My dear Gertrude,
Having some more spar time to-night and as usual not knowing what the morrow may bring forth, I may as well make a beginning of my week-end letter. Although it is only a matter of hours since I posted the last. That was just after inoculation. By the morning I was a little stiff - that is my arm was & I felt no further effect till the afternoon when a sick headache developed.
We had not much to do in the morning - paraded at nine oclock & went before the acting commanding officer - one by one, a sort of "how d'y do" business. Asked a few questions as to our qualifications etc. Then we had to interview the Pay Sergeant but as pay day is on Thursdays - that did not mean anything especially exciting. Of course as we had only been a day here last Thursday - we get a weeks pay next Thursday although it will be two weeks less one day since we were last paid - Friday being the Woolwich day of course it will be due to us as arrears of pay someday.
I then went to the Tailors Shop & was measured for my "joy rags" as the Cadet Uniform is called - The School provides us with these but when we are commissioned Â£9 is deducted from our Â£50 outfit money & we only get Â£41. For the Â£9 we get Tunic & Breeches Cap & Badge, Puttees, two shirts & a tie. I am paying 10/-extra for a much better, warmer & all wool cloth instead of the Comerad one - not is for the tunic only. I thought it worth while, especially with winter coming on & seeing it can be worn after one is gagetted. as well as at the school here. We won't get these things for about a month, but that will be quite soon enough - as it means more fuss & cleaning up for parade when one has them.
We had to parade again after lunch at one oclock & go trench digging & it was raining hard - fortunately all men who had been inoculated were told to fall out. I spent the afternoon in this writing room - Wrote to two comrades - and sent my two broken pair of glasses off to Sheffield to be repaired. My head was getting rather bad but I managed to lose a game of chess after a hard fight between tea & dinner but got to bed directly afterwards - at seven oclock. & had a very good 12 hours sleep - going to sleep in the middle of my prayers - by no means the first time I have done so in the army - & waking up feeling quite fit, the arm a very little sore if touched by not stiff.
We had another "cushy" morning - one parade only to get our books - rather a pile in all - & we had to hang about in a tremendous downpour of rain whilst we went in one by one & got them in three instalment - We were told to take cover under trees but by this time autumn has left things pretty leafless. After two days of heavy rain it is very muddy of necessity under foot where some 12 or 1500 people are living on a more or less restriced grass area. Some of the paths are cinder laid & they are gradually doing more but at present there are quite a lot undone - & the parade ground is pure mud.
To-day at noon we really became "H" Company & the old "H" becomes "G" - but we have not work till Monday - not even Church parade to-morrow as it seems only "C" Company go on that one can without any troubles, except in "C" Coy. get free from Saturday noon & Monday morning - provided one does not travel by train. Hamblyn the A.O.C. man who came with me - lives at Eastbourne only 24 miles away, so he will cycle home each weekend - lucky fellow. This is an extremely "cushy" school in may ways, as all married men are allowed to have permanent sleeping out passes & live at Uckfield all the time. & a great many are taking advantage of it.
As it had cleared up by three oclock although still cloudy I walked to Uckfield, about two miles, with another fellow. A very pretty walk - both naturally & architecturally - Maresfield Church just at the Park gate is a very pretty building, with an interesting rose window in a side gable. There is a hotel - a general country store & a Post Office which with an odd cottage or two seem to compose the village - Uckfield is however a much larger place than I supposed some very good shop in the main street, which runs down to the Railway & a small stream, at a good slope. Another interesting church either fairly modern or greatly restored - I must inspect it closer some day. A new cinema Theatre - very well designed inside & out is being used as a Y.M.C.A. Lounge. We decided to have tea there instead of returning to camp but found a small roll & a cup of tea was the full extent of what they were allowed to sell us. In London Woolwich the soldiers Clubs as a rule do not limit us to the restaurant allowance - but they say this is a new rule being enforced everywhere as a result we had the ration tea & then just got back to camp in time for high tea at 5-30 which on Saturday & Sunday takes the place of tea & dinner, canned salmon & pickled beets, bread & butter - a rockcake & tea today. In Uckfield the married men were in great force everywhere doing their Saturday shopping - quite a few with families as well as wives. As we returned I was making a remark about modern Italian sculpturs, that they were on the whole very poor artists - altho' there might be a few really good ones. A lady, striding along in a thorough English many [?] had just passed us, she turned round & said she could corroborate that statement - She then joined us & we had a most interesting talk. She had lived most of her life in Italy till two years ago & seen a lot of the English & American Art colonies - also she & a sister had done a lot of photography from an artistic point of view. - As we got near our gates she left us saying she was on duty now & we turned into the village store. To night I found who she was, as she was at the change Counter in the hut here & gave me these sheets of paper. How often a chance remark leads to a very interesting encounter.
