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Date: February 18th 1916
Mother and Father

France Feb 18

Dear Mother and Father

For the second time since joining the army I find my self a patient in the hospital. I had the misfortune about a week ago, while out at billets to scald my face and although it was painful it is not at all serious for in a day or two I’ll be back with the section.

Spending the week in here, with no mail, I’ll get your letters when I get back, I feel out of touch of what’s going on outside. However you can be quite certain there is nothing out of the ordinary otherwise I would hear about it from the different men who come here daily.

This place, about 12 or 15 miles back from the line is more of a real station than a hospital, Men who are under the weather or have minor wounds which heal in a short time are sent here, so there is no need for speaking in a whisper or anything like that, which accounts for all the livliness and hilarity that is the continual order of the day. Lots to eat, lots of time to sleep and nothing else to do, so that a week of it is indeed a good rest.

Did I tell you in my last letter that Orvil and Roy were sick and that Mac was on leave. Both the sick boys are better now and Mac is back, although Ive not seen him yet. Marion and Edna will be interested to hear that Harry Ardie is taking a commission in the Royal Flying Corps and his cousin Lieut Ardie is now a captain.

I will try to give you a description of three old soldiers who are in the ward with me. In the first place they belong to a labour or “navvy” battalion and must be over 45 years when they enlist. One is an Irishman about 47 yrs. the other an English man, O’Connor by name, 54 years old and “Dad” 67 yrs old. They are proper soldiers up to every possible trick in the trade. One day while out for ¾ hour fresh air two of them separate from the bunch and fail to turn up until 8 pm. They should be in at 3 45, stomachs full of stout, ale and a feed of eggs. The sergt in charge asked them what put them in the rush of coming back and the following started, “Faith an I had no place else to lay me hed an besaides why do you want to bother me, a sick man taking medicine all day long. I’ll take these to you (and he holds up both fists) if yea bother me more.” The sergeant says not much but this “well Murphy remember we have discipline (with the accent on the first sylable) if we havent anything else.”

They were evidently reported to the major for next morning he took them to task about it. “Where were you two last night?” neither of them spoke a word for a minute then both held up their hands and pointed in entirely opposite directions. “I was up there sir.” Its impossible to describe the picture as they stood there, one with his arm in a sling the other with a bandage over one eye waiting to hear what the major would say. He told them they couldnt be allowed out again, both of them “what what, I dunna hear youse? You cant be allowed out again. “O-oh is that what ye sed. Oh alright sir” they both turned and got into bed.

O’Connor was telling us his experiences and believe me they are some experiences. His chum enlisted whose name is O’Connor and then decided he didn’t want to go so he comes to Bradshaw or whatever his real name is and asks him will he take his place. The real O’Connor is 4’6” while this one is 5’4”. Anyhow that night they have a party and all get drunk especially the one here 5’4” and the next thing he knows he was on the train from Newcastle to Southampton. When they get there the sergeant lines them all up and calls the roll. O’Connor, O’Connor, wheres O’Connor, O’Connor here here here sir. Dont you know yer name sure I do, I sed here. After O’Connor finished telling us this, Murphy chirps up, well O’Connor if yer half the man I think youse are when you go on leave you’ll just hunt [?] O’Connor, take off them clothes you have on and hand them to him and tell him he can come out here and finish the rest of the war. “Oh but I coulna do that. He’s only a little shaver and these clothes wouldna fit him. And so they ramble on and on until our sides were sore from laughing.

There is very little more to say at present but will be writing you again in a few days.

Your affectionate son


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