19 March 1917
My dear Father
Although there may very likely be a letter from home on the way, I may as well write now while the spirit moves me. I have not heard from you very recently, but both May and Judy have letters to their credit that have kept me well informed about home affairs.
Events have moved at great speed lately. I suppose the Russian Revolution is by far the most important of many important events. If it had happened six months ago we might have looked forward confidently to a finish this year. Even as it is, the paralysis of the Allies has been removed. How far that paralysis has rendered Russian power in this year’s campaign ineffective is, of course, concealed from us ordinary folk. It may not really be very bad; but Parliament and the Press have been constant for many months in hinting at the danger of relying on Russia. However long it may take to organise her on a victory footing the Revolution may nevertheless contribute to German willingness to accept terms at an earlier date than if they could still aim at detaching Russia.
All things together give good hopes of the War being over in its main intensity before 1918. Unless the Germans have some very remarkable surprise resource of strategy or man-power I think the fight will be all out of them by the end of this year.
Anybody who lives (let us say lodges, it sounds more temporary) on the Western Front can’t help being what they call a ‘Westerner’. As a good and faithful Westerner I feel very delighted at the news of the big retreat now beginning. In its swiftness without the preliminary of any very heavy “bashing” it is surprising. And its swiftness must be very disturbing to the enemy. I suppose we get all Western news earlier than you. When interesting events occur the Official communique is always wired to all Headquarters. But we get earlier unofficial news through the Signal telegraphists. For they tell each other all important news over the wire. Thus I heard about the fall of Bapaume quite early on Saturday. Today we have news of the fall of Peronne and a general advance between Arras and Noye. And seeing that cavalry have gone through, the movement ought to spread and go far. The German papers do their best to make our flesh creep with warnings of Hindenburg’s great plans of a War of movement. As if a War of movement had some mysterious advantage for the weaker side! Perhaps he will try some big counter smash. But it will be surprising if he puts us off our stroke.
The swift development and immediate success of the Bagdad campaign are both fine feathers for our caps. I wonder whether anybody expected it. I don’t think so; if the obnoxious nervousness in many quarters that General Maude was repeating the previous mistake of a too quick advance can be taken to mean anything, If only Russia were as strong as she might be, Constantinople might be reached by the Black Sea route. I am glad that we have the no news of Cyril which is good news. No doubt he has seen “Bagdad’s shrines of fretted gold” by now. What would the good Haroun al Raschid have thought of a khaki army entering his city?
I don’t think we are likely to move from this Sector yet, I am rather tired of it; but it is getting pretty dry and clean so it is not so bad.
Love to all from