9th January 1916

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9th January 1916

Arthur is solicitous for Dollie’s health – her teeth are still being a problem; Dollie is still organising the gift of a cigarette case for Arthur; Arthur and his men are now down near Loos – having gone in last night; they will be there for the next eight days – four in reserve and four “up” in the line; the shelling is a little close for comfort; a recce of the line reveals they will be holding half a coal heap – the Germans have the other half; Arthur can’t sleep for the rats everywhere; thoughts of Sunday afternoons at home.

Arthur to Dollie

In a cellar, Sunday aft: 4.30

… Thanks awfully for your two dear letters of Wednesday and Thursday that both came to-day. I’m awfully sorry, little lover mine, to hear that you are having such trouble with your teeth. I hate anyone to mess about with my teeth – and I’m sure you must feel the same. And I hate to think of anyone hurting you…

Thanks awfully, little darling, for the trouble you’ve been taking about my cigarette case. It’s just like your own dear self – thanks ever so much. I shall appreciate it all the more for the trouble you have taken over it. I am glad to hear that the Mater, God bless her, is on her way to health again. Please God, she’ll soon be all right.

As for us, dear, we are up again for our eight days. This time down near Loos. We have 4 days in reserve altogether & 4 “up” in the line. We came up last night & soon got settled down. Brady & Hammerton are still away on courses. I have Lloyd and Rice with me here – we are living together with Major Kemble, the second in command of the 23rd Battalion and with two officers of their “C” Company. We have 3 large cellars about 800 yards back. We occupy one, the serjeant-majors another, & servants the third. They shell a bit – one hit the side of the house about an hour ago! Shook things a bit.

This morning I went up to have a look at our bit of line – most extra-ordinary. We hold half a coal heap & the Germans the other. So that we more or less share each others trenches, half each. This afternoon I tried to snatch an hours sleep but not very successfully. Last night there were an awful lot of rats & mice, all over the place, especially where my head is! Brrrr.

It seems absurd to think that this is Sunday afternoon. A couple of years ago, and I’d probably be round with you in our respective “glad rags” sitting on the Chesterfield in the drawing room – very cosy & very comfortable. Now here I’m sitting in the cellar of a French pub, smashed to bits, & you, little one, where are you, and what are you doing? …