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Date: October 5th 1915

23rd Battalion,
West Sandling, Shorncliffe.
Oct. 5th, 1915.

Dear Dad:

I am just scribbling a short note to catch tomorrow’s mail if possible. There is another on Friday and I shall write again a longer letter to catch it, but just wanted to scribble this so you would get it. I did intend to write this morning, but unfortunately it did not rain as ordered and I had to go to work after scribbling a short note to the Orr-Ewings to thank them for a very pleasant week-end.

George and I got leave on Friday at noon and set out for Weston-super-Mare. The party began with a series of tragedies, but ended more pleasantly. In the first place, we went down to catch the 3.10 train for London and found it had been changed to 2.40 and left at 2.55, just as we entered the station. Much agitation on George’s part. However, we went into Folkestone for tea and caught the 5.13, arriving in London too late to do anything but have dinner and go to bed. We had intended going to the theatre, but the train which was due at 7.33 was two hours late owing to the congestion on the line. Three hospital trains passed us inside of 45 minutes and also troops going out. The South Eastern was always the worst railway in the Kingdom, but since the war it is absolutely undependable.

Next we had dinner and went out for a walk in "Darkest London". Since the last raid extra precautions are being taken and it is about as dark as an average village. Somewhere in crowded Picadilly someone lifted my wad and left me with threepence and a collar button. We got into a taxi to go to the hotel and on looking for some money to pay the taxi found it gone. Unfortunately I had all George’s money in my purse and the thief swiped the lot, about eight pounds, I think. Then we had a fight with the taxi man who wanted to call a "copper". I didn’t like his attitude so told him off and went into the hotel without giving him a cent. However, when we got a cheque cashed at the bank next morning we left two bob at the office in case he came for it. Then we told the manager of the hotel what we thought of him and his house because the night clerk refused to advance us two shillings the night before, paid our bill, and left London by the 11.00 express in high dudgeon.

The speed of the train, however, put us in better humour with things English, 120 miles in 119 minutes without a stop, and the gentle breezes of the Bristol Channel finished it, while a good lunch and a walk over the downs of Somerset soon made us appreciate the tight little Island as of yore. On Sunday we all went to Church and in the afternoon motored about the coast until train time. Arrived back in camp at 11.00 p.m., tired but satisfied and very poor. Our expenditure will be strictly scrutinized for the remainder of the month.

The Orr-Ewings are very kind and hospitable. Peculiarly English household; only comfortably off, I should say, no pretension or swank, but live in a large old house with three servants, a nursery, school-room, etc., everything which a properly established English family regards as essential to respectability, you know. A considerable amount of ease and comfort without much affluence or elegance according to our modern and American ideas.

Mrs. Orr-Ewing is deaf and extremely religious and proper, the girls quite proper but only acceptably religious and very athletic, good sports. Hugh, the son, is one of the most distinguished young doctors in London and is in the R.A.M.C. at the front. He narrowly escaped being killed in the recent fighting. Greta, the second girl, is a nurse in St. Thomas Hospital, London, and is also quite clever and attractive. George is quite captivated, but unfortunately Evelyn, the third girl, who was his chum when he lived there, regards him as her special property. Anyway, we had quite a time. They thought I had a very pretty name and are going to name a dog after me!

Well Dad, I must close, as it is almost time to get back to work. Not much news yet of our getting out, as the Canadians were not in the last show. However, things happen suddenly so don’t be surprised at anything.

Yours lovingly,

Original Scans

Original Scans