17 October 1918

Do not be surprised or pained at the untoward appearance of this epistle. We are at war and that is an excuse for many things.  The sun is shining – birds singing – hares running about, and I, having just shaved, am lazing under a bank in the sun.   Incidentally we are in the middle of a battle.  We have done so many lately that I for one have become most terribly blasé – it is a big battle and some of us had something to do with the start of it early this morning.  Since then other people have being going on through us, and if they keep it up at their present rate of progress, we shall soon be left behind, out of earshot even of our own heavy guns, and they are usually a good way back.  I have not been very well lately probably because for 3 days we slept in a house (first time since May) with a carpet and all sorts of awful civilized booby traps of that sort. However I am better now, in fact quite fit again.   As a matter of fact my recent indisposition may quite well have been due to over eating.   It has been extraordinarily interesting to see the changes in the country as we passed through.  First the absolute desolation & ruin of the country which for more than a year – last winter – had been front line. Then came villages somewhat battered by artillery and too close to the Hindenberg line to be very pleasant.   Then one day some cultivated land.  Then – my battle because I was in command – a village still containing Civilians – Bochized since 1914 – underfed and bullied – taught to take their hats off to every soldier – afraid to smile.  But still a village with many houses intact and consequently billets instead of bivouacs.   Today these same down-trodden civilians are watching gangs of Boche prisoners march along their streets.  I fear with considerable glee, and no little hatred to judge by the cries of “coupez la tete!”. They are having the time of their lives, and it does one’s heart good to see them.   We got eight new officers yesterday but I hardly had time to look at them before moving off to this battle. I expect they will last for a week or two and then fade away for the winter. Banwell and I will remain and possibly one or two others who have managed to stick so far.  Taylor, Dunlop and Argyle are quite useful examples. Ashdowne is on leave in town somewhere.  Most of our wounded have managed to find their way to London. I dare say Dad has already seen one or two of them.  This battle is really going extraordinarily well and the noise which at dawn was so terrific has now dwindled to a distant murmur in the East. I expect the old Boche will be well on his way to “evacuation” by now whether he likes it or no.  I am not a “fire-eater” but I must say there is something very enjoyable about a battle which goes well.  No time for more, I expect we shall pack up and go home soon.

Leave from Oct. 23rd to Nov. 6th. Armistice Nov. 11

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