11 Nov 1914
My dear Mother
This afternoon happens to be fairly free from duties, and I hope to use it in getting rid of some, at least, of the letters that I owe to many people. It is over a week now since we made our move into Watford but I have not yet had many occasions to write and tell you of it, and I have neglected those that I have had. We live in the height of luxury here: we are posted in the big Club Room of The George Hotel and enjoy gas-light, fires, the use of the hotel kitchen, water laid on etc, etc, in fact, everything “just like Mother makes it”. The horses are some in the stable here and some in the stables of The Essex Arms a few yards up the road. I have charge of the latter lot, though I sleep at The George. I have been put in control of the draught horses (the pack animals and riding horses, being the other two classes that form a transport section) and as there has been a change in the course of this war, in the constitution of transport sections which much increases the number of vehicles, I now find myself the proud commander of a driving line consisting of 9 carts and 8 waggons. We are not yet fully fitted out, but we shall probably be going off on a jaunt to the Victualling Yard at Deptford to make up our deficiencies in horses and horse equipment. When we do that we shall know that it is only a few days before we go. It has been a splendid thing getting our horses into good stables for a while before moving off. They are now in excellent fettle and we should be enabled to set out with a thoroughly fit lot of horses. The only trouble is to keep them well hardened to exposure; but that is fairly well secured by leaving all doors and windows wide open, day and night.
It was very nice to receive the little Testament you sent me and it now lies very neatly in the breast pocket of my tunic where I can easily carry it all times, and I shall be glad to have your gift always with me.
I hope Cecil Brown Constable did not get touched in the recent action of the London Scottish. I hear that the casualty list is by no means so heavy as was stated at first; early reports place it at over 200. I am afraid our friends the journalists gave their fancy rather too much of a fling in writing up the affair. Two or three of the wounded Scottish men, in hospital in the country, have written deprecating the noise that has been made by the newspapers. Still, it must have been an excellent attack; otherwise Sir John French would not have sent such a complimentary message. Yet one feels that there is a certain disproportion about the amount of notice taken when one thinks of the number of battalions that have been almost wiped out without the tribute of more than a very bare record of the fact. I am anxiously awaiting the Scottish casualty list; I know so many of their men – shooting men and others. Naturally we do not feel an unmixed pleasure about the success of the Scottish, for we feel that they had no right to go out so far ahead of the rest of the Territorial Force. It all comes of being governed by Scotchmen.
I want now to turn on to a long-deferred letter to Arthur’s.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son