14th February 1915
Valentine’s Day; the weather is beastly; Arthur & Co have got the “hump” – as they were not chosen for some unexpected leave; Arthur sends his photos home to the family; a shopping list for Dollie; Arthur contrives to send Dollie’s letters back to her – although he is sick at heart with having to part from them.
Arthur to Dollie
In Billets, Sunday 2.22pm
… Happy Valentine Darling… I received your dear letter of Thursday this morning; thanks awfully darling… Well, dear soul, to-day we’ve all fairly got the “hump”. It’s a perfect beast of a day, pouring rain and driving wind. To add to that we had a lecture on lots of things concerning trenches etc. At the end the CO announced that leave for six days might be given to 4 Officers and 2 NCOs. He, the Adjutant and Major Beresford weren’t going to avail themselves of it. For the rest lots would be drawn to allow 1 Officer per Coy to go. The lots were duly drawn. “Tea Leaves”, Edwards, “Mabel” and Giles are the lucky ones. Of course all the rest of us are perfectly fed up. Harry [Pulman] and Evie [Noel] are in here writing with me, and we are all like bears with sore heads. The weather is too beastly to admit one working off ones feelings by a walk… Still I suppose its no use grumbling: it’s all the luck of the thing. But we don’t feel very philosophical. Oh well.
So I am asking one of them to take my parcel of letters across to England. I’ve enclosed the remainder of my photos, as I thought it safest. Will you please, darling, let my Mater have them. I want Maggie [Agius] to have one and Daisy [Agius] one also; please. I hope that you’ll get them safely.
Last night we had quite a feast in here. I had my bed moved out for the night. We got a table rigged up on a couple of trestles and the old lady here supplied us with linen and crockery galore. A tablecloth and serviettes for each of us – we sat down 11… For food – hors d’oeuvres – sardines and a paste of sorts – soup – a thick warming village soup. Then a priceless omelette and two fowls with fried potatoes and gravy. We ended up with birthday cake and that was about as much as anyone of us could manage. We had wine, red and white, to drink and liqueurs and coffee to finish off with. Then we sang choruses. Finally a speech from Harry and Harold Moore and an answering one from Evie. We went to bed about 11.
… this morning I got up at 7.15 so as to get to 8 o’clock Mass. The Church is just within a few minutes of here. I managed to get to Communion which was a great comfort. Afterwards we had brekker about 9.10. I inspected my men’s rifles and feet (queer combination, eh darling?) at 9.40. I arrived back here about 10.10. We had the lecture on at 11.
Evie hasn’t received his parcel yet darling, but expects it tomorrow. So thanks in anticipation for the biscuits which are going to be very much appreciated… By the way dear I want you to do me a commission please. Harry is writing today for a waterproof cap-cover. He is asking Rosa to get it – I think from some people Anderson – who have a place I know in Queen Victoria St. in the City. I wish you would get me one too please darling. I shall be awfully grateful. It is a cover for the cap with a flap behind and I think costs about 5 / 6. But if you can get hold of Rosa, you will be able to get them together. Promise me though, darling, that you will let me know how much it costs. One other thing darling and I think that it is the end of the list – could you please also send me out some raisins…
When have you any hope of getting your luggage, darling – it seems extraordinary that it has been so long and it must be awfully inconvenient for you. I thought you had it already when you said that it was at Tilbury, but apparently it isn’t so. Poor darling – what a shame. I hope George Pulman will be getting on the move again about it…
Just a footnote. I’ve handed my packet of your dear letters to Harry’s Serjeant Major – who is one of the two NCOs due for leave. He will take great care of them I know and I suppose it’s for the best but I don’t like letting them go from me… The Serjeant Major whose name is Frame is going to Rosa [Pulman] on Wednesday morning at Hendon, and will hand her the precious packet for delivery to you, darling! …