24th June 1913

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Tuesday 24th June 1913

Arthur’s first machine gun exam; spellbinding Torchlight Tattoo at Chelsea; Poincare arrives – Vive la France!

Arthur to Dollie

Leadenhall Street, E.C.

Thanks for your dear letter which arrived this morning with a welcome companion for the Mater. She was very pleased to get it, and everyone wanted to read it, Pater and all. Pater and I were a bit late for brekker, as we went to church at 8.0 so I didn’t see her open it or hear what she said when she saw it among her other letters, but she was pleased that you wrote and hadn’t forgotten her…

Yesterday I went to Chelsea in the evening as usual   – we are going to have our first exam on Wednesday. The Guards are giving a torchlight tattoo in the grounds of Chelsea Hospital on the 26th and 27th, for the Hospital Funds. Last night they were rehearsing it in the barrack square at Chelsea – it was an extraordinarily impressive sight… It was a dark night with few stars … Then suddenly there filed on four or five hundred men, all bearing smoking torches in their undress kit, (white jackets and blue trousers), that wound in and out in ordered confusion, till at length they collected and halted, in a solid phalanx of flame, with torches raised aloft. Then a hymn was played, with each note a torch was lowered, until with the last dying notes, all were rested, butt on the ground – it was very impressive, and I am sorry that I shall be unable to see it, when brought to perfection.

I got home feeling awfully hungry – the others were just going to bed. This morning Alfred arrived home from Antwerp, very fit. He had a good crossing.

I have [Mlle] Flury tonight, as she couldn’t come yesterday. Then on to Chelsea. The work is intensely interesting, but my finger ends are very sore as a result. So I wear an old pair of gloves.

Everyone is very excited over the coming of Poincare – the newspapers print articles in French, Kipling has written a poem for the occasion and the streets present a very festive and gay appearance. Vive la France! I wish it was you due today at half past three and not the President, little darling. I am longing for the dawn of Friday week and you, sun of my eyes. The time does pass slowly. I suppose you have decided to remain at Amy’s during July. Please remember me most kindly to your Mater and Sister. Edith often asks after Yvonne. …