5 Oct 1917
My dear Father
It was with the intention of writing to Arthur that I fetched out my writing pad; but I can’t recollect the number of his Mobile Lab, so I must wait. Will you tell me when you write, or send a postcard if you are not likely to be sending a letter for a while.
I know now that we are both in the same Army (I was not quite sure which we were in when first we arrived here) so I have really good hopes of seeing him some time. For even if we are at opposite ends of the Army front his work carries him about all parts of the area, I believe! It would be a very great pleasure to meet him after the interval of almost three years that has passed.
You have been out of reckoning in supposing that we were engaged in the recent big affair. In point of fact we were relieved just before it. We are not the only Division out here bearing the famous name: that is a fact that misled people before. Our namesakes seem to have done most excellent work and, moreover, to be carrying on with it over a long time. From which I judge that their casualties have been moderate. Thank God that the carnage of the Somme appears to be a thing of the past. I wonder what will happen if we complete the capture of the ridges. Will there be another Hindenburg retreat as soon as the ground is bad enough to impede a rapid pursuit? If so, can a retreat be devised which will strengthen the German tactical position without forcing them to quit Lille and the coast?
I am glad to hear you are taking a short holiday to visit Eastbourne and Bedford Park. I hope you won’t be troubled by any air-raids during your visit to London. In point of fact they seem to be very partially effective in scope; I think that people who have a decent thickness of bricks and mortar and make proper use of it are pretty safe. Against a direct hit nobody can fight, but the proportional risk of one is very small. In the case of poor areas where the buildings are so ramshackle that their protective power approaches nil I think they would do well to organize protective works. The use of all available cellars and railway arches and the construction of dug outs and sandbag shelters in all available spots would afford a great deal of additional shelter. And it is wonderful (I have seen it!) how people will turn to work for their own protection. It could probably be organized by parish authorities without a great deal of palaver.
I wrote to Bernard not long ago. At the time I wondered whether a letter addressed to the Base would reach him, I am sorry to hear that his gassing was so severe as to keep him there still. It is very vexatious to hear how Aunt Edith has broken down. I could see it coming when I was at home. She was then very fretful and unreasonable and obsessed with this overruling dislike of her little home. It is always a difficulty to know how to treat such cases. In times of stress like these busy people really can’t cumber themselves over much with the consideration of the whimsies of mentally-sick folk. There are so many important things to be looked after. It is a heavy burden for Marian; and, of course, it will recoil on May and indeed on all of you to some extent. I hope Marian is now thoroughly recovered from the weakening effects of her illness.
What a brilliant battle that was in Mesopotamia. I wonder if Cyril was engaged in it. What will happen now to the projected Turkish offensive? This will disorganise it, surely. Those who think they know still say that it will come off. But I always distrust the truth of these much advertised German projects.
Do you still send the Weekly Times? I have not had it for a fortnight now.
Tomorrow is Rosina’s twentieth birthday. I am wondering whether her twenty-first will be celebrated in War or in Peace! She returned from her holiday at Eastbourne some time ago, much refreshed; and looking (as snapshots show) wonderfully fit and well.
So air-raids on the German interior are to be undertaken now. I hope they will be confined as far as possible to manufacturing centres. There will be quite enough hits on civilian populations from “strays” without any organized attempt to produce a moral effect over purely civil areas. The whole thing is a beastly necessity. I am glad we refrained for a long while. Now that it is done, may it be done very thoroughly! I think it has been put off until we are in a position to do much more than the Germans can do in spite of their positional advantages.
Love to all from