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Letters from France   By:

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Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation and unusual spelling in the original document has been preserved. The style used by the author to record time is 6 0, rather than the modern 6:00. A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a complete list, please see the end of this document.









11TH SUFFOLKS, B.E.F., Monday, January 10th, 1916.

My darling Mother,

This will probably be a long letter; I hope you will not get bored with it. Please keep this letter and any that follow it, so that at the end of the war I may perhaps achieve fame as the author of "Drivellings of a young Officer at the Front." As I have not got used to the routine out here I will describe all the last few days as they strike me, because probably, when I have been out here a little, everything will become such a matter of course that it will be difficult to give you any idea of what our life is like unless I begin with a good chapter one.


"The young soldier's last day in England."

The last day or two was rather a rush. Thursday we frantically packed valises and vainly attempted to reduce them to something near the regulation 35lbs. At first one put in a wardrobe fit for Darius going to conquer Greece, which, when put on the scale, gaily passed its maximum of 55 pounds. Then out came slacks, shoes, scarves, all sorts of things. The weighing was then repeated and further reductions embarked upon, the final result being about 45 lbs. However, we packed them up tight and they all passed all right. Friday was an awful day spent in full marching field service order, inspections, and rumours of absurd Divisional and Brigade operations, which were to take place at night, although we were to rise at 4 a.m. to march to the station. However, the operations were only for Company Commanders, and so we were saved.

In the afternoon we bought all the things we thought we had forgotten. As everything was packed up a group of half a dozen of us assembled round the anti room fire to attempt to obtain a little sleep. I had a chair and a great coat to go over me. The others slept on the floor with table clothes and such like things. We kept a huge fire burning all night, and, unfortunately, instead of going to sleep one could not help looking into its red depths and seeing the pictures of men and horses you always see in fires. Personally, I did not sleep at all, only rested and dozed. At 3 0 a.m. a man came in and announced in a stentorian voice, "The Corporal of the Guards' compliments to Captain Seddon, and it is 3 o'clock." Appreciation of the fact from Captain Seddon, who had been sleeping, in unprintable language which finally resolved itself in a complaint that he had not been introduced to the Corporal of the Guard and he failed to see why he should bear him a grudge.

At 3 30 we got up, 4 0 a hasty breakfast, 4 45 I began to go to the lines to fall in, 4 46 I came back for my glasses, 4 48 I return for my identity disc, 4 50 I return again for my day's rations, 5 0 I fall in a quarter of an hour late.

At 5 15 we march off in the dark saying good bye to those that remain behind, and realising that at last our many months of training are over, and we are soldiers at last, proud of the fact and beginning to be proud of ourselves as we march down to the station... Continue reading book >>

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