Letter – I expect you are – June 21, 1915
12th Essex, Reed Hall, Essex
I expect you are picking berries. Dad is very fit and is still unravelling the much tangled mess accounts which were allowed to sit for a couple or three months.
I went to Flora’s for lunch. Frank was there, a Devon B Company Captain, and a Major Liggit, quite nice, and one of the Tufnel girls, and the Garrison Adjutant. Flora is most amiable these days. They make her out to be quite different.
I budded some briars in this garden with 3 Carmine Pillars, 2 Bulhrosene and 1 tea rambler. I will have some more films soon.
I went to one of Goddard’s cousins with Robertson to tea, then back to mess very quickly. I was given the job of looking after the mess flowers and the gardens, which takes quite a bit of time.
We had a field day at night with 2 lamps of the new sort, a telephone and 2 small lamps, starting at 9 and finishing at 1.15. Then we had cocoa, bread and cheese, biscuits, a most enjoyable meal to hungry people. The Signallers are working up for an exam at present, which is quite hard work.
Our band is playing its nightly, (7.00), retreat ditties ”Here we are again”, and classics of the drum and fife. I go to the hospital quite often. There are some Canadians there, also our Adjutant with a strained knee from riding. I am going to ride as soon as I can borrow an animal. There is no bathing in Colchester. One day I’m going to Claxton to swim.
Letter – It’s pouring – Saturday July 24, 1915
12th Essex, Colchester
Dear Mum via Gran and Viola
It’s pouring. A draft is going out soon and so everybody is very cross. I have been sat on for a week for everything under the sun by everybody. I have been having trouble with the Scouts to start with as they sent me all the tough necks, also the officer’s class has been trying. The Bde. Signaller jumped on me for not attending his revision, the Adjutant because I sent in a return wrong, Robertson because I borrowed his tyre without asking him, Alle White because he’s been gambling, the Quartermaster because I buckled the back wheel of his bike, the company commanders for ordering them about, and the Adjuntant told the Colonel I made him miss his supper! Wherefore the C.O railed at me at lunch asking how many bikes I had destroyed, and its pouring.
I being on the staff, (as Dad is), have to train a super-numerary before I am allowed out. My super has been wafted off to Felixtown and I will have to start again and train another. I am wondering if there is any hope in the Bde-Maj. saying “Are you going back to the Canadians”? I answered at the time, “I will do as I am told sir”, at which he was very pleased. “Very good answer, very good answer” and rode away. Next time he comes and tackles me I will ask if I can get back again, and may he come soon!
The Scouts were a trial to start with. They argued on parade and I had to crime a man. He got 7 days C.B., Another didn’t turn up, and I had to report it. He got 21 days detention, (prison), from the C.O. Now they are fairly peaceable and getting to do what they are told quicker. At first they crawled at all times.
I started them on semaphore and they can read slowly. Also I took them and the officers together in a buzzer which was difficult, as they glared at each other. The Scouts were noisy, and the others at first most blasé. The buzzer kept on buzzing and couldn’t be turned off! After a bit, when they managed to get hold of EISHTMO, they listened so hard you could hear a pin drop, (one went fast asleep in the corner). The buzzer kept on buzzing da--da N, de-de I, da-da M, da-da--da O, till they could pick them up quickly. The class was rather large, about thirty, & large classes are hard to keep in hand for two hours on a wet day.
We are sending 140 men off to the Dardanelles and 5 officers: Sgt. Astle Straight, Capt. Brown, Lt. Moore, and Alle White. They mayn’t go for a fortnight or perhaps they may go at an hour’s notice.
Thank you ever so much for your dog and Grans, and your letter. I showed the dog to Dad at breakfast. “One of my Wirehairs, you know, thorobred both sides,” he said to the C. O. “and they made it stand on its legs”! I hope you liked the photos I sent you of me. They were done when I was most fed up, (or rather it looks like that doesn’t it).
Dick Reade came today. He was wounded again and has got over it. He is going out for a third time in September. “What he and the C.O. don’t know about the army isn’t worthy knowing,” said the orderly room Sergt. Mac Kenzie”. He is a most powerful person, boss of the orderly room.
Moseley’s ‘girl’ has come to stay at Claxton with his Pa and Ma. He is younger than I am. He spends about an hour curling his moustache and trimming his eyelashes etc. every morning! Robertson peers at him every morning regularly and has done so for the last six….