26 Dec 1917
My dear Father
Having left your Xmas letter till the very last and then having had two days completely occupied with the arduous business of moving, I managed to miss entirely my intention of writing a letter to reach you on Xmas Day. I hope this will arrive in time to bring you my heartfelt wishes for a Happy New Year before the turn of the year takes place.
We just (and only just) succeeded in spending our Xmas in leisure. This was the first of our three Christmases out here when we have enjoyed that privilege. Though last year we were able to have some celebration, this year the whole Battalion managed to have a real Xmas dinner on Xmas Day; of course, it had to be done in several sections, for there was no place where the whole Battalion could sit down together. For our section we managed to secure the local “Royal Oak room” and we had a very jolly spread. The Army had ‘splashed’ special rations of pork, plum puddings, apples and sweets; so, with a little trouble in fixing up the trimmings, there was an excellent dinner all ready to hand. The local Boulangerie roasted the meat and left the Battalion cooks like Mrs Crupp “to concentrate all their energies on the potatoes and to serve up the cheese and celery as it ought to be served” – or something not un-akin to that. We drank with due ceremony to the Home Folks and I thought of you at your dinner table returning the compliment far away. I hope you had Bernard with you; it would have been nice to have him as a Christmas guest, for the opportunity is not likely to be repeated. I hope he will get his discharge as his recovery is so very slow.
By the way, we had the most wintry Xmas I can remember. Severe snow and frost had prevailed for nearly a fortnight; and although a thaw set in on Xmas Eve and prevailed during the whole of the next day, it was quite a slight one and was soon succeeded by severe weather again which still continues.
Going is very bad for horses; but fortunately we have the minimum of work to do at present.
Thank you very much for your Xmas parcel from home. Some remains of it are still left, for folks at home were very generous with their parcels this year and our mess did extremely well. We ate the Xmas pudding today and very good it was too. And there are no signs of “going off” in the quality of your Blenheims.
The Brest Litoosh Peace Conference is a most interesting affair. I rather expect to see it turn to the advantage of the Allies in the end. There seems no sign of the Russian Government being willing to forget the immediate past and to base their demands on the present situation. I don’t imagine that there will be a basis for anything other than complete and hostile disagreement in that view. If the Germans will kindly supply the touch of discord that would be imparted by sending Wilhelm as a desirable envoy to colloquise with Red Revolutionaries, there would yet be an excellent chance of Germany being troubled with an uncompromising enemy on her Eastern frontier. Unsophisticated diplomats like those of Bolshevist Russia are likely to be uncompromisingly unreasonable in their views. Germany goes as a conqueror to impose terms on a beaten enemy. Germany will probably meet several entirely unreasonable Socialist envoys cheerfully demanding things that an Autocratic Russia would have hesitated to ask even if her armies had occupied Buda-Pesth. I see a strong vein of comedy in this conference.
With wishes to all for a Happy New Year that will see an end of this War, and love to all from
Your affectionate son