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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Letter Home - 14th April, 1916

14th April, 1916

Dear Father,

I am glad to hear that there are some of my letters worth reading but it always seems to me a fairly hopeless business trying to write letters when you cannot say where you are or state facts about your part of the line. I hope none of my letters excited Mum too much. She made me laugh when she said, 'How calm he seems about it all' – I must say one is not what you would call comfortable under shellfire, but you have to make out that you are.

We are still resting but go into action again on Thursday 20th and I think we shall be covering the same front as we were when we came out last month.

Since I got back to the troop, we have put in a fair amount of work going out on drill orders and skeleton order every day. Of course, the work done was all with a view to our future – the great advance - taking up positions in the open, varied with open sight work. Everybody got well strafed by Suttie, the CEO, but we took it as part of the day's work. Yesterday was rather a long day, as we had to set out at six thirty on a four-mile walk, to be ready for the Colonel's Drill Order Parade at eight thirty a.m. However, we were there first on the parade ground and had a 15-minute wait. The Colonel had a scheme practising open warfare. Also, of course, we, (the batteries) were all under his control, just as we would be on the advance, and were all connected to his headquarters by telephone. This toy warfare went on till after twelve. Then we marched home, not getting back till two.

Last Sunday, the Dragoon Troop played the 15th soccer on the football ground just below our stables. We were beaten three goals to nil, but it was rather an amusing contest. Our CO did not turn up, so we were a man short and Palmer, the 15th CO, was very good – almost the best on the ground, I think.

Bee and I were minding each other and, as neither of us knew anything about the game, we wandered about like lost sheep. The Sergeant Fitter of the 15th was a great card and amused the Tommies looking on greatly. Bee and I see quite a lot of each other at this place. Our Messes are only a few yards apart. He is with the Ammunition Column now for a time and I am sorry to say the people in his Mess are not what could be desired. However, I suppose he will only be there for a month or so.

The weather has turned dog on us again this week. It has been cold and windy and very showery. We were to have had some brigade sports this afternoon, in which I was jumping my chestnut horse, but the weather is so bad that it has been put off until Monday. There is no more news.

Ever your loving son,


PS I sent Estelle some postcards, one with an X on it is where we go to on Thursday, one of the towns is the place we train to from the base, and there are two hills we observe from.


  1. The Fitter Serjeant may have been Fitter Staff Serjeant William Charles Hall (51842), but cannot confirm he was with 15th Battery. At this time it looks like the Brigade was resting and training a few miles west of Bethune. There are several photos of Chateau de Liettres where Manifold was on a course on Google Images .. with its very striking round towers.

  2. Was he really training on a course on Google Images!?

  3. Naughty Blip. You're not supposed to be facetious over 40

  4. Thanks, dne1 - one of these days, I think I will go to Bethune to take a look at the landscape. Although I imagine nothing will be anything like it was. Nice to know that the Chateau at least is still standing.