2nd December 1916
Dollie has sent Arthur an enormous parcel and they have already made great inroads into the food. A fellow officer, Davis, has a wife living in Paris and he reports: “Coal & gas are very hard to obtain. Everything is cooked on an oil stove, & lit by candlelight”, which sets Arthur wondering how Dollie’s eldest brother Ludovic and family are coping too. In a heartbreakingly modest statement Arthur describes himself to Dollie: “I’m an awful coward really, but I think I can stick everything pretty cheerfully except this one thing – & that is our being apart”.
Arthur to Dollie
Satur even. 6.30.
…I’ve been lucky to-day – the mail arrived with a letter and a great parcel from you. You darling & generous little soul: I am lucky in you. I love to hear from you. Do take all care of yourself, sweetheart, with all this flu about. Now that I’ve this paper & envelopes, I must write around to folks.
Darling little wife, don’t worry about any discomfort we may undergo. Comfort is only a relative term. I have one “discomfort” only – but that is big enough to make up for them all, and that is being away from you, dear. I’m an awful coward really, but I think I can stick everything pretty cheerfully except this one thing – & that is our being apart. It is awfully hard to bear. But by the grace of GOD, the days are passing towards the hour of our reunion….
The weather here continues much the same, cold & misty with a frost day & night & no sun. I’ve rather slacked again to-day. I had a short note from Alfred & some papers. We ate most of your cake for tea … & are having the anchovies to-night. The magazines were awfully interesting. There was a certain amount about the old 3rd at Neuve Chapelle – though it wasn’t altogether accurate! in the Strand.
No more news of Edouard [Noel] or whether he has gone on leave. He lives a long way back, so that the opportunity of seeing him is rare. Last night I went round to HQ to dinner. We played Bridge afterwards. I don’t think the component parts of HQ have quite shaken together. It is rather amusing to be an onlooker. Alfred [Agius] should be back to-morrow night or Monday morning. Rochford will go back to his company.
Davis came in to-day. He says he had heard from his wife at Paris. Coal & gas are very hard to obtain. Everything is cooked on an oil stove, & lit by candlelight. Cheerful, eh? Do you ever hear from Ludovic?