Wednesday, 7 August, 1918
M---, Somme, France
Letter No 97
My dearest mother,
I was very pleased to get your last letter, written last Wednesday, as I always am. But I should like them even more I think if you only wrote when you felt up to the job; you see, when you wrote the letter I am now responding to, you were "awfully tired". You ought not to be working quite so hard as you do; I am jolly sure you overstep the mark at times. I wish there was less work to be done. So in the present instance, altho' you find corresponding with me a "labour of love" please don't tax yourself. As for me, I have usually a fair amount of time for letter writing and find it a pleasure if only as a change from soldiering. I should like to see Baby Geoffrey. Is he like Margery in features? I hope you are letting Cyril and Walter go to New Barnet as it will make a nice change for them. Auntie Mirrie is very good to invite them as she does. The newspaper cutting you sent gives me some useful information, but even if an order were made now for the withdrawal of boys under nineteen from the firing line it would not affect me very much; you must not forget that it only about ten weeks to my nineteenth birthday. I am sure I don't feel so old. Yes, Dad shall have a box of 50 cigars for his birthday next year. I will get them and smoke one with him (shall probably make myself ill but it doesn't matter).
I gave all the news yesterday up to the time of writing (4pm) in Cyril's letter No 96. Well when I was dismissed soon after 7pm I decided to bunk over P---- and see if old Davidson was out of the line. I found that his Company was out and in their old camp so I naturally soon located him in his "bivvy". He was ever so glad I came over for he was going away very shortly further south, and I should probably not have had another opportunity of seeing him. He had just come down the line after a pretty uncomfortable five days; the trenches were in rather a bad state owing to the wet. I hope I have the chance of meeting him again as I enjoy his company immensely; somehow or other he reminds me of Harold Q.
I was a mess orderly again today and after drawing water this morning joined the platoon which was trench digging near here. (An amusing interlude; the old French farmer here has caught me writing this in his old cart and laughingly inquired "lettre à m'moiselle, n'est ce pas?" I told him he was wrong this time). I don't like trench digging when the ground is dry, but the clay was water logged and made the digging harder. However we took it very easily, not being important, and as the weather was fine we had quite a good time. Being dismissed at noon I raided the new Div Canteen and got some chocolate, biscuits and a tin of herrings for tea today. What won't be tinned, I should like to know? I really believe we shall be able to get everything in tins before the war is over.
I have been exceedingly energetic today and washed three pairs of socks, five handkerchiefs and a towel. The weather was fine so I took the opportunity and now there is a line of dry washing. My trousers needed repairing so this evening I have been pottering about with them, and what with this and the mess orderly stunt I have more than filled the time. It is almost too dark to write now, but must finish this tonight. How the evenings are drawing in. It is not a very comforting thought - unfortunately all our billets have no electric lighting installations!
Give my love dear old dad, the boys, Grandma and Cookey,
With loving thoughts, from your devoted son,
PS Please send me a few sheets of paper and envelopes from time to time when you write.
Also I've had an accident with my torch light and broken the electric filament. Could [?] get me another please (usual size).