No 2 Base
B Field Force
My dear Mother
I’ll write you a rather early letter for your birthday, perhaps it will reach you before time. Mary arrived safely last Friday and I was able to meet her at the station, all our plans had worked out well and the journey was apparently quite a nice one. I suppose you heard from Dowlais of her safe arrival. I had in view a little apartment about 200 yards from the hospital, and on Saturday morning we inspected it, and took it over at once: we can hold it by the week, and it has all necessary equipment. Mary makes great strides with her French and I generally refuse to help her out! She is very well and in excellent spirits, at present my work is light and I’m able to see more of her than I do in London. Of course this won’t last very long and I can hardly expect to be here more than another month. Anyway her journey has not been a failure since we have already had nearly a week together.
I draw my rations, meat, bread, etc to which I’m entitled and that helps out the housekeeping greatly. The shopping and cooking of course help to fill up the time and I don’t think Mary will find the days long. Our neighbours are very friendly and a great source of amusement to us; this flat is owned by an old dressmaker and is quite neat and furnished solidly, much as many rooms one might take in London. She said it was très très proper – I’d leave out one très! I don’t think there is any danger of Mary becoming “Frenchified”, she’s quite comfortably insular! Her letters may as well come under cover to me, as there will probably be more delay by the French Post, also postage by Army PO is 1d!
The sisters as the hospital seem glad to meet a fellow countrywoman. There are very few English women here I believe. Tomorrow we are going to tea at the American Consulate. I met the Consul and his wife some time ago.
It’s been very cold here lately but is milder today. There must be much suffering up at the front from the cold. I hope recruiting is going on better, I’m afraid Worcestershire doesn’t stand very well compared with some districts. I’d like to see the necessary numbers got by voluntary enlistment, although perhaps a form of conscription would draw in a bigger proportion of those who really ought to step forward. Although people in England are quite right to carry on business as much as possible, the popular cry of “Business as usual” is very much resented over here as thoroughly selfish, England holding back her men in order to snatch trade, while the men of our allies are nearly all under arms; undoubtedly to finish the war quickly should be the first preoccupation of England, and business should take the second place.
Please thank Father for various papers sent: The Observer is always good reading and I don’t see it otherwise. I see “Land and Water” generally, it is interesting if not always convincing. I’m so glad to have a good account of you from Mary, you seem to do quite a lot of walking when the weather permits.
We have had some walks. The country round is not very thrilling, it reminds me a little of Oxfordshire. How long our present happy arrangement will last it’s impossible to say, but it’s very good while it lasts, quite a second honeymoon.
I’m very glad to hear that the Hodson children are safe, though I can’t regard Brussels as safe yet. I should think their Father stands a good chance of arrest seeing his nationality.
By the way, our number is 57 Rue de la Bastille. I gave 55 by mistake. But Officers’ Hospital, No 2 Base will always reach us. We are on an elevated part of the town, and much healthier here than down by the river. I was wondering a few days ago what part of France the Mourilyan family originally came from, was it anywhere out in this region?
With very much love to all from Mary and myself.
From your son
PS – Mary has written to Kath and is asking her to send on the letter to you.