1 March 1917
My dear Father
When March comes I think it is quite justifiable to consider that winter is done with. Certainly today has been a true spring day; indeed for several days there has been a soft air and plenty of sun, enough to produce a drying effect on the mud, around us: and that is no small feat! A spring feeling, a sight of a patch or two of really dry soil, and a succession of good pieces of news are a combination that make a cheerful outlook; and life seems better worth living than it has done for some time past. The comparative inaction during the winter, although it makes for a fairly safe existence, is a very depressing business. Visible results are the only things from which one can get true satisfaction. The course of silent preparations doesn’t provide much moral elation for anybody except the directors of affairs who know what is wanted and whether provision equals requirement.
There is a certain conviction about events as they now occur that there is at last the right quality of leadership and a proper provision in control of our affairs. The field tactics of Kut and the Ancre have worked with excellent smoothness and effect; one hardly knows which to admire the more. I hope these are just the first faint notes of the opera “Retirement according to Plan”. In the case of the Ancre fortresses I doubt whether the plan was one of old making. The works that the Germans carried out during the winter must have been meant to be defended; a bitter pill for them to swallow – deserting them without a blow in defence. Scarcely the best thing for the spirit of their troops which Hindenburg is so intent upon reviving.
The War Loan is amazing. Where does it all come from? Is England indeed the improvident land of repute? For whose better example the provident habits of the French are so often quoted. A week before the close the Loan, Bonar Law rebuked somebody for suggesting that the figure of a thousand million might be raised! Saying that it was unlikely and even undesirable; for so high a figure might have an unsettling effect on finance! There is rather a big amount of floating debt outstanding. But I expect the success of the Loan will make it the more likely that bills, when due, will mostly be renewed.
I hope you will have more and good news of Cyril soon. I hope his Division were not in the first attack on Sanna-i-Yat on Feb 17th. Failures are usually expensive. With the fall of Kut that campaign may resolve itself into a threatening and holding diversion. Perhaps there may be some big move contemplated in concert with Russia later on. But I don’t suppose the possession of Bagdad is worth any effort that might be costly. If the Grand Duke makes any further moves, we might be able to occupy the place easily later on.
I hope Bernard got his leave (embarkation leave I suppose) and was able to visit Badsey. You must let me know his unit when you can. At present we are not among the NZ contingent, but might easily run up against them sometime. Last year we were dwelling on a hillside with antipodean troops in swarms all around us.
I was glad to hear that you were well again when you wrote. I have not heard from anybody at home since then. The Weekly Times has been coming regularly since you had it sent from Smith’s head office. I am very glad to get it always, for English papers are very shy of approach now. We get them perhaps one day a week, perhaps two; it is quite a matter of chance. I hope that none of the hawkers who sell them depend on it for a livelihood! Also I hope that the WT will not be elevated in price. If it is, you had better cut it off as a war economy. I shall tell Jack to stop The Observer now. Although I love my Garvin I think that at 2ᵈ a time plus postage he is a luxury and must be treated as such.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son