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Date: October 15th 1916
"Dear Ones"
Coningsby Dawson

October 15th, 1916.

 Dear Ones:

 We're still in action, but are in hopes that soon we may be moved to winter quarters. We've had our taste of mud, and are anxious to move into better quarters before we get our next. I think I told you that our O.C. had got wounded in the feet, and our right section commander got it in the shoulder a little earlier—so we're a bit short-handed and find ourselves with plenty of work.

I have curiously lucid moments when recent happenings focus themselves in what seems to be their true perspective. The other night I was Forward Observation officer on one of our recent battlefields. I had to watch the front all night for signals, etc. There was a full white moon sailing serenely overhead, and when I looked at it I could almost fancy myself back in the old melancholy pomp of autumn woodlands where the leaves were red, not with the colour of men's blood. My mind went back to so many by-gone days—especially to three years ago. I seemed so vastly young then, upon reflection. For a little while I was full of regrets for many things wasted, and then I looked at the battlefield with its scattered kits and broken rifles. Nothing seemed to matter very much, A rat came out—then other rats. I stood there feeling extraordinarily aloof from all things that can hurt, and—you'll smile—I planned a novel. O, if I get back, how differently I shall write! When you've faced the worst in so many forms, you lose your fear and arrive at peace. There's a marvellous grandeur about all this carnage and desolation—men's souls rise above the distress—they have to in order to survive. When you see how cheap men's bodies are you cannot help but know that the body is the least part of personality.

You can let up on your nervousness when you get this, for I shall almost certainly be in a safer zone. We've done more than our share and must be withdrawn soon. There's hardly a battery which does not deserve a dozen D.S.O.'s with a V.C. or two thrown in.

It's 4.30 now—you'll be in church and, I hope, wearing my flowers. Wait till I come back and you shall go to church with the biggest bunch of roses that ever were pinned to a feminine chest. I wonder when that will be.

We have heaps of humour out here. You should have seen me this morning, sitting on the gun-seat while my batman cut my hair. A sandbag was spread over my shoulders in place of a towel and the gun-detachment stood round and gave advice. I don't know what I look like, for I haven't dared to gaze into my shaving mirror.

Good luck to us all,

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