Photograph of St Mary’s Church from Windmill Hill, Saffron Walden. We have often been up and down this road & went up trench digging that night when you went home. I thought of a lot of things I should like to have told you and shown you.
29 Gold Street, Saffron Walden. S.Y. (1) Feb 21 / 15
My Dear Mother,
I trust you had a safe journey, all dark I guess, but what a lot in a carriage compartment & I hope the early hour of arrival at home was not uncomfortable (2).
Has Harold been home for the weekend ? The weather has been simply glorious, bright blue sky all day. If it wasn’t for Sunday how happy it would have been if Dr Utting* (3) could have motored down to take you back.
We, Sid and I went to Holy Communion this morning, so pleasant & sunny. The Church was almost full of soldiers and our Chaplain had to say the Prayer of Consecration a good many times.
Mrs Evans* invited us to dinner, but could not get tables, we walked from place to place. So Sid & I had dinner at No 29 – very good too & had the sweets Mrs Penning had got ready for fear Mrs Evans would dine at her house. They all went into the country, – I think to Bishop’s Stortford for their dinner.
Well, I won’t rob Sid of the chance of writing to you, but will close now. But not without thanking Ida again for her very, very ‘nice’ letter. I think she tried her best, as I did, to make the farewell letters real good ’uns.
Sydney had a flint lighter for cigarettes & I had a handsome little wooden mirror from Mrs Evans. I think I will leave the rest for after evening service tonight.
8.30 pm I went to hear our Chaplain tonight at the Parish Church. I saw our Major Raimes* on coming out. He was about to put his hat on while in 3 or 4 yards of the Church door & suddenly bethought himself.
I took Nell, the dog, a walk this lovely afternoon & on coming back through the churchyard I met Mr & Mrs & Mr. Machin*.
I should have liked Sid to have gone tonight, but he was talking with the Evans in the front room. Vernon’s people go back Monday morning I did not go right through to the front door, but just appeared at the kitchen door & went out at the back.
As I was going down the street I suddenly remembered my Prayer Book was in the front room, but I would not turn in & so for some long time I have missed my fond prayer book. I took it to Holy Communion this morning & saw your writing on the front page:– “Be thou faithful unto death & I will give you a crown of life”. I noticed ‘Feb. 1911’ particularly in the bottom left hand corner and now it is Feb. 1915. I used it at Confirmation Classes, so the book has made a little history of its own.
Hymns: ‘O Jesus I hear thee speaking in accents clear and still‘. Eternal Father & 277 A & M. (4). I will wait for Sid to write a line.
God bless you Mother,
I remain Bert.
NB You see I have tried hard to keep this letter short – alas! alack! alack!
PS Hoping Basil poor chap is better.
(1) S(unda)Y. (2) Bertie’s parents had come down by train for the day only. Vernon Evans’ parents stayed until Mon 22nd Feb. Alan Machin‘s parents, and no doubt a good many others from Walsall, also came to say goodbye to their sons. (3) Family Doctor & Friend, whose Church Warden duties kept him in Walsall on Sundays.
(4) Hymns Ancient & Modern. 1915 version. First a line from the Hymn ‘O Jesus I have promised’. J.E.Bode. 1816-1874; then ‘Eternal Father strong to save‘. W. Whiting. 1860; and 277 ‘Nearer my God to thee’. Sarah Flower Adams. 1841.
NAMES * Info. pending on Major A.L. Raimes.
NEXT POST: 21ST FEB.1915. FAREWELL POSTCARDS to Ida & Basil Hibbett.