30 Sept 1917
My dear Betty
It must be close on time for you to be setting out for Bedford Park and ditto College as a fresher. I wish you best of luck and a short duration of the first chilly part. I never envy anybody going to school afresh, whether actually to school, or college, or a new business, or into the army or any other kind of fresh adventure. But none of the later trials compare with the “fresher” period at school, I think; so I don’t expect you will find this a very embarrassing business. Ancient folk like you and me soon spot the things that must not be done in, and the geography of a new place; those are the two main troubles.
This will be your first look at No 13, won’t it? If you are as pleased with the house as I was I think you will be more than satisfied with home. Haven’t there been a large number of partners in the London branch now! And the two who haven’t actually belonged to the firm have worked for it for short periods in times of stress.
I see a report published that Falkenhayn has reported adversely upon the proposed attack on Baghdad. While it is dangerous to put any trust in these published revelations that have so often been prompted by Germany with intent to deceive, there is much in known facts to support the probability of the project being too hopeless to be worth trying. I sincerely hope so; for if tried it will certainly be a stubborn attempt. I should like to feel that Boo has had his whack of major operations. Certainly it is difficult to conceive how Turkey can mass sufficient forces and material to defeat such a formidable army as General Maude’s; to do so too at the end of a long-stretched line of communication through difficult country. The only answer to the “How?” Seems to be, “By German aid”. And how Germany could detach much aid at the present time is another perplexing “How?” The Russian menace towards Germany is almost nil; but how far dare they weaken their eastern front. Again, “How?”
If Austria was not so severely strained by the Italian offensive, Germany might risk everything on Russia remaining negligible; leave Austria to sit on the eastern front; and withdraw every division she has there herself for other purposes. I shouldn’t like to bet that she won’t do that. If she is to save herself at all (which Heaven forbid!) it has got to be done by some stroke of audacity.
It is still very fine out here; turning cold at nights, however. There is a lovely full moon tonight and not much haze yet. Perfect weather for air-raiding - as I see the Germans have not omitted to notice. But the defences seem to be doing very well now. Also the offensives, probably - aerial ones I mean. The bombing raids by our machines on Fritz’s big aerodromes must be doing a very great deal to reduce the frequency and the size of his expeditions to England.
I am glad that Kath is to have your company. She feels the lack of a more active mental stimulus than Jack can provide. Though I believe she finds him a much more stimulating influence than he used to be. She said, when I was recently at home, that the War had changed Jack very greatly; had broadened his outlook remarkably. I have not had time to observe much of this myself, but I noticed, as an example, a readiness on his part to discuss without heat or horror, political and social projects that would have seemed to him, before the War, only fit to be denounced and dismissed as flammable heresies. He has hardly progressed as far - to met it is progress - as to consider “The Daily News” respectable and “The Morning Post” disreputable. But he is ready to admit that the one is as bad as the other! I don’t quarrel with that.
We are enjoying virtual peace and quiet here. Such a change after the last sector. I wonder how long it will last!
Love to all from
PS - A letter from Father just in time to warn me that I must address this to Bath Road.