My dear Father
We live at present in an atmosphere of alarums and excursions. A move of some kind is toward, though we have no definite orders yet. We have been held back, up to the presents, by the shortage in our numbers; which could not be filled up until the people up in London had been clothed and equipped. This has now been done and yesterday nearly 150 men, who had had previous service and are fully trained men, came up to join the Imperial Service Battalion. The remainder required to fill up our strength are to come on Monday; they have done all their training except part of the musketry, and this will be completed very shortly. There has been a heap of rain recently and our billets are beginning to show signs of wear and tear. They would not remain healthy for very long in this weather; in fact arrangements have been made to move us into Watford where we should be quartered in houses. The move was to have taken place this week but is now postponed till next week. But in the circumstances it is doubtful whether it will take place at all, except for the reason that Watford is a far better place to entrain from than Kings Langley. The Queen’s Westminsters and the Kensingtons (who, with the London Scottish, form the rest of our Brigade), are under orders for abroad so we shall hardly be left very much longer soaking our boots in the mud of this very dirty village which almost vies with Badsey for depth (though not for luvin qualities) of its mud.
I see that Turkey has at last shown her hand and, despite complications, I think it is a most excellent thing that, as the mess on the floor of Europe is being cleaned up, that corner should also be visited by the broom. I suppose Greece will undoubtedly join the Allies now. With a war of this magnitude, it seems scarcely to matter how many more countries take a hand.
The fight for Calais seems to be a tremendous one. One wonders what the Germans hope to achieve, if they establish a base at Calais, that could be in any way commensurate with the tremendous losses they have suffered in attempting to reach there. What an enormous stream of reinforcements they are able to pour in: fresh divisions spring up, to replace those destroyed, like hydra heads. One hears of no signs of their numbers diminishing anywhere. But their morale must be considerably damaged by the nearly total wreck of their best forces. Lloyd George bids fair to have been right when he spoke of the “last hundred million” as the probable deciding factor. It looks as if this affair will never be settled by the destruction of multitudes of men, or their exhaustion: men will outlast material on each side; there will still be forces to handle arms when there are no arms to handle. I believe the decisive blow of this war will be the investment or destruction of Essen. I shall believe the end to be in sight when that happens, but not till then.
I was glad to receive May’s letter of a few days ago and I will answer it when occasion serves. We are busier again than we have been recently, for we have a full (though temporary) outfit of transport once more, and moreover we have been assisting the Westminsters and the Kensingtons in their move; altogether our time has been well filled.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son