Could you please send over a dozen big cats next parcel?
France Sunday 11 June, 1916
This morning I received the tail end of the last mail, but did not get your missing number although I got one each from Dad and Bill, also one from Mr. Goble and another from Harry Stone, who used to be our solo cornet, but is now solo cornet in the Anzac Band, London and having the time of his life. Some fellows get good jobs. He was on the Peninsula for three weeks, got a bit sick, took some chlorodyne (too much) which set his heart going more than normal, and got sent away and lo and behold, he gets in the Band and since then has played before the King and all the knuts, and in such places as Westminster Abbey and so forth. Verily some fellows are born lucky, others achieve luck, quite a number have luck thrust upon them but I : woe is me! I can't get sick, I can't get wounded, and I can't work my nut no how to get a trip.
There are not many of the original Battalion left now, but Ernie and I are still going strong. I've heard not a word from Ralph since he got his holidays – another instance of luck.
I got a short note from Harry Ivory during the week. He is still with the Pay Office, but they have moved to London now. He too had a bit of luck. He had gastritis to fall back on, and like a faithful friend, didn't fail him. Ernie T has just been to see me. We shifted last night and are now quite close to him. He looks well and is having a good time, said that he had a letter from you a short time ago. It's the first time I have seen him since Moasker. I had a short note from Cyril last week. They are working the trenches we left in Fleurbaix. He wanted me to try and get to him, but I haven't the host of a chance. I've seen Bob and Dorey a couple of times lately, and they are in the very pink of condish.
Dor is Sergeant and is as smart as any of them. I meet him at one of Gipsy Smith's meetings. George Gordon is always writing notes and things to me, but I haven't seen him yet, but Ernie sees him often.
Thank you for the parcel. We had cocoa for dinner and it was tres bon. Compre?
Our new lodgings are infested with rats, and the worst I've yet encountered. They were bad enough in (censored) but here, blimey (now I've tried hard not to say something but it slipped out). Anyhow, they are the dizzy limit. All the time Ernie was here this morning we punctuated each syllable with vicious jabs, stabs, cuts, pushes, throws, anything, everything at the big (cow) rodents. Could you please send over a dozen big cats next parcel? Mind they big ones for I can't picture the awful scene if one of these rats got to an average sized tabby.
The candlestick has proved a boon already. The writing tablet is just it. (You don't have to write half as much to the outer circle) but they are exceedingly handy, and this style is the best of the bunch. I haven't opened Olive's tin yet, but now we are right away from the shops etc.., and so will be able to appreciate it to the full.
I was able to hear Gipsy Smith again and heard the second half of his life. My word, he's just the thing and knows how to deal with hard doers of soldiers. I have never seen such a response to any missioner yet as was accorded to him, for at the finish he asked all those who had been helped by what he said, and all who would try, and live more manly lives to stand up. If any man kept his seat I didn't see him, which I think is a great triumph, both for him and The Cause, for an Army is very unlike a Church, it's---well, it's the Army, that's all. But our Chaplain Bladen was there for the whole four meetings, and it turned out that he was an old friend of Gypsys (I'm thinking of Egypt) Gipsys. I think that you will get a good report of it in the “Spec”, about the same time as this reaches you. Anyhow, he will be in Australia “after der var” as the Froggies say, and I'll take you to hear him – a man that never had a days schooling in his life, and has been the guest of Royalty etc.
Well, Mother, the news is practically nil. The (Censored) Brigade had a bit of a stunt one night and wiped out a few good Germs., brought three back as souvenirs, and hardly lost a man. The Vermin had it all their own way at the start, but soon it will be quite the reverse.
Cruel about Lord Kitchener wasn't it? And what a pity the Kiel Canal Fleet didn't stay a little longer, for the might have sunk some more of our ships and – stayed out for keeps.
I must close now with love to all.
From your affectionate son.