10 Nov 1917
My dear Father
Since I received your last letter international events have gone pretty badly for the Allies. The German strategy of hitting the weakest spot seems to serve them better than our converse strategy serves us. Although ours doesn’t serve us badly, admittedly. As I expect the outcome of Passchendaele will show in the end. One comforting thing about the Italian affair is that they seem to show a pretty resilient spirit out there. No crumbling on a great scale like the wretched Russian. Wretched Russian indeed! If the news from Petrograd is to be trusted they have parted with their last cohesive force. Absolute disruption seems imminent for the Ukraine will never be contented with a Maximalist Government. And later on when discord is at its height hunger will begin to play its part as a maker of fresh Revolutions. In the meantime I suppose the Russian front will be gradually denuded of troops. Have the Germans anticipated this and taken steps to transfer the main seat of war to Italy in order to avoid the possibility of an Austrian refusal to employ their armies anywhere except on a front adjacent to their own country? It will be a searching test of the question “Who possesses the initiative?” If we are forced to abandon the full strength of next year’s offensive in the West our efforts of two years will have borne little fruit. But I fancy that the Italian drive will be stopped like the Romanian drive and the Germans will be forced again and against their will to confine their main operations to defence in the West.
I had not seen the name of Frank Butler in the casualty lists and I am indeed sorry to hear that he has been killed. I scarcely knew him myself, but I know he was a great favourite with Aunt Fanny and his sisters – indeed with everybody.
Many thanks for your box of fruit which came the day before yesterday. The not very numerous fruit trees around here have all been slain; not by the retiring Hun, but by the sheer intensity of the shell fire. None have escaped. Thanks also for The Weekly Times. It has arrived with punctual regularity ever since it was re-ordered. I am glad you had an enjoyable stay in London and elsewhere. It must have been like old times to go to the Albert Hall and hear some of the big guns go off. Bonar Law you had heard before, I think; but not Lloyd George; certainly not General Smuts.
I heard from Arthur a short while ago. He has a glimmering notion of my present location. But he doesn’t know the number of my Division. Gross ignorance, I call it! What news of Cyril? Very likely on the move by now. The joint operations against Johnny Turk appear to be progressing very well. I wonder whether Allenby will emulate Maude and take Jerusalem in his stride, just as Bagdad was taken.
We are still very quiet, but still very active in building operations etc. The deeper one gets into winter the more things are disclosed as requiring to be done.
Love to all from