Monthly Archives: September 2016

30 September 1916

Viccars has got back from leave at last, he came after tea yesterday and the General has gone off in a car this morning.  During his absence Colonel Sandall commands the Brigade – he is senior colonel, senior unfortunately to Jones who is a most cheerful Colonel to have as acting Brigadier.  The return on Viccars means that we go on the bust for a few days.  We have had crab for lunch and a brace of ducks for dinner tonight.  Tomorrow there are partridges and a goose the day after.  After that I expect we shall all be ill for several days, and will only just recover with luck in time for the return of the General.  One of the real old stagers has returned to ours in the person of James Griffiths of whom you have doubtless heard.  He was wounded right away back in Ypres days, and has now rejoined bringing several new Subalterns with him.  The weather seems to have cleared again after yesterdays “break”.  Today has been really excellent with splendid views and bright warm sunlight.  Yesterday was certainly a bad lot – it rained at intervals all day and made life anything but pleasant.  I did not attempt to go to trenches but did a lot of work that wanted doing in the office and elsewhere.  I also managed to get a little more information from refugees and inhabitants concerning the vast tract of country that we can see parts of and no more.  It is most annoying to find some place on the map, not mere perhaps than 300yds. Away, and yet owing to the ground, absolutely invisible from our part of the world.    Things are quickly beginning to look very Autumn like round here; leaves are turning brown, and the weather is by no means warm at times in the early morning.  The cold bath still goes on but I daresay when it comes to breaking the ice I shall give it up and go dirty.   I hear we are to have an extra hour in bed tonight, and that it will be a terrible long time between 12 and 1.0. AM.  I expect there will be all sorts of jests in tomorrows reports about it, and we shall have to talk about the first and second 12.30 and so on.  I shall still be late for breakfast I expect whatever happens.  I am only in time when my watch is ten minutes fast and I don’t know it.  I see J.D. Fry whom you doubtless heard of at M.T.S. is reported missing, I hope he has not been killed.  It was only a month ago that I saw him up here – he was a most excellent officer and thoroughly keen.  One or two other M.T.s are also I see amongst the long list of manes that we get almost every day – the only consolation is that the Boche’s lists are even longer according to all accounts.  They published this evening a part of a diary captured from a German officer down on the Somme.  From his description I should say they must be having a most appalling time from our gunners.  What seems to impress them most is the tremendous superiority of our air service.  Well I am off to bed, and going to make full use of my extra hour.

28 September 1916

Very many thinks for a letter and the book “Leatherface”, which came respectively today and yesterday.  I do not know why the latter should be boring, though it is certainly somewhat Orczyish.  Leatherface himself is the S.P. Character of the mysterious identity who turns out at the end to be someone one never expected him to be.  It is just a little gruesome in places but really is not half a bad book.  The only real objection to it is that it deals with quite the most detestable country in the world, Flanders. Anyone who has seen its’ flat ugliness can well imagine that it produced pretty poor specimens of humanity at one time and another.    My reason for asking for the other two books was not because I know anything about them, but because Godsal always declares that they are the finest poetry he has ever read.  It is quite possible that he has not read much poetry however I am always glad to find something new in the way of literature, and was consequently anxious to see what they were like.  If there is any very great difficulty about getting hold of them do not worry about it.  It is really only curiosity on my part. In a way the fact of Dad’s having one of them and its’ origin makes me even more curious to sample the contents; that of course I can do “When” I get leave.  The weather has broken up a little but still remains fine on the whole, and is by no means cold.  However we have had a few showers each evening and the trenches have got sticky again, and walking round them is consequently not so pleasant as it was. In between the showers of course the view is splendid, so it is almost worth while getting a bit wet, one is rewarded for it.  There is one very curious feature about the weather in this district at this time of year.  Every evening about sunset a thick white mist starts lying in long stretches over the low ground, gradually growing until there is a damp blanket over everything.  This clears by 9.0. pm. But comes on again before dawn and perhaps does not clear away until midday.  The old Boche gets awfully jumpy in the mornings and wastes a lot of bombs and things, apparently imagining that we want to attack him.    When on my joy-ride the day before yesterday to hear the lecture we ran into a book shop.  I managed to scrape together enough cash to buy a 1/- novel, and picked up Rudder Grange which I had never read.  I am reading it now in odd five minutes’ and enjoying it thoroughly.  It is very refreshing after the battle, murder and sudden death of the Daily Mail and Baroness Orczy.  Beech Thomas seems to excel himself daily – how any man can write such arrant twaddle I can’t imagine.  The apple cure is working splendidly with my mare, and now whenever I go into the stable she looks round expecting something, and is quite disappointed if she finds my right hand empty.   The next step will be to train her to like sugar: this can be obtained all the year round whereas a time will presumably come when the ground will cease to be littered with innumerable crab-apples.  Windfalls amongst practically wild apples are always I understand common, but a big gun in the orchard helps things along wonderfully well. Col Jones has returned from his leave but so far no one has dared to ask him any details about his family trouble.  He has been in most tremendous form ever since he got back but that means nothing.  Even if he was absolutely miserable he would be much too proud to show it and would be as jovial as ever to all around him.  They are talking a good deal about getting up some Rugger, but I don’t know if it will come to anything.  I wouldn’t at all mind a game, it would probably do me good.

