I have been most horribly busy and have not had any time to think of writing for the last few days in fact I cannot remember when I last wrote, though I have a dim recollection of sending one to Somerset St. by absent mindedness – which was of course very remiss of me. I enclose another book of certificates – it makes me feel quite rich – and is the result of a better looking balance than I expected. You will also find some post cards of various people in the Btn. Please keep then somewhere for me in a safe place. The matrimonial affair is a picture of my recently married Orderly Room Sergeant and his wife. I shall try and get some more someday – they are the best souvenirs one can have. My clerks have all been ill, one after the other – most annoying of them – and of course a great nuisance as it all means extra work for me. However I am proposing to have a rest for a week. The C.O. is going away again to Command the Brigade – Griffiths is on leave so Burnett will Command, and I shall be second in C – a slack job. Ashdowne is going to do my work.
Many thanks for several letters which I have not had time to answer. I am glad the weather is not being too appalling at Bromley, and hope Dad has managed to have a fine day or two for his fishing. We had the great Neville Talbot here yesterday afternoon to talk to the officers of the Brigade. He boomed at us for rather too long – its length on a hot afternoon spoilt an otherwise admirable talk. He was very humorous to start with and then got serious – and with the latter shouted – a mistake in a small mess full of officers. He is senior chaplain in the Army. We are having much better weather and camp is consequently quite pleasant. We had the Brass band for dinner last night and are having a string orchestra tonight for our guest night. The news is excellent and we only wish we could be allowed to do something instead of sticking in this same old series of ditches day after day. It must have been absolutely great for those fellows on the first day marching practically unopposed and capturing bags of stuff and men. However we live in hopes and our time may yet come before the end of the war.
Many thanks for your letter, glad to hear that you are all enjoying yourselves, and that Tom’s arm is better. It was a piece of good fortune for Dad to run into Dr Smith: I expect you will all enjoy a trip over to tea with him. We have just had a piece of very bad luck. Pearson only returned from sick leave a few days ago, and went out on a patrol this morning. He ran in to large numbers of Boche, and apparently has been captured. At all events he has not returned and we can find out nothing about him. It is a great pity as he is a brave lad and we cannot afford to lose him. Mosquitoes are a terrible plague just at present and we badly want some sort of netting but of course cannot get any. Some unfortunate people get bitten all over their faces, which are now covered in large red bumps – most ‘orrible. My clerk Lincoln is a sufferer in this respect. Banwell has returned to us from Hospital; he is not very strong yet, but being naturally hard and fit will probably not take long to regain all his former vigour. We have one or two new Subalterns but no one very striking. Todd is waiting to take the letter down, so I must stop.
Very many thanks for your letter giving me your address at Bromley Common. I hope that by this time you are enjoying plenty of sunshine and sitting in the fields getting some fresh air. I am afraid that at present there is no chance of my getting leave and coming along to join you. This time of year is always full of sports and things of that sort. Horse shows are like flies, all over the place. This afternoon there is a swimming gala, and in a few days time there is to be a boxing tournament. They are undoubtedly good fun but always seem to me to mean endless work, all extra to the war. Just at present I am feeling more or less on top of the work, but there are some occasions when I begin to look like being submerged in a flood of paper. We have one or two new officers – one Griffiths by name, is from Uppingham, so we will hope for good things. Just at the moment we can hardly raise a Public School in the whole mess. There are one or two distinctly curious officers, I hope they won’t go palming off dishonoured cheques, or anything of that sort – they look as if they might. I am glad the War savings turned up all right. I meant to write a letter to go with then but forgot.
Very many thanks for the Hunting Songs, also the young library which arrived the day before. I shall now be kept “quiet” for a long time. I am glad to hear Tom’s arm is going on well, I don’t think you need worry about rheumatism. The pain is after all what one would expect after having ones joint fixated for some time in the same position. I remember my old collar bone was nothing compared to the pain in my elbow while my arm was strapped across my chest. The weather has improved, and though we cannot say we have real clear summer weather, at all events we have had no more deluges for the last three days. Trenches are not very bad and most of us manage to keep more or less dry. Personally I am very comfortably situated and manage to lead a very pleasant existence. At this point I was interrupted by a chanting maniac – to wit – the Adjutant of another Btn who came to talk “shop” and burst in the sanctity of my room with some common tune. The Transport Officer is here and the post is going so I must stop.
