31 March 1918
My dear Father
I am very glad at last to be able to get a few lines written to you to let you know that I have come safely through this most eventful week. How much more there is to come and how intense it may be one can’t possibly foresee; but I shall be surprised if such another week occurs, so packed with experience, so continuous in activity, so breathless and yet so orderly. Great retirements were unusual events in the British Army until Mons surprised everybody. But this was another, greater more complicated Mons; differing mainly in the wonderful smoothness with which it was conducted.
It was a very anxious time. One cannot pretend to view the situation complacently. But no doubt there is a counter stroke to be developed and this greater Mons may yet be followed by another and a greater Marne. The strength and composition of the army of manoeuvre is a well-kept secret; the future lies in its hands. But it is an anxious period waiting for the moment when we hit back.
The outstanding recollection of the whole affair with me will be one of intense sleeplessness. In five days I got just under ten hours sleep. Add to which the fact that I had lost every scrap of kit and was very cold all the time. I was delayed up the line with a column the night after the first attack and when I got back towards our lines I found that Fritz had come in on the flank and was in occupation of them. We got away all right across country; but we had to leave Fritz in enjoyment of much Regimental and private property.
Of course leave is washed out. I wonder whether they will renew it on a small scale if and after the push is stopped. I have had bad luck in being the victim of both the Somme stoppages.
Weather has been rather bad for some days now, but it was wonderfully good during the retirement. That alleviated the hardships very considerably and, of course, made it much easier to get transport away. On the other hand it resulted in considerable intensity in aerial attacks by night.
I heard from Rosie recently that she and her sister and her friend and working companion Miss Williams are taking a small furnished flat in Highgate. Affairs at home have been more and more unpleasant for her recently and I am well pleased that they have been able to set up for themselves. We have been discussing some such arrangements for some little time. Her home has never been a satisfactory one: couldn’t be with such an impossible step-father.
Love to all from