In a chateau cellar
Sat. Sept 9th 1916
My dearest Mother
Just a few words ere the mail goes to thank you for parcel received today with Father's letter and your letter received yesterday. The parcel is a fine one (especially the pills). Father's letter - a dandy and your letter delightful.
So you have been to the pictures and seen a famous film. I'm very glad you did for it certainly gives a good idea of things over here but believe me, seeing it and doing it are very different things - but there you know that.
Where was I when I last wrote? I've travelled so many scores of miles since that I forget. During my travels I set eyes on the Channel. Oh! It was a thrilling moment to think I was so near Blighty and yet so far from home and I'm now a great deal further. We started with a long walk, full pack of course about 3 o'clock one morning then we had a long motor ride to a train. We were about 13 hours on the train then to crown all for we were dead tired and cramped we had to walk twelve miles to our billets. I have never before experienced a similar 6 hours of agony. It was a march through the night on empty stomachs and several times I stumbled and thus woke myself up for I was sleeping on the way. At every 10 mins rest to the hours march I went sound asleep (like most others) but at last, at last! We got to this chateau, which is an unfinished one because it became haunted (so the yarn goes) and no one will finish building it and no one except soldiers will live in it. We haven't yet had a visit simply because we all are so eager for one I suppose. I am suddenly reminded of Sir Isaac Newton. I'm writing this in the apple orchard in rear of the chateau and an apple fell onto my "nut" or "beam". The country around here is delightful - especially the fruit - pinch as much as we can eat.
Minnie's shortcakes are fine and Allen's sweets were so much finer that they can't be seen now - they went down like lightening. Thanks very much.
I'm afraid we shan't stay at this chateau long enough for a visitation as we get on the road again tomorrow. We are in the queerest village or hamlet one ever did set eyes on but it makes a very nice study of French peasant life. One of our battalion bands made a bandstand of the space round a picturesque well at the village crossroads under four spreading old chestnut trees and all us road worn "warriors" in undress sat around and enjoyed the music until the sun set and the church bell started. I mention the later because the unmelodious din made by this obviously cracked article of tannery is positively appalling. We then sauntered up the "High Street" passed a couple of duck ponds two or three farm yards behind thatched barns to our various barn billets, chateaus or dungeons as the case may be and then to bed.
The grounds of this orchard are strewn with fallen apples (little Ones) and every now and again we (those writing) have an apple battle and one is just starting. I'll quit this and get my own back
So with best love,
Ever your loving boy.
Sorry I have been unable to write as often as I used to but this moving makes me unsettled and generally puts the post service slightly out of commission so please have patience. I'm quite O.K. and weather is now beautiful.
Just going to indulge in a little "active service" on my shirt. The population has got out of control lately since we slept in a certain barn full of "straw and other insects". Casualties will be duly published in our next issue!