Just a very hurried line scribbled at the bottom of a Boche dug—out – unshaved & unwashed for 3 days but feeling uncommonly fit. Moreover victorious as perhaps you have already gathered from the papers. The Btn has fought two battles in the last few days – in fact since I last wrote – and has done magnificently on both occasions. In the first, five platoons of ours – at the most 130 men – went clean through a village held by 3 Boche battalions, brought out some 150 prisoners , and killed most of the rest. I don’t believe any troops ever fought better; certainly none could have been in better spirits. They all enjoyed themselves. Even the wounded were yelling with delight and cheering others on. I never want to see better men. The second was a larger show, and is now history, so I need not tell you anything about it. Padre Buck was wonderful – led a large body of men who had gone astray in the fog, and got them into the fight in spite of a barrage – went off to rescue a man from a blazing tank, and got hit, died soon afterwards. He was one of the bravest men that I have ever met. Tomson I am afraid is also killed. Our casualties were very slight and we had our “tails well up”: no time for more – are working all of us with little sleep and lots of work.
Another lengthy epistle less period: this time there is an excuse. It may have been presumptuous on my part but I was foolish enough to imagine that I should be back in England before any letter I could write could reach you. However as often happens with sudden alarms it could not be manage when the time came, and I shall have to wait a few days – not more than a week or two at the most I hope. The magazines I sent you are not the outcome of this Division but another: I must say I think some of the articles very clever indeed. We have never run to anything of the sort though I dare say we could raise plenty of talent if we tried. I see Gaury is wounded again. I cannot find out how serious but hope he is not bad – it is about his fifth wound – or sixth, I am not sure which – he is a most unfortunate person. Banwell and Tomson are both back from leave looking very fit – the former has not completely recovered from his wound and is ready for anything. He really is a most splendid person. Our horses have been having rather a rough time lately and poor old Susan Jane, alias Hon. Sybil alias Lady Mary etc etc is somewhat dejected. She went about 32 miles in 8 hours yesterday, so is proboably hardly fit to ride today. However we shall see presently.
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.