28 November, ’16. My very dearest Lal: —
I have just got a parcel from you — a box of cigarettes — and they could hardly have come at a better time. As it happened, I didn’t have a blessed thing left to smoke, and was wondering what I was going to do, when the fellow came around with the parcels. Thank you ever so much, dear.
I guess you will notice that my letters now are rather hasty and all unconnected. Try to bear it always in mind — because I guess they will get worse, if anything — there is no place to write at all in the billets, no tables, chairs, or anything like that. You eat out of your mess tin, sitting on the floor. There is a Y.; but it’s too far off to go often, and moreover you get pretty tired by night. Last night, I wrote you, as usual, on my knee — on the floor. All my letters are written under difficulties, and to have a mind at peace and in mood for writing is out of the question. Last night, it appears, Fritz either put an extra heavy shell over, or exploded a mine or something. Anyhow, the boys in our room say they woke to the sound of windows breaking and the ground shaking; but I was so beastly tired, I slept peacefully on and never heard a sound. Always heavy on the sleep stunt; remember?
A heavy fog came up before we quit work this afternoon and it turned wretchedly cold, so I am going to turn in early, hoping to get warm that way. There was very little mail tonight. It worries me so to know, as I do, that you are worrying, and the worst of it is I cannot write — talk, we used to call it — as I want to. The thoughts are there, but the expression — the way to put them on paper, simply won’t come. I don’t suppose they will ever come, until this is all over. I know how you will miss it too — but I am happy in the knowledge that we are in such complete accord that you will realize — everything. The things we discussed and planned and debated over must now lie over indefinitely. It is quite impossible, under these conditions, to give much thought to anything but the barest facts of just living, eating, sleeping, working. But the intellectual side of life, the beautiful things, the clever things, you simply never think of them. The reason I am mentioning this at all is I want you always to try and see things as they must be with me, and judge accordingly. Letters have meant more to us than most; haven’t they? I suppose I will get most terribly out of touch with things, with the live, progressive world we both so love, and books, and what is really happening in “our” world; but again that cannot be helped, either. You must keep pace with things for both of us, and “put me wise” when I get home.
Good night, dear, I’m going to bed, God bless you.
I think I told you that the Batt’n I am momentarily attached to is made up of fellows just out from England and casualties returned from hospital. They belong to all kinds of Batt’ns but are all in the 2nd Division. Just now, things are quiet up the line, so our own crowds don’t keep wanting reinforcements. As they do want them, they take them from here. We are known as the 2nd Entrenching Batt’n; but there are no trenches to be dug, so we do fatigue, and a little drill etc., also bombing, and musketry — that chiefly for the fellows fresh out, who have been trained with the Ross, which of course is not used. . . .
I can recommend Northcliffe’s book just out; At the War, I believe it is. You must read it; it will surely be good. To my mind, he is one of the greatest Englishmen, but many would disagree. He is very outspoken, and English people seem to loathe anything like that. . . .