Friday 17 May, 1918
On Active Service
WITH THE BRITISH
My dear mother,
Yesterday morning was spent just the same as usual. I got up just before breakfast at 6.45 and had cold ham, over boiled egg, bread and marmalade and tea. Then from 9o/c until a quarter to one I was training in the orchard as usual. After dinner we paraded for baths and marched with our towels to a town about 3 kilos away. Here hot shower baths had been fitted up in a hut erected in an orchard near the town. We undressed outside and some of the chaps got clean [?] changes of clothes in exchange for their dirty ones. I washed myself under one of the hot showers of water coming from a hose in the ceiling and felt very refreshed after it. Stuart, Palmer and I had passes to stay in the town until 8.30pm so after we had dressed we climbed the fairly steep street up to the YMCA tent on the brow of the hill partly overlooking the town. There we refreshed ourselves with plenty of tea and biscuits and then we decided to visit the church which is the [?] of all visitors. You will see from the enclosed postcard that it is quite a large erection and like the church in this village is of Norman origin and therefore rather old. Inside, one is struck with the quiet, cool and refreshing beauty of the whole place as contrasted with the dirty drabness of the streets outside. I was greatly impressed with the beautiful stained glass windows illustrating important events as narrated in the New Testament and also in French history. For instance there was one window showing an illustration of the burning of Jean d'Arc at Orleans. Like all RC churches the altar and other church furniture were very elaborate. There was also a fine organ located in a gallery of carved oak at the back of the church; how I should have enjoyed the opportunity to play on it for an hour! The other item of interest is shown on the postcards marked 2,3 & 4. It is a monument erected in memory of those who fell in the war of 1870, another battle which makes this place famous.
More than this I am not permitted to say by the army, but when I am home on leave the postcards will serve as an excellent reminder of this place and I shall be able to fill in all the missing parts of my daily communiqué. The other post card, marked 5, shows the market place with another monument in the central place. I did not notice in whose memory this one is erected but I shall, no doubt, have another opportunity of finding out. We then just walked round the town making a few purchases and incidentally exercising our French. There is a small railway passing through it and in many respects resembles other places; and here I must leave the description for the time being as I must catch the post and it is nearly time for parade. I am writing again this evening.
Give my love to Dad, the boys and Grandma,
with fondest love for yourself,
your very affectionate son