May 3, 1917.
My dear Gertrude.
Two letters from you yesterday - just after I had received a telegram of bad news from Poppy. I will enclose it and also Muriel's letter my only further information which came this afternoon. I am afraid it will have upset Mother very much & perhaps worse still make her much more anxious about Ian & any of us who may be out in the future. It was only yesterday that notice was posted prohibiting further weekend passes & although a special leave is not impossible it is next to impossible if it involves a railway journey. but I am hopeful form Muriel's letter that Berkeley may be able to get home before Sunday.
With four of us in the army, I never thought it would be likely that we could all expect to get safely through and somehow I have always felt that it was going to be Robin who was to suffer. And that apart from the fact of his being the first to enlist & also to go out or that he was in such a dangerous corps as the M.G.C.
It would seem that his death was instantaneous so the going will have been no trial for him, the loss is our own & especially Mother's.
If the parcel you mentioned as sent to me in one of yesterday's letters - is the same as Muriel mentions as having arrived - yours to Robin must have been only just to late, although that as you will agree is a very small matter and one way or the other - under the circumstances.
You ask me about seeing your Aunt Bell if possible - If I can get off on Sunday next I will try & do so but I have been put on a permanent job this week (that is permanent whilst I am waiting here) Gate orderly at the Guard House - a fairly decent job in fine weather - & this week has been glorious so far - my duties are simply to conduct visitors, people on business & recruits to the various places & people they want to see. Hours 9 to 6 - which will be a little irksome on Sunday - unless I can get permission to knock off at 2 sometimes which I will ask for this coming Sunday. A big advantage is that I have dinner & tea with the Guard - only 7 of us in all - including a mess orderly - so none of the waiting about & then the rush for anything to eat of the barrack dining Room. As to my chances of being in the same Class as Norman Heaven - that would only be possible & not probable if he was in for the RGH. If he is in for the Infantry - these are [?] or 50 different schools he might be sent to - & these are quite a list of Artillery Schools besides others for Engineers and the Flying Corps & our own Corps etc.
I never thought of Spencer going into Mr Chapples business. It would certainly be a splendid thing
for Mr. Chapple & he would have no more excuses for not giving himself proper holidays. And I should think a very great expansion would be possible in the business, upon Mr. Chapple's solid foundation - by making things up to date & putting the money into improvements, which Mr Chapple has hesitated about. Almost any type of business nowadays [?] as to be capable of affording good scope for anyone with financial [?] which Spencer I believe has [?] should think it would be rather a
blow to Mr Rowe. Thanks for the Joyce photo. it comes out very well - a very successful portrait of a very non-ailing baby.
There is one unmistakeable inference to the [?] from Mary Ingham's suggestion, about her anniversary & that is that the original day has brought all or most of the happiness she expected of it, & so perhaps she is to be excused for her egoism, in thinking her friend would also wish to make such an important day of their own a memorial of hers. Perhaps she thought the date was a lucky one. However I think June a much more auspicious month for us, and I have frequently considered the possibility of June 1918 - I hope it won't be later - but these are not the days to look to the future with even suggestive plan.
I hope the Chadwick's change of residence will be of benefit to Mrs C. I am sorry to hear that she was not improving. If you are seeing her please give her my kind regards & best wishes, also to the Kings.
I must finish this up quickly - already 8.30 & I must write to Muriel. Robin by the way was 26 on April 17th. He was the only one of us born in Hartlepool.
With much love to you.