Still in Luton Nov.11/ 14 (1) Thursday night.
My Dear Sister,
I was going to send you a P.C. but there are one or two interesting things to tell you.
First and foremost, Syd & I thank you to the utmost for the cake – the trouble you went through, both in making it, looking after it in the oven and the anxiety as to whether it shall taste all right. As a matter of fact you will, or at least I hope you will be quite satisfied and happy to hear that the cake was simply topping. I shared some with Vernon Evans who said he liked it. Of course who could dislike such a home-made cake, full of all that’s good. It tasted juicy and fresh & all the better for its plump in the middle, & it arrived all safe and sound. A welcome parcel indeed. So glad our parcels were opened by the fireside as, I have an idea now, that I hoped they would be.
I saw one of those hunting parties I have rarely seen in my life – I don’t think since the Uffington days(2). The pack followed the Battalion & tried to overtake us in the town, but our long train prevented them. The huntsmen were dressed in red and rode the old grey horse of Pickwickian days.
Your letter was most amusing to read & I commend you upon your fluent Irishism! Thanks extremely for the little huswife (3) which poked itself from an unseen hand through the letter box & dropped with a pleasant thud on the floor; a useful little waterproof article indeed.
Tell Mother I forgot to enclose ‘India at War’ in my last parcel but I sent it on to the great literary enthusiast H.V. Hibbett Esq. of Wolverhampton. He, I trust, will let Mother read it this weekend. Is not it really splendid the way the Indians are helping us! Capt. Lister, on reading the not altogether good news this morning, said we ought to send more of our men to the Front.
It is very uncertain now that we shall remove from Luton this side Christmas, but nothing can be taken for granted. Such a lot of recruits joined lately – therefore inefficient.
How’s Dodger(4) getting on? Just a line from him would be welcome & some more of his problems in trigonometry. I should give worlds if he could solve when we go off on Active Service.
Did Mother go to the Mayoress’s Luncheon? (5) & have a chat with Mrs. Evans, who had to leave Luton this Monday morning because of the occasion.
Life here is getting more of a scurry & hurry just like (your) Hospital life, seems no rest; all tramp, tramp, tramp, nothing but the Battalion either in front or behind. Only relying on the one & only? consolation that we have offered ourselves to serve our King and Country –
Is it worth it? I daresay many of us have asked ourselves on the quiet.
I say after all Yes, but our spirits are all ups and downs – (see back of this (envelope)).
Short of Note.
After a hard day, marching home with picks and shovels & rifles & all steaming hot we did not feel like
singing for some time but on nearing the town we picked up ‘It’s a long, long way to Tipperary. But we’re not downhearted’ – Yet. In the rhythmical swing of the old, old tune.
I often imagine you all taking it in turns reading sheet after sheet of Sid’s long letter. Basil, perhaps in the train on return home, looking forward to a letter.
All good wishes & best love to all from your ever affec. brothers – Sid & Bert.
NB. I hope you’ll find the album all right for photos. I chose it because I thought it will hold any sized photo & it has no fancy stuff about it. Aren’t Sid’s ties lovely, but don’t get so over bubbling with joy. What oh!
”Is it worth it?’ As Bertie’s Letters continue it is noticeable that he confides his fears and uncertainties to his sister more than to anyone.
(1) Date should be 12th Nov. a Thursday in 1914. (2) Childhood holidays spent with an Uncle Tom at Uffington near Stamford , then part of Rutland. (3) Huswif – ‘housewife’- i.e. a little roll of sewing materials for mending clothes. (4)’Dodger‘ – Basil’s nickname. (5) Mrs. J.N.Cotterell was Mayoress of Walsall, 1914 -1915. The Cotterells lived at Beverley House, Lichfield Road, Walsall, now a friendly hotel. A very useful website for the history of Walsall: http://www.historywebsite.co.uk/articles/Walsall/early20thcentury.htm
NEXT POST: 12th Nov. 1914: Pte Iky Boulton 1/5th S. Staffs sends his copy on ‘The Terriers’ to the Walsall Observer.