11th April 1915
Mass at Locon & remembering hopes for home leave at Easter; more friends return from leave, with a letter from Dollie; news of brothers Alfred & Edgar; fond memories of a deceased comrade, Bertie [Mathieson]; the Brigade is on the move again.
Arthur to Dollie
In Billets, Sunday afternoon 5.10pm
… Thanks awfully for your letter of Thursday last. I got it this afternoon safe & sound. I almost seem to see you here before my eyes in “a white blouse and black and white skirt” in the morning room at 45 [Compayne Gardens] – a glad picture for eyes weary with longing…
Last night we went to bed early. We are sleeping on the floor again, but quite comfortable – save for the almost continuous whining & crying of a young child in the house.
To-day has been the perfect day. This morning we got up for breakfast at 9. Afterwards I set off for Church at Locon. Mass at 10. How I thought of you, darling. Last time I went to church at Locon it was three weeks ago. I remember coming back with Alfred & we talked about leave & how glorious it would be, especially if we could get home for Easter. And today, full of happy memories of the happy days I spent with you, source of my happiness. It took me a good half hour to get to the church, but I was so pleased to be able to hear Mass.
I got back to my billets just before 12 and found Johnny Sutcliffe just back from leave. Apparently they did not have so long as we did, for they got home on Easter Monday & left on Saturday (that’s yesterday). He was looking very fit & said that he had seen you at Victoria. He had also seen Evie [Noel] & Goff Giles. He says that the latter is very bad & won’t be fit for 4 or 5 months! Poor Goff – he was in the same trench that my gun was at House “B”. After lunch John and I walked up to the Battalion who are billeted rather over a mile away. Hobbs – our old Doctor from Malta – was there. He is in a hospital at Hazelbrouck & hearing that we were in this part of the world came over to look us up. He is very hale & hearty.
Harold Moore was back, Bobbie & the Babe – but the two latter I did not see. Harold said you were looking very smart – you darling – & that you had given him a letter for me – but that he had given it to Alfred to pass on. I went to Alfred’s billet but he wasn’t there. He has been sitting in on a court-martial, so I must wait until to-morrow. I saw Edgar. He is very fit. I wanted to see the CO who is also back – & tell him about his watch – but he was asleep. I walked about a bit with Edgar & then came back here just before 4. I went down the road to the Brigade Office to see about some things & then returned here to tea.
Since then I have been writing. There is a photo of poor Bertie in yesterday’s “Daily Mail” & an account of how he died. Incidentally it mention’s Bertie’s good heart and narrates how on one occasion he carried a man’s rifle for him & how on another occasion he spent an extra hour in the trenches looking for a friend’s field- glasses. I was the friend & the field glasses were mine. In the breastwork in front of House “A” was a machine gun pit. We had discarded it in favour of an emplacement a few feet to the left that is the South side of it. However as it had a roof! Bertie and Tea Leaves used to sleep there. One afternoon Lyell and I had been there discussing a line of fire & when soon after, I missed my glasses, I thought that I had dropped them there. Bertie spent some time in looking for them but, as you know, without success. Poor old Bertie – he was a good chap. I’m glad Mrs Mathieson got some of the details she sought to know.
To-morrow dear, we trek again, but scarcely any distance. Our Brigade is in reserve to the Division & the other two brigades are holding the line. So we are all still out of any risk, thank God…