10th June 1916
Whilst home Arthur and Dollie have made plans to marry during Arthur’s next leave; he writes from the train, having crossed the channel from Southampton: “… Another 24 hours have passed but time cannot soften the ache in my heart. I cannot yet realise that we are not together … these next three months are a kind of pilgrimage, not of space but of time: where every hour, every minute brings me nearer to the object of my life …”; meanwhile Arthur faces another 4 or 5 hours in the train and 3 hours more travel after that, so he won’t be back in St Amand until the early hours of Whit Sunday.
Arthur to Dollie
In the train near A-, Satur. Aft 5.10pm
… Another 24 hours have passed but time cannot soften the ache in my heart. I cannot yet realise that we are not together … these next three months are a kind of pilgrimage, not of space but of time: where every hour, every minute brings me nearer to the object of my life … God bless you.
Let me give you my news, dear such as it is … It took us about two hours to get to Southampton. I managed to get a tea basket at Basingstoke … At Southampton we went straight on board. It was an awful rotten old tub – a paddle steamer over 30 years old & no accommodation at all. I managed to get hold of the 2nd Engineers cabin with Bernheim & the fellows from the 1st Londons – at a price. As a matter of fact, we all kept on deck, for the sea wasn’t altogether smooth & the atmosphere below was awful! I didn’t feel ill D.G.
We left about half-past 7 & were in about 3.30 this morning. We got on to the train at once – it was packed – and we’ve been in it ever since. It goes about 10 miles an hour. We stopped off at a place about half-past ten (this is all French time again, dear) & managed to get omelette, hot coffee, bread butter & jam … I ate some of my sandwiches at 4 this morning. We stopped at Amiens for quarter of an hour – but there was not much to be got out of the buffet so I’ve eaten the galantine I brought with me.
I suppose we’ve another 4 or 5 hours in this train; then either the bus for 2 hours & an hours walk or the mess cart. I hope John will have sent the latter – I asked him to. The weather dear was very fine last night. This morning it rained hard & has been showery ever since.
I am longing to hear from you dear … I’m longing for my next leave. I feel so proud & happy that we two are sharing one life together, always one, never to be separated. Be of good heart, little one, much that is hard, much that is difficult will crop up. Know that though I’m away, I’m really with you…