24th August 1916
Arthur has been on the march for the past two days and has had no opportunity to write to Dollie – nor has he heard from her. Dollie’s celebrated her birthday on 22nd August, and Arthur is anxious to hear how her day went. His letter of 24th is heavily censored – but we know they have been travelling through wooded and hilly countryside, in varying degrees of heat and are now in reasonable billets, in a village that has seen few British soldiers. (Conteville training area).
Arthur to Dollie[Thursday]
… The last two days have been so dull – no mail at all, in or out; we’ve been on trek & suppose have marched about 20 miles since our last stop. On Tuesday we only had a fairly short march. We got in very late & just shook down for the night. Next day we were up at 4am & on the road soon after 6. We did about 14 miles. It was rather trying for there were several steep hills to negotiate. We were in here between 12 & 1. At 4.30 we [ ….. censored ……]
We weren’t back until after 8. This morning we were on parade at a quarter to nine. I’ve seen the Post Corporal & he says that a post leaves about half-past 4; so I am writing now dear, for we are on parade again this afternoon. It doesn’t give one much time to oneself, does it, darling. I’m simply [?] to settle down and get your dear news again especially at this time of your dear birthday. I do hope you’ll have had a ripping day.
The country is looking fine. It is very hilly and very well-wooded […. censored…] is a mass of green – that resolves itself into a world […. censored…] Between the […. censored…] and very intensely cultivated. Here and there are copses or an occasional big farm. Linking up the whole runs the main road that can be traced for miles by their border of trees. The corn is being cut and the country side is beginning to look more bare. The weather, darling, is rather indetermined. It is fine at times, but yesterday afternoon and last night it poured; while this morning was close & muggy. But it has always one prevailing characteristic & that is heat.
We have this village to ourselves. It is a very jolly little place […. censored…]. It is only the third time they have had troops here. The local folk are very friendly & interested in us. I have a billet & a mess room in the school house – which is now empty.
Fordred – one of my subalterns – leaves to-morrow for the RFC. Edouard [Noel] is off to Divisional HQ for a few days for a course with the Pioneers. Its nearly time for this – parade. The Brigade Major is coming over. So I shall have to come to an end. Orders ar’n’t out yet for to-morrow, dear, but I shall try to write to-night so as to make sure of to-morrow’s mail.