My dear old Elsie
Just a few lines to let you know I am better and hope after all to keep out of Hospital – we go out of the line in a few days time and I shall be able to have more rest and a quiet time
I am tired of the summer – since March we have lived under a boiling sun and I think it gradually saps up ones energy and extra strength
A soldier is always grousing – we curse the wet & cold and then we curse the sun I wish it was all over! And I really think these latest events in France1 may prove to be the turning point dont you? We only get very short telegrams & long for fuller particulars I am looking forward so much to your next letters – I get so fed up when no English mail arrives.
I do hope you will get really fine weather for your holidays and I am sure you will have many happy times With best love dear girl
1 The Second Battle of the Marne, July 16th-18th. The Germans exhausted themselves without making any great breakthrough and with British and American help the French recovered some of the ground they had lost.
July 18 1918
[Envelope readdressed to Gwynant, Park Rd., Hale, CheshireJ
My dear old Elsie
After waiting a long time I was delighted a few days ago to get three letters from you – the latest dated 25th June -many thanks dear girl for them -I also received the parcel quite safely it gave me the greatest possible pleasure to open it and the contents are lovely -the pipe is a beauty and I am smoking it hard already. The tins of things are a very welcome addition to our stores. I have been seedy the past ten days and on the verge of going into Hospital -the weather has been terribly hot and my old Mespot fever has turned up again – I have dosed myself with quinine and hope I shall get fit soon but I get a rotten temperature every night and get a sort of shivering ague I want to hold on for in about 2 weeks time we go into rest again for a short period – we have had a long trying time in the line now The Turk has been very active lately – he attacked us very stubbornly a few days ago – the Colonel was away on duty at Jaffa and Major Watson was still in hospital so I was left in command of the Regiment – It was very exciting for a few hours but our fellows did splendidly and the Turks did not succeed in getting further than our wire -considering that he fired more than 1600 heavy shells at us we had very few casualties.1 Major Watson is back now I am glad to say and is very well again – poor old Urwick is still at Alexandria – he has been away nearly 3 months now
You will soon be off for your holidays and I do hope you will have good weather and a real enjoyable time
I shall be thinking of you and wishing I was home on leave
Please write and tell me exactly how Gretchen is and little Christine too
With much love
1 One officer and three other ranks were wounded in this bombardment which consisted of ‘1600’ shells (Stanley’s letter) or ‘600’ shells (Battalion War Diary)
My dear old Elsie
My best thanks dear girl for the book you sent me & which came a few days ago – I havent had a chance of starting it yet but it looks very exciting I am looking forward ever so much to the parcel you mention in your last letter – you are simply too good to me I wish I could be in England now – it must be delightful – but my home leave seems impossible just now – and even 10 days in Cairo is out of the question for some time Major Watson has gone to Hospital with fever and poor old Urwick is marked ‘Base 2 months’ – this makes me Second in command of the Regiment and I shall be an acting Major for a little while but for goodness sake dont address my letters as ‘Major’ as I shall be down to Captain again before very long. We are in a fairly comfortable part of the line now but of course the heat and the flies are very trying and we are passing through quite the worst time of the year just now I get very cheerful letters from home still except that the Pater has a touch of lumbago! I havent heard from Gretchen for ages & ages but I guess all her time is taken up with little Christine – Excuse this scribble I am very short of candles and the wind keeps blowing this little bit out I get very cheerful letters from Milsom he is still in Hospital & on crutches but his wife has joined him now from New Zealand so he is delightfully happy -she was torpedoed in the Atlantic and lost all her kit and had a good swim1 -I wish you could meet them We are very bucked with the news from Italy2 and long for further details of what seems to be a great victory for the Allies. The Colonel keeps very well indeed and we are the greatest pals -he feels the loss of all his original officers -Do you know – of all the officers who went to India with him originally only T. Moore & myself are left at present -out of about 30 It is very sad isnt it
Hope you keep fit and by the time this reaches you you will be thinking of packing up for your holidays -I do hope you get good weather
Its the longest 4 years I’ve ever known
Best love dear girl
1 The ship in which Mrs Milsom sailed was torpedoed off Ushant on May 19th 1918. She was rescued by the destroyer escorting the convoy. There was no swimming involved because the skilful destroyer captain laid his ship alongside the sinking vessel. But her wedding presents (and golf clubs) were lost. (Information from SFC Milsom, 1996).
2 The Austrian offensive had failed in June.