9 Aug 1915
My dear Mother
It is some little time since I heard from anybody at home and I expect the reason is that you are all about as busy as can be. Father’s last letter indicated how fully occupied you all were or were going to be. I have no doubt whatever that you are more pressed for time just now than we are here. The Battalion came out of the trenches a few days ago and we have all come back a little way from the firing line for what is described in military language as a “rest”. The term is not altogether incorrect. The men get a full night’s sleep with undisturbed regularity and are removed from the shock of shell and all the sounds of action. (Here I may remark parenthetically that I positively miss the distant sound of gunfire and when I lie down to sleep I sometimes feel quite oppressed by the quietness. Just as one feels when going from London to a still country neighbourhoods.) On the other hand, all the usual steps are taken to bring us back to stock military type: squad drill, punctilious saluting, “spit and polish” (excuse the vulgar but universal phrase) and all the similar concomitants of barrack life. These are rather irksome after the comparative freedom of the fighting line: perhaps that is a proof of the necessity for such steps.
For ourselves in this section it means less work; for there is not much transport work to be done by us. Supplies come up as usual on the ASC wagons and there is no further transfer to be done. Of course everything has to be left spick and span. That occupies quite a considerable amount of time where horses and harness are concerned.
I resume after an interval of three-quarters of an hour occupied in chatting with one of the many refugees from _____ (I forgot for the moment the interdiction against naming places) who dwell round about here. They are good schoolmasters, for they are intelligent folk mostly and, being refugees have plenty of time on their hands for talk. I begin to find the clipped swiftness of their talk much easier to follow though there is still much room for improvement.
I don’t think there is much chance of getting leave yet awhile. I don’t find any support from informed quarters for the idea that there may be leave granted on any considerable scale.
In a hurry to finish.
Your loving son