26 September 1916

The weather held good so that our motor trip this afternoon was quite a success.  The only nuisance was the dust, every time we passed a lorry we were simply smothered in clouds of it.  The country is still looking very well and once we got out of the war area everything seemed very peaceful.  The lecture was well worth listening to , though it was nothing to do with the Balkans; as a matter of fact he hardly mentioned any of the Balkan States during the hour and a quarter for which he kept us amused and interested.  He dealt chiefly with the gradual rise of Germany and her armies and methods; was obviously an admirer of Bismark and not much of William 11; on the English he was pretty hard, I daresay we deserved all he said, but we did not seem to be worth much in his eyes; he thought a lot of the Italians and the Swiss, and of course the French.  Salisbury, Gladstone, Churchill all came under his ban and he described our policy as being always “one step enough for me, I do not ask to see the distant scene”.  He certainly knew what he was talking about but I had one complaint to make.  He took it for granted that we knew absolutely nothing, an assumption which I think was hardly fair.  His audience was composed of about two hundred officers, most of them not regulars, and I think all of us might have been expected to know a little history.  One great point he spoke with absolute certainly, in fact he never even raised the question.  He took it absolutely for granted that we must win the war sooner or later: it was perfectly obvious to us all that in his mind at any rate there was no doubt about the result.  Certainly tonight’s news is the best we have had for a very long time.  Combles and Thiepval following so close upon Morval and les Boeufs has thrown everything into ecstasies of joy: it is about the best two days since the Marne and I only hope the Boche realizes it.  I don’t think he means to give way an inch at present, there will be no falling back on carefully prepared lines, he is going to fight every yard of it.  Perhaps when the winter comes on & it will be impossible to follow up quickly, then he may straighten out his line a bit.  The General is very much better today and went round the trenches with Godsal in the ordinary way.  I was up for an hour or two this morning, during which time I again had the luck to see a German sausage balloon brought down in flames.  This is the second I have actually seen destroyed in the last week or so – I have been really most extraordinarily fortunate.  I believe I told you that some rude person had planted a large cannon in such close proximity to my bathing machine that it was scarcely and exaggeration to say that it was in the back garden.  Just lately it has been firing a round or two much to the disturbance of our happy home.  None of the windows have yet been broken, but it takes two men all their time to replace the tiles on the roof, as they slide gracefully down at each shot.  A great warm blast accompanied by a gigantic shudder sweeps across this cabbage patch.  So warm is the blast that this morning I had no need for a towel: a round was fired just as I stepped from by bath, and I was dry before you could say Jack Robinson.  In this way it is useful.  It is also an excellent preventive or over sleeping, and when it starts at dawn, an incentive to very early rising.  The horses do not much care for it, though my little mare does not jump about half as much as Bonnassieux’s old cart horse.  Well there is no more news of interest – leave is still as far away as ever.

