12 Charleville Circus
Sep 25 1914
My dear Mother
I am so sorry to be so late writing you my promised letter to tell you about George. The truth is I really have not had time the whole week to write anything like a decent letter. Directly George had gone off on Sunday I came back and sat down to do what I could of the work I ought to have done over the weekend. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday my programme has been breakfast 7.30, leave the house 7.40, work at school until 6, arrive home 7.15, dinner, half an hour with The Times, see Mrs Horsman for orders, work at school work until 11 by which time I simply could not face the idea of starting a letter. Wednesday I did get home a little earlier, but only to go down to a meeting about starting a Hostel for Belgian Refugees in Sydenham which I wanted to go to so as to see if there was any way in which we could help. So you see I could scarcely have written more than the meanest little note.
Well there is perhaps not much to tell you about George when all is said and done, except that he was really looking very well indeed; in health that is, for his appearance is not improved by the loss of his nice thick hair, nor in my opinion by his moustache which is quite a light one. He knew no more about their plans than when he last wrote; they are not keen on Egypt or India and would much rather go to the continent; they may however be in England for a long time yet. He was uncertain how far weather conditions in north France or Germany would permit of active operation in the winter. If they did not, there might be an enforced lull in affairs during the winter and in that case perhaps many reinforcements would not be sent over until the spring. They may be moved elsewhere in England if they do not go abroad before long. He says the life suits him excellently; of course it is not the sort of life he would like as a permanency, sleeping in a wagon and having no more possessions than can be carried in kit bag imposes many limitations on you, but he actually enjoys roughing it for a time and would certainly not be happy if he were not doing his share in the struggle. He sleeps as I have said in a covered wagon with one or two others; they are quartered in some farm buildings near Bedmond. The cottagers near make a nice addition to their income by washing and mending for the soldiers also making fruit pies and other additions to their rations. They have a very good cook in their company so do very well in the way of rations. The work is not so hard now as it was at one time as the men know their work better. Mr Lintott may perhaps volunteer after all for foreign service, it depends rather I think on what the government decide to do for the widows and children of those who fall and which is quite as important for those who return incapacitated and their dependents. His wife is a strong rigorous woman who would manage on very little but the government pension at present is a mere pittance. There must be many other men in his case. If he were killed in fact she would be better off as his life is insured; the other is the worse outlook. George hopes he may go, they are such good friends. Mr Kinsman was away on two days’ leave also last Sunday, getting married. [I suppose Mela and Boo are not getting married tomorrow by any chance?] I suppose his fiancée decided to take the will for the deed in the matter of going to the front.
George had just over 24 hours with us; Betty and I were just getting supper at 7 when he walked in. It was so nice to see him again. Of course Betty was delighted to come. We talked a lot that evening and I think he slept well in his own bed and kept his usually Sunday hours! We went for a short walk in the morning and he and I went for a little stroll together before tea and after tea we made Betty play a little. We had supper early at seven and all went down to Sydenham station to see him off afterwards. A good many men in uniform were going off by the same train; all returning from short leave I expect.
I was glad to hear how well Boo is looking after camp life, especially as he was not looking quite fit before. Thank Mela very much for her letter too telling me all about him; I will answer it one day. I am glad to hear her plans are settled, but I expect you are pleased to have her with you a little longer. Cyril’s wire to Jack arrived this evening and we will send off the kit tomorrow. I am glad he is having another weekend with you, at least I suppose he is staying over Sunday. I hope he will like Tidworth and his work there as well as that at Churn Camp. I meant to write to him and let him have news of George but as he will probably be at home when this letter arrives he will see it I expect so I will not write at present.
So you have had another letter from Arthur. I must write to him tomorrow or Sunday and I think I shall ask about a lot of things I am sure he could quite well tell us. He certainly does not say very much.
I am glad you have finished your begging expeditions and hope you get a good response. I should think the 300,000 sacks and belts will very soon be supplied and then I expect other things will be asked for. Here I believe a good many people are helping to provide comforts and recreation for the 5000 sailors in the Palace grounds. Also a movement has been set on foot, chiefly by Dr Charsley, for getting an empty house, or perhaps two or more if funds permit, getting furniture etc given and lent and placing in each house two or three Belgian families of the middle or more educated classes; those seem now to be the least provided for. A committee has been formed and I hope arrangements will soon be got on with. The meeting on Wednesday was quite a sensible one. We shall probably lend one bed and bedding and very likely a few other little things if they are needed. I believe a printed list is shortly to be sent round to everyone who has promised to help for them to mark the things they could lend, so that the executive committee can send for what they need when they are ready. One of the girls at school had a brother on the Abapikir (sic) and has not yet heard any news of him. She must be very anxious, poor little soul, but goes on and does her work quite as well as usual.
Now this must go to post.
Much love from