British Expeditionary Force
24 June 1915
My dear Mother
You will have to be content with a short letter this time, not so much on account of lack of time as lack of matter. We have struck a patch of routine here which has been quite unrelieved by incident. The most strenuous part of it is my daily struggle with my little mare, Tar Baby, when I pick up her hind feet. She loves me dearly, but greater than her love for me is her hatred for having her hind feet lifted. I think she must have been badly handled by a shoeing smith at some time and that she has not forgotten. She would be sure to remember it for she is as clever as a man. This dislike coupled with the very highest accomplishments in the art of kicking, generally gives me at least ten minutes hard wrestling – even granted the handicap of a man to hold her head. On these terms I generally win, but not always. Today we fought a drawn battle. I managed one foot but had to give up the other. It all helps to keep me fit. We are still placed away from the Battalion and take up supplies every night. The officer usually takes the column up, though he is sometimes relieved by the sergeant, and the corporals take it in turn to go up one each night with the column. Tonight is my turn.
Your letters etc come through very regularly and without delay. The postal arrangements work with the greatest accuracy in dealing with stuff for men who are with their regiments. For others delays are very great though almost everything seems to arrive in the end. I think the APO is a wonderful service. The Weekly Times comes regularly, also The Observer which they send from Sydenham, but not so much. I don’t know whether Aunt L sends it regularly or not. I got Father’s letter of the 17th several days ago. By this time I expect Cyril is off at last. I wonder whether his battalion are really bound for the Dardanelles or not. These matters are always “wrop in mistry”.
I am glad the garden and orchards look so well. I expect the labour difficulty will be rather acute when it comes to gathering the fruit. Beach’s would do well to make a big business of turning plums into jam and starting it as early as possible so as to allow a long period for picking. I have no need to tell you that plum jam is best when made from ripe plums! It would be a popular jam out here, I am sure. Only they must be sure not to mix apple with it. “Apple” coupled with plum in speaking of jam is a misnomer for any kind of pulp that comes in handy and the troops out here do not much love the “Plum and apple” that they get rather frequently. Beach’s already supply some jam to the Government. We have had some of their blackcurrant on occasions that are rare but appreciated. If plums are a glut crop it ought to be possible to make pure plum jam at a price acceptable to Government buyers, even if sugar is dear. Or if sugar is impossible I imagine there would be no difficulty in applying the usual bottling processes to the sealing up of fruit in the one pound tins required for the Army. In fact it would give Beech’s a better chance than jam. Their good jam might be undersold by other firm’s trash, but I have not yet heard that it is possible to adulterate fruit bottled whole and so they could utilise to the full their advantage of being able to purchase fresh fruit cheaply at the factory door.
Letters are contradictory affairs. They generally spin out long when they begin with short promise. I little thought of getting on to a second sheet when I began this. I hope you will enjoy your two visits to Eastbourne and Folkestone. Both places ought to be delightful if your weather is like ours.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son
PS - Letter from Kath just in telling me that Cyril has left for the Dardanelles. Good luck to him.