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Date: October 18th 1916

In a old French village cottage (empty)
Wed. Oct 18th 1916

My dearest Mother

I am now "out" and miles from the guns and the push, thank goodness.

We were detached from our Company for several days to put in extra time in the Line and consequently I couldn't get off any mail to you except a "Whizz bang" through the YMCA but we joined the Coy again this morning at this pretty village and so I have roped in all my mail that was here waiting for me. I am now starting to answer it. It comprised 8 letters and 3 parcels. By golly! How everybody laughed and asked me if I require a limber to get it to the billet.

Your 3 letters I have and Minnie's and Father's. Thanks. The sweater is sublime. The very thing and fits fine. Socks are grand too, but a little too thin. Cakes as usual quite O.K.

Now your letters (I have so much to answer and think about that my head seems in a whirl). First let me say the newspaper picture is not me although it is so mighty similar that I couldn't make myself believe it wasn't me at first but the wagon they are on is the kind only used by the Motor Machine gun batteries and I've never thus been photographed. Sorry to disappoint you but I wasn't there at the time! Next let me speak about Len Bragg. I was indeed sorry to read in your letters that he was missing and only wish Id known two days since as I saw some of his battalion but I may not see them now for weeks but I'll do my utmost to find out all I can. I was in the same attack. I mean I played my part in it with machine gun barrage.

You know where it was so there's no use defining it if it were possible. On reading your exact words again I understand more fully your question. Yes, exactly only beyond it. If he had any property he surely made out a paybook will and that they can obtain at the London Records Office but being "missing" I doubt if they can do anything until "Après La Guerre". He was styled, by himself and the army on enlistment as a teamaster and from my talk with him I feel that his property owning may be more myth than tangibility (that's going some! Eh! Some words).

I am very sorry indeed that I haven't seen Ray it is hard luck to be so near and yet so far. I still live in hopes but I've moved away from there now and chances of meeting grow slimmer every day. I know well what he's up against and on his behalf I ask you to pray for him.

How thankful I am to be through the push trips safely no one can tell, and you can rest well now because we understand we are done with it having done our share. Pritchard is indeed lucky to be out of it all and how on earth he can wish to be back I don't know. I'll write him an answer to his. You bet I will! His letter was a very, very nice one though.

Pa's is a lovely letter again but doesn't need comment except hurry up with the writing pad. I'm right out and one package of envelopes please.

Please thank Ina from me for the "Punches". They are great.

Aunt's Rosie and Annie's parcels are lovely and I've no paper to acknowledge them with.

Bye the way our last trench was a beggar of a one in every way and I want no more like it, but if duty calls I'd do it again without a murmur. Such is life!

Now I'll stop for my arms ache sitting in this position to get a bit of candlelight.

So bye-bye

Ever your very loving boy