Pir Gumat Shah, Attock District, North West Frontier, India
Feb 1st 1917
My dear old Elsie
I was so very sorry to hear in your last letter that you were in bed with ‘flu and feeling so dreadfully seedy – I do hope you have got over it long ago and that you are your cheery self again.
Its a beastly thing to get but the weather at home seems to have been very severe and I dont wonder at people feeling ill. Do take care of yourself – goodness knows how your little family gets on when you arnt well. Mrs. Brown started the letter quite well – why didnt you let her carry on a little more! Anyway I hope to come to see them all one day in the dim future – and this reminds me of some news which I hope will pass the Censor all right – weve heard on very high authority that many British Regiments are going to be sent to Europe in April – ourselves included. They are sending a whole lot of Garrison Battalions into this country now to take our place and everything seems to point to our going somewhere – Especially as the Frontier seems so quiet just now. We may go to Egypt and then Salonika1 or to England to refit for France – the latter I hope and trust. It seems quite certain that every white man possible will be wanted for the great push this coming summer. And so dear girl, you may see me sooner than ever you expected but you musnt count too much upon it for all orders change about a good deal.
Another thing I must tell you is that the Colonel has been asked by the War Office if he has any officers he can recommend for commissions as Captains in the Regular Army – the Colonel has very nicely selected me as the only one suitable in the Regt and of course I feel very flattered. Of course I dont want to leave the old Battalion again and the CO doesnt want to lose me but he says he feels that it his duty to put up my name if I am willing. I should probably have to stay in the Army a few months after peace is declared and perhaps this would suit me quite well for it will take the country some little time to settle down and for business to find its footing again. Anyhow the Colonel has given me a little time to think things over. If I got into the Regular Army I should certainly be sent home even if the Somersets remained in India.2 Since I last wrote the Regiment has arrived and we are quite comfortably settled down – every one was very pleased with all our arrangements and really the men I had with me worked splendidly. Im still Quartermaster and have plenty to do all day long – its been bitterly cold and theres lots more snow on the mountains which look simply glorious in the sunshine. Many thanks dear girl for the lovely mittens and tie – it was so nice of you and I wear the mittens every day and they are such a comfort to me – everyone in the mess is frightfully envious [jealous deleted] of them.
I am afraid that the Pater has had a very nasty turn and that Dr. Iles says a similar stroke may be fatal – of course he is getting a very old man now but I do hope he will live to see us home again and peace declared. I sometimes wonder if the Babe is equal to her most difficult task? Many thanks again dear for the mittens & tie and hopes that you are well again – with much love
1 British and French forces were sent to Salonika in late 1915 to support Serbia, their ally, against Bulgaria which came in on the side of the Central Powers.
2 Stanley did not take up the offer.
Next letter February 8th 2017