31st May,1915, Mon: Enemy opened bursts of rapid Machine Gun fire on C1 and 2. Otherwise very quiet day. CASUALTY: 8434 Rif. McNally J. wounded.
CASUALTIES FOR MAY: OFFICERS KILLED: Lt H.W.M. Parr. WOUNDED: Capt. W. Millner. 2 Lt. F. Wilkinson, 2 Lt. S.P. Smith. OTHER RANKS: KILLED 6. WOUNDED 21, includes 1 man died of wounds at Aid Post.
1st June,Tue: Two enemy aeroplanes passed over the lines and were fired at. C2 support shelled (39 H.E.) no damage. Quiet day. Relieved by 6th Souths about 10.30 pm.
2nd June, Wed: NEUVE EGLISE. In Hutments, Bulford Camp. 3rd June,Thur. Instruction of ‘C’ Coy 8th Rifle Bde.
King George’s Day. Thur. June 3 /15
Brewin* has given me a sheet of note & I must just write you all a line saying how we spent this red letter day. To begin with I was lying in the hut when I heard 3 cheers. I’m ashamed to say I was ignorant of knowing the why & wherefore of such shouting. The Battalion had formed up for a route march. Cyril Hinde, Vernon & others, including myself, had been on fatigue the previous night & had the privilege of staying off 1st Parade. 3 cheers for our good King George V.
The next Parade was for respirator drill & rapid firing practice (2).
It was about dinner time. (I went without dinner for two reasons, Ist because I went to have a spiffin’ hot bath & secondly because the weather has been dreadfully hot too. I enjoyed the wash all the more with a tablet of Mrs Hurst’s oatmeal soap).
I wrote to Okoo (3) Sid wished to peruse it, but as soon as he saw the writing he gave it up as a bad job. I received a ripping letter from the Curate – by the by that reminds me of something rather personal which I shall have to write again about sooner or later. I came across Bailey’s brother Leonard* & conveyed your kind wishes Mother (etc). This was after coming away from a fine outdoor concert by the Divisional Concert Party. How the officers laughed, especially the Doctor & Colonel*. The Chaplain was present too.
Another sheet of note. I thought I could tell you all in one, but alas no. The Chaplain reminds me of the book, such a nice little pocket New Testament, with coloured pictures in – & his signature etc he wrote in after the service of Whitsun Holy Communion.
I enjoyed the entertainment. The amateurs were dressed in Pierrot costume & gave a Variety turn. Now I’ve got another sheet I’ll tell you – no I’d better leave it for a green envelope now I come to think on’t.
It is getting dark so I will close.
With best love to all, Bertram.
a) P.S. I’m in need of toothpaste . We got your parcel with pants (4) & enjoyed the ‘ju jubes’ & Bournville chocolate very much, thank you indeed. Ta Ta.
b) P.S. Yes you can send some more emery cloth. The last was excellent quality and I need another indelible lead & some notepaper & envelopes. To lengthen the list still I need another hanki & could you please send some spare flannel to clean my rifle – any odd pieces will do as long as the fabric is not rough & ‘hairy’. Toodle – oo.
(1)Aviatik C.1. German Reconnaissance Aeroplane: In service1915; Mercedes engine 160 hp; ceiling 11,480 ft; max. speed 89 mph (hence the need for rapid rifle firing practice. http://williamwhitson.com/planes/apprentice_warrior. Gas Mask practice was stepped up as these planes were capable of dropping small bombs. There was also threat of gas when the North wind blew from Ypres. [S.Staffs War Diary.6th June 1915].
(2) This Letter had to wait 3 days before being passed by the censor & posted. Bertie’s previous Letter re- permission to leave off underpants had obviously arrived Home too late. (3) Okoo: another nickname for Basil. (4) Army underpants were woollen & knee length; not as comfortable as ones sent from Home.
NEXT POST: 5th JUNE 1915. Not Happy.