Last night both the King and Sir Sam sent us congratulations—I popped in just at the right time. I daresay you know far more about our doings than I do. Only this morning I picked up the London Times and read a full account of everything I have witnessed. The account is likely to be still fuller in the New York papers.
“Home for Christmas”—that’s
what the Tommies are promising their mothers and sweethearts
in all their letters that I censor. Yesterday
I was offered an Imperial commission in the army of
occupation. But home for Christmas, will be Christmas,
1917—I can’t think that it will be
Very much love,
Sunday, September 24th, 1916.
Your locket has just reached me, and I have strung it round my neck with M.’s cross. Was it M.’s cross the other night that accounted for my luck? I was in a gun-pit when a shell landed, killing a man only a foot away from me and wounding three others—I and the sergeant were the only two to get out all right. Men who have been out here some time have a dozen stories of similar near squeaks. And talking of squeaks, it was a mouse that saved one man. It kept him awake to such an extent that he determined to move to another place. Just as he got outside the dug-out a shell fell on the roof.
You’ll be pleased to know that we have a ripping chaplain or Padre, as they call chaplains, with us. He plays the game, and I’ve struck up a great friendship with him. We discuss literature and religion when we’re feeling a bit fed up. We talk at home of our faith being tested—one begins to ask strange questions here when he sees what men are allowed by the Almighty to do to one another, and so it’s a fine thing to be in constant touch with a great-hearted chap who can risk his life daily to speak of the life hereafter to dying Tommies.
I wish I could tell you of my doings, but it’s strictly against orders. You may read in the papers of actions in which I’ve taken part and never know that I was there.
We live for the most part on tinned stuff, but our appetites make anything taste palatable. Living and sleeping in the open air keeps one ravenous. And one learns to sleep the sleep of the just despite the roaring of the guns.
God bless you each one and give us peaceful hearts.
September 28th, 1916.
We’re in the midst of a fine old show, so I don’t get much opportunity for writing. Suffice it to say that I’ve seen the big side of war by now and the extraordinary uncalculating courage of it. Men run out of a trench to an attack with as much eagerness as they would display in overtaking a late bus. If you want to get an idea of what meals are like when a row is on, order the McAlpin to spread you a table where 34th crosses Broadway—and wait for the uptown traffic on the Elevated. It’s wonderful to see the waiters dodging with dishes through the shell-holes.