22 Oct 1916
My dear Father
Your last letter was dated from Folkestone and I ought really to have answered it before, for though it came while we were greatly occupied in a considerable amount of moving (including an entrainment which is no small affair when horses and vehicles have to be dealt either), I have since had a quiet time and plenty of leisure. It is true I have written a good deal, but chiefly odds and ends of correspondence – the occasional letters that always get put aside in times of stress and gradually make such a big pile.
I had a letter from Kathleen yesterday. She was very greatly concerned about Mrs Horsman: indeed it is a very serious matter, cancer of the mouth. And I fear that it has been allowed to get a deep hold in this case. I hope that by now the necessary operations have been performed successfully. Even then there is much anxiety for the future, in case of any recurrence of the disease.
An early touch of winter has come and we have had a succession of brilliant cold days and bitter clear nights. I am glad that we are not now quartered in the open. We have billets in a big farm and all the horses are under cover, so I should like to stay here a long while. All the winter would suit me very well.
I think my leave ought not to be much further postponed now. They are extending the numbers allowed to go; but there are now some men who have been out here a year without any leave and they are to go first. According to strict rule, senior NCOs should have leave every six months in precedence of everybody else of lower rank, but I am glad they are letting these men go. It is very rough to do a year out here without a break.
Rosie thinks they will grant her a few days’ leave unless they are too busy when I come. Unfortunately Machin & Kingsley’s take stock in November; so it is possible that I might strike their very busiest period. But I hope for the best.
What do you think of the Roumanian situation? It looked pretty serious about a week ago, but I think the position is less dangerous now. The failure of the Stroke from Salonika to take place appears to me to have compromised everything: precious nearly to have lost the war. Evidently there has been much disagreement in the Chancelleries with regard to the handling of Greece. Either there was a hesitation in employing means of Germanic character to settle the affairs of a small neutral country; or else there may have been a strong protest from the few remaining neutral countries against the adoption of such means. I am far from certain whether public opinion in Greece favours the Entente so much as our Press would have us believe.
Unless we are very greatly favoured by the Greeks it seems to me that dictation by us in their domestic affairs would look to Neutrals not unlike the penetration of Luxembourg by Germany. Of course, from our point of view we must, in German surroundings, do as the Germans do.
But it is a course of action quite unpalatable to everybody including ourselves. It would only have the pragmatic sanction of being more unpleasant to the Germans than anybody else. Still, we have had a great deal to say in condemnation of such pragmatism.
Please send me Arthur’s address again when you write. I have both lost and forgotten it.
I shall be interested to look over Uncle George’s silver when I come home. If it is to remain in England until after the War, perhaps Bernard will be able to choose the New Zealand share of it. I daresay he will be over here before things finish.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son