22nd July 1916
Dollie is missing Arthur terribly and he tries to cheer her up – the holiday with her Mother on the South Coast isn’t proving to be much of a tonic for her; Arthur has decided not to go away from the school at the weekend as he wants to write his account of the battle of July 1st for Dollie; Arthur has not heard much about his regiment since starting at the school except that they “… have left the place of our strafe and gone about 10 miles further north (where, my informant says, it is very quiet – his battalion only had 6 casualties in 6 months!!)”.
Arthur to Dollie
Saturday after. 4pm
I’ve two dear letters to thank you for – Tues & Wednes. I started to write yesterday evening but was interrupted, so I have begun again to-day. The mails are altered & are not collected until 8pm…
I’m sorry you’re so dull …The days too when nothing will go right; & one has to set ones teeth to carry your job through in spite of all, hoping and praying as it were, that the next corner will bring you in site of home, that the next hill is the last … we two have had to bear much & to struggle hard for our victory. And as fighting & suffering in this war out here proves a man, so has our love been proved by difficulty and the ache of absence … If things seem hard, darling, if everything seems dull, try to accept it gladly; for we will reap its fruits a hundred fold in joy & happiness together. Know always that I am with you… God bless you.
Darling, what a coincidence that you should have met Fr. Higgins. He must have met the Pater after Jack [Agius] was killed, poor chap. What is he like?
Yesterday, dear, we had the usual programme of work, plus a lecture in the evening. After Mess we were invited into the garden of HQ Mess. It is a most awfully jolly place. The house and a small part of the garden are on the north side of the river. There is a little iron bridge across and on the other side lies the greater part of the garden & a meadow. Below the bridge there is a long island, all trees. I stayed talking with Major Tracy till after 11. He is an awfully nice chap.
To-day is Saturday again. I am not going away this week-end. There is not much in it. The weather is finer & rather warm. I’ll send the story of July 1st along, dear, as soon as I’ve finished it. I’ve really been quite busy, dear, for in addition to our ordinary work, I get about 3 documents a day from the School Library & make notes on them after I’ve read them: which takes some time, especially as I cannot keep them for more than 24 hours.
I have no news from the regiment, dear. A fellow here who is in my Syndicate, said that his Division had been relieved two days ago by the remnants of ours & the 56th. If this is true, it means that we have left the place of our strafe and gone about 10 miles further north (where, my informant says, it is very quiet – his battalion only had 6 casualties in 6 months!!) What hopes? If its fine to-morrow I shall take my primus & writing things & have a picnic tea down the stream, I think…
(‘Jack’ is a reference to his brother killed in a lift accident in a Glasgow hotel in 1888 , aged 7, 5 years before Arthur was born).