May 9th 18
I received a letter from you today dated March 30th, also one from Bessie written ten days earlier. I was sorry to hear you were down sick again and I expect that accounts for your mournful letter.
Well dear I know you can't help feeling blue some times but then you need to think of when we were all little kids and how you used to be up against it but still pulled through. Do you remember how you used to have to count up the silver in your purse and figure out how you were going to rustle up another load of wood? We went pretty short sometimes but still pulled through and it did not hurt any to do without. Well dear there are four of us in the army, three of us front line men. We have never hunted for soft jobs and have been in as hot corners as any men in France yet we pulled through, two of us with honours. Everybody I meet who knows Frank says he is the sloppiest young beggar they ever saw but in the line he always had a smile. Jack Smithers the sergeant major said that Frank had two speeds, his own and stopped, but he was there with the goods when it came to getting anything done.
I am the only one that's likely to be in the front line this summer. I did not expect to ever see the line again but they are not so particular about a man these days. My left arm is not as strong as my right and a little awkward but I can handle a machine gun just as good as ever.
Syd was marked D(i) when I left Blighty, which means six weeks gymnastics or "jerks" as it's called. If he does not improve he is marked B(i) or (2) and put at some job. So you see with his long spell in France and his ailment he has a long time to go yet. Dad is under shell fire but never goes into the line except at night or any emergency as he is in charge of a water squad of twelve men to test the water which is supplied to the front line and reserves. If anything comes off he becomes a member of the Field Ambulance for duty.
If I go up the line I have a ten to one chance of getting a nice Blighty like I got last time and I am the only one of the bunch who is likely to see the front line this summer.
Frank is a brigade runner so he is not likely to be any less than a mile from the front line, so he has twice as good a chance as last summer when they were in and over the top most of the time. I stand a better chance than him with the machine gun. We dig in and don't move or fire till Fritz is actually coming over. Frank as a company runner had to go through all the shelling, often over the open ground, dodging here and there and Syd was the same but still they came through.
So dear you are bound to have some of us come through all right and believe me this war has made us all more united and after this if one Row is in it the rest are with him.
Bessie seems to have grown into a fine girl and Phil will never be old enough to join, so cheer up and never mind.
Love to all
P.S. the censor will think I have gone nuts.