25 September 1916

Still glorious weather and quite a good day for the “Corps” Race meeting.  There were five races in all and some very good riding in all of them, well worth going to see in fact.  One race was only open to troops of Divisions, “Corp Troops” were excluded: in this our Brigade shewed its superiority.  Moody one of our Machine Gunners won it, with Goodsal second and Moore of “ours” third.  It was a real good race, 2 miles with about a dozen fences.  We did not do so badly in other races either as Burnett came in second in the first steeple chase, Godsal fourth in a short flat race, and Moody third in the last, an open steeplechase.  Of course in these things the “Corps” troops stand the best chance because they include a squadron or two of Cavalry and as a rule a goodly number of excellent mounted Staff Officers.  In this case the Corps Commander’s A.D.C. was riding a “Grand National” winner in the last race so that it was not surprising that he won it with comparative ease.  There were one or two spills but only one that was at all serious.  One wretched man managed to break his collar bone.  However this was nothing very terrible and he may find himself in England with it so I daresay he won’t grumble.  The best part of these shows is that one meets all sorts of people that in the ordinary way one scarcely ever gets a chance to see, Gunners and all manner of specialists, they all come to these gatherings.   Strictly between you and me and the gate post it was not half as well managed an affair as our show on the same ground a fortnight ago.  To start with there were no programmes and to end with there were no refreshments, whereas we supplied unlimited drinks, and tea to all.  Incidentally also there was no band this afternoon.  We are all of us very bucked to hear of the downfall of two Zeppelins, I only wish there had been fewer casualties in London.  Did they come anywhere near you, I gather that they might have done from the scanty information that one gets from the Daily Mail.  At all events I hope your sleep was not disturbed by any unseemly noises or rude shakings.  We have just finished the plum jam which was as excellent as the strawberry and equally much appreciated.  The General devoured great dollops of it almost neat with equally large dollops of cream.  You seem to be real experts in the art of jam making to judge by the two specimens sent out to us.  Today is the Anniversary of the great push of last year – not an extraordinarily pleasant day for us as a matter of fact.  We commemorated the anniversary with a special menu tonight.  Most of the items refer to topical events of which you know nothing, so I will not send it you “in toto”.  However a “Hooge” Sirloin with “Loos” vegetables and “Somme” melon are items that anyone could understand, even though they were not with us in Flanders at the time.  Unfortunately just at present the General is not very well; so was unable to appreciate the jest as well as he might have done, had he been fit.  He has been a bit “wrong” for several days and in consequence his temper has been anything but mild.  I think old Walcott’s famous remark of “Liver, that’s what it is” about applies in this case.  I have at last managed to win the affection of Kitty in her stable.  As I believe I told you, outside and on the road she is a firm friend, but in the stable her one desire has always been first to bite, and failing that, to kick me.  However I have now found that she has a weakness for apples, and as there are thousands in the neighbourhood I always go in well supplied.  In her eagerness to get the fruit she forgets to be vicious and is gradually becoming moderately affectionate.    I wonder how the censor liked my description of the various types of mosquitoes that haunt my cloister, also why he opened the letter at all.  I expect it was the usual appearance of the word Steorra to anyone who was not a scholar of Hindoo or Anglo-Saxon or whatever it is.  I have only once made the acquaintance of one of the Base Censors and he was an idiot absolutely devoid of any sense of humour.  Tomorrow afternoon I am to go and listen to a lecture on the Balkans by some well known individual.  Viccars is still away so that neither Godsal nor the General would go, and I have been sent to hear the Professor.  If as I expect he is well worth hearing, I am rather lucky – most of the audience will be exalted Staff people.  It is some way from here and Division are providing a car to take us over.  If we get a fine day this ought not to be at all bad as the country is looking exceptionally well just at present.  All the harvest is ready for carrying and most of it has been carried.  Just for a few weeks we are enjoying unlimited gallops over the stubble – soon it will be all under plough again.  There are no ditches and wire fences between the fields here and one can go for miles and miles straight across country without meeting any really serious obstacles.

