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Date: January 31st 1917
Mr. & Mrs. M.
Coningsby Dawson

January 31st, 1917.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. M.:

It was extremely good of you to remember me. I got back from leave in London on the 26th and found the cigarettes waiting for me. One hasn't got an awful lot of pleasures left, but smoking is one of them. I feel particularly doggy when I open my case and find my initials on them.

I expect you'll have heard all the news of my leave long before this reaches you. We had a splendid time and the greatest of luck. My sailor brothers were with me all but two days, and my people were in England only a few days before I arrived.

This is a queer adventure for a peaceable person like myself—it blots out all the past and reduces the future to a speck. One hardly hopes that things will ever be different, but looks forward to interminable years of carrying on. My leave rather corrected that frame of mind; it came as a surprise to be forced to realise that not all the world was living under orders on womanless, childless battlefields. But we don't need any pity—we manage our good times, and are sorry for the men who aren't here, for it's a wonderful thing to have been chosen to sacrifice and perhaps to die that the world of the future may be happier and kinder.

This letter is rather disjointed; I'm in charge of the battery for the time, and messages keep on coming in, and one has to rush out to give the order to fire.

It's an American night—snow-white and piercing, with a frigid moon sailing quietly. I think the quiet beauty of the sky is about the only thing in Nature that we do not scar and destroy with our fighting.

Good-bye, and thank you ever so much.

Yours very sincerely,
Coningsby Dawson.

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