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Date: December 9th 1917

December 9 1917

Maresfield Park


My dear Gertrude.

I will descend to Y.M.C.A. economy for the day - although it is not a good variety of paper this time.

This is the first of our two Church Parade Sundays. The service is held in Maresfield Church at ten oclock but taken by the Chaplain instead of the Rector. The first time I have heard the former & he gave a very interesting & useful address - very suitable for the Cadet congregation on the "Bible." We had an unfortunate day for the parade part - rain & snow mixed & a rather strong wind. I have written to Mother since & am commencing this before dinner.

I have three letters of yours almost unanswered so had better deal with them at once.

I am glad to hear that Mr. Chapple is already taking advantage of Spencer's help - to relax his hours at business. I am sure he needs a lot more both rest and recreation than he ever got.

Inoculation is rather a vague term - the actual infection is always varying. The present form covers a good many more things than even last years. I have met men who have been inoculated against ordinary colds, & they claim successfully for a year. Whilst I thoroughly believe in inoculation, I look on it as a necessary evil, like any other medicin & would not voluntarily be done to cover ordinary ailments, such as colds. I should say the kind you mention is similar to that used in France - as an anti-tetanus infection to prevent lock-jaw from poisoned wounds.

Yes - I am afraid a soldier soon learns to say his prayers in his blankets - apart from the cold - 12 in a tent - or a crowded barn or outhouses with men lying shoulder to shoulder - leaves little choice. I don't think I ever did so before army days - although I think I must have done sometimes when camping.

No - there is no bus from here to Brighton although a Motor Bus goes to London each Saturday, returning on Sunday - It only occurred to me yesterday - that if I got hold of a bicycle it would be possible for me to cycle to Brighton and back some fine Sunday - that it seems to be would be my only chance. Must break away for dinner now.

Yes, we have naturally not felt the later cold so much as that first cold spell & also conditions have improved quite a lot since our new anti-room has been opened.

I had no special ideas for the use of the AOC Badge. It might be a little small for use on a fire iron stand otherwise that would be alright.

I am rather surprised that I never mentioned the roar of the guns in my letters - there was certainly enough of it, and it was of course particularly noticable at nights - living too as we were in barns & sheds with very imperfect roofs & sketchy nondescript doors. We were not particularly near the German lines but they ran in a big semi-circle round us - so we had the benefit of the noise on three sides. Our distance was quite 4 or 5000 yards - the better part of 3 miles from the enemy front line - a very safe distance - in fact further back was more dangerous from the fire of heavy guns. Of course the German heavy guns would be a considerable distance behind their lines - although ours do not keep to the rear to anything like the same extent.

I hope that Mrs. Chapple is quite better again - perhaps after a break down you would be able to persuade her to take a holiday but I am afraid your accident to your foot would hold her back. I hope that id not remain painful very long - as such accidents can remain - you however must have done everything possible to reduce the bad effect, so I trust that it did not remain painful although the enforced rest would probably do you no harm too.

It would be quite interesting meeting Mrs. Patrick - how numerous such coincidences are. I am glad you were not prevented getting to the Musical through the accident, as you evidently enjoyed it. Was the poem by Masefield - the subject you describe suggests his type of poem a little - I have not read a great deal of his work - but it usually goes with a flow & a swing & he rises to quite true poetry at times.

I don't imagine that if I am required to stay on the Reserve of Officers, & do a month's training a year - that we are likely to lose much in the way of holidays on that account. I have always believed in holidays & recreations & amusements as quite an essential to life as the more sterner duties - & always provided that one does the duties first, perhaps I have had in life a little more than my share of holidays - but I have always worked fairly hard in between & I look forward to us at any rate enjoying a fair share - if we may - in future. In any event - training in peace time is a very leisurely affair compared to training on active service - & we could quite probably make of the month a very pleasant holiday. I see, on turning over page, that you almost suggest the same thing.

You mention Gordon Bennett & Christmas. I heard from him yesterday. He has had an urgent call to take duty at a church for Christmas Day & the Sunday after & feels he should not refuse these days - but he is to be in Doncaster for the week end before - until Christmas eve. I have asked Mother if she would like me to ask Frank Robertson for Christmas in Gordon's room. I don't think your dream was very true to life, in as much as you had to go away so as not to disturb me whilst I studied. I have always been able to study or read, in even very disturbing situations.

Halifax must have had a terrible experience on Friday - & the weather conditions must have added to the horror. It looks from this morning's paper as if there might possibly have been some treachery somewhere. Considering the violent explosion caused by 10 lbs of T.N.T. - the effect of 5000 tons going up must have been terrific.

It is a very anxious time on the Western Front - the Germans are undoubtedly making great efforts & using big reinforcements from the Russian fronts. But the little that they have regained of the ground we last captured has been done not by actual infantry attacks - but with poisonous gas shells.

It is a very cheerful day - raining cats & dogs outside & dark & cold. I am writing in the hut as for once we have a good fire in the stove - but with our open eaves each side, it is rather drafty. However - there's a war on - & it is comparative luxury here - also with quite a few men being away for the week ends - our rations are a little fuller on Saturdays & Sundays.

I had a good walk to Uckfield yesterday - tried another route - about a 3 ½ mile walk - very pretty - some very interesting rock formations on the way. We found a decent little tea shop to have some tea in at Uckfield - quite ladyable - although it was nearly filled with cadets. I walked in with the same man as last week.

I have not left myself room to deal with another of officers - will try to do so in mid-week.

I enclose another card of Maresfield Church - not a very happy view - south side of course. If they had taken it from the village street, round to the east, the grouping is very effective.

Did I tell you that when I voted, I had to give my last Toronto address, so I gave "695".

Went to a Boxing Contest in the Machine Sun lines on Thursday evening. That is about the only incident of the week. A fairly enjoyable 2 hours - mainly Cadets boxing.

Mother is still without news of Berkeley - so of course a little anxious. I hope she hears soon.

I hope all is well with you & yours.

With very best love.

Yours Jack.

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