23 September 1916

For a change we have had three days of really fine weather, the sun had been bright and quite respectable warm and there has been no rain.  It is pretty cold at nights and first thing in the morning but by the middle of the day it has been excellent.  The trenches have all got nice and dry again and everybody is beginning to hope that we may yet get a bit of summer, late though it is.  Today has been a fairly busy day, with two visits to the trenches, each of them necessitating a fairly long walk.  Unfortunately there has been a good deal of haze with the bright sun and observation has not been by any means perfect.  However we have been able to see a good many of the other gentlemen strolling about on their estate, so they haven’t gone back to the Rhine yet.  I saw one typical Boche officer this evening strolling alone followed by an orderly. The former was well dressed, rather smart looking and carried a cane.  The latter staggered along under a load of equipment and carried a large bag in addition to his rifle – presumably he was bringing the sauerkraut and lager beer.  I wish I could have shot them but they were too far away and could only be seem through a telescope.  Yesterday we watched a rather obese Hun chasing rats with a shovel, a most amusing spectacle.  I think they are all rather proud of the new steel helmet that they have had issued – they keep on shoving their heads up.  It is painted a rather bright blue, and is consequently very visible in the sunlight.  It is not quite the same shape as ours as it comes down over the ears and to a certain extent protects the back of the neck, probably interfering very largely with one’s hearing.  I hear the “Corps” are running a Horse Show on Monday so I shall do my best to get the afternoon off to go and see them or rather it.  Godsal is almost sure to be riding on some animal or other, Viccars would if he were here but he will still be away on leave.   I understand that her are to be five or six races so it may be quite exciting.  There will probably be some splendid beasts to be seen on the course: quite a number of Staff and Artillery Officers had got real good steeple-chasers and hunters out here.   Well I must go foo to bed and try and get a good night’s rest: there is a wretched report to write at 4.45 A.M. every morning which means that I have to be waked at that hour.

22 September 1916

(To Dad)

I am afraid I cannot tell you anything more about the tanks than you can read yourself in the papers.  We have not yet seen one in our portion of the world, tho’ we may have the good fortune some day.  I understand that there are two types, one carrying a slightly heavier armament than the other, and that they always work in pairs – a heavy and a heavier together.  This being the case they have naturally been dubbed male and female, the latter doubtless much to the disgust of the Suffragettes, being the weaker animal of the two.  I believe what they like best is houses; they have an enormous tonnage, and merely have to lean against some poor wretched chateau and the whole thing comes down like a pack of cards. Of course once they are in the enemy’s lines they have an immense advantage.  They don’t care a rap for bullets either from rifle or machine guns, and the enemy cannot very well shell them without shelling his own trenches and his own men.  Of course a direct hit with an H.E. Shell would just about end a tank’s career, but this they are not likely to get.    As you say it is just about time that I got leave but at present there is no chance.  The allotment is exceedingly small and there are a large number of regimental officers who have hot had leave yet this year.  As soon as they increase the allotment my chance will come.  So long as we go on pushing somewhere I don’t mind there being no leave; I suppose there is always a chance of the old Boche finding himself so awkwardly placed that there is nothing left for him to do but to go back.  He may not go back more than a mile or two, but if there is going to be any amusement of that sort I should hate to be out of it even on leave.  The best piece of news I have seen in the paper for a long time was the German C.G.S.’ remarks about the wastage of communication reserves.  The time will yet come when the enemy’s gunners are put on an allowance that they mustn’t exceed, and we shall really get our own back for more terrible shell-less days at the beginning of 1915.  I suppose to people in England the advance on the Somme must seem terribly slow – really it is going wonderfully well – compare it with the Boche effort at Verdun and you will realize this at once.    We go pushing on a little bit more each time, and it must make the old Boche feel very uncomfortable sometimes.  What I like to think about is his old fat Corps Commander who must have had to vacate his nice comfortable two year old headquarters and shift further back to be out of range of our guns.  I expect its’ given him rheumatism and indigestion.   —-It is curious that you should mention Cricieth because it was only the other day that I was thinking of it.  I was walking through some town or other, I forget which, down a street which reminded me strongly of the road out of Portmadoc towards the railway station.  There was a turning at the right quite like the little turning down which one gets such a first rate view of the “Spike”.  I shouldn’t mind being round that country for a week or two, nor would you I dare say.  When the war is over we will go straight there at the first opportunity, and walk all the old walks – that is if I have any feet left after the winter.

