5th November 1915
Arthur has been sending Dollie postcards for the last few days – this is his first chance to write since 30th October. Arthur’s leave has been cancelled due to reorganisation of the Divisions; a long, wet march back to the safety of Calonne; stories of the horrendously muddy conditions endured by some of the troops; a chance for a clean up after being in mud for 23 days; Arthur and his Company are no longer in the Meerut Division, but now part of the 46th (North Midland) Division – a Territorial Division and are moved on to Vieille Chapelle; a farewell from General Jacobs.
Arthur to Dollie
Fortified House, Friday morn 8am
… It seems years since I last wrote to you & I’ve heaps of letters to thank you for, little sweetheart, & heaps of news to tell. When I wrote last I was at Chocolate Post, in the Garhwal Brigade, Meerut Division, due for leave which had been applied for, for the 1st. Now I am at Fortified House – another post – but much more comfortable & much further back.
On Monday we changed over posts with No1 Coy. They held posts further back & rather less uncomfortable. I then heard that my leave was cancelled, and that we were to be relieved the following day Tuesday. I tried to find out why my leave was “off” and was told that the Meerut & Lahore Divisions were leaving France but that their Territorial battalions were remaining behind. So that they were giving leave in preference to those who were going from France.
The next day the relief took place. We were relieved by the Dehra Dun Brigade. We then marched back to Calonne, miles back, where we arrived about 7, dead beat, wet through & very cold, for the weather had been consistently wet & miserable & some of the men were up to their waists in mud. Indeed one of the Leicesters was recovered suffering from exposure after having been in mud to his shoulders all night – unable to move. Some of No1 Coy didn’t arrive until the afternoon of the next day – Wednesday! (The relief was due to take place midday Tuesday!)
That night, dear, Tuesday we slept at Calonne. We made preparations to get clean – for we’ve been in since the beginning of October & have just had 23 days in the trenches – the greater part of that time in mud to my knees.
We heard on Wednesday that the following day the Brigade was moving further back. They didn’t know what we were going to do. That night at 2am a message came through that we were to go with the Brigade – at 3 am another message ordering us to move back to Vieille Chapelle at 9. Here we are.
On the way back General Jacobs said good-bye to us and told us we were being attached to the 11th Corps (that includes the Guards Division), to the 46th or North Midland Division – a Territorial Division. So in future dear please address my letters not Meerut but 46th North Midland Division!
Well dear, the Corporal is waiting for the post. I hope this letter will catch it. Everything is topsy-turvey & disconnected for a bit. I am awfully well, dying to see your dear face again. I hope as soon as we’re settled down to get leave DV. So au revoir.