I think Mrs. Ricketts takes an unduly optimistic view when she says the Germans mean the war to be decided out here. Nothing would suit us better. Meanwhile, we certainly seem to mean to go to Baghdad, and that will mean at least one other big fight: but so far they show no sign of moving us up to the firing line. This last show was a big success and nearly was a much bigger, only our men having fought for two days and marched twelve miles in the intervening night and having run out of water, were not able to press the pursuit very vigorously. I take it the next show will come off in about three weeks’ time, sooner if possible.
I have heard a good deal vaguely about the Angels at Mons. It is very interesting. I gather that A. Machen wrote a magazine story and that this has got embodied with the real stories and is therefore supposed to have originated them. If Begbie’s forthcoming book on them is good, do send it to me. We have had no such stories out here, so far as I know.
As to being pessimistic about the future, I think our mistake was to underestimate Germany’s striking force. You must always keep the German calculations in mind as well as our hopes, and you will see that the former have been falsified quite as much as the latter—in fact much more. They calculated—and not without having worked it all out thoroughly—that their superior armaments and mobility would enable them (1) to smash France within a few weeks, (2) to manoeuvre round the Russians and defeat their armies in detail till they sued for peace, (3) to dominate the continent and organise it for the settlement with England. We ought to be devoutly thankful that (1) failed: but Instead we assumed that the worst was over and that (2) would fail as signally. As a matter of fact (2) looks like failing after all; but it has been near success for much longer than (1) was and consequently has achieved more. But if you remember, both Papa and K. said at the outset it would be a three years’ war: which clearly meant that they expected us to get the worst of it the first year, equalise matters the second year and not be decisively victorious till the third year.
Luly has plenty of friends at Agra and is really very happy there, so you may be at ease about him.
Many thanks for your offer to send us things for the cold. But the danger is overlapping, so I will refer you to Mamma, to whom I wrote about it some time back: and I hope she is combining with Mrs. Bowker of Winchester (wife of 1/4th Colonel) who is organising the sending of things to the battalion as a whole. You might mention to Mamma that, in addition to the articles I’ve told her of, newspapers and magazines would be very acceptable.
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October 17, 1915.