Feb 5 1916
My dear old Elsie
Only today I have heard about dear Mothers death1 – Harold cabled me on Dec 23rd but the message has never reached me and his letter that he wrote at the same time only came to hand this morning. You have no idea of the conditions prevailing in this country and the almost unsurmountable difficulties and the post & telegraph people seem unable to cope with things – At any rate for a long time private wires have not been delivered above Amarah but I do think they might have sent on my cable or put it in an envelope & posted it to me as I tried to arrange.
The news altho expected has come as a great shock and I feel very sad and helpless and thoroughly miserable – We have lost the very best of Mothers and no one will know not even we her children all she suffered for us and her constant thought for our welfare. I find it difficult to write but you know how I loved her and what I must feel about it all. I am thinking so much now of the poor old Pater – it must be heart breaking to see him without his lifelong mate – he is an old man and I am very much afraid his strength will fail him. I feel so unhappy about it all and that is why I naturally turn to you best of friends. Please write and tell me everything – I was so glad to get a letter from you (Dec 9th) but it is only one up to now and no Xmas present that you mention – ever so many thanks – but there must be many more somewhere which I am looking forward to getting very soon. I should like a long pow wow with you now for there is so much to tell you – I have wondered very much lately if we shall ever meet again. I dont want to appear despondent but I dont think it is possible for any one to go through a second time all weve been through since Jan 4 with a whole skin – I have had the most extraordinary good luck and I think a little goddess of good fortune has been looking after me and I hope she won’t be frightened away. Candidly I have seen enough and I wish this old war would end – Altho I really dont want it to now until we can say we are top dog. I wonder if we can smash the enemy in every theatre of war this coming Spring – what do you think – its men we want – thousands and . thousands of them!
And now old girl I am just dying to tell you a great secret about myself – you musn’t tell a soul and I haven’t even mentioned it to my own people in case of disappointment I have been mentioned in despatches and recommended for a ‘Military Cross’ for “helping his company with great gallantry and coolness during the actions Jan 4th to 21st and on the 21st altho wounded himself going out about 150 yards in front of our advanced trenches and bringing in a wounded officer of the Dogras under heavy fire.”2 What do you think of that – old thing. It really looks better on paper than it was but it was a very exciting adventure – Towards the close of the days fighting on the 21st we had orders to retire about 300 yards to take up a position for the night and I saw this poor chap out there in front of us and managed to crawl out to him on my right side (for my left thigh was bleeding and painful) and drag him back a few inches at a time – in doing so I was hit through the water bottle and through the shoulder of my coat – it all sounds like a book or a play and cant you imagine poor Lewis Waller3 working it up but its all true and I can tell you it was very thrilling – I do hope they give me an M.C. but they have been very sparing of honours in this show – It would be something to keep and cherish afterwards if I get through and in any case it will always be nice to feel I’ve been mentioned – the list wont be published I expect for at least six months and I may not live to see it in print and that is why I wanted to tell you all about it myself – but keep it a great secret wont you.
I am practically well now and have been appointed adjutant4 to the 5th Buffs so join up again in a few days the appointment dates from Jan 8th. when the adjutant was unfortunately killed and as it means £10 a month extra pay it is very nice but this I suppose will cease when I can get to the Dorsets. Best love old girl
1 Mother’s death: December 22nd 1915
2 This was the commanding officer of the 37th Dogras, who had been shouting for help in a manner Stanley, (as he explained 58 years later), considered unfitting and ungentlemanly.
3 William Waller Lewis (3 November 1860 – 1 November 1915), known on stage as Lewis Waller, was an English actor and theatre manager, well known on the London stage and in the English provinces.
4 Lieut H S Marchant, Adjutant of 5th Buffs, was killed on January 7th 1916. Stanley was appointed Adjutant in his place. (See RSH Moody, op. cit., p.125).
Next letter Mar 5th 2016