Officer in Waiting
4 May - 12 June
The Somme Again
13 June - 24 August
Dompiere & Mont St. Quentin
25 August - 6 September
7 September - 10 November
11 November - 28 Feb 1919
The WWI diary of Percy Smythe was transcribed by his daughter Betty Smythe.
OTC at Last
Monday 26th. Reveille at half past two. Stayed in bed till half past three, when someone said that a good breakfast was on the board, so got up to see what was doing. Bully beef, biscuits, and jam were supplied. All the leave men had to fall in for a pass-stamping parade, but, as I was going over on duty, I escaped that. The way some of the poor Tommies were treated here is really shameful. Men who have been fighting and suffering all sorts of hardships in the mud of Flanders, going home for a few days' hard-earned leave, have to suffer all sorts of indignities at the hands of a lot of domineering staff-serjeants, who are enjoying the benefit of a permanent base job. One of the men in my tent had his pass taken from him because of some little irregularity, and will probably not be able to go across till tomorrow. These Tommy soldiers are nice quiet chaps to live with, and are not eternally bragging, arguing, or talking war like most of our boys. The leave men fell in at half-past six, it being announced that the duty men must wait for the afternoon boat. However, I went with the leave men, in case anything might happen to prevent the sailing of the later boat.
There were about three thousand of us there, nearly all Tommies, but with a sprinkling of colonial troops. We were formed into several companies and were kept waiting about for some time, and most of the men became very impatient to get a move on. At last the long column started off in fours, through the camp gates and down the long road through Boulogne, singing most of the way.
Arriving at the wharf, the Australians were separated from the others, and there were a couple of staff men there to look after us. They pulled out all the duty men, and told us they would get us aboard if at all possible, but they gave us the straight hint that a tip was expected for so doing. Evidently they are making a business of it, and must be gathering a nice little harvest from duty men who are eager to get across by the early boat. I only had a franc, which a Tommy had insisted on my taking for a pair of sox I had given him, the only pair he possessed being threadbare and minus the toes and heels. Willingly gave the franc as the required bribe, and just managed to get on board at the last minute, after having been turned away once.
The boat, which was well crowded, left the wharf about half-past nine. Felt very squawmish coming across, the sea being not exactly smooth. Arrived at a pier at Folkestone about eleven, and a train was there ready waiting for us, but it did not move off till about half past twelve. The comfortable carriages and swift train formed quite a contrast to the slow jolting cattle-trucks of France.
Arrived at Victoria station somewhat after two, and all the Australians were got together and marched up to our headquarters at Horseferry Road, where we had a good deal of muddling about, giving in particulars at one place and another. At last got leave pass up to Dec. 7th., and railway warrants to Andover and St. Johnston, Ireland. Got paid what I had in the book up to Dec. 7th., £5 - 6. Wanted to get a few pounds overdraft, but there was nothing doing. They will only give an overdraft to men drawing only 1/- a day. Met McDougall at the pay office. He looks a bit different now in officer's uniform and wearing two stars. Told me that big sjt. Campbell has been killed. Was very sorry to hear that, for he was a very decent sort of a chap, came over with my reinforcements from Australia in the Orsova, and was with us in the 61st. battalion in England, which he left with Arthur Hines to rejoin the 3rd. battalion.
Got an issue of underclothing at the clothing store. Put up at the War Chest Club, where beds were available at 1/- a night. There were hundreds of beds there in two tiers, occupying all the space in a great dormitory.
Went out and bought a decent pair of comfortable boots for £1- 4. Went in to the city and called at the Chesney studios to see about the small copies of that picture. They had not been done yet. Got a pair of Lupton's puttees at another shop for 9/-, the ones I had being worn out.
The evening turned out wet, cold, and miserable. Retired to bed early.
Tuesday 27th. Left some of my gear at the headquarters pack store and some at the War Chest kit store. Sent a telegram to Dorothy saying I was coming this afternoon.
