From: East Sandling Camp
Sun. 13 Oct. 1918
Dearest Mother -
Sun. p.m. has come round again and still you find me at East Sandling. Early last week, we were told that the draft was again postponed. We are, I think, almost certain to leave next Friday as we will then be two weeks overdue. Strange indeed the way things happen. Not only have we been separated, but Casey will now be two weeks ahead of me in the course. It only lasts for about six weeks when we go on to other courses.
Most of the fellows have had a weekend leave of from two to four days - some have had more than one. It was only granted at first to those who had some very urgent reason, tho lately it had been given more freely. When it was known that we were not to leave last Friday, it was decided to accept applications from all those who had not had a leave. These are getting it now as well as some others. I applied for four days from Friday evening and am getting three days from Mon. evening till Thursday evening. Thus I am getting it with the last batch. Some went yesterday and some today. We have to leave addresses here and are quite liable to be called back suddenly if they change their minds again. As I have no people to go to see, I put in for London again which is about the best place to spend so short a leave. I was thinking I might try to run down to Witley Camp, the Can. Art. Depot, which is not very far from London and where are several fellows I know - some ready to go back to France after being wounded and some from the battery are there on officer's training courses for artillery.
You have heard me speak of Kelly before. He was ready to leave for England on a Machine Gun Corps course for officers. He eventually got away alright and had his leave, but when ready to report, was taken sick and has since been at a Canadian Hospital at Lenham. I would like to see him but Lenham is out of the way.
After we left Hastings, Casey learned that one of our chums was in a hospital at Bexhill, a short train car ride from Hastings where we could easily have seen him had we known. Casey gets all the news from the Battery and passes it on to me. For instance, I got a letter from him the other day. He likes it alright at Oxford but says they have a rather stiff course of lectures. Meals, he said, were wonderful. He had had a letter from the battery where there had been a few more casualties. Several of the fellows were being mentioned for the M.M. Best of all, he was able to give me Kent's address. Kent is in the Haillicourt group and possibly next to Casey, I knew him best. He was wounded in the leg on Sept. 1. He is now at Charing Cross Hospital, London, which means, of course, that I will very likely be able to see him. I do so hope I shall. As it happens, Casey could have seen him when he had his two days in London a couple of weeks ago, had he only known then.
Well, this forenoon when I came back from church parade, about 2 hrs. ago, I received two letters, one was yours of Sept. 15 and the other was one from Florence Willson. She had, when she wrote on Sept. 19 just received my letter of Aug. 31. I also wrote to you on that date, so I was thinking you would probably get another agreeable surprise two or three days after you wrote. You had received my letter of Aug. 24 and had enclosed the other three snaps so I now have the whole six.
I think them very good indeed. If I may say so, the trouble is not so much in the focus, as in the position of the camera. In the one of the tennis court, you wished to show me the whole court and front lawn and so the figures would have to be small to include so much scenery in such a small picture. The camera was pointed too far up, this showing more sky than was needed and cutting off Cecil's and Gladys' feet. In the other two, as well, the figures are too near the foreground. If the camera was held closer, would it not make you appear larger? But, then I know probably less about it than Gladys does, never having taken a picture. Cecil always takes a good picture doesn't he? I think Gladys exceptionally good where she is holding the bicycle for Arthur. Same hammock in same place eh? and no mail in the old mail box.
Those letters you sent to Army P.O. - you say you think I shall get them. I am certain they are the ones so mysteriously taken there at Hastings, so you see they did reach me and you can exonerate the P.O. officials from blame. I had no idea you had 103 letters. What a bundle! But, it must be so and figures out just one a week on the average, for the two years, doesn't it?
Oh, by the by, when in London, I shall try and call at Bank of Commerce and see just how things are. I may withdraw a Â£ or two as well because I suppose there will be books and other extras to get in next course. I shall soon have to get fitted for a cadets or officers uniform with boots, hat and trench coat (waterproof) which is very expensive nowadays. We don't pay for it (now at least) but we order these things at the Army & Navy stores who send the bill in to Cox and Co. who are a banking concern which handle all the money paid to officers. They receive the money from the cashiers or whoever they are and open up an account for the officer as soon as he gets his commission. Then the officer draws money from them as he needs it. In this way, they look after all money matters for him and many things he will pay for by cheque, so that he only draws small sums for pocket money. Officers sometimes get into trouble when they make out cheques for sums not there to their credit. Well, bills we contract for clothing are sent to them. Suppose I get my commission - Cox's receive Â£50 to cover uniform expenses and then my regular pay as it comes due. Officer's kit is very expensive mother dear. A kit alone costs over Â£1:10. But this sum should, I think, more than covers it. Now, if I fail to get my commission, I have to see to the paying for these things as best I can. I do hate getting things like that and not paying for them at the time.
Be sure that I know what I am doing, and shall be as careful as possible. I won't get things till I have to and till I am sure what it is I have to get. I shall have to run the chance of failing in commission & having to pay for them anyway as they have to be got before I am thru. I have heard that instead of being made flight cadets at end of next 6 wks, we are given commissions then - before we have tried to fly, you see. In a case like that, if he couldn't fly, he would have to take some other job. But that doesn't seem likely, as it stands to reason, a person should have to do so many hrs. flying before he gets commission. for, some people, you know, could never fly. I have made up my mind not to fail tho. I am going to get thru.
I must stop here or envelope won't hold it. Love to you, Gladys, Harold, Cecil and Arthur.