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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Letter Home - 17th February 1916

Batts Hotel,
Dover Street

Dear Mother,

Here we are back in the civilised world again, where everything seems cheery and bright. I think I forgot to mention and to thank you for those nice socks you sent me. They are splendid, but, if you are making more, would you make them a little longer, so that they come just below the knee. You know how the best wool will shrink, and the idea is just to get the end of the stocking on to the riding breeches. (I must add some of the conversation going on in the room: 'We had a lively time on Tuesday night: there were 49 bombs dropped within a 4-mile radius of us.') Well, perhaps it will wake old England up - as far as I can see, Australia seems to be sending every possible man they can, which is as it ought to be, but that is not being done in England up to the present time!

Well, to go on with my news, I left the front at B├ęthune by train at two thirty am, for Boulogne, and it took us six hours to do the 60 miles. The boat was to leave at twelve fifteen, and so another man and I got a bath and brush up and two meals in. The boat was crowded - in fact two of them were. We went on board at twelve and sat there shivering until three thirty am, when they at last let go the painter and made for the sea. A destroyer picked us up outside and escorted us across, but we had to go to Calais across to Dover and down to Folkestone, as the Bosch have a nasty habit of placing mines indiscriminately in the Channel at night, sneaking about in their U boats.

Well, I got to London after having a great fight to get a seat at once and I went straight up to the Carlisle Club, to meet RS Gilliard, who seemed very pleased to see me, and so was I to see him. Although we talked there until 12 pm, there is still plenty of news I have to learn from him.

It is a rotten day here, raining hard, but I have plenty to do, with dentists, seeing relations and shopping.

Ever your loving son
Walford.

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