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Date: December 3rd 1916
"Dear Boys"
Coningsby Dawson

December 3rd, 1916.

Dear Boys:

By this time you will be all through your exams and I hope have both passed. It'll be splendid if you can go together to the same station. You envy me, you say; well, I rather envy you. I'd like to be with you. You, at least, don't have Napoleon's fourth antagonist with which to contend—mud. But at present I'm clean and billeted in an estaminet, in a not too bad little village. There's an old mill and still older church, and the usual farmhouses with the indispensable pile of manure under the front windows. We shall have plenty of hard work here, licking our men into shape and re-fitting.

You know how I've longed to sleep between sheets; I can now, but find them so cold that I still use my sleeping bag—such is human inconsistency. But yesterday I had a boiling bath—as good a bath as could be found in a New York hotel—and I am CLEAN.

I woke up this morning to hear some one singing Casey Jones—consequently I thought of former Christmases. My mind has been travelling back very much of late. Suddenly I see something here which reminds me of the time when E. and I were at Lisieux, or even of our Saturday excursions to Nelson when we were all together at the ranch.

Did I tell you that B., our officer who was wounded two months ago, has just returned to us. This morning he got news that his young brother has been killed in the place which we have left. I wonder when we shall grow tired of stabbing and shooting and killing. It seems to me that the war cannot end in less than two years.

I have made myself nice to the Brigade interpreter and he has found me a delightful room with electric light and a fire. It's in an old farmhouse with a brick terrace in front. My room is on the ground floor and tile-paved. The chairs are rush-bottomed and there are old quaint china plates on the shelves. There is also a quite charming mademoiselle. So you see, you don't need to pity me any more.

Just at present I'm busy getting up the Brigade Christmas Entertainment. The Colonel asked me to do it, otherwise I should have said no, as I want all the time I can get to myself. You can't think how jolly it is to sit again in a room which is temporarily yours after living in dug-outs, herded side by side with other men. I can be me now, and not a soldier of thousands when I write. You shall hear from me again soon. Hope you're having a ripping time in London.

Yours ever,

Original Scans

Original Scans