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Date: December 30th 1917

Maresfield Park

Sunday 30/12/17

Dear Gertrude

This will be my last 1917 letter. Have naturally not settled down yet to camp life after home leave. Have to go on guard at 3.45 this afternoon for twenty four hours, so am writing this between cleaning up - which is rather a long job on such occasions especially after being away.

My last letter to you was on Christmas night. Tuesday was quite a good day - bright & a good sharp wind. The three girls & I had a walk along the great North Road in the forenoon, past the Race Course, & came back by way of the Thompsons, when we got home we took one or two snapshots. I don't know what they will be like - films are very hard to get & they are not making my size at all - I managed to get some for a No 2 Brownie of Berkeley's only took four & left 2 on the roll for Edgar - whom Poppy expects any day.

In the afternoon we had quite a lot of visitors. Guy Robinson & a Canadian friend in the R.F.C. first, then Rob's great friend Herbert Morton - known in our family as "Fusty" - exempt from service through rheumatic trouble. Then Arthur Hainsworth & his wife & boy came in. He is a [?] man - a very old friend of mine, his wife a sister of a man in Toronto - I think I have spoken about him - Boulton by name - was Asst. Manager of Simpson's Book Department now in the Princess Pats. He was a member of the Sherbourn [?] Methodist Church. Arthur is a Wesleyan. His Father one of the chief men at Priory Place Church Doncaster. Then finally Birdie Wilson (Robinson) & her little girl came up to tea & stayed till nearly 8.

Now I come to think of it, I have mixed things up a little as Guy & his friend came on Christmas Day.

Poppy had Thursday holiday as well as the previous day. We walked down to the station in the morning & I enquired about my train. Found Parkinson's open - although very few shops were - so Poppy treated us to coffee. We walked up by way of the Morris - as the girls had not seen Dora & she was to return to Grimsby on the Friday. The girls & Kathleen were going out to tea in the afternoon, so I arranged to go a walk with Mr Morris.

After dinner it came on very dull & started to drizzle - so after all we did not get a walk - but stayed in & talked - quite a big circle for the Morris', Jack & Betty of course - Dora & her sister Nell - Mrs Morris & latest arrival. We had early tea & then for the amusement of Jack & Betty played "Snap" & "Happy Family" - which they had had from Santa Claus.

I went home for our 6.30 tea - the girls getting back about the same time.

They had been out two miles in the country - calling on the widow of another friend of Rob's, who was killed before him. I think I told you at the time of their early morning wedding. She has a very fine baby daughter.

We had booked for the theatre in the evening - 2nd house - so did not have to go down till the 8.30 & we were back by 11 - so not a very long evening. [?] a very interesting play - although quite funny in parts. "A Butterfly on the Wheel" - a divorce court play which however ends happily, without any divorce. Was rather amused at tea time - when the subject of going to the theatre came up - Poppy said that as you have never gone to the theatre at all - I should certainly think of taking you. Considering that she goes herself regularly, although not often - 5 or 6 times a year perhaps - I could hardly agree. Mother did not commit herself but as , although she does not feel like going at all these days - she thoroughly enjoys a good play in normal times, she could hardly support Poppies' contention.

Friday morning I was of course busy cleaning & getting things together which I wanted to take back & also had a final hot bath in comfort.

Had dinner at 12.30 & caught the 1 car down - Poppy off it coming up for dinner - & caught a relief train to King's Cross at the station - ten minutes ahead of the 1.31 I intended to catch. All the trains packed with Tommies & Cadets.

Got to King's Cross at 5.20 & by underground about 200 of us went by the 8.5 - Had two changes - arrived at Uckfield by 10.30 in a blizzard & by the state of the roads knew they had ever had a proper thaw here. We had a strenuous walk to camp with our heavy bags & all lights out when we got in. Fortunately some kind friend had made my bed for me.

Yesterday we had a two hours lecture & then Battalion parade in the snow. Rather dangerous marching on the slippery roads with fixed bayonets.

Put in an afternoons work in the Y.M.C.A. & wrote to Mother last night & got to bed early. It is thawing this morning & threatening rain.

No letters yet but just as I left Mother received your parcel with Chocolates & candy - all in good condition. It had been posted on November 15th.

I must close & do a little more cleaning before dinner.

Hope all goes well.

With much love.

Yours Jack

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