My dear Kathleen
You must have been surprised at getting Mary back so soon as I wonder whether you guessed when you got her wire that she was going to Nantes. Isn’t it nice for them both, I am so glad. I do hope Mary will be able to arrange the journey without difficulty, she didn’t seem at all alarmed at the idea of it in spite of not having been abroad before, and I am sure she will manage quite well. How excited she was yesterday morning! She got the telegram before breakfast and she didn’t say anything about it at breakfast as she wanted to tell Mother first. So she sat with Mother after breakfast and told her, then came along and found me in my room and broke the great news to me. She was quivering with excitement over it. Then she went off and in her methodical way despatched her telegrams, packed, and paid a farewell visit to Mrs Ashwin and wrote to Mrs Williams. Father had gone before she told her news and she did not realise that he wasn’t coming back to dinner, he had gone to Worcester, however as he expected to get back by the 3.12 I told her she would see him at the station, and so she did. He was surprised to see us there and there was just time to explain and say goodbye. Mother and I drove up with her and after the train had gone went to call on Mrs Slater and found her in, and Marjory came in before long, presently Mr & Mrs Arthur Cliff arrived and Miss Gertude Martin, one of Dr Martin’s nieces, such a nice looking girl, she is a great friend of Marjory’s. She is shortly going to Dunkirk as dispenser with Lady Sykes’ party of nurses for a French Red Cross hospital there. She has had experience in dispensing in her father’s surgery and looks most capable and just the sort to go. She was very keen and we quite enjoyed learning about it. Captain Cliff was home on leave for the weekend from Worcester, he looked quite a smart officer and had quite a lot to say for him. Then another khaki soldier turned up, young Vernon Maynard from Harvington, a very smart subaltern in the Welsh Fusiliers. The room was rather full by then and we had to go and catch the 4.30 train. Mother quite enjoyed the little outing and was not too tired after walking from Badsey station. All the Evesham Territorials from Maldon are home on leave this weekend, they expect to go abroad at any time. Henry Burlingham and Harry Horsfield are among them. Poor Mary Burlingham will be feeling very sad at tomorrow’s parting – also May Openshaw, David Openshaw is also one of that lot, he wasn’t able to go home as Nigel and Peter have measles, I believe he is staying at the Richards. I think we must try and see them go off tomorrow from Evesham station though it will give me horrible lumps in the throat. Ethel and Muriel have been cycling this afternoon to Bidford to see some Seaforth Highlanders who were parading with their band. They were going from place to place by motor and marching through the towns with a view of assisting recruiting. I didn’t think it sounded exciting enough to cycle to Bidford for, but Muriel was very keen to see the kilts and Ethel was quite willing to go, though on coming back she says it was hardly worth it. There, it's11 o’clock and this must be finished tomorrow.
Monday – We have all been up to Evesham to see the Territorials off. Ethel and I intended cycling up, however when Father came down to dinner he said Mother must go too and he had ordered a motor to be here at 2.10. So we went up in that and went to the office to see them from an upstairs window. Evesham was simply crowded, and flags were flying everywhere. There were nearly 100 men going, they marched from the new Drill Hall to the Market Square where they halted for a speech from the Mayor, then the Mayor and Corporation in their robes, Evesham firemen in their uniforms, and the boy Scouts all followed the procession up High Street, the band of course going in front. Ethel and I went on to the station and had a very good view of them getting into the train. We could see Dr Harry and Henry Burlingham quite well, Mr Gaukroger, P J Baylis, Edgar Cull and a few other Badsey ones were among them. They looked so bronzed and fit and I should think they were pleased with their send-off. I hope it will be a stimulus to recruiting in this district; we noticed a large number of young men among the crowds, and most of Badsey was there.
Ivy is poorly with a very swollen face and has not been up to any work yesterday or today, in fact it is a time when one wishes very much that Ethel were more methodical and quicker over things! Mary would quite understand my feeling, it was such a treat to have her to help in her brisk methodical way. I am glad now we took her away from you as soon as we did otherwise we should have seen so little of her, but at the time I felt it was robbing you of her sooner than you wished. I expect we shall hear soon what plans she has made. Perhaps Arthur will find her some work out there, so she may remain in France quite a long time.
Judy writes that she is making a “gorgeous muffler” in khaki which she wants to give one of our boys - George probably unless anyone else has made him one. I don’t think they have; you have been making belts haven’t you? I wonder whether that member of your staff heard of her brother in the London Scottish, it is dreadful for those who remain long in anxiety. The casualty lists, as you say, are too terrible, especially when one thinks of those to come, still one must dwell more on the heroic side of it all, and as to the crippling of western nations which you say you fear, I think one must remember the wonderful reviving power there is in a race and how quickly it can reassert itself with a strength all the greater perhaps from what it has gone through. Opinion seems to be pretty general that the Germans are realizing they cannot win, but the mass of German people I suppose are still blindly hopeful, when their eyes are at last opened I should think the situation in Germany will change very quickly. Isn’t it sad about poor old Lord Roberts? And yet a splendid ending to his life and the most fitting one could possibly have imagined. We can ill afford to lose a great man just now, but his influence will perhaps be stronger in death even than in his lifetime. Aunt Lizzie Fellows wrote a long chatty letter to Mother, she says the news boy with the Sunday paper told them with tears running down his cheeks that there was “bad news – Lord Roberts was dead”.
Of course we must “bite over” birthday presents this year or nearly so. Father and Mother mean just to give a trifle to each and they thought Jack might like some book, perhaps on the war, and would you mind either getting him one you know he wants or else telling him to get himself one. We others could join too in which case we could go up to 5/- or so. I have announced that my sole want is one of the shilling books of poems on the war. I will get Ethel something I know she wants.
I must close now for post. Very much love to you and Jack.
Your loving sister
Give Mary my love and good luck for her journey. I will write soon after she gets to Nantes.