This is quite a good Saturday night portion - I think I will close for the time & see what new suggestions to-morrow brings forth. I expect to know a good deal more of what work really means here by this time next Saturday.
Sunday - 12 noon
A glorious day - bright sunlight & a healthy nip in the air - after a very cold night. I could not keep warm even with four blankets. Barrack life must have softened me a lot. I was talking to a Montreal man this morning and he said that he felt the cold a great deal over here.
Have not been to church this morning - had to change some bedding at ten oclock & various other odd things to see to prevented me even considering doing so. I hope to get a good walk this afternoon & find a church to go to this evening or failing that there is a song service at the "Y.M" at Uckfield.
I may as well give you a rough idea - not from a map but memory of how Uckfield lays with more important towns more easily found on a map. In case you try & look it up all in the county of Sussex almost due South of London. We came down to Lewes on a London - Brighton train then backed up a sort of side line to Uckfield in a local train.
By the way when I handed in my Cap Badge the other day, in exchange for an Artillery Badge I bought a new A.O.C. one for the purpose. as I decided to keep my old badge as a souvenir of the Corps & my French days, as I wore it all the time of my service and failed to bring back any souvenir from France. Being brass it may work in as ornament on some brass work someday.
The bugle has just gone for the shift to fall in for dinner, so I must go & get cleaned up for out turn.
A letter from you on dinner parade. The one with the snapshots for which many thanks. They are quite an interesting lot. The Jordan one of you by the Grape vies would have been good if it had been properly focussed. You are well hid in the sketching picture at Howard Park. Mr. Chapples picture with the little westerner is quite good.
I am glad to hear that Frank had made a good beginning. Not any lack of ability but want of proper display of it, is always likely to be his defect & of course it is apt to tell against him - on an initial trail. I am inclined to a certain extent & the same defect myself but not so much I fancy, in fact people have at times accused me of "swank" which is rather reverse. However true or false such an accusation may be of me - it certainly could never be made of him. Not that I consider a little "swank" a defect, so long as it only is a little & put on as the right time of course.
You will have noticed that I have not been very foolish lately in spending money on stationery - you remark about it in this letter. The Y.M.C.A. paper here is as you see of much better quality than at Woolwich. Curiously in this - your first letter t me here you remark that you feel I will soon be in training somewhere.
Yes, I think Berk will appreciate the mitts - he always feels cold in his extremities a lot.
The parcel must have been the box of candies & the socks, I remember you mentioning the former & I certainly never received them. I was extremely lucky to get all I did.
I think you are a good deal luckier in dreams than I am - I rarely dream personal sort of dreams. I remember sometimes after going to Norway when I was 16, dreaming I was there again, & how I used to go to sleep night after night thinking of the holiday in hopes of another dream which never came into being - I rarely pass a night I think without dreaming but it is rarely that I am conscious of what I have been dreaming, but the time I am thoroughly awake.
Had a walk to Uckfield again this afternoon & looked into the church - not very interesting - but galleries three sides - unusual in an English Gothic Church.
This evening I went to Maresfield Church - a very good service - crowded too the vicar an old man reminded me both of direct sermon on Gratitude from the same text I heard the Bishop of London preach from on the same subject, a few weeks ago - but treated it very differently.
I must close. The winter program begins tomorrow - reveille at 6.30 instead of 6-0 so that will help matters. With lights out at 10.15 as at Woolwich we will get a good long nights rest.
Hope all is well with all your people.
My very best (if rather unthawed) love to you.