My dear Mother
Today for quite a change I find no work to do in my lab. Perhaps Xmas day has something to do with it! You will like to have an account of Xmas here but first I must thank you very much for the photograph of you and little Baby, I think it is a simply splendid one and I can’t look at it enough. All the photos of Baby and Mary are exceedingly nice, I can hardly decide which is the best one they show Baby in different aspects – all charming – she looks so alert and bright and if a little solemn that’s because she evidently felt it was a great occasion. Mary’s photos too are quite the best I have ever seen of her, I like the one in outdoor things best as a portrait of her, but the other two have a special charm. I like her new style of hair dressing very much. The parcel came yesterday morning after a long delay, the best Xmas box I could possibly have out here. I can see I think more likeness in Baby to her Mother than to me, though I fancy her eyes resemble mine. The little photo is delightful and at once reminds me of that small one of Kathleen at about the same age. She looks like a very young queen on her throne with rather a large crown on!
Please thank Father for “The Pentecost of Calamity” which I have already read, a very thoughtful and unbiased book. The pudding and apples came safely a couple of days ago, and are not yet consumed.
It was warm and fine yesterday, and everyone made it festive. All wards were decorated with ivy and coloured paper and mottoes of the Tommies devising done in cotton wool etc. At Meerut the men had a football match before dinner, and then settled down to a good meal of orthodox turkey and plum pudding. We went round to drink their healths, and then on to the sergeants’ mess – more health drinking! As it was whisky I was glad there wasn’t a super-sergeants mess to visit. Later there were various ward teas. In the mumps compound we found the “Bedlam Band”, six mumps convalescents who with two tin whistles, two tambourines and a mouth organ made music of sorts during tea. Several wards had to be visited, and help given in distributing tea etc.
In the evening the men had a concert, and we entertained the sisters to dinner, giving it in their quarters as ours are too small. All went quite well, though we were five men to about 30 women. I think the keynote of Xmas out here has been rather to forget the war and all that it means for the moment for those who can. Of course things go on as usual, but the hospitals happen to be fairly empty. From all accounts in the papers there is a good deal of activity up the line just now, and I suppose more wounded will soon be coming down.
We were sorry to lose one of our MOs from here last week. He soon got into the thick of it – 24 hours after leaving here he slept in billets which were shelled that night, and the next night he was posted to a regiment in the trenches.
I shall want to hear about Xmas at home, a quiet one doubtless. I wonder when I’ll have another Xmas with you, I’ve only had one in the last six years.
What a sad affair about that lad at May’s school. I wonder if the stick had been used on the roads at all, one would expect to find tetanus commoner on a road than a playground. If I remember right there have been two other cases in the Evesham district within recent years.
I had Xmas fare sent from Dowlais, Port Talbot and Folkestone, so have done very well. Hubert has left it to the British Medical Association to decide whether he ought to join the RAMC or carry on his work at home – that is I’m sure the best course for him to take.
You are rather surrounded by scarlet fever at home, I shall be glad to hear the epidemic is diminishing, is it a severe type, or mild? The scarlet out here is very mild, in fact all infectious diseases are. It is different in the Mediterranean I’m afraid. I suppose Cyril is now off the peninsula, and glad of it no doubt, he’s had his share of rough and perilous campaigning.
Well, I must get other letters written now. My little picture gallery is a great joy to me and makes a lot of difference to my tent.
With much love to all dear Mother and good wishes for next year.
From your son