Between Richmond and Staines
Wednesday 18th, 9 am
My dear old Bet
Did you think that I had gone away without writing? I am rather afraid you did; for, of course, they told you from home that we were expected to go last Friday. There was a slight delay, however. I am told there was a difficulty in getting all the transport boats that were required, so some troops had to be held up a few days. Now, however, here we are really on our way to somewhere in France. Half the battalion is on this train. The rest follow on another train about two hours behind us. We are fully equipped in every way and shall not need to hang up in any concentration camp on the other side, so I hope they will start using us soon.
It seems quite an ordinary and commonplace business, this going to the front. Wonderful how little there is that seems to suggest the close proximity to strenuous times. Except for our exceeding cheerfulness at getting on the move at last and the extraordinary warm farewell that we get all along our line of route it feels very much like an entrainment for the familiar annual training. I had thought that nowadays the public viewed the departure of troops very calmly and almost apathetically; but that is far from the truth. Watford naturally gave us a good send off, but all along the line also there has been, without cessation, a continual cheering and waving, not to speak of a wholesale blowing of kisses from women and girls of all ages and descriptions. I begin to feel we are best out of reach in the train or our popularity might prove embarrassing.
If I had had time during my leave I would have come to see you, but there were several particular things I wanted to do and see; so, as I had seen you pretty recently at Sydenham I did not disturb any plans in order to make time to come and visit you. Besides, I was afraid I might have been too popular at The Grove! I will try and write from abroad if and when I get a chance. Write to me occasionally. My address will be:
No 525 Lance-Corporal GMS
1/15 Battalion Co of London Regiment
Civil Service Rifles
British Expeditionary Force
Much love from
Your affectionate brother