camp is standing it very well, and if we don’t get too much more we shall not be badly flooded out. We had a terrible parade yesterday. The Corps Commander came and presented medal ribbons to various people and we stood for hours and hours under a boiling sun. I very nearly collapsed. He was very gracious and said it was a great pleasure to see us; some of the men I am afraid thought otherwise. The dinner went off very well and we sang many of the old favourite songs – including some of old Kiplings which we have not heard for a long time. The new booklet of 20 of his poems seems a fairly good collection. Dini was saying she had a copy of the Seven Seas given her the other day, and that there were already two copies in the house. If there is one to spare I should very much like one out here to vary with old R.B.
Another long time since I have written. I am really getting most remiss, and must “sit up” and take a little more notice. The Colonel is away Commanding Brigade while the Brigadier is on leave, and the Major is in Command. (now that I have written it, I am almost sure that I have written that before.) Burnett is second in Command & most of the work has to be done by the two of us – Ashdowne also does a good whack. I am glad old Baron Hewson has been round again, he is a great man and one of those delightful people who always says exactly the right thing at the right minute. Our new gramophone has already had to be sent back to London to have the mainspring mended – however it ought be back again soon and then we can “get going” as we have heaps of records including many of the old favourites – “Praeludium” etc we are having a “joy-night” tonight and many guests – one of them being the officer with whom I did most of my work at Corps. HQ. I expect we shall have many of the good old-fashioned songs, and get tremendously rowdy. The weather keeps wonderfully fine, and exceptionally dry, it is ages since there was any real rain except for a thunderstorm or two about a fortnight ago. There is absolutely no news, I keep very fit except for the eyes.
Back once more with the Regiment, thank goodness, but not quite the same Regt. The Colonel is commanding the Bde while the Brigadier is on leave, so J L Griffiths is in Command. Thomson and one of the brothers Ball have got 3 days fever, so have Barrett and several new officers. Poor Cole never survived his wound. The poison spread all over his system and he died on the 29th. The best officer we have ever had. His M.C. came through about a day too late for him to know it. I managed to get over to see Ganny a few days ago – it was a long ride and I got shelled at the end of it, however I found him which was the great point. He is commanding a Company and looked very fit. His wound was nothing much only a piece out of his ear. I am sorry to hear about Boosey – it is very bad luck that Leslie cannot get home. Toller is now definitely a prisoner in Germany. Dalgliesh, if I remember right, came out here when I did, only with the 1/4th. I think he lost his arm very early in a trench called E2 or thereabouts – at all events somewhere opposite RED HOUSE
Many thanks for your letter – I am sorry I had not written for a week; I was afraid it was a longish time but had not realized it was as terrible as all that. I will try and be better in future. Just at present there in nothing doing and consequently nothing to write about. I am still at Corps. HQ. and am having a rest. The work does not please me very much and I shall be very glad to get back at the end of my fortnight. Cole is much better having been very bad indeed for a day or two. I expect his arm, or rather what is left of it, will take some time to mend. He is very plucky over it all but will probably go through a stage of the most awful depression later on. I have written to D.A.D.M.S. London District to try and persuade him to get him into 27 Grosvenor Sq. I know he will be well looked after there. My new batman is turning our extraordinarily satisfactory and if he keeps on at his present rate will bid fair rival to the great Bosworth himself. He is very keen on his work and looks after me in a most fatherly way. The only fault is I think a too great respectability – a fault for which his predecessor was also famous. I understand that there have been a large number of new officers since my departure, all of them are doubtless awaiting my return with a considerable amount of fear and trepidation.
Very many thanks for several letters, a parcel of very welcome books and chocolate – I am eating the latter while I write – and also for the two letters from the School-people. I am at present having a rest. I don’t need one but my temper lately has been so bad and my language so unprintable that I was told to take one and packed off here. Here is HQ. 1st Corps. One of the General Staff Officers is on leave so I am keeping is office chair warm for him – a poor game really but I suppose very restful. Eyes get tired very quickly and are not right yet so I don’t mind. I am here for a fortnight within a stone’s throw of the Btn. So don’t alter the address on my letters, it is not worth while. This afternoon I am going to try and fine Ganny, I believe he is not very far away. I had a letter from Mrs de G to say that he was not seriously wounded and had returned to duty. I don’t expect I shall find him but it will give me something to do.
Very many thanks for two letters – I have been having quite a large post lately, several of the old hands having written – people one had almost forgotten. The weather has not yet broken, though it is cooler today and there are one or two ominous looking clouds about – I expect we shall have rain before very many hours are out. There is no news – we have got one or two new officers – one of them only 19 and never been out before – a rarity these days, and one well having as a rule, as his first time keenness ought not to have worn off – I hope not at all events. The Padre has returned from leave, he seems to have managed to enjoy himself in England, and there does not appear to have been much difficulty about obtaining food. I don’t suppose his wants are very luxurious or very numerous. My eyes are still not quite right – nothing seriously wrong but weak, watery and bloodshot – they get very tired is I do much work with them, reading, writing etc. The glare of the sun is also at times rather grim. We are having a comparatively peaceful time and for once in my life I have been a little bored at having nothing very particular to do for an hour or two during the day.
Just a line or two while there is nothing particularly much to do. The weather has changed again at last – I was afraid it might. Today is not nearly so hot as its predecessors, and there are unmistakable signs of rain in the near future. However our old cellar is more or less rain-proof though some of the trenches will probably get a bit wet. All our gassed servants have gone to England and Bosworth has arrived in Southport Infirmary. In addition to being blind for a bit he appears to have been much blistered. However he seems quite content with his present lot and I had a very cheerful letter form him a few days ago. One of my clerks has also been sent across, but he is I understand still too blind to do anything – cannot even write a letter. My store of literature is gradually becoming exhausted and I should be very grateful if you could send me out a book or two in some cheap edition. I have never read anything by Mark Twain so if you could find something by him I should like it. Will you also try and procure a copy of Merriman’s “Velvet Glove”. There may be one in my room. We want a copy in order to settle an argument. I am sure I am right but we cannot prove it – and I cannot find a copy anywhere in this country. We had a very merry evening the night before last – in Battalion Mess – with two most excellent guests – one of them Col. Sir Ian Colquhoun is a great man – late of Scots Guards, now commanding a second line Btn. We sang afterwards in the best old fashioned way.