I am sorry to hear about your elbow accident and hope that by this time it is well on the road to recovery. I expect it hurt you rather a lot, and I daresay it does still a bit sometimes. I had a very exciting trip yesterday. Seven of us – mostly Colonels and red Hats and other people of that sort all went off in a car to watch a few machine guns firing into the sea – to see how the bullets dropped. We had great fun and a very good time as we were a very merry party. We had a terribly long way to go, and all bought fish to take back to the mess. By the time we arrived home the car smelt like a fish shop and I am sure it will be quite a long time before I get the smell out of my clothes. Unfortunately someone trod on someone else’s turbot (not mine) and there was nearly a battle about it.
We are being drowned slowly and surely. Today so far has been one long and continual downpour – rain falling in bucketfulls, and of course flooding everything. Camp has immediately decided to submerge itself and if it were not for the hard work of three broom-wielding clerks, my orderly room would be full of water. Fortunately so far my tent has not sprung a leak actually over my head, I daresay it will start soon. I managed to get over to see Banwell yesterday in his casualty clearing station and found him in very good form. In the next bed was Gaury also in great form, with his fourth wound – a piece of shell in the right leg – nothing very bad. I don’t think he will be sent down as they do not mean to extract the piece of metal. I think it was rather a shock to both Banwell and him to find each other side by side. Petch has just returned from leave bringing one or two terrible gramophone records – unfortunately the O Room is within earshot of the mess and work consequently difficult. I expect Griffiths will be going next – in a fortnight’s time or so. I am still a very long way off. They are working everybody very hard – myself included: I shall soon be getting quite “grey”.
The weather seems to have quite broken and we are having a succession of thunderstorms with alternately sultry and quite cold intervals; altogether most perplexing weather. Banwell’s wound has fortunately turned out comparatively slight – though it might have been very bad. It was a bullet, not a fragment of shell as I thought at first, and it got within a quarter of an inch of his internal organizations. He expects to be back with us before the end of the month, to celebrate his 21st birthday which is coming off them. There is no news – we have a horse–show and sports coming off shortly, I don’t suppose I shall enter for anything except possibly the “Beauty Show” – i.e. best turned out charger, “owner up” i.e. best dressed officer, best groomed horse and best kept saddlery combined – I don’t stand a chance but I know my groom will want me to enter – he will probably stake large sums of money on my winning, which of course he will lose much to his disgust. You will be glad to hear that my eyes are ever so much better and have not worried me half so much lately as they did so perhaps they are now really on the road to recovery, I hope so. Leave looks like being very distant so I may try to get 8 days leave in France and if soon, go to some quite spot in Normandy or Brittany, I should like that more than Paris I think.
Very many thanks for a letter which arrived last night; it has given me a tremendous fright. In it you say you got my letter about the medal ribbon parade “though that is not what you call it”. What did I call it? Did I in a moment of mental aberration use some unparliamentarily language or anything terrible? My temper has become very short and if some villain came and interrupted me in the middle of the letter I might unconsciously have written down some of my thoughts about him. Please relieve my mind next time you write by telling me exactly what I did say. The Colonel returned from Brigade the day before yesterday in a terrible temper or liver attack or something, and for several hours there were scenes. He has now gone on leave to Deauville for a few says. The weather has not been quite so good lately. There have been two terrific thunderstorms; one mixed up with shells and gun flashes was a very impressive sight, there was some of the finest fork lightning I have ever seen.
There is no news but another spare minute. We have had another casualty; this time Banwell – nothing very serious fortunately and I expect we shall have him back very soon. A little bit of anti-aircraft shell came and hit him in the wind – a most ignominious performance for such a very great man. He is so enormous that it did not go in very far, and has not reached anything important. He was in the most wonderful spirits through it all, and went away full of “buck”. I hope he re-appears soon as we cannot afford to lose him. It is horribly wet today and the ditches in which some of us live are beginning to show signs of filling up with water – as one might expect. However its fairly warm so nobody worries very much. I am sorry the Bryn Egwlys deal did not come off –it must be very disappointing to Dad. However it gave him a breath of Criccieth air which is a very good thing. People in Petrograd seem to be having an appalling time; I suppose some of our folk are still there; does anybody ever hear from any of them? There seems to be a serious shortage of everything, if one can believe the papers. Things here go on just the same as ever – we are all very fit.