4th January 1919

Dear Emmie

It is a dirty night tonight pouring of rain and it is not worth going out so I will endeavour to write you a few lines. The letters are not generally censored now and we have to put our names on the outside of the envelope and stick them down. We had our first book keeping class today and I am all mixed up with debits and credits. I suppose I will see though it all soon. We are doing the double entry system. The last time I wrote I said that I wouldn’t write to H Days place until I heard from them but I changed my mind and wrote to Harold last night. I do expect an answer this time. I had a letter from home today and Dad gives me one guess at the surprise and I have said an organ. I knew it was something to do with music and only an organ or a “baby grand” would be a surprise. If hey had said nothing about it until I got home the “Surprise” would have worked. It does seem a long time now since I saw you and I hope that the leave livens up a bit. It seems to have almost stopped. I think I am in the first 100 now so I ought to be home before March. Perhaps I will have my ticket by then. We are having another whist drive next Tuesday and I see that I don’t get the booby prize next time. I had a letter from Don who is in hospital, the other day and it took ten days to get here and he is in France so how about some of your letters being delayed: I am lucky to get them in six days. When he wrote he was still queer but he ought to be better by now.

Dad tells me that it is hard to get men out of the Army in our trade as it is not essential but I dare say allowances are made for apprentices.

We haven’t had any butter issue for about six days and we have to have bread and bread unless there is jam. I don’t seem to eat so much bread lately I am always giving some away to the civvies. I suppose it is because we get very little exercise but ce n’est fait rien. We pronounce this san fair re ang as all the people do. It means “it doesn’t matter” but literally is: this makes nothing. It is surprising how we get on with the one or two words we know but we can always make ourselves understood even if we turn ourselves down side up with expostulations (good word that). One of the boys overstayed his leave 9 days and only got 16 days clink. (excuse slang) Another boy said something pretty to a sergeant and he got 18 days. We come off very lenient lately.

There are some of our colonial troops just returning to France after about two years in Blighty dodging it on absentees and they are surprised to find their names taken off the Batt roll. They get let off lightly but if it was an Imperial he would get about ten years. It is now neuf hour et vingt minutes so I will close.

With Fondest Love

From Will xxx

PS Please excuse writing as I have been very quick.

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2nd January 1919

Dearest Emmie

Yours to hand of the 27th the letter I have been waiting for. It did not take long to come and yet I have not received one since the 24th: perhaps there are some more on the road delayed by the Christmas traffic. I am sorry you did not receive a letter from me Xmas day or eve but I didn’t have one either but I hope you are not still cross. By the tone of your letter I should think that you didn’t like the Xmas card I sent you; perhaps it was too plain but it really took my eye. There were others but too gaudy and the officers helped us by paying two thirds the C.P. I hope I did not spoil your Xmas for you don’t seem to have had at all a good time. Where is “Norbury”? is it north east of London or am I wrong. I presume you enjoyed yourself as you leave it for me to guess. I wish I had been with you: for some reason or other it has reminded me of the rambles we used to go on. I hope to be able to join you on the same, this year and then (?) Oh exstacy. You say that you “slept out”: you don’t mean that you hadn’t a roof over you do you? for that is what I would have said if our resting place had been a shell hole or sunken road. But the war is over now and we want to forget it, if such a thing is possible. We still hear explosions I suppose they are mines going up etc so you see what the German is. Did you see “Uncle Sam” and did he have striped trousers. I remember you going to that lady’s place at Leicester Sq last year but I don’t remember what she was: a dressmaker?

Please get leave to tell me what the “Surprise” is; I can’t forget it and am afraid it is going to be a disappointment. Of course I didn’t know G.T. was a flirt: all the fillies you might have seen him with may have been his cousins etc: I really thought he was such a shy boy. I don’t think I blamed the girl did I? At any rate I should not have done as I know nothing of the case. I don’t think he had much chance of walking with girls or at least not English or French for the last six months but of course I stick up for my own sex. I don’t think you would go out with a different boy every night (even if you had the same cause to) because I know you different; now would you. Well Emmie I am quite myself tonight in fact a bit more, and I would like to know if this letter pleases you in the least; now don’t forget to tell me. I am glad to hear that H.Day has got his discharge. I have written both to him and his home but haven’t heard for a long time from them so I am writing na plue (excuse spelling). Do you ever see Mr Day in Kings X now? I think we are having electric light fitted up in this house: we have some old German wire and that is all so far, we only want the fittings and current: perhaps you will send one of the latter out by wireless.

We still do manoeuvres of a night even now but is generally “scrounging” wood for a fire. There are not many hedges in this country but we found a door one night and a prop holding a clothes line last night. The clothes line was used today but not the prop. Or rather the prop was used in a diff. way and had become much shorter. I think I will start slowing down now I have answered your question or request and I hope to your pleasure. I will ask you to write me a nice letter next time if it only a short one*. You don’t know what a difference it makes after hearing from you. There are a few things I want to tell you and perhaps you have heard them all from me before but I can’t put them here because I havn’t all the dictionary at my disposal but I will tell you one day in a few words (in the near future I hope) when we are placed as we were in pre-war days.

Well I must close this time as I am on guard and have been from my post three hours and once again I wish you all a happy new year from your Khaki boy in Belgium (I was just going to say France) and

With Fondest Love

From Yours Ever Will xxxxx

P.S. *Of course all your letters are nice. (Observe Star*)

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1st January 1919

Dear Emmie

It is new years day today and that is why I am writing. Really I have nothing much to write about but I don’t suppose you mind as long as you get a line from me. Last night we played at a dance which followed a whist drive. You will smile when you know that I won a prize yes the “booby prize”. I was playing as lady and was presented with the top end of a candle but the lowest gentlemen (lower than I) had a fag-end (excuse the talk) and a match. Of course both were wrapped in ten times more paper than was necessary. The dance was till 10 o’cl but was prolonged until 11 o’cl. Eventually we wound up at 01.30 o’cl 1-1-19. I hope to hear from you soon. I havn’t had a letter from you since before Xmas and I guess you don’t know how I feel. Perhaps letters have been held up for you must have written in seven days. Have you ever read “The Luck Of The Vails” it is not at all a bad book by E.F. Benson. We are taking it in turns in visiting Tournai. I think we spend four days there. If I go I will see C.Gibbs. That is all I really want to go for. Did you ever go to that Fancy dress ball with E.V. at Anderton’s. We are having a fairly easy time. The other day we had a boxing lecture so I guess the next craze will be boxing. Wrestling is more my mark. I don’t fancy the look of broken noses and thick ears. Does H.B. still keep the piano up now. I occasionally get a practice now and again. There is a very good piano in an Estaminet near here. I would like you to send me another writing pad s’il vous plait.

I will now close as it is getting late and I didn’t get to bed until the early hours of this morning. By the way I didn’t forget the white rabbits. I wish you a happy and prosperous new year and hope to be with you soon.

Fondest Love

From Will xxx

P.S. Please remember me to all at home.

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