19 Dec 1915
My dear Mother
We have just got moved today into a new place and here we expect to spend Christmas. I and my four messmates are occupying quarters in a dug-out. Not so luxurious as the farmhouse kitchen that we have just left but still reasonably snug. If one sets about it in the proper way it is possible to make any old place into a decent home. I pride myself on being able to make shift in anything from a pigsty upwards, if need be.
I have just received your parcel of apples and Xmas pudding. Between the five of us we look like faring sumptuously every day, for the number of parcels we are getting is formidable. I have had three in three days and the others have also had a good many recently. We have eaten three puddings already in order to clear the way for puddings already arrived or yet to come!
Letters from Father and Judy came tonight. I am glad my letter of the 5th did arrive eventually. I had been surprised to hear, via Rosie, that you had not had news of me since my return. It was in a letter of only a few days back that she mentioned it and I was rather perturbed at hearing it, for I could recollect at least four letters that I had written to people at home since 27th November.
I’m glad to hear news of Cyril, though it is rather old. But news from Gallipoli is always very backward. I wonder if he will get his Company or the Brigade Machine Gun command. Either way he will be pretty sure to get his third star.
This letter should reach you about Xmas Day, I think; not later I hope. I have preceded it by a card, in order to make sure that you shall get a Xmas greeting from me in time. In this connection, let me quote an Order that was circulated a short time ago. It serves to be embalmed as an example of the solemnity of official precision. It is as follows: “Field Service Postcards: The following is extracted from GRO and is issued for information. There is no objection to the following being written of Field Office Postcards: “A merry Christmas and a happy New Year.” Isn’t the whole thing delightfully starchy!
I am glad the book I ordered for you has arrived. Although I have not seen it myself, I know Ian Hay’s work very well and I am sure that he has handled his subject vividly and with humour. He is (or was) a master at Fettes and his evidently wide sympathy with boys and young men bestows on him the gift of writing about them with rare insight and faithfulness.
Well I shall think of you all on Christmas Day. I am glad you are to be a good sized party. I shall drink your healths in something or other – rum and tea as likely as not and I shall know that you have drunk mine – and another. It did not need Father’s assurance to tell me that, but it was pleasant to be reminded that it would not be forgotten.
Here’s to a real Christmas and a happy New Year for all of us.