20 September 1916

Another horrible wet day, that is to say a collection of torrential showers which make observing an unpleasant and well-nigh impossible job.   The glass of one’s telescope gets blurred, everything is wet, maps and photographs are ruined and covered in mud – in fact beastliness personified.   Being an old hand I gave the trenches a miss this morning and occupied myself with other matters.  They have sent us some beautiful new photographs of the country opposite, and armed with them I sallied forth to call on a refugee with a view to getting as much information as I could about different things.  The man himself was out, but fortunately his wife was at home and she was able to tell me most of what I wanted to know.  The photograph shewed the houses of her native village very distinctly, and when the poor old thing saw what a wreck the two years shelling had made of her home, she quite broke down and wept for about ten minutes – a most embarrassing situation for me.   She explained to me with tears in her eyes that her house was apparently little more than a pile of bricks now, and all her property must have been destroyed.  What else she can have expected I don’t know.  After a time she calmed down with the usual “C’est la guerre”, and we talked hard for about an hour.  She talked at a most terrific pace and it was all I could do to follow what it was all about.  However she was very intelligent and could almost read a map, which is an unexpected advantage.  In the end I came away full of notes and scraps of useful information all of which I shall treasure up: one day it may be useful, we hope so.  The last few wet days have enabled me to compile a sort of Encycolpoedia Britannica of the enemy’s country opposite here. So that if ever we leave the place all that we have found out can be passed on, and will not be wasted.  It is extraordinary how often the intelligence work is wasted simply because officers are too lazy to keep a proper record, and hand it on to their successors when they go.   They have just made Ellwood a Major – we are all very glad because he thoroughly deserves it – a most hard working fellow.  In case I have never told you, he is the Bde Machine Gun Officer of the old days – now commands the new Bde Machine Gun Company.

