20 February 1918 – Ted to Gertrude

20 Feb

Feb 20/18


Dear Mother

Very many thanks indeed for 2 letters which I got from you last mail, dated 12th & 18th December. Please excuse this awful paper, but it’s all I’ve got, found in a box of my spare kit which I left behind at Baghdad last September when we went on the Ramadi show. It’s got a trifle damp as you perceive, but I’m afraid I’ve got no better.

You ask if I ever received the pipe & by this time you will have got my letter saying it arrived safely and thanks ever so much for it. It’s an old much-smoked veteran now and is my constant companion, as I can smoke a pipe all day in the cold weather.

So glad to hear Topher’s stammering is improved and I hope his lessons will make a great difference to him, if not completely cure him. Poor Dick losing all his kit, and not being able to take his shirt off for a month! Quite like old times, I know so well what he feels like. After a bit you begin to feel you never want to take off anything, & then that awful “scratching” period begins, & you simply have to take it off! Are’nt I horrid!! I presume he was all through the Cambrai business, as I see Indian Cavalry were engaged.

We are camped just by a railway here, as I think I told you and there are a lot of L.S.W.R. railway engines in use on the line. So familiar they look and sound as they go puffing by, and of course the Queens all swear they can recognise old friends in them; and I’ve no doubt they have all buzzed through Guildford station one time or another.

Warmer weather lately and some rain. Today is cloudy and raw with promise of more rain. I think this is going to be a very dusty camp in the hot weather. We have had one or two windy days which have been very unpleasant. We have also had several visits from Hun aeroplanes lately; I think they were just prowling round seeing what they could see. Our “archies” fired at them, & several of our ‘planes went up after them but with no results.

I have had a day’s shooting, last Sunday. I & one Potter of the Queens rode out on Saturday and stayed the night at a post with a friend in another regiment & shot next day. There were very few birds about & we only got 16, but had a very pleasant walk and a day in the country, which, after all, is the chief thing.

Thanks very much for sending the soap along. The parcel has’nt arrived yet, but I have no doubt it will before long. The Fortnum & Mason boxes have not turned up yet either, though it must be 5 months nearly since they left home.

I have dined with Sam Orton once or twice at Divn H.Q., & met General Brooking again. Of course I knew him comparatively well, as I have had many dealings with him. He thinks a lot of the regiment & often says nice things about us to me. Many thanks for the Maude memorial service paper which you sent. Most interesting.

Yes, I got a photograph from Dryden of the 1914 star, and right proud I am to have qualified for it. I’m afraid it will lead to many discussions, as of course there has been equally heavy fighting and a good deal heavier in many cases since those early days. But it’s nice to think that the old army (though, heaven knows, no one respects & admires the New army more than I do, & all of us do) will be practically the only ones to get it, including many territorials, who after all were part of the old Army, the 2nd line, & did magnificent word. Anyhow it has been given, up to a certain date, & there the matter begins & ends, so discussion is really pointlee and leads nowhere. If you get it, you get it; if you don’t, you don’t.

I have written to Nell, making sort of preliminary arrangements for the wedding. I hope to manage to arrive home about the middle of May, & be married round about 1st June though of course it’s impossible to say definitely. In any case, I will be wiring to her, when I start, and I hope she will wire on to you. I have told her to address me c/o P & O Port Said when she gets my wire saying I’m starting, so you had better do the same. I must perforce leave nearly all the arrangements to her, but I have given her a rough outline of my ideas, & have appointed Ben as my representative, to whom all questions are being referred. I hear leave is to be on the liberal side this year; I sincerely hope so.

So glad the nurse & matron wrote you a line; they were perfect angels to me, & I do admire them all so, working all day and all night in that appalling heat, & wonderfully cheery all the time.

By the way, we are moving up a bit tomorrow; afraid I can’t say where or why, nothing very exciting, but I may not be able to catch next mail, as we are going off into the blue on 20lbs of kit. This is just to warn you in case you don’t hear next mail, but with this fortnightly business on I ought to be able to scribble a short line.

Tons of love to all

yr loving son


I shouldn’t be as amused as I am by the thought of fussy, fastidious Richard losing his kit and not being able to change his shirt for a month.

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