My dear Gertrude,
Sunday again - a splendid bright day - and quite mild after a wet beclouded "muggy" day yesterday & on the whole rather a wet week, but a very mild one after the previous weeks cold. I have to confess a mid week shortcoming - I never got the letter card off - not that I forgot it - I was continually going to write it but kept putting it off to the more convenient season, which like to-morrow, never comes. I have been a little handicapped this week - Early in the week I had to pay my second visit to the Dentist & later I managed to skin my heel & letting it go so far - am hour's rifle drill on very rough muddy ground was the finishing factor - I had to report sick on Wednesday & so loose more lectures - I had to get after other men's notes, in order to catch up. On the top of it all they began turning lights out at nine on Wednesday - instead of 10.15. A shortage of parafin necessitates running the electric light plant for a shorter period each day. - a shortage of candles at once developed - but it is all right now - & we all rig up a light at the head of our beds for use till 10.15. But all these things combined rather upset my working time for the mid week days.
However sufficient for excuses
I got two further letters from you on Monday - both previous to the last of the former group & both from Jordan late in September. You seem to have had a fairly good time there, if not much of a rest and it would be a very interesting time with the autumn tents developing.
Besides your two & Mother's usual I have also had letters from Berk & Lan this week. It is not often Mother goes to bed, she usually doesn't when she should do so. Lan is evidently in luck's way. He evidently overdid things a little on first getting to Harrogate as he would be likely & do - He was stationed at Harrogate in billets in the early days of the war & always makes a host of friends wherever he goes.
Evidently Alec Jackson is at last going to write me the letter that he has owed me for long - he is even a worse correspondent than I am. Auntie Kate's sight - usually - is practically the same as mine - I have always thought it foolish of her not to wear her glasses continuously she never does so out of doors - vanity of course. The Miss Brigant mentioned I don't recall meeting - Horncastle is the place where Berk was in convalescent Hospital.
I will enclose you Lan's & Berk's in my mid week not - there is not much in either however of general interest, but I will put them in an envelope & address it now & so ensure you a few lines before next Sunday.
As to the week's doings - I don't know that there is a great deal to tell. The two weeks in "G" Company is supposed to be the worst of all as regards lectures & note taking - so we are half way through it & I have managed to keep up to date but have not done much revision so far.
Last Sunday night I went to evening service in Maresfield Church - as usual. It is not at all bad inside but neither as interesting or as pretty as outside. One reason being that it was carefully restored some forty or fifty years ago - which rarely improves a church unless very well done It has two small transepts which always add interst & an interior & are not very common in small village churches.
I have had one big surprise here. For a long time not the authorities have been replacing men by women in the cook-houses of all the camps. & I have always thought it would lead to very much greater efficiency & better cooking. In barracks as we were at Woolwich of course men had & he used. But here at any rate although there are more than twice the number of women as cooks & about the same number to cook for - our food is no better cooked - We often get good stuff spoilt - potatoes almost raw etc - & I have never had such good roast meat here Of course we get a lot more garnishing etc that is parsley sauce with fish - instead of just plain fish - but that is a matter of cost only & the government allow 1/- per head per day to cadets above the ordinary Tommies rate I cover such extras - out of which we usually get a slice of cake every other day with our tea - & it pays for stuff to make puddings of - which we get both for lunch & dinner each day.
I may not ever have told you that the usual soldiers ration consists of certain suppliers drawn daily from the A.S.C. plus 5 Â½ [?] a head & buy extras with, which has to cover margarine etc. I think that all that is drawn in kind is. Meat - Bacon - Bread - Tea - Sugar - so that leaves vegetables - salt etc - jame - margarine & fruit to come out of 5 Â½ [?], at war prices too.
We have, on the whole, nothing & complain of here, on the score of good food & sufficient (if not plenty) of it. But with really efficient management it might at times be better prepared for us.
My heel is practically better again - but I decided to rest it yesterday - so did not have a Saturday shopping walk to Uckfield & today will only go to Church this evening.
I was nearly forgetting to thank you for the parcel which I got last Sunday but only opened on Monday. It contained a most opportune enclosure - an old napkin - was the first thing I found on top. My heal was just getting painful & I had been looking round for something to put on it. I had lent a roll of bandage to another man the week before & he had used it all - in these days of khaki hankerchiefs they are ruled out, found the Y.M. did not sell it - went up to the R.A.M.C. Corporal & asked him for some but they are stricter on supplies then they used to be & he said I would have to report sick & see the M.O. first. So I gave it up & went to the hut to open your parcel & found what I was looking for. I had plaster & Vaseline, so fixed it up alright & went through the next day. Need not have wasted time "going sick" but had to do so to get excused "Jerks" which would only have made my foot worse. Thanks for the rest of the contents too - the cakes as usually enjoyed very much by various bed neighbours The chocolate I still have in reserve, & some of the cakes for that matter.
I don't know if I ever told you - I rather think not, - that I never took the dressing bag outfit to France with me - that sent me two year ago one has no room for an entire ounce or square inch alone necessities - No kit bags are taken overseas - only a small haversack - which you may guess is over loaded. But I did take the nickel mirror - which was a faithful daily aid & a shaving through all my French days. - At Woolwich the barracks are well supplied with mirrors so I put it away - but it is actually in use here. The rest of the outfit will come in when (& if) I am "pipped" [?]
The Italian news is bad this week - but my own view is that unless the sermons can get terms of peace with Russia or Italy through these offensives - victories will nearly be as costly to them in the end as defeats. Still they will get a lot of useful material fro the time being & a good many British built guns.
The first number of a majorine for the school has been issued this week. I must send it on when I have had time to look through it a little more thoroughly. You might finally commit it to the bookcase for safe keeping. I have a B.E.F. ordinance majorine - Of no real interest as it is not of my section - but I will send it on at the same time - it may as well be kept as one of my links with the A.O.C.
There is talk here (since Sen. Sir W. Roberston's visit) of lengthening the minimum course here from 4 to 5 months - but dont know when it will come about. There is far too much at present to cram into 16 weeks work. which is less than four months.
The end of another 3 months of war to-day - 3-4 years gone - there is the consolation that we are so much nearer the end anyhow.
An order has come out during the week - abolishing spurs - that had to be worn previously with the full dress uniform. Rather ridiculous seeing we ride nothing more restine than motor bikes. (The course includes about half an hours motor bike practive - petrol too scarce for more) We will save the cost as well as the trouble of burnishing them. I missed my first sword drill when I went sick. It seems a little foolish wasting time on such ceremonial things in war time. but they are given us as also rifle drill - really as exercise to keep us from getting stale with too many lectures. They naturally have not enough heavy guns to spine, to give us gun drill all the time.
Must not go to another sheet so will close. Hope you are all well at "139",
With very best love