May 10 1915
My dear mother
We are still in the same camp though the medical authorities make an awful fuss about the water supply. I am afraid we shall have to move some time next week. It will be a nuisance as we are busy with the infantry at present. Some of the senior infantry officers are extraordinarily bad but I think the subalterns are better. We are spending the night out on Tuesday. I hope it will be fine it is bad enough in a tent when it rains. On Thursday is rained without ceasing the whole day.
I am recovering from the accident quicker than the bicycle. My knees….?
August 5 1915
My dear Nesta (Sister of John’s)
Probably by the time this arrives you will have returned to Westerham, so I will address it there. I am sorry you are having no news of me. I hear my letters have been sent? To Wistham so that must account for it. I have little news except that I am working very hard. We are doing nightwatch. I am out every night from 8pm till to 3am – 5 am and only get 5 hours sleep as I have a certain amount of work by day as well. I am making a big gun emplacement. I am having about 100 men on it tonight. Everything has to be most carefully covered up after work so as to leave no trace of it by day. I use a huge screen of canvas which we decorate with crops. It is very interesting but I shall get very tired of it. I hope it is finished in about a week…….
August 27 1915
My dear father
I was this morning introduced to the section of the line that I am taking on. It is about 1000 yards of frontage and there are 3000 yards of communication trench leading to it. In one place the German trenches are 100 yards off but you cannot see them there as there is the crest of a low hill in between the lines. In fact there are very few places where you can see the German trench in front of you. To the flank you can see them. There is very little chance of being sniped. By far the safest part of our line there is the firing line. All the rest of the ground is overlooked by two towers in the German lines so you generally have to keep below ground. Our billets will be very comfortable indeed. Unfortunately there is a perfect maze of guns all around them so that sleep will be rather doubtful on the nights when we ‘hate’. There are guns of every kind there. The Brigade headquarters are almost touching our billet. They have got a big house, with a lovely garden which belongs to the head of the nurses. The garden is gorgeous and still perfectly kept. It is just like an English garden with large lawns and a few ‘posh’ beds which are at present full of begonias etc. Unfortunately Wallerston will not be there while we are on I would get leave to go into the garden and bath in the lake. It would be everything to be able to sit there in my few spare hours. I think we shall be there for about two months. There is a piano in the billet but the people do not want to play it. I don’t know why as they can’t have heard me play ever. We have changed out mess and have got quite a nice room and kitchen but they both look out on a fairly dirty farm yard so there is always a farmyard smell. The place is thick with hamsters. I have never seen so many. Luckily they only bite occasionally. I heard from Grandad today I have not yet made out the more interesting part. I will send it home if I fail altogether. I made a mistake over the Chocolate and thank Mildred for it. Her letter came at the same time she said something about it being worthwhile to send me chocolate. I can remember now taking your letter out of the parcell. I told Mildred that the chocolate was very good and much nicer than anything I can get here but that as I could get fairly good chocolate here I did not think it worthwhile to send me any more less you happened to be sending me anything else. We expect to go up for work on the front line in about a fortnight.
Did you see the joke in punch about ‘Shop’!? It reminded me of the Gunners T.C who when asked by the General whether he had been in the shop said ‘Me sir, whole sale department store sir’’. I see Withington has got the Military Cross. Sapper seems to score rather well there.
Your loving son
Sept 20 1915
My dear mother
I received three letters yesterday. The boats are going very irregularly. Things are still going on in the same way. The man whose letter I opened got 42 days field punishment which means detention or a fine of about £4. It was very bad luck on him but I was surprised that he did not get more. The weather is still lovely. We have not had any rain for days. I still have not had any close shaves. No shell has burst anywhere near me. I was working a few nights ago in Vee’s section of the line. It had been faily knocked about by shells. Although there was a bright moon they did not attempt to interfere with our work. I went out late last night about 12 o’clock to some men who were working. I had told them to make something black and to do it they had to go round a little railing 40’ high with about 6 inches inside it. I found them all clad in sandbags and discovered that they had decided to tar some canvas and then roll it up. I found them with a large roll of canvas covered with hot tar and trying to inroll it. They managed it eventually but it was very amusing. I got back to the billet at about 1 with my hands covered with tar and could not find any water anywhere. So I covered them with powder and went to bed.
Your loving son
30 Sept 1915
My darling Alfie (Brother of John)
I wish I could be with you and kelp to comfort you, but having plenty to do will help you, and we must remember that he is happy and safe in God’s keeping, and died as every soldier prays to die on the battlefield. I am so glad he had his share in this victory, and hope he knew we were winning. We are very proud of him and the name you share with him – you must always keep the name of Inglis untarnished. Aunt Julia has just been in to bring the bad news that father’s cousin, George Thesiger, Brigadier General - is reported killed in the Morning Post. We are sending an obituary notice to the Times today. Write and let me know if you are both sleeping and eating well. Goodbye dear boy, father is writing to you today later.
With best love from
Your ever loving
30 Sept 1915
My darling boys, (Letter to the twins….brothers of John)
I have been thinking so much of you both today and wishing that I could have been with you and have you with us, it is a terrible trial that God has sent us and we must bear it as sent by him, that does not mean we are not to grieve but we are grieve without complaining and we must always remember that our darling Jack is happy, and that he has died a noble death, we may or we may not hear further particulars and we will let you know if we do but I am afraid that the casualty list will be terribly heavy and perhaps many of those who would have given us details are also killed, but if I do not hear fairly shortly I shall write to someone in his company. Now dear boys you have got to take John’s place and to follow his example in everything you know was right, he was always upright, truthful clean and pure and never gave us any bad anxiety he was also quiet and unassuming and I am quite sure you will both try and follow his example, your work at school will keep you from dwelling too much on your loss and we shall be very glad to hear that you are both getting on well both at work and games. May God bless you both and spare you both for all our lives. Mother and the girls are all bearing up very well and all send you their best love.
Your very loving