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Date: August 30th 1916
Mum - (Jennie Winterbottom)
Sydney Winterbottom

England...Cheriton Camp
Aug. 30, 1916

Dear Mum:

I’m dashed glad you all aren’t living in this muddy place. For the last nine days it has rained almost steadily. My training company has been working in some trenches, or trying to for the last four days. We march about two and a half miles there with our full pack and in the rain every morning. Everyone is soaked through in no time but as long as you keep warm it doesn’t seem to hurt you in the least.

We haven’t done much at these trenches yet as it always rains when we are there. These trenches are built exactly on the same plan as those in France. They cover a couple of acres but if you were to walk through the network of them I guess you would cover considerably over half a mile. The trenches have in them dugouts, a telephone dugout, machine gun dugouts, staff quarters, latrines, and in fact everything to resemble the real thing. To complete our course we have to spend four days and a night in them. At present they are carpeted with a sort of muddy clay which sticks to your clothes like axle grease and as you walk along you often step into holes full of muddy waste water into which you plunk up your ankle. Everyone is wet and coated, yes absolutely coated with mud while there.

When we return to camp all our clothes are soaked. We change into pyjamas, big coats, etc. and hang our wet things where we can. This doesn’t do them much good as the air is so damp with the rain that nothing dries. In the morning we. or at least I put on the damp things and soon get warmed up on the march up.

Since coming here I have received three suits of new underwear so am fairly jake.

I soon hope to spend a week in London. Last Saturday afternoon and Sunday I spent at Uncle Barney’s. I didn’t wire or let him know I was coming so consequently missed him because he happened to be spending that weekend in the country. However I met Uncle Charles. He is a pretty old man and seems suffer with asthma as he wheezes and has a bad cough. He is very quiet but has see quite a bit of life however, and can tell some experiences when he chooses to do so. On leaving for camp he gave me a nice little illustrated New Testament about two by four inches area.

By the way I walked, yes actually walked, from Charing Cross to Sloane Street with the aid of many questions asked of many bobbies. It took two hours to do it however.  I also met Aunt ‘Gussy a very old lady but nevertheless a very nice old lady when she pleases.

I also met cousin Dot  who did her best to make my stay a nice one. She took me to the Coliseum a high class varity theatre. Gosh, you should see the inside of it. Just like a fairy castle - all buttressed and carved and Lord only knows what else. It has a great big revolving stage which is a darned side wider than the K.M.&AA.We sat among officers and other big bugs so the seat must have cost quite a bit. I wasn’t allowed to pay for anything. Well when we went in there was a man and woman who played selections beautifully on all sorts of instruments.

Then there were eleven other parts to the program. One a woman acrobat came out and did hair raising stunts. Then the man who wrote “Sister Susie sewing socks for soldiers” came out an sang several of his latest selections. The best part however was a group of about six men who came onto the stage and perfectly imitated a choir of voices singing in the distance one on harp and the rest mandolin banjos- it was the most perfect music I’ve ever heard. Then one fellow played most beautifully on his harp. Other parts followed. For instance a group of girls dressed in flowing muslin stuff came out and performed weird dances to weird music while coloured lights changed them into beautiful colours. Then there was a scene from the trenches. I don’t remember much more. It was all jake.

After the show we took a tube to the head of Sloane Street and got home at about midnight. I slept in a jake bed that night and until ten o’clock the next morning. We had jake grub there, chicken for supper etc. Yum, Yum. Sloane Street8 is a fairly little place to what you would take it for. Inside everything is very old. Uncle Barney’s consulting room is very small to look at but very up to date.

With lots of love to all, I am always, your loving son.


[Editor’s note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]