19 September 1916

Very many thanks for a large parcel and a letter which have arrived since I last wrote.  The strawberry jam is absolutely excellent, and the General has been guzzling it for all he is worth, with many comments as to its unrivalled quality.  The plum jam we have not yet opened, but one of the cakes which we had today was very good.  In fact altogether the whole parcel was a great success.    The weather yesterday and today has not been remarkable for its excellence. All yesterday it rained hard; by midday most of this village was a young river and by tea-time it was almost impossible to get dry shod from the mess to the office, while my billet was separated from the road by a juvenile canal of considerable depth.  The morning I spent indoors, not wishing to venture forth in such a deluge, but after tea I felt I must have a little exercise so I walked over to the next village and explored one or two underground passages and cellars, and a crypt that they have got there.  There was nothing very exciting, and I got more dirty than anything else.  The ground here is mostly chalk when one gets below the surface, and everyone who has had a little spare time in days gone by seems to have spent it in digging passage ways and cellars and underground rooms, and things of that sort.  I managed to find some records about the village opposite to us at present occupied by our friends the enemy, and these made excellent reading for a wet day – in fact I have got quite engrossed in my study of the place and am going round tomorrow making enquiries amongst one or two of the inhabitants to learn all that I can about it.  Some day when the old Bosch has to go back to his jolly old Rhine, such knowledge may come in very useful.    Viccars went away on leave yesterday afternoon, and Cannon has left us for his month at the Army School.  So just at present we are a comparatively small mess.  Huskinson is doing Viccars work unassisted.  Cannon was himself more or less an understudy so that there is no job to do for him.  I expect he is having the time of his life at the school, with weekend leave to some French town or other, and everything that he can want.  Of course he will have to work hard, but for that there is ample compensation in the fact that he sleeps between sheets, gets his meals regularly and never hears a gun fired.  Bands come and they play to him on Saturday afternoons, and now & then the finest concert parties out here come and give performances for his edification.  What’s more when he comes back he will think himself such a terrible fellow that he will be for putting all of us in our places.      As soon as Viccars comes back I expect the General will put in for his leave, I know he is very keen to get it.  Then Godsal will go, and unless they increase the leave allotment that will end things for me for the present.  There is only about one officer per week going out of the whole Brigade, and there are still several who have never had their leave this year yet.  So when I shall get home, goodness only knows.  However we hope for the best and am increased allotment, and then there is a chance for us all.  With luck my leave will come just about Christmas time which would of course be excellent.  Today has been showery but not bad enough to prevent work, and I was round trenches this morning.  They have got a bit wet but nothing to hurt, and apparently not half as bad as the other gentleman’s.  We can see him bailing his trenches out by the bucketful while his sentries perch themselves up on the fire step to keep their feet dry.  This of course is a great advantage to us, as sooner or later the sentry in question forgets that he is higher than usual, and incautiously exposes his back (or front) of his head to view.  It is a lucky man who is able to get down without a distinctly draughty feeling about the head, caused by our snipers.   The British Soldier is a really great man and thoroughly enjoys himself.  The “high-falutin” reports they send me are most strange – e.g. “we watched for ¾ hour until our vigilance was rewarded by seeing a Boche; he exposed ¾ of himself above the parapet.  I Pte Jones shot him” etc. – There is a sort of “Alone I did it” about the last which is delightful. They are fearfully proud of their “Kill”, and some go so far as to keep a notebook with entries – eg. “June 1st. 9.20 AM. a Bosch sentry looking over, shot in the shoulder, had grey hair, almost bald, red face and no hat” and all kinds of details.  No time for more.

17 September 1916

Just a line or two before going to bed.  We have had a Dinner party and the two guests have only just departed.  Huskinson, the new Mess President managed somehow or other to procure a goose, and we have had a tremendous spread.  I for one shall probably be ill tomorrow.  The menu for a change was in French, a language of which Huskinson is not by any means a scholar.  Pudding de la Chateau did for Castle Pudding, while the poor goose was disguised as oie rotie.  Accents as you can see were flying more or less indiscriminately over every work, and genders did not worry the author very much. Our guests were the great John Burnett and Major Wilson, the latter is at present commanding ours in the absence of Col. Jones on leave.    Poor Jones is in rather a bad way.  His second daughter has suddenly developed infantile paralysis, and of course they cannot live at Uppingham.  As his wife was looking after his house while he was away this has made things very awkward for him, and he has had to go home to find someone to manage the house.  He is of course very upset about it.   Viccars starts for his leave tomorrow and will be away about twelve days in all, ten of which he gets in England, lucky man.   That, of course, is one of the advantages of being on the Staff.  There are still quite a number of officers who have not seen their homes for a year, so my turn cannot come yet I am afraid.   Viccars of course is so pleased with the prospect that he hardly knows what to do with himself until tomorrow.   We have got a curious lot of gentlemen opposite us just at present; some of them want nothing better than to desert and be taken to England, others, on the other hand, seem more or less patriotic.  As soon as the former show any signs of trying to come across to us the more patriotic of their brethren shout at them, with the result that not half so many deserters actually reach our lines as are desirous of so doing.   They all say that everyone in Germany is tired of the war, but that is probably because they know that such a statement causes tremendous pleasure to the high authorities in the Intelligence Department.  I don’t suppose one can really believe much of what a discontented Bosch deserter has to say about conditions in Germany.  The information he gives about troops and billets, and roads and railways is far more trustworthy and useful.  I managed to get to a Celebration this morning at 7.30 AM. in the village recreation room.  The Padre started a bit early with the result that both Huskinson and I were late.  There were only three or us altogether.  Just at present our C.E. padres are not very great men; at least they do not seem to make their presence felt much.  Perhaps they devote all their energies to the battalions and consider that Bde Hq. does not need any parson.   This evening at 5.30pm the General delivered a lecture on advance guards which we all attended.  He knew his subject very well but is not a very fluent lecturer; however I learned a lot which is the great thing.  Now all we have to do is to hope that some day the great thing will happen, and we shall once again need advance guards and rear guards, and all those curious things which one used to practice before the war began.  If we can only go on shoving far enough and hard enough it must have some effect in the end.   You cannot imagine the satisfaction it would give me personally to be able to get on the move and advance even though it was only for a comparatively short distance, while the Bosch retired on to some carefully prearranged line.  We have sat here long enough and want a change.

