Jan 15 1915 [year misdated]
Well I slipped one over on the "Home Guard" that time didn't I? I thought perhaps you would like to think I was in England on Xmas day, so I sent my cable via Folkestone so it would have the English ear-marks. Apparently it had the desired effect on Mother, so now we are all satisfied.
No, I could not get away for Xmas, and prospects are very black for getting away soon. However, the Army is mysterious in its moves, and leave generally comes when one least expects it. But as I told you before, I had a very quiet and pleasant day. Pleasant because it was quiet. There was lots of strafing on both sides of us but we were left severely alone.
It takes so long to get replies to letters that one sometimes one forgets what one has written, at least that is my trouble. You, or rather Father, asked me what kind of time I had in trenches. Well, I think I told you about it at the time, but if I didn't you will get it verbally some day soon. I am glad you had such good Xmas. Yes, they were good to you again. Well, I guess you deserved it alright. My biggest regret was that I couldn't be around doing my bit in that line too. By the way, I did send you a little parcel some time ago. Let me know if you receive it O.K., will you? Mother's little present is not ready yet. Like the war, all we need now is patience. We will get what we want some day if we can only manage to hold on.
Fred was in about two days ago. He was leaving next day for England to take out a commission in the Royal Artillery. I am glad, as he is such a nice chap, and will make an A-1 officer. The lucky brute had just pulled off a weeks leave in England, returned and was going back to take his courses & perhaps remain in England for some months. But it is all coming to him though, as he has worked very hard and has had a long stretch of it.
I feel in fine shape tonight. Was out for a good long ride this afternoon, fresh air is the dope. I ate a big dinner and am feeling better than I have for a month. I am just one of the small fry around the office these days. The other two fellows appear to be boss. They tell me just when I may work & when I may not. Since I got back last Tuesday I have only worked part of one afternoon. Every day I am kicked out at 1 P.M. and given a horse, but today is first day I have felt like riding. I guess I had a touch of grippe along with my throat, but I am fine now and gaining every day.
I will have to get Father's and Alf's presents when I get to London. There is absolutely nothing to buy here, unless they would like a little lace embroidery for their pyjamas. I never saw such a country to buy things in. Weather has been very miserable lately. Cold, wet and windy. Sometimes one would really think the house would topple over.
Had quite a nice experience yesterday. One of the artillery officers was in, so he invited himself to lunch with me, and I, in turn, invited myself up to afternoon tea with him. So we started out after lunch and walked up to his batteries. Just after we arrived they received orders to bombard a trench so I was present at the most interesting occasion. It certainly is good sport. Last time I was up in that neighbourhood I was at the other end, and I really think I prefer the firing end. Of course both have advantages and the bursting end is full of thrills. The closest for me is ten yards from a burst but it exploded the opposite direction to me.
After the bombardment the officer called in the N. C. O. and he took parts of the gun to pieces & explained the mechanism. The N. C. O. had been working with that gun for 10 years, mostly in India, so that he knew quite a lot about it. The workings of the pieces are marvellous and the men work just like a machine. I hope Alf goes in for it if he decides finally to come over.
I do enjoy the 'Saturday Evening Posts' so much. It was the best Xmas present Father could possibly have sent as I get one every week, and they are excellent reading for out here. When I finish with them I take them over to the hospital for officers to read
Will answer the other parts of letter later but this will do for all this time and please forward to Alf. Lots of love for all family & I hope Mother is over her Xmas rush before this.