YPRES SALIENT: OUDERDOM CAMP.
14th – 16th July, Fri: Bivouacs.
‘Bully Beef Bungalow’. Friday July 16/ 15.
I must first say how comfi the socks, I mean the khaki socks, were. I don’t know how the grey ones kind Mrs Barrans* knitted feel – for Sydney needed a pair so I gave him those & I kept the soft ones – they are nice and soft too. I thank you so very, very much. How lavishly the gifts were stowed in the parcel & something even in each letter. A bit a cash in Mother’s & what I thought by feeling a pencil but turned out to be a cigarette holder – silver too my word.
I was especially pleased to have a letter from Dodger* & I read Corp. Penning’s letter with great interest (& enclose it with this letter as Dodger said he wanted to answer it). We have seen many of the RGA (1) & thought I might have overlooked him.
I had a letter from Miss Foster* the same day as Mother’s & it was written on Sunday & posted on Monday. She said that Nottingham had a storm which lasted all that Sunday from 7 in the morning till 9 at night, so all the Midlands must have had the large storm, if not all England. I was going to head this letter ‘Raining’ for the weather here has been unsettled.
Well ‘you do surprise I’ – at promising to send us another parcel next week.
Harold’s gifts to us both you would like to know – sugar sweets, Bovril, Chocolate, Country Life Cigs, Bottle of Lemonade Crystals, Tin of Mineral Spring Salts (2), toothpaste etc. & a nice long letter.
In my letter to Okoo* thanking him for the parcel I have got confused as to whether I said the same in my letter to Mother. Did I tell you I was delighted with Dad’s few lines at the end & amused at his witty little bits? I often think of you when the post comes to you. Do you generally have our letters in the morning & do you generally breakfast in the dining room?
I have a sunny recollection of Dodger at table and the morning bright light through the lovely curtains & window on a white tablecloth & flowers on it. Dodger is finishing his breakfast, in a hurry to catch the train, when he sees the form of the postman through the stained glass window. Ida hears the sound of his feet from the kitchen & races to the door in a desperate effort to out do Basil Dodger – as he coolly pops his hand through the window & secures a letter from his affec. brother,
PS Mother will be interested to hear that I got a photo of the kiddies (3) at Sutton today. Miss Bore* sent me some Boardman’s & Player’s bacca & a card of Sutton Keeper’s Pool (4).
I recognised the path along the side of the lake, where the kiddies flocked round me & I had to keep a sharp eye on them for fear they fell in.
Well goodbye for a time.
PS My Dear Dodger, I have just re- read Penning’s* letter. It is now raining miserably & into the tent & I am smoking a pipe of Miss Bore’s bacca to cheer meself up -somewhat like once – (well on the 18th of May I look in my diary, & see we were in camp). We returned from the trenches on previous Sunday night & it was Sydney’s birthday on the Monday we were in camp. As for the 29th of June we had a Route March & saw the pipers & spent most time in camp drilling in full pack.
Sir Stuart Wortley* (5) came to see the Reserves – in which is Charlie Harrison*, who’s foot seems quite all right now. We will keep a sharp look out & it will be a hearty hand shake. You will picture us looking up at him on his horse & us squeezing his hand – so if the palm of your hand itches you’ll know that I have nearly rung his hand off see (6). Bertie.
PS Looking forward to Ida’s Champion chatty letter. We are always marching, marching – went digging all day again on Thursday & saw Harold Hinde* who is in the Cycle Corps (sic) (7).
His brother Cyril*, who has been with us all along, has gone to a Rest Camp.
I will stop now – got a lot more correspondence. Bertie.
(1) RGA: Royal Garrison Artillery (active 1899 -1924) manned heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division, with cavalry. After Battle of Marne (Allied Victory, 5-12 Sept. 1914 ) RGA was positioned well behind infantry, firing on unseen targets, often supported by Royal Flying Corps using wireless telegraphy. cf. Wikipedia.
(2) Harold the chemist’s gifts of Mineral Salts & Bovril indicate concern at Army’s unhealthy diet. (3) St Paul’s Sunday School Outing, Walsall.
(4) Sutton Keepers Pool. Sutton National Nature Reserve, 7th largest urban park in Europe. WW1 Convalescent Camps in the Park. <www.scnhsc.org.lakes> originally built as medieval fishpond (lido built 1887, closed 2003).
(5) Edward James Montague Stuart-Wortley. 1857 -1934. Kings Rifle Corps. Distinguished colonial service. WW1: General Officer Commanding (G.O.C.) 46th Midland Division.T.A. Kept King George V informed re- activities of the Division. Controversely dismissed for ‘lack of offensive spirit’ 1st July 1916, Battle of the Somme.
(6) Charlie Harrison*: before War, one of Arthur Hibbett’s clerks in Education Office, Walsall. (7) Cyclist Corps : chief role – armed reconnaissance & communication. Also security patrols along canals. See Website Old Sweats Centurion. Often used as manual labour & in Front Line.
NEXT POST: 19th July 1915.