15 September 1916

Many thanks for your letter which arrived yesterday and for Punch which came this morning.  The latter is very regular and always extremely welcome.  We are all fearfully bucked over tonights news which is really excellent.   Flers and Martinpuich are both well worth having. And there cannot be much talk of the Bosch falling back of the Flers line, since the line in question is hopelessly broken.  We can always hear the roar and rumble of the bombardment while these things are going on, but very often you know the result in London before we get it here.  I see there is also good news from the Balkans tonight so perhaps some of our people who have been grousing about having nothing to do there, will have enough to keep them occupied for a bit.  I suppose Jack Davis is there unless he has been invalided away – I have not seen his name in the casualty lists so hope he is still going strong.   Leave has started again but at present on a very small allotment, and it will be a month or two before you see me strolling into the Vicarage.  Shields of ours goes tomorrow.  It is ten months since he was home so he thoroughly deserves it if anyone does.  I expect Allen will try for it also, it is 9 months since he had his, and he I know wants to get married.  No one has heard from Barton for some time so we don’t know whether he even got to England or what happened to him.     Have you started to make the Christmas plum-puddings yet because war-economy or no war-economy there have jolly well got to be some of them.  When you do start remember us out here, we could well do with one.  I never had any last year to come near those that you used to produce.  Christmas sounds a terrible long way off and of course (!) by that time we shall be somewhere near the Rhine.  However a plum pudding won’t taste any the worse for being washed down with a drop of lager beer.    I have not seen anything in the paper yet about a new Head for Shrewsbury – perhaps I have missed it: mind you write and let me know as soon as you hear who has been appointed.  Rambaut one of their assistant masters who was wounded on July 1st has returned to us quite fit again and is serving with one of the batteries which helps to “cover” our front.  I see him occasionally but he has no idea who the Head is to be.   My foolish sickness has now almost completely left me, and I was up in the trenches all this morning.  There was plenty to see and I quite enjoyed myself.  This afternoon I had Kitty out for a couple of hours and paid a few calls; we had one or two good little canters but she wasn’t going quite so well as usual, I don’t know why.  Cannon I very shortly going on a months “course” during which time he will be away from us entirely.  I hope this won’t mean long hours for me sitting in the office while Godsal is out, because there is nothing that I loathe more than that horrible office.  I expect I shall be able to wriggle out of it somehow.  Godsal himself prefers to be out and about, doing something, or going somewhere, to sitting in a hard chair reading through stacks of long winded official documents handed down through the various formations.  We have managed to take a goose so are going to have a blow out on Sunday night.  It sounds horrible but I dare say we shall be forgiven.