Original Letter

            France

                        20th December 1917

 

My Own Dearest:–

We got in here last night after a fairish amount of slipping and sliding – it was cold but I worked up a good lather and a whale of an appetite. But there wasn’t any welcome on the mat here. The quarters were stripped of everything – no stoves, tables or benches nor yet the wherewithal to make these things. I was hot when I came in but it didn’t take long to cool off. It wasn’t very comfortable here and Miller and I made a very shivery spoon effect in our blankets last night. But this morning in spite of the fact that my hip bones were raw from the boards I felt like a fighting cock. None of us dallied long over our toilet for several reasons – water was scarce and it was too cold to stay long in one place. Turk dug up a stove – made from an oil drum  and Miller and I banked the place with earth while the signaller and runner salvaged wood from God knows where. Its only ten o’clock now and while we are not roasting we are at least thawing out. The Signaller who was on duty from midnight to six is a hero. He was freezing and there were lots of messages but he was just as cheerful as if he were in a comfortable room. He had to waken me up several times and he just hated it too. “I’m sorry, Sergeant, but I ’ave to wake you – another message: All together ‘Damn them’ ”! One message was notifying us that four men could go on leave the next morning. He said “Gawd! I should go. There’s me old Mother and Father sitting there waiting for me – and my sister – as owes me five bob”! Cold and all as I was I laughed nearly all night at him. Funniest of all though was the day he took his girl to the sports at Haslemere. A Bessie White of ’Ammer – the name sounds familiar. The day before the sports he lost all his money in a poker game and only ’ad two bob. Away they went bright and early to the sports and Harry ran his head off in two races trying to win some money – couldn’t win a place even. At noon his position was desperate no money and he and his girl had to eat. So he introduced her to another signaller – but he was broke too. He in turn handed her on and so on – Harry in an agony watching around the corner to see if she would win a meal. No luck and eventually she had to go and buy her own dinner. And he picked her up again when she finished. The same procedure at supper. After supper an old flame of Bessies – an invalided soldier who had been seriously wounded at Mons and who was “subject to queer spells”  came on the scene and the three stayed for the dancing, the veteran seriously interfering with Harry’s courting. Suddenly he took one of ’is queer spells and Harry – always a hero – dashed out and got a taxi and he and Bessie took him home – Harry cautiously giving the driver instructions to go to Bessie’s home first. On reaching there Harry helped Bessie out and took her to the house and the driver took the vet home and he had to pay the passage! While listening to him I forgot that my teeth chattered and that the bed was hard and the couverture sparse. There are lots of chaps like him, humorous under all circumstances but especially so when the circumstances are most adverse. If I could only remember all the funny stuff I hear.

Everybody is making great preparation for Christmas and men are scouring the back areas trying to buy the odd hen or turkey or anything handy. The Canteen is giving three francs per snout towards a feed and everyone is kicking in something for a dinner of some sort. I cannot get anything to you for Christmas – alack – but shall bring it to you when I come – even if its only a doyley – here a present. I didn’t find anything I would kick before me in that town we were in, partly because I was too critical and partly because I was poor. The brooches will be available to-day or to-morrow but they aren’t Christmas presents they are miscellaneous crap.

Baby I never did love you the way I have yesterday and to-day (I have to include yesterday as I never did write and tell you that I loved you) – you are the only people in the world and I adore you – everything you do say write and think and are is perfect – there is no one nearly so wonderful as you, Dearest, I love you and want you always and hate myself for not being able to tell you how grand you are nor how much I love you. However much all my love may be – and I think it is a lot – it is yours Sweetheart every atom of it.

            Your own

                        Ross