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Date: August 18th 1918

Hardelot Peaje

My dear Gertrude

I did not give you the name of this place in my last letter, as altho one is allowed to in the case of these coast obase camps & areas, I thought it advisable not as I was mentioning some of the units here.

You probably wont find it on the map - as it is a quite recently built place - on of these "developed" watering places. It is 7 miles south of Boulogne along the coast - but more by road.

Today is Sunday - a glorious day as hot as ever but the wind almost blowing a gale off the sea. Yesterday has been our only bad weather day & luckily Swift (another Gunner) & I had chosen it to go into Boulogne. It wasn't so bad after all - very dull & windy but no rain until late in the evening, did not interfere in the least with a town excursion. We ordered breakfast for 8 (usually at 8.30) in order to catch the 8.45 car - which eventually left at 9.20 in the usual leisurely French manner. They like English tram ways use women conductors but not women motor men. The girl yesterday managed the running board of the open trailer very skillfully & she had a rather difficult job as she had to see to the car as well - not too safe a job moving from one to the other whilst they are going.

We had to change cars where we did the other day at Pont de Briques yet another on to Boulogne. Which we reached by 10.45. A lot of Americans on board. My first time in B since I caught the leave boat in February last year.

Went to Con's to cash a cheque first the most necessary part of my visit, then walked to the sea front whilst Swift paid a visit to a hospital he was a patient in. Then we visit the Officers Clothing Department of the Ordinance but could not get anything we wanted. so went off to the Officers Club - a hugh collection of wooden buildings with 700 beds for officers passing thro & a large dining hall etc. Had a much needed haircut & then lunch. the latter a very well cooked & served 4 course meal for fr 3.50 - about 60 cents & that in the fifth year of war. Then a little shopping - on my part a few post cards & 2 books. We had decided to take the 3 oclock car back - but as we waited for it an Air Force motor tender came along & we got a ride to Pot de Briques in a quarter of the time the car would have taken. However we had to wait for the 3.30 on & got back here in time for tea & a swim afterwards. The latter rather a breathless affair a hugh wind & big breakers.

After dinner there was a concert in the Hospital Recreation Hut - a very good orchestra & some good humourous turns - but they needed a good tenor or baritone.
This morning Swift & I got up for 8.30 Communion Service at the C.E.M.S. Hut on the front here. Quite a good simple service. Then after breakfast three of us set off north along the sands for Equinhem - a fishing village which we have been going to summon up energy to visit all week. We had heard there was a very picturesque church there too. The third member of our party a Captain Cameron, who I had seen quite of lot of already - I found on the walk came from Sunderland his Mother a Bloomer - of the same family as Sydney Watsons Mother. The smallness of the world again.

We had quite a strenuous 3 miles walk - the sand a little soft in places - & the wind very strong. The village is quite a big one, long & straggling - following up & down the lines of the dunes. The peculiar & not too pleasant smell which so often belongs to a fishing village in the air. The church we found quite a big one - modern, well built & well designed in mass - poor in detail. The service was nearly over but we heard a little singing by the choir. Altho we could not get into the building. I never saw a place so fully packed - children & women & men - nor a more interesting congregation as they came out - the children particularly clean & happy. Nearly all the girls & women had curious black bonnets & capes all in one piece, with long flaps in front where they fastened - whilst one or two had the big out spreading fanlike starched lined head dress of the Normandy fisherfolk. Yet other few were dressed in the latest Parisian mode - looking very out of place. Evidently a very devout conjugation - as most fishing communities are. We thought we would return by road but found the road bearing so far inland, that we decided to cut across country to the shore. We finally got back just in time for one oclock lunch with an appetite quite equal to all we got.

After dinner

This afternoon walked north & sat on the dunes & wrote to mother came back to tea & then wrote the above to you on the balcony - until six when I went up & undressed for a swim - or rather a bathe - the wind had such force & was blowing on shore, that the breakers came in head high where the water was only knee deep. It was a breathless time & the wind nearly blew my bathing suit ( a rather alarming French striped one) off. We have a big advantage here in being able to undress in our rooms, put on a trench coat & cross the promenade right on to the sands - leave the coat out of reach of the water & get in.

Time is passing quickly - two more full days & on Wednesday we pack up. It has been a great time however - I am very sunburnt & freckled although my freckling is as usual light & not very noticeable. Have done very little reading - not even finished the book I brought.

I have not had any mail sent on to me here so ought to have quite a budget when I get back to console me for the loss of the good times here.

Had some thought of doing two things here - seeing Father & perhaps May Sibbald. But Calais is too far away & up to the present I haven't located No 14 American Hospital although No 13 is at B. I ought to have enquired there but there is usually such a fuss to find the right people at these military places that I did not feel like trying.

Have had some enjoyable tennis but would have had better if I had been a better player but never was much good at it.

Am sending you 4 Boulogne cards in a separate envelope. Expect they will go through alright.

Must close & have a turn on the front before bedtime.

I see the Exhibition is being held this year. Should not have thought the men could have been spared to prepare & run it - Next year perhaps they will be able to celebrate peace. [?] records again.

Hope all goes well & you are feeling fit after Burgoine & perhaps some other holiday.

With all my love

Original Scans

Original Scans