4th January 1916
After an early morning start Arthur is now back in reserve at Houchin and revelling in the arrival of the post from home – including a letter from sister Daisy and a food hamper from his employers back in London; sad news of the sinking of the “Persia” [30/12/1915] – Dollie and her companions travelled out to Malta on the Persia in autumn 1914.
Arthur to Dollie
Tues 9.15pm, Billets
… I’m sorry I couldn’t finish last night, little lover mine, but I was interrupted – and all the arrangements about relief had to be made. I’ve two more dear letters to thank you for – you darling. God bless you – and a postcard. I’m almost beginning to despair of ever answering all the heaps of letters I have now. Anyway let me get my news off my chest first.
This morning we were on the go at 4, though our relief did not actually arrive till six. We were relieved by the Dismounted Division. Poor fellows, they are in for a lively time, for the trenches we’ve just come from, dear, are about the worst I’ve been in. It’s awful luck that the Corps is changing it’s front. They say things are quieter. Anyway for the next few days we are in reserve. I hope to get a lot straightened up, letters written, &c.
On relief this morning we came back via Noyelles to Sailly. At N- we found our cooker & had breakfast. I did enjoy it. From Sailly we came here, Houchin, near HQ in buses. Awful joke. When we arrived about half-past 12 we found the regiment whose billets we were taking over, weren’t going till 3. However we settled down & got something to eat. This afternoon to my great joy, the CO rode over – awfully sporting of him for it has been a wet day. He was very fit & bucked to have had a letter from “Dollie”. He is going to answer it. I was awfully glad to see him again. Johnny came over with him & Sammy. To-night DV a long sleep, to-morrow we trek again, to our new front, 5 or 6 miles away.
Sammy is still in charge of Divisional Observers. That explains, dear, why he is “in the trenches”. It is nothing to do with us. Daisy wrote –to-day. I also had another parcel from the firm. Before it was mince pies and a Cake. This one a pudding, roast fowl (tinned) & a box of chocolates. Jolly decent of them eh dear? …
I saw in the paper to-day about the “Persia”. Apparently Col. Swiney of the 39th Garhwals, Lodwick & “Dolly” Lyell were on board. So far only Lyell seems to have been saved. Poor Lodwick – he was only just married.
Well, little lover mine, I’m awfully sleepy. So I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I say Good-night… I wish I could get a rest (for I’m a bit tired) and spend it with you. Just us two… Remember me to all, dear, and apologise for me. I’ll answer & thank every one as soon as I can, especially your dear Mater and Amy & Albert [Cocquerel] for the chocolate…