13 March 1915

Sailly Sur la Lys, France

Very many thanks indeed for your letter, most welcome.  I can assure you in this place of mud, slush, and stinks.  I am so glad to hear that you are really better, mind you don’t go and do such things again, I won’t have it.  At present our Division is general reserve to one of the armies here and though I can tell you nothing definite, I may at least say that things are by no means standing still, and in one place at least, the famous remark made to General Wolf just before he died, is quite applicable.  We are not very far behind the line, just about where the guns are, and they are fairly going it.  The Admiral was here yesterday, he is at present in khaki, a full Colonel, in charge of Grandmother which is worked by the R.M.A I wish I could tell you more about her, but I suppose better not.  She takes twenty minutes to load, but when she goes off, my goodness, the place shakes and all the houses in the immediate neighbourhood are crumbling to pieces.

It is very curious in a way, how one alters one’s views on trenches and things when one gets out here.  When in England we used to say “only let’s get to France and to trenches I hope we don’t go near ‘em” well we have been in them; my hair is not white, nor am I deaf, while my nerves are quite in good order.  The real joke lies in the fact that just before  leaving England our General promised that Brigade that the order of going into the trenches would be 4th Lincs, 5th Lincs, 4th Leices, and then ourselves – as it was we got here first and were at once attached to a Bde that was shot-straight into the trenches.  So now these others have to come to us for information and I can tell you it’s a great come down for the great 4th to have to learn from what they used to call the poor bl—y 5th.  We fairly rub it in I can tell you.  I saw the high and mighty Pullinger yesterday and told him in a fatherly fashion that my people would give him a hand when we got to the trenches.  He was quite wrathful.  So far you will be glad to hear that I am not lousy – in fact I manage to get a bath fairly often.  Well no time for more give my love to Mother and the others – by the way “gratters” to Dini on her matric, if I have not already said so.

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