All good soldiers growl.
France May 21st 1916
I suppose I am allowed to write to you on Sundays, aren't I? Well, I'm blessed if I know what to tell you, but first of all I guess, I'll answer two of your letters that arrived during the week.
Mabel seem to be doing all right in the rag hat line and the wages aren't bed for a first yearer.
If my film with Walter Hebbard is any good to his people, let them have it, by all means, and any other he may be in. He had stiff luck – a bonza little chap too. I spent quite a lot of time with him.
We had another hot bath yesterday – the first for some time, and it wasn't hard to take I can assure you, also the clean change of shirts. Why, I only had two “what-you-may-call-its” when I had my bit of sport today. I'm back on the day shift again now and have been at it since 5am. It's now about 3.30pm. It's nearly five miles to where we are fixing up the defences, so the march there and back is in itself a fair days work. It will be grand to go back to the trenches for a spell.
I've been on night shift ever since we came out last time and it was beginning to pall. I'm playing on the John Morgan tonight for the Parson, who is going to hold a special song service in our billet. He's a bonza little Padre, although he's never had much to do with men before.
I sent a snap of myself to Mabel last week. It was taken during “smoke-oh” at Band practice out in the desert and I knew nothing about it until a parcel from Kodaks arrived here a week ago. I am told that I was laying down the law to Jerry Monoghan at the time. Stan Fletcher is the culprit.
The news is practically nil. I took a stroll into Bas St.Main last night, but if you see one French town you see the lot.
The French folk are out in all their glory today, Sunday, but I am sorry to say, most of them are in deep black but the folk dress lovely and neat for an out of the way town. It's funny to see them coming home from Church with baskets and bags full of shopping and market produce.
I wish there was a Protestant Englise here but I've never seen one since coming to France. All along the roads are big costly shrines and life size crucifixes at every turn. While we were spreading out in Artillery formation to go down a dangerous road, we halted close to a cottage and the people were shifting “Ah, Allermagne no bon!” said the lord and master of the household. “Send plenty shell” and he made gestures in show where the the shells had been lobbing during the week, and he was right, he didn't escape with his house by much, but he carting his good into Armentieres, and he had hardly gone five minutes before the first of a fine “big fellers” smashed into that city, if he wasn't jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, I'm a Dutchman.
I think the news is all cut out now except the one night a fog rolled in towards us, and all the gas alarms were rung frantically, and helmets donned, but then dropped to the joke after a while.
One night we were marching down to our job when they began shelling the road and we had to turn back and go another way, but these things are not worth mentioning. I have not heard from Ralph at all. You may have seen the death of Lent King in the lists, well it was the same shell that killed him, that the splinter grazed Ralph's knee.
Ernie is well and growling a treat – says we are overworked, but all good soldiers growl. I'm a good soldier, aren't I?
I got a service card from Cyril two days ago. I haven't seen Ernie since Egypt. Will ring off now. Thanks awfully for the “Ages” etc. which have all reached me safely. We are lucky here. We get the English papers only a day late, so please don't bother to send others unless there's summat special. It will save you messing around but tell Dad not to stop the “Globes”. Will stick in a couple of films.
Hoping you are well.
Your affectionate son.
Greek orange sellers at Lemnos, rather picturesque costume they wore.
Street scene, Lemnos
Greek girls playing.
Snap of grave in Tel-el-Kehir