Letter – I am waiting – December 17, 1914
9282 2 Coy, 3 Batt. 1 BDE Can. Exp. Fce.
I am waiting for my commission to come through the Canadian Headquarters. We went for a night advance last night and got lost in a fog. You could see nothing and hear nothing. They were marching by compass and overshot the mark. A long barrow or a hill- we came back and stormed it. The men did not notice the ditch around it and went head over heels. Lucky they had unfixed bayonets or there would have been murder done. We marched in the night formation, a string of scouts in front . . .is our regimental call, blown before every other call for the 3rd batt. The signallers call goes so. (2 bars with notes (drawing).
The leader in the centre of the scrum is connected with links to the companies and rear. Picture* Xerox. This prevents surprise. We went to one side of the barrow owing to the scouts not letting the major know they had seen it, the mistake of one private balled it all up.
We came back in the fog, cross country; no land marks on the plain to guide you and had to call the camp by bugle. We blew “Come to the cook house door boys, come to the cook house door” loud, and muffled back comes in a small voice, tiny, sounding miles away, another bar of music (Xerox). “Come to the cook house doors boys, come to the cook house door”. We marched on and sounded loud, “Come to the cook house door boys”. Back came from another different place altogether, “Come to the cook house door boys” in a tiny voice. They had been blowing for an hour before we heard.
Mrs. Barr sent me a box of chocolates for Christmas. A beauty. She said Fred Williams died and left a lot of dough to Cecil Alan, which made Milne mad. The old man is the same as ever, only worse.
Captain Grenville Bryant came to call on Gran and said he could slot me into the 1st Durham Light Infantry which belongs to Kitchener’s army. He is a DSO. I am gazetted to the 12th Essex. Fancy learning from (Princess Christian). I enclose it before it gets lost.
I found some pottery and bones in the earth work ditch, old burnt pottery in the range trench long before the (Brits?). . . a decaying old town. They used to live inside double rings. I got two jaws with teeth in the collection.
I think someone first got your letter of Oct 22, delayed by your calling the 3d Bat 1st brigade, the 2nd Bat., 2nd Brigade which it isn’t. I’ve got your Nov 23 letter 2 days before the Oct. 22 letter about your writing to Rolf. I hope you will like him. He is very hard up now owing to his arm being lost in the corn cutter, (ensilage), last winter. The St. H’s and cats, I know them, I told you to buy a present for Am and Agg for me. I send my superfluous money to be put in her dish till I want it.
Seale expected Sand to come on the 1st. contingent but he didn’t. Michael was sad when I saw him. He hated leaving Theo and going into the dash and leaving the kiddies behind. Lucky I am single. I will soon be able to …a toothbrush. I told Lady Frances something about the life of this camp and it must have startled her according to Mrs. Barr. The beggars ring the Alford Bell regularly every noon and don’t know what they ring it for. She was very kind to send me a waterproof sleep bag and white woolly socks and a hat. I had two so I gave one to Symons and he wears it night and day. I keep Agg’s cap and he had hers. Hers had ear holes, a real treasure. I make cocoa and coffee and cheese and Welsh rarebit (rather like toffee) just before we go to bed. It does not disturb our dreams in the least. We sleep like logs and like our wood beds better than feather beds. Very snug when reveille blows. It rains in torrents.
We had divisional maneuvers today working in brigades, four battalions to a brigade. We had our dinners of bread and jam in our mess tins. It poured (its still pouring), and so we came home after a bit of left wheeling and maneuvering around. Merry Christmas to you all.
Yours loving Hugh.