4th Jan 1916 No 1 56th Field Coy R.E.
My dear Barbara
I received your letter of the 30th Dec last night. Your playful epithet to me of “wretch” sounded funny. I hope you will take care of yourself and not overdo it & I am glad you are getting a woman in to do the rough work & so let Ada relieve you of the children occasionally. How is she doing now? as well as ever; if so you are indeed lucky.
I have been feeling very seedy the last two days, chill & strain I suppose & last night I had some fever. Today all my bones ache and directly I get back to Hdqrs I am going to bed & shall ask for a doctor. I have to walk four miles unfortunately across fields & ditches tonight after being relieved & I am dreading it as I feel hardly able to put one foot in front of the other. Poor little Pat, I can well understand his feeling lonely & shy, now Ruth would be in her element and would begin bossing the other children at once. How does Dickie feel when he goes out alone; also shy I expect. Its the sex coming out with Ruth.
I had along letter from Pedro & he tells me he heard from you; I guarantee you could not understand his reply; his Spanish has now reverted to Italian almost with a Spanish word here & there. He says he will get a Spanish steamer from Barcelona as no Italian steamers are sailing. How I should to be serving with the Italians & if only I knew Italian as I do Spanish I would write off and offer my services through the W.O. This terrible monotony mud & wire make life a perfect misery. If only the rumour were true that the B,E,F, were going to clear out & let the French & Belgians look after this front, I should think half a million men would throw their hats in the air with joy, except of course the lucky ones at the “Back of the Front”.
I have seen a good deal these last few days & one night had a machine gun play on a trench I was standing in with another officer; a low trench up to our shoulders. You can almost see the imprint of our bodies on the boarded floor of the trench which we simply plastered with ourselves. It was very nasty.
I suppose if one stays here long enough one is bound to get hit, its a mathematical certainty.
Do not send me that rotten paper “Land & Water”, its not worth reading the vapourings of journalists. Punch & Truth and a magazine or review if you get them yourself but not on purpose for me.
6th Jan I had to leave off at 4pm on Tuesday as the men were parading to march off to Hdqrs. The walk across those fields, up & down steep banks & stumbling & cursing all the way in the dark & pelting rain for 4 miles & then another mile over atrocious cobbles quite finished me up & I arrived with a high temperature & went off to bed. The doctor made me stay in bed all yesterday & dosed me with aspirin & I got up today at midday feeling pretty weak & tottery; however I am all right to start work tomorrow in the camp.
I hope there will be a letter from you tonight. By the way my dear I am wondering whether our letters get to each other & so I propose numbering all of them, as we used to do when we were first acquainted. Will you keep a note of the numbers received & I will do the same. This will be No 1 of the 4th Jan 1916.
Did you do anything for the New Year? We had several casualties last week from shells in the trenches and it was pretty beastly.
I am still anxiously awaiting the photos of the Trio; do have this done soon. It is said we go back for a months rest in a months time, in which case I shall have only twice more in the trenches before then, and after? we shall see. My leave will be due early in March.
I have hardly heard from Rachael since I have been out here, only about twice or three times; I cannot understand it.
Well goodbye old girl much love to you & the Babes from
How is Pat in regard to the adenoids taken out?