My dear Gertrude,
I am not sure if the last letter I sent you was the belated weekend one or midweek one on time. I think however it was the latter.
I don't know that I have much to fill a letter with at present unless the mail brings me some letters in. There ought at least to be Mother's weekly Tuesday letters seeing that this is Saturday. It is also the last day of the fourth year of war.
Yesterday was very wet most of the day & between two & six there was nothing to be seen at all. so we had nothing to do. I found a novel by Oppenheim in a dugout & actually read it all in one sitting - don't think I ever did such a thing before I usually take two or three weeks to read a tale where others take two or three days. Not that I am at all a slow reader but I don't like to get through a book in big gulps & prefer to spread it over a longer time. I had never read one of Oppenheim's tales before, I had judged him without reading him as I have a way of doing with authors. My opinion turned out about right, it was quite a readable tale but by no means clever, not however as sensational quite as I expected - a rather poor John Onenham - without his moral value. "Jeanne of the Marshes" was the title, which itself is suggestive of Onenham, but a very forced title for the book.
I also accomplished a very much overdue letter to Alie Jackson.
In spite of all this we had by no means an idle day as things were very busy from 5 am to 9 or 10 & also after 6 pm.
The mail has just come in, quite a big one but nothing for me from anywhere.
There was after all a little mail for me - a packet of "Globes: for the latter part of June. Packages & parcels always come in from the Sergeant Mayor's office after the letters, although they arrive on the same lorry. I think the censor people or the P.O. authorities must keep back a lot of papers, you often speak of sending them off & I only rarely get any - or at any rate that has been so this year - they may come better to France & probably a good deal quicker.
I have just learned that I am going forward again to-night to the guns, so a Sunday addition to this letter will probably be difficult & I think I will finish up & leave it with to-days mail. Am going up with our new Major, so don't know exactly how things will go - every man has his own ideas & methods.
You have often heard of crucifixes & shrines remaining untouched amidst the wreckage of shelled villages. It is strange but certainly often seems the case. One church I often pass, very badly knocked about indeed, has a crucifix against one of the wall of its ruined tower & that wall which faces the enemy lines. Last night I passed through a very battered village that I had not been in before - scarcely a cottage inhabitable - & there a crucifix stood up by the roadway - a life size one, the cross very high - but it was quite untouched. On one side of it a small chapel had its doors & windows blown out, the roof a wreck or rather a skeleton of three or four rafters, the back wall & half the front gable overturned. On the other a row of cottages had their roofs damaged, & their walls badly knocked about. There was only four or five feet between the cottages on one side o& the chapel on the other & yet in the narrow space the Crucifix stood untouched.
By the way I often see references in the Globe to Col McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" I remember reading it at the time it was published & admiring it. If you should see a copy of it sometimes I would very much like you to recopy it for me. It might be republished in one of the papers sometime or you might know someone who has a copy.
I must close. Thanks very much for the "Globes" Will take them forward with me, with "The Virginians" which I am reading.
Hope all is well - you also.
Yours "as hitherto"