13th February 1916
Leave is over for Arthur and he writes to Dollie four or five times on the journey back to France – from the train, the boat and Boulogne – missing her dreadfully (but managing to have the odd meal!) Whilst away, Arthur’s Company has been transferred yet again and at Boulogne he discovers they are now in the same Army that Maggie Agius’s brother [Arthur Samut] is in, but apparently not in the same Corps.
Arthur to Dollie
In the train, just past Sevenoaks, 10.8am Sun.
… I don’t know what to say: my heart is sick & sore with the pain of our parting. I feel numbed and cannot think. God bless you, dear, & protect you & keep you happy. Know that I am with you always, especially at these moments when we feel so intensely the need of each others presence to comfort us & to keep our hearts high… I hope you got home all right, little one. I am longing for your news…
On board,1pm Sun.
… We hav’n’t started yet. I’m wild. The train needn’t have left till noon for we don’t go until half-past two, and I should have had nearly three more solid hours in your darling company. We had a good train journey down, though the train rocked an awful lot, dear. I had breakfast about quarter past ten – not bad – two poached eggs & bacon, toast, marmalade & coffee. When we got here we all came on board. They told us that the boat was to leave at 2.30. We could go ashore but must be on board again by half-past one. Nearly everyone went off for lunch but I didn’t feel inclined for it so soon after brekker.
It struck me, dear, that they might have lunch on board. So I’ve just been down & had some – cold beef & cheese chiefly. It’s a glorious afternoon. I do wish I was back with you once more. I’d have rung you from here, little lover, only I didn’t know where I could find you – or whether you would be in church.
I just simply don’t know what to say. I feel I’ve a million things to tell you, but it’s awfully hard. Paper is so cold. You know, thank God, how I feel & all that I long to say – God bless you, my sweet heart…
Grand Hotel du Louvre, Boulogne-Sur-Mer, 6pm
At last, after a lot of va – et – vient, I think I’m more or less fixed up. We had a pretty good crossing, though there was rather a swell. We came by rather a circuitous route so that we didn’t get in until about a quarter to five. When I got off the ship, I tried the AMLO – he couldn’t give me much help – suggested the RTO. So I went there & from there on to the Base Commandant. According to him we are now in the [?] Division as we thought and are in the same Army that Maggie’s brother is, but not, I think, in the same Corps. The Base Commandant gave me a Movement Order. That had to be taken back to the RTO. My train leaves some time before 9 to-night. I report at the station at 8. Well, dear, after all that, I came here& left my things in the cloakroom, then went over the river into the town. I tried the popular teashop but it was crammed. So next I went into the Church in the Market Square.
I’m feeling fearfully homesick … God bless you, darling of my heart. May He comfort you & make you happy. For your happiness is the aim of my life…
Grand Hotel du Louvre, Boulogne-Sur-Mer, 7.30pm
… I wonder what you’re doing now – just about to have dinner? I don’t suppose you’ve changed out of your blue, have you, dear. I can picture you so well & long to be with you …Your dear miniature is growing more like you. It is a comfort & help. Thank you a thousand times for it, dear. I prize it awfully.
I’ve just had dinner, not very good, but still, nothing is without you, dear. In a few minutes time I shall collect my belongings & wander over to the station. So I’ll jut say au revoir once more, dear, till I start again. God bless you…