50 Divinity Road, Oxford
On going through my old army valise last week, with the intention of destroying it, I felt a bulge, and slipping my hand through the torn lining, I pulled out - inter alia - the enclosed pocketbook. It seems a dreadful thing to reopen old wounds, but I consider it a sacred trust to forward it to you. The circumstances in which it came into my possession are briefly these: -- I was in the line at Mouquet Farm (Pozieres) with my regiment (the 5th Batt. Dorsetshire Regt., 34 Bridgade, XI Divn.) in September, 1916. We were relieving, I think, the 2nd or 1st C.M.R.'s, who appeared to have been practically slaughtered to a man, as they leapt over the parapet in a charge. I shall not attempt to describe the incredible charnel house the scene portrayed, but at nights, even now, if I have bad [dreams?].
The shelling was so incessant night and day, and the weather so appalling, it was practically impossible to attempt to bury the dead. Every shell hole had its complement of those who had gained Valhalla. My servant brought me this pocketbook, and I gave orders for it, and any other documents and identity discs, to be sent to battalion headquarters for transmission. Apparently, in the hurly-burly, he put it in my valise; being badly wounded a few days afterwards (Sept. 16, to be exact), I spent many weary months in hospital. The valise and other impedimenta was so badly knocked about that I took out a fresh equipment on going to France the second time. The old valise has been lying perdu in a cupboard ever since.
I trust you will receive the pocketbook safely. In that unfinished letter your son shows the indomitable courage and capability of laughing at Death, that makes the tragedy of his death the more poignant. God keep his very brave spirit.
Late Captain, Dorsetshire Regt.
[Originally published in the Manitoba Free Press, November 3, 1928]