8th May 1916 [?]
My dearest May,
Thank you very much for the tempting parcel you sent me. I have enjoyed the cakes so much & the [?] has just come in handy for the trenches. I expect we shall be off there again tomorrow night. I got an interesting letter from Olive two nights ago, & one from Amy yesterday, for which I send them my hearty thanks. I am afraid Alfred must have had a pretty hot time in Ireland, how anxious you would all be. I saw the appalling number of casualties among the officers of the S.F. in the paper, but never thought of it being his battalion. When I wrote my last letter I spoke too soon about us being too near the firing line for inspections etc. I should have touched wood when I said that for the next day we had an inspection by the O.C. We were all clean & shaven, but had not cleaned our boots. That is a thing we have never done since coming to France, & no stuff had been issued for the purpose Indeed it is little use cleaning boots when as soon as you step out of your hut you step into inches of mud or dust according to the weather. For this crime we were made the subject of some very insulting remarks, such as being a disgrace to the battalion and the badges we wore etc. The fact that when in the trenches the bombers are put in the most dangerous & unpleasant spots, & that during three months of leave only two men have been allowed away, does not weigh much against the crime of dirty boots. There is too much fuss made about the outside of the platter in the British Army. The O.C. called another inspection for the following day & dubbin was issued in the meantime. The next morning we rubbed our boots over every five minutes & even then there was quite a sprinkling of dust on them at the inspection. However we were told the improvement was very marked. Curiously enough, in the morning paper there was an account written by an officer in the trenches, which rather bears on the same subject. I have no doubt the staff officer in question told the sentry he was a disgrace to the uniform he wore & such insulting remarks. I am sorry to hear about Hubert cutting his hand so badly. I hope it won't be a long business getting better. How clever Marjorie seems to be at the Bank. It seems to me there ought to be some equivalent of the D.C.M. she ought to get for discovering so many forgeries. What a long time the hot weather is lasting. I expect the rain is waiting till we get in the trenches. One of the men returning from leave told me that all men taking commissions had now to train for four months in the O.T.C. first of all, so Ronald will have some hard work ahead of him. That kind of thing would not appeal to me at all. Sixteen days out of the trenches is almost too long. Things gradually get more regimental, & then off you go to the trenches & begin to think & act more like a man & less like a puppet. The Germans have been putting some shells over this way this morning. One of them killed four men & wounded two or three. They were out drilling. I must stop now as I have about three more letters to write. Dearest love to you all.
Ever your affectionate brother
I wonder who sent me the waterproof socks.