Letter 14

56th Field Coy R.E.

B.E.F. France

21st Feb.1916


My dear Barbara

I am afraid I have not been able to write you these last few days ; here we are at the Front again more or less at the same place as before, but of course our old billets are occupied by others and we are sharing a camp with another Field Coy, the men in tents and ourselves two in a cubicle adjoining the Mess all crowded together like sardines; very pleasant indeed ;” je ne pense pas”. We had ten days rest instead of the month we had hoped for and we moved at four hours notice; it was not pleasant leaving our palatial billets and the healthy open air life we were having; I was thoroughly enjoying the drill and the route marches and the afternoon rides. However “c’est la guerre”. The Abbe in whose house I was billeted blessed me before I left and told me to be of “bon courage”; he was a nice old chap. Of course my dear you will understand that troops are not called back from “rest” in this way without some urgent reason, so I expect we shall have a rough time for the next fortnight after which I hope we shall return and have another “Rest”. It was snowing all last night and today the ground is covered with two inches of snow. We had a terrible time getting here, first a march of ten miles, then four hours in a train then another six miles march; no food from breakfast till one o/clock in the morning when we reached here; of course we had to load and unload all our horses and wagons on & from the train each operation taking a couple of hours. How dead tired & cold we were when we arrived & hungry & how delighted to see a meal laid out for us by the other Field Coy. It was most good of them and we were very grateful as we expected to have to wait an hour or two till our cook made us something. All today the cannonading has been tremendous, like the continual roar of thunder

I have not heard from you for about a week though I received “Truth” from you. I hope you have fixed up things about the house and that you are well and happy. Do tell me all about yourself and the babes, it does cheer me up so to hear from you and about you all. It is not particularly cheery here; there is only one man I like really & he is ill and may leave us any time; the others are all pleasant fellows, but two are only boys one is a half Belgian (reminds me of Risso) and he gets on all our nerves & and the other well you know his trouble, he is almost impossible nowadays & I think cannot last long; if he can, well it is a wonderful system that is so elastic. I think after a good offensive when I have had a really bad time with the Company I shall put in for the Indian Sappers & Miners; it is everywhere said that they are very short of officers with a knowledge of India. I should have to go to Egypt, Salonika, or Mesopatania , but I think it would be more interesting in either of those expeditions, though on the other hand the winter is now approaching its end and the summer here would be better than the summer there.

I had a long letter from Darch & I enclose it for you; I do not think we shall ever go back to Paraguay, as I doubt that they will ever pay what they did before and it would not be worth while going there for less than $800 at least. That and house rent yes but they would expect me to go to Campbell”s house as Clarke has gone to Gallego’s house. I should prefer to go to the Argentine again as then my ten years there might count towards the Railway Pension Act. However “sufficient unto the day” must be ones motto. I shall keep in touch with Liddel from whom I heard the other day; it would be curious to go back to Mendoza wouldn’t it

I think I told you we were having a very strenuous time when in “Rest”; it was continuous drilling and route marching till 1 o/clock from 7.45 in the morning and then an hours lecture to the men; the afternoons were free & if it were fine we rode. The countryside was delightful. I never had the opportunity of going to G.H.Q. and looking up W. so please tell Mrs W. if she ever inquires. I suppose I should have missed him as he was on leave.

Did Monroe go back to the Hospital ship? When did you say Ruth’s holidays start? Isn’t it Pat’s birthday next month? You remember these things better than I do.

You will laugh at Darch’s remark about the Morgan Wylie menage; I never thought little Mrs W. was bad tempered,did you?. What a specimen H—– is really. I should think it an unmitigated calamity to go under him again although I would not let that stand in my way if other conditions were all right, as I should never let him worry me again. After all one nearly always has to put up with somebody. Mr S. has not written and I shall not bother about him again.

Have you seen anything of Rachel lately? I have had no letters from anybody for nearly a week & I am wondering what has happened. I had a couple of parcels from Fortnum & Masons sent me by Rachel & they were very nice though I think it is an awful waste of money giving them. If ever you think of it you might write to Steward Opticians in the Strand & tell them to send me a battery for the Orilux lamp; they cost 1/6 & postage extra. Are Cox’s sending you your money regularly?.

Well write soon old girl & kiss the “batchas” for me

Love from William


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