Same old place
My dearest Barbara
I received your letter of the fifth yesterday afternoon and was very glad to see your writing. Why should you tell me not to write unless I feel inclined or have spare time? had my last letter a forced sort of appearance? my dearest it gives me a great deal of pleasure to write to you, it is the next best thing to sitting down and having a talk with you. Well I am afraid that I have to confess that at 38 I have not the constitution I had at 25 & at all events the enthusiasm to stand this bitter cold & wet. I have been seedy for some days now and take aspirin every night to enable me to sleep & take the dull ache out of my bones. I must have got a very bad chill as it is only today that I am beginning to feel a little myself again and day after tomorrow back I go to that dug-out where the walls made of bags of moist earth give forth their worst “vaporous exhalations” day & night and the roar and shocks of the guns never give one peace. Thank Heaven! only a month more and then the whole Division goes on “Rest” to some place at the back out of the sound of guns, & there we are all supposed to get our nerves bodies & kit in good repair ready for another three months at the “Front”. My leave will be due soon after or just before the end of the Rest and you will see my war-worn countenance early in March. How I hope it won’t be blowing gales in England; the wind here is the bitter part of the cold and seems to go through one; that and the all pervading damp.
I did not think that Mrs W, a woman who had lived in the Colonies, could be so narrow- minded; if she were right there would always be war as the church going people are a very small minority of the population of the British Isles. However I hope you will go whenever you feel inclined and think it does you good; I am sure when one feels like that , it does do one good.
I think I was fairly safe on the occasion of your dream about my calling you, as I was back here in billets when it happened; though this last week we had some narrow squeaks; I told you about the machine gun.
I had a long letter from Oliver which I enclose; he says as you will see that Lawton paid them a visit; funny thing I had written to Lawton only a week or two ago asking him for Linggi’s address.
So the babes are evidently liked by the various Mothers, well they are being properly brought up which is more than the usual modern child is, spoilt little monkeys that most of them are.
Did you see Hughes’ photo in the “Roll of Honour” in the Illust.London News?, poor fellow! how sorry I do feel about him.
It has been a fine day today for a change but oh! so cold; we huddle over the fire all day as outside there is nothing but an ocean of mud everywhere. I had a letter from Rachael in which she said how sorry she was not having been able to run over & see you on the occasion of her visit to Brighton.
How is your sister getting on in Spain? have they met Thornton yet?
We are not supposedto mention the Division as it gives away a link in the chain which enables the enemy in case they get to know it, to trace the number of troops opposed to them in any one place. There are probably spies in our own Post Office & this cannot be altogether avoided, so it is best to take precautions.
I suppose Grace is with you now , as she said in her letter she was going down at once & then returning to Town to do some work or other.
I am just going to have a bath ,having had my hair cut, the first for a fortnight; my dear in this active service life one has to start with a new base as it were; the old standards have to be put on a shelf for better times. I am a terrible looking object (or was half an hour ago), with my hair well down over my collar and ears; I never dream of getting into pyjamas ; in the first place it is forbidden & secondly to undress in the open air as it were because all the winds of Heaven blow through our cubicles, would simply kill one right off. The only happy hours we know are those in bed when we are warm & when our present circumstances are not recollected. However I am not really unhappy and directly I am fit again I shall be all right. The other two subalterns who joined just before me (T.Cs) are also seedy and one has “nerves”; this I cannot understand & do hope I shall never get; it must be horrible. My O.C. is a first rate chap & I like him, but he is a semi invalid having been in West Africa & I am afraid will not last long.
When does Term start again for Mistress Ruth? how funny it seems that she should be going to school, & very soon it will be Dicky.
Funny thing I went into the Officers Mess of our infantry battalion the other night & saw a Gunner officer whose face seemed familiar, but as it was a common enough type of face I just put the idea out of my mind, when suddenly I heard him call maize “maiz” & then correct himself; then I knew who it was at once though I had never spoken to the man before; Chantrill a brother of the Girdlestones’ friends, curious! wasn’t it ?. By the way have you ever been away to Town since I left?. I am afraid you must find it lonely, my dear, and I am so glad you like Mrs Monroe; what about the other woman you said you liked very much at first; I don’t remember the name , has she also got feet of clay? By the way don’t forget the numbering of your letters. This is No 2. Do you know that I have at last begun my resolve to keep off all alcoholic liquor till the end of the war & for four weeks now have not touched anything. I think I probably suffer a little from sleeplessness due to this, but otherwise notice no difference. I started it chiefly for the reason that it was the only way of getting out of drinking more than I required and also because it is arranged that all drink taken should be shared by those who drink, and as in any case I took very little I am afraid I could not have afforded to pay for more. Did you get yourself the warm things you required and the boots? By the way I am a bit overdrawn & I hope you will not require any extra until the end of this month, when I will send the school fees & as much as I can spare after paying the mess bills. I had to pay £5 in advance to start the fund, as the fund had dwindled to very little. Do you do much reading nowadays & if so what have you read?. I liked Beltane the Smith very much; it was most enthralling
You have never told me whether you got back my breeches from the dyers; & have you had the trunks & the fur coat sent to the House to save storage fees?
Did you fix up your National Registration?. You must not mind me telling you old girl, but you have so much to do you may forget. Well good-bye for a bit with much love to you and the babes.
Your affectionate husband
P.S. How is your father?