8 January 1916

Hotel Terminus de Marseille Saint Charles

Yesterday was a terror & there was literally no time to write even a few lines to you.  Trains were due to arrive somewhere about midday & I was kept hanging about on the station platforms until well after dark.  At last they appeared in anything but a happy condition.  The General is far from well, & all were by no means pleased at having to go straight on board.  I was working until after midnight & even at 2.30am was not allowed to rest in peace for in response to my telephone message saying that everything was finished all right, there came another, which resulted in my having to visit an outlandish station, clothed in pyjamas & a great coat.  Tonight my own people are due to arrive & they will up to the camp for a bit, until there is some boat for them.  I shall be quite glad to see the Colonel again, it is really ages since we left them all.  When they go we shall also go, but when that will be nobody knows, not very long now I should imagine, probably not more than five or six days.   We are in the midst of the Mistral, the before-mentioned wind.  Last time was only a taste of it, now we have got the thing in all its violence.  It can cut through any amount of clothing like a knife & woebetide those unfortunate people whose duties plant them for twenty four hours on a cold & shelterless quay during the hurricane.  The worst are the dust storms; everything is blotted from sight & one’s eyes are filled with it until they become very painful.  So far a headache & sort throat are all that it has given me, my skin is remaining intact on my face.   As I did not write yesterday I suppose I have not told you that the Opera was very good indeed.  A first rate tenor, invalided home from the front, & a good orchestra made the show quite a success.  After the performance we had the Marseillaise done in style.  The tenor clothed as an officer of the National Gd with a squad of men, & a crowd of girls etc: made quite a good noise over it.  After all if they cannot sing the thing properly at Marseilles, where can one hear it?  No time for more as the train is now due, & though probably five hours late I must be there in case it turns up.


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