You can let up on your nervousness when you get this, for I shall almost certainly be in a safer zone. We’ve done more than our share and must be withdrawn soon. There’s hardly a battery which does not deserve a dozen D.S.O.’s with a V.C. or two thrown in.
It’s 4.30 now—you’ll be in church and, I hope, wearing my flowers. Wait till I come back and you shall go to church with the biggest bunch of roses that ever were pinned to a feminine chest. I wonder when that will be.
We have heaps of humour out here. You should have seen me this morning, sitting on the gun-seat while my batman cut my hair. A sand-bag was spread over my shoulders in place of a towel and the gun-detachment stood round and gave advice. I don’t know what I look like, for I haven’t dared to gaze into my shaving mirror.
Good luck to us all,
October 18th, 1910
I’ve come down to the lines to-day; to-morrow I go back again. I’m sitting alone in a deep chalk dug-out—it is 10 p.m. and I have lit a fire by splitting wood with a bayonet. Your letters from Montreal reached me yesterday. They came up in the water-cart when we’d all begun to despair of mail. It was wonderful the silence that followed while every one went back home for a little while, and most of them met their best girls. We’ve fallen into the habit of singing in parts. Jerusalem the Golden is a great favourite as we wait for our breakfast—we go through all our favourite songs, including Poor Old Adam Was My Father. Our greatest favourite is one which is symbolising the hopes that are in so many hearts on this greatest battlefield in history. We sing it under shell-fire as a kind of prayer, we sing it as we struggle knee-deep in the appalling mud, we sing it as we sit by a candle in our deep captured German dug-outs. It runs like this:
a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And a white moon beams:
There’s a long,
long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true;
Till the day when I’ll be going down
That long, long trail with you.”
You ought to be able to get it, and then you will be singing it when I’m doing it.
No, I don’t know what to ask from you for Christmas—unless a plum pudding and a general surprise box of sweets and food stuffs. If you don’t mind my suggesting it, I wouldn’t a bit mind a Christmas box at once—a schoolboy’s tuck box. I wear the locket, cross, and tie all the time as kind of charms against danger—they give me the feeling of loving hands going with me everywhere.
God bless you.
October 23, 1916