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Date: May 19th 1918

Sunday Evening, 19th May, 1918


--Scene-- An orchard

My dearest mother,

It is fine to have the opportunity of such a quiet retreat such as this in which I write letters undisturbed. Today the weather has been beautiful: bright warm sunshine all day and a slight breeze blowing. This evening is just such an evening when it was pleasant to sit out in the garden reclining in a hammock and reading a book, which unless you are at church I can picture you doing now. This is the third Sunday I have spent in France and each has seen me a different place. I wonder where I shall be next Sunday. I hope it will be here. I do miss going to the Quadrant, especially the class in the afternoon and it is on such a day as this that the burning desire to be home increases as when I feel down in the dumps a bit (which I may add is not often) and promptly get busy. On the whole I have had quite a happy day. The authorities here are very considerate to the troops for Reveille was not until 7am and breakfast at 8. I got up at 7.45. Church parade was at 10am. The service was held in a field and all the troops attended. The service was CofE but that didn't matter much; one of the regimental brass bands accompanied the singing. I enjoyed the service very much as it made a welcome change in the daily routine which is apt to become rather monotonous after a time and what is more it was of considerable help to me. It is significant to note that since our chaps have been out here the very thought of the uncertainty of everything has made those who rather scoffed at religion to see the value of it. On the other hand the rest are all the more zealous in living up to all they know to be good, upright and true. Out here a fellow does not live for amusement alone as so many did before the war; there is very little amusement here in the sense in which it is understood at home. He is, therefore, faced with the sterner scenes of life and finds the equivalent to amusement in helping others where aid is needed, in writing letters to cheer up those at home and in preparing for the future before him. I am concerned that all those who come safely through this war have a special work to do at home where the training they received out here, where many face death, will be invaluable. If everyone was to look at the question "what am I going to do after the war" in this light there would be no more wars. This is just preparing you for what might have been a surprise to you when you see what I am going to do when this war is over. Of course I am looking ahead rather a long way, perhaps. Altho' we may see the end in sight this year.

This afternoon the weather being ideal, several of us went for another swim in the river. I was first and we simply gamboled about likes fishes in the hot weather. I am getting quite brave and I actually jumped in and swam about 150 yards down the stream. I should liked you to have seen me in the old river; I am certain you have got the "wind up" and said "Oh do be careful , Bert". But you just can't see me and I am going out of the [?] and water a large swim, besides I shall not put the wind up[?] if I am afraid to risk even such a little in this river. I am, as a result of the exercise in constant fresh air in the pink of condition. Of course I have got a bit of a cold but this I have had so long that I have come to regard it as a natural for me to have one and consequently take no notice of it. I got back to tea at 5o/c and found that several of the chaps have just received some parcels; so I had cake for tea. Stuart has also had a small registered parcel and he is the first to have news from home. I am looking forward to a letter tomorrow; my address is still lst Batt, 15 London Reg, 47 Divisional Wing, BEF, France!!! After tea I washed a pair of socks, a shirt and two handkerchiefs and tried to imitate Mrs. T. Tell her I shall be able to do a thing with washing when I get home again so she will have to look out or I shall pinch her job. I consider to have done them fairly well; they look quite posh hanging over the [?] where is the sun. Shall I not be domesticated after the war? You have read about the attempted raid on Paris; well, over here Jerry coming over [?]my word! He got a hot reception from the RR guns around here to judge by the noise. I think this is all the news up to now. I should like another writing pad, some lemonade powder or sherbert and one or two more old handkerchiefs. The weather is too warm for me to wear pants and as these trousers are unlined I should like a pair of cotton linings made after the style of those I had with my cycling suit only not quite as long or as good. I am nearly out of both paste and would like a tube of Kolynos obtainable at any chemist. This stuff is better than Eathymot and the same price.

I shall not get much pay out here until the debt has been wiped off but I don't spend more than I make at the most as I am alright for a time.

I hope the boys are all behaving themselves and giving you less trouble as they grow older; give them my love, also to Dad and Grandma and Cookey.

I suppose the gunner has returned to depot now and his "Mrs" to her [?] work. I have decided to spend my holidays on the continent this year! I wish some of you were staying here, this is a fine place for a holiday.

Now I must dry up or the censor will swear at me for wasting so much of his time.

Au revoir,

with fondest love and xxxxxx

from Bert