(Sun. 13th Feb. 1916?) (1)
. . . . They have passed me as a qualified Sniper (2) & I satisfied our old Coy. Com. Capt List-r (3).
He has a brother in the 3/ 5th (S.Staffs) who wrote to him concerning Sydney. Captain L — r, now Major, is acting as Colonel while R—r (4) is away. I am sorry for a reason; Sydney’s release will be delayed again.
I am what you might call ‘humbly’ glad you liked my small gift, & really did not think it would give you so much pleasure as you made out in your letter. The cross must be yours for all time. (I don’t know so much that I shall have a cross dangling from a watch Chain). I might go in for a couple of wrist watches. I say two – so that I can take the average, or otherwise the medium (sic) time (5).
I shall have to finish on this fourth sheet.
I am especially glad that you received my letters on the dates which were most appropriate.
Now, dear Sister, don’t you think it would be a weee bit impertinent to bother the Colonel aboot Leave. It is like this, you cannot die of your own accord before your appointed time, you cannot die before God wishes you to die – & so with everything in life. I shall have my Leave in all good time; do not think for a moment that I have been easy going & let opportunities slip, far from that.
In the Corps (6) we are now attached to there is no Home Leave, so I have heard. We shall be leaving the Corps at the end of the month & then Leave will start again. There are lots of other men – & so accordingly there are lots of other men’s parents who are just as anxious to see their relatives.
Oh! Bukhshee* was very fond indeed of me, I might say without any self-assertion. Luckily he saw me again on entraining, & after we were dismissed, immediately came up & shook hands with me. He also gave me his address & your letter has just reminded me to write to him. He & the ‘frogeater’ will serve as jolly correspondence chums when ‘aprés le guerre’ (7).
Thank you very much for your advice. Yes Sydney & Bertie have a very brave & patient Mother. So Mum was very different from those ‘silly, three fat ladies’ who clung to Dodger for protection. (8).
Best love to all,
Whilst his family would have been pleased Bertie had passed as a Sniper they were obviously very anxious to see him on Home Leave. He had been in France & Flanders for almost a year.
(1) 13th Feb. is the most likely date for this Letter.
(2) Pte Bertie’s Lee-Enfield Rifle, took its name from the designer of the rifle’s bolt system, James Paris Lee , British Canadian & later American manufacturer – and the factory in which it was designed—the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield.
(3) Captain Lister*. Old Company Commander. (4) Lt. Colonel Raymond Raymer* 1/5th S. Staffords.
(5) Pte Bertie wanted to know the Greenwich Mean Time & new Summer Time at Home to compare with the time in France. ‘Mean’ time rather than ‘medium’ is meant.
(6) Notts & Derby (Transport Coprs). (7) Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu* an Hindustani soldier met at Marseilles & Joe Albene*, farmer landlord of Pte Bertie’s billet at Bellancourt.
(8)Ref. to Basil’s actions during Zeppelin Raid over Walsall. 31st Jan -1st Feb.1916. See New Page: ‘My Memories’ A.H.H. 1967. published 10th Feb 2016.
NEXT POST: 20th FEB.1916.