16th December 1915
Arthur has decided to ask sister Daisy to help Dollie with shopping for the Agius family Christmas presents; the Officers are sleeping on a cold, stone floor in a cellar about 2 miles from the front line; the cellar is gradually being made more homely by the addition of some dilapidated furniture; Arthur has little enthusiasm for tonight’s proposed working party; the reconnoitred communication trenches are in reasonable condition though, as they have been dug through chalk.
Arthur to Dollie
In our Cellar, Thurs. even. 5.30pm
… A thousand thanks for your letter of Monday last. I was glad to see that at last my letters had reached you. Of course, little one, I understand about the Christmas presents. I felt that it would be difficult for you to choose things for them all. So I’ll write to Daisy. As regards your Mater, dear, I haven’t anything in mind & feel more than content to leave the choice to you. Perhaps you already know of something that she wants.
I’m very bucked to hear the photos are good. I’m afraid you’ll find me hard to please, for nothing is good enough, Light of my eyes, you are all the world to me. As for my news, dear, I am fit and well. To-day has been very dull & cold; but we are settling down. Slept pretty well last night, though the stone floor isn’t by any means too soft! We’ve found a table, a trio of chairs – one, smashed, from the remains of the church, two, minus the seat & the third, an iron garden chair. We’ve also built up a fireplace & hung a mackintosh sheet over the door – so are fairly snug.
This morning Bobby & the Doc came up – also Sammy, who is in charge of the Brigade snipers, the CO & Beresford. This afternoon we have been finding our way & reconnoitring various communication trenches that run from here two miles to the front line. They are all pretty good; for the soil is nearly all chalk.
The country is very open, bleak and desolate. This village in particular, which was the scene of fearful fighting last October when the French drove out the enemy inch by inch, is sadly woebegorn (sic) & destroyed.
To-night there is to be a working party but no details are through. So that we don’t know when we are to go out or what we are to do. I’m feeling very lazy & not very inclined to turn out. Still one has to justify one’s pay! …