My dear Gertrude,
I will favour you with an inked letter which I have no reason for not doing, as I am at the rear billets. This is only Saturday, but I will be on duty to-morrow.
Since I wrote you in mid-week I have had another from you & yesterday the parcel came & a letter from Mother. Thanks very much for the parcel. The cake was quite good in spite of Mother's fears & both it & the biscuits were very much enjoyed for tea yesterday & will be again to-day.
Glad you were having some hammock weather at Burgoine, a summer holiday is not much if you are unable to laye about out of doors when you want to.
I suppose you know the origin of calling xxs barbed wire - that is the way the wire is shown on the french maps thus the lines being Trenches.
Please thank joy for the flower she enclosed & give her my love. We tried having the peas, pods & all as a vegetable when they were too young to make a dish of by themselves & we daren't leave them, or others might have got in & had them. They were not bad but not the success I expected.
I too had a curios dream the night before last & remember it as I rarely do dreams. I don't know that I ought to mention it & I am going to censor one part. In my dream (it sounds rather biblical from Moses or Daniel) there were three (even the three is Biblical) ladies, and at the beginning of the dream I was engaged to you, then in some way I was engaged to the 2nd, who shall for the ladies sake be nameless & finally I was engaged to the third, who was none other than Kathleen Watson. I was still engaged to her when I woke up but was very much worried about it & wondering how I ever came to be engaged to you. I wondered more when I woke up as both the nameless lady & Kathleen are the very last persons I would ever have thought of, in that kind of way.
Now I come to think of it, the dream must have been yesterday forenoon, as I was on observation duty all night. Should have been relieved at 4 am. At 5am there was no signs of the relief party so I sent my signalers off & stayed myself & was only relieved at 6-10 after which I had to get back here, so it was past seven before I got to bed & as I sleep in our only living room in the mess, one doesn't on such an occasion sleep too soundly or too long. However I have since made up for it by 11 hours sound sleep last night.
Have just been through Mother's letter- don't see much to comment on, will enclose it to you. Also Berk's which has some general interest in it.
Have just made a hugh blot on the sheet, the result of writing on my knee in the sun, was reading through Berk's letter & held the pen down. It should not leak but the hot sun tends to draw the ink out I think. It is tremendously hot at present, I will have to go in and seek a cap.
Found some copies of a French magazine for 1916 in a deserted house the other day & have been reading some interesting articles in them. One a collection of letters written in 1761 by a newly married girl to her husband soldier - actual letters republished - not fiction. They spent a long happy life together after some separation for a year or two. Very well written & interesting letters.
Had a chance to have my name put in to-day for a camouflage course (Architects & Artists only eligible) Hesitated for a time - it would of course be a "cushier" & much safer job to go in for, but I have had so much training in the last year, I think I ought to stick to the work I am in. So I declined.
Flies are a fearful nuisance these days - they make life indoors almost unbearable - swarming in hundreds everywhere - not much better outside.
Lunch should be about ready, so I will go in & continue this later. The Colonel has been round lately but I think I have dodged him. The Chapland - the padre as he is of course always called was in after breakfast to arrange a service for 5.30 pm to-morrow. Once again I will not be able to get there.
Another letter from you today - dated July 22 a long time since I had one in such a short time. You had been having a quieter time - Edith & her little people away. You did not enclose the pencil sketch you mention.
A coincidence that in this letter you tell me of a dream in which you were engaged to Will Davis. You had also been rereading "Prue & I" which I probably read about a year ago at Woolwich. I don't remember the Kipling poem you refer to. Yes, I think that the average person suffers from lack of imagination but also that too much is a decided disadvantage in the ordinary business of life. Although there is no doubt that the dreamers have there value in the total sum of living, especially if they use their imagination.
Our thermometer has been rarely above 60 all the summer. It is a thing we follow closely not only from day to day but from hour to hour as the air temperature effects the shooting of our guns. A change of one degree even may make a shot ten yards more or less, an important difference if one is firing at a narrow trench. A very slight difference in the barometer does the same.
I am very glad that Campbell's work is appreciated, it makes a tremendous difference to ones power of usefulness & power of accomplishment - & life goes so much easier. I suppose that is the main reason why I will always look on East Angba (Norfolk & Suffolk) with so much affection - that both Mr Pells at Beecles & Mr Phillips at Poincett were most considerate people to work for.
By the way your questions recently about what a Battery is, suggest that a little information about army matters generally might interest you. For instance I have once or twice mentioned our "Corps" & have wondered if you might confuse it with the Army Service Corps - Ordinance Corps etc. Of course the Artillery regiment, or called so, although it is in most ways as much a corps as the others. But we are officially the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The difference between the two seems to be, to me, that a Regiment is a body of troops divided into units all composed exactly alike, & subdivided alike. [?] is divided into Battalions & then again into companies (my ink gone) whilst a Corps is a body of troops of indefinite size, that is divided up anyhow according to the needs of the moment thus the ordinance is divided up into all sorts of units of all sizes down all rank of different duties.
But to come to the Army generally or rather the army in France. First of all there is the B.E.F. as a whole commanded by Sir Douglas Haig & that is divided in Armies - 1st, 2nd, Third Army etc, each holding a certain part of the Battle line - Besides these armies are all the Bases, behind to the least which provide the reinforcements & the food & the equipment of all kinds. These armies are each commanded by a General. In 1916 I was in the 3rd Army - then commanded by Gen Allenby who is now commanding in Palestine. The armies are again divided into Army Corps - usually only referred to as Corps - also numbered 1, 2, 3 etc & each commanded by a Lieutenant General. In 1916 I was in the 6th Corps. An Army may have two, three or more Corps in its composition according to the task it has to perform. Then each Corps is divided into Divisions, which one reads a lot about in the papers. By the way before leaving Corps, the Canadians compose one Corps under Lieu General Currie. Usually there are at least 3 Divisions in a Corps in the line with one in reserve behind but the number varies considerable. The Division is the smallest unit composed of all kinds of troops, that is why one hears so much of them. They are only split up into the different arms, & are not divided for fighting purposes, that is a Corps or Army may vary in size from time to time & be composed of different units, but a Division always remains the same. A certain number of Brigades or Infantry (each of so many Battalions) a certain number of Brigades of Artillery - each so many batteries - then companies of R.E., Medical Corps, Ordinance, A.S.C. etc.
We of the Heavy Artillery belong to the Corps & not to the Divisions & so our numbers vary. A Brigade of Heavy Artillery may consist of any number of Batteries & continually varies. Each Brigade is commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel & each Battery by a Major, with a Captain & the necessary number of Leutenants.
Left this to go & see an Aeroplane which came down in the distance. Engine trouble, they did not need assistance, two very young boys as pilots. They had just been going to observe for one of the other batteries of our brigade.
Dinner coming in so I must close - Hope all goes very well.
Best wishes to all & my best & last (to reverse the dream) love to you.