Took the pack and overcoat with me to Waterloo station, and got the 2.10p.m. train to Andover. Left the pack in the cloakroom there and went on the next train to Ludgershall, arriving there about half-past five. Dorothy met me at the foot of the steps. La chère petite fille paraissait bien heureuse à me voir, et moi, j'étais plein de joie à rencontrer encore ma chérie fiancée. J'ai placé me bras autour de ses jolies épaules, et nous nous avons embrassés et baisés fort affectneusement. Comment nous étions heureux, tous deux! C'était l'heure de bonheur pour laquelle j'ai attendu si longtemps avec peu de patience. Ce sont joies comme ceux-ci qui font la vie in Paradis véritable.
[The dear little girl seemed very happy to see me, and I was overjoyed to meet again my darling bride. I placed my arm around her pretty shoulders, and we embraced and kissed affectionately. How happy we both were! It was the hour of happiness for which I waited so long with little patience. These are the joys that make life truly a Paradise.]
Dorothy introduced me to Miss Thompson and Mr. Jones, and we all went together in the train to Andover. There were such a lot of things to tell and be told. Dorothy had written me a letter last night, but had not posted it when my telegram arrived today, so she gave it to me instead. It was a nice long letter, in answer to the short one which was the last I wrote from France, the one with the sprig of wattle and the drawing-room picture enclosed.
Gave her the postcard I wrote out last Friday night, and which I had not had an opportunity to post. That is now the second happy journey in which Dorothy and I came from Ludgershall to Andover together. On the first occasion I guess we both little dreamt of the second one!
We went up to Dorothy's home, and Mrs. Jewell made me have dinner with the girls. Then we gathered around the piano and were enjoying a very happy evening, Dorothy and Miss Thompson singing and playing. La petite paraissait tout à fait charmante avec ses cheveux arrangés dans une très jolie manière, et portant son "apron" de jolie dentelle. Elle est une auge véritable dans la maison. [My dear child seemed quite lovely with her hair arranged in a lovely way, wearing her "apron" of pretty lace. She is a real angel in the house.]
While we were there busily engaged enjoying ourselves, Dorothy suddenly heard her father's voice in the kitchen. As a rule he only came home from Rolleston for the weekends, but some strange vagary of Fate happened to bring him home tonight. The situation was extremely awkward, for he had known nothing of our "affaire de coeur" [affairs of the heart]since that memorable Wednesday evening when he refused to let Dorothy come out with me. We could hear his voice raised in anger, and guessed that Mrs. Jewell was endeavouring to explain matters. La pauvre petite, elle ne savait pas à faire, et elle partait en haut pendant quelque temps, mais descendait encore après. Alors nous continuions avec la musique, et, un peu plus tard, le père de ma petite entrait, et me regardait avec un regard plein de colère. Mais je ne donnais pas d'attention à son colère évident, et lui étendu la main pour le saluer aussi aimablement que possible. Il n'a dit rien désagréeable, quoiqu'il ait en bien peu à me dire du tout. Il jouait beaucoup le mandalin, pendant que les filles jouaient le piano et chantaient. [The poor thing, she did not know what to do, and she left for a while, but came down again after. So we continued with music and, later, the father of my dear came in and looked at me with eyes full of anger. But I did not pay attention to his obvious anger, and I extended my hand to greet him as agreeably as possible. He said nothing disagreeable, though he has little to say to me at all. He played the mandolin, while the girls played the piano and sang.]
Later on, when I asked Mr. Jewell if he would let Dorothy come for a walk with me, he said she could come, and we were very glad. It was a beautiful clear moonlight night, just such a night as young lovers enjoy for their happy rambles. We wandered around by the junction station, enjoying each other's company, and talking of all sorts of things of mutual interest.
Found a place to stay at, Burly's hotel, near the station. It is fairly cheap, which is of paramount importance to me, my funds being rather low. Then we strolled back again, and I left the dear little girl at her gate, after arranging to come and meet her as she goes to work in the morning.
Wednesday, 28th. Went up and met Dorothy leaving for work. The N.A.C.B. car came along as we were going through the town, so they all went in by car, Dorothy, her father, Miss Thompson, and Mr. Jones, it being much nicer than going by train.
Went back to the hotel for breakfast. They charge 1/6 for a bed or 3/- for bed and breakfast, and the other meals according to what is taken. At that rate I'll never be able to keep enough to pay my fare to St. Johnstone, which I was told is somewhere about thirty shillings with a warrant. And I must go and visit Trentagh, as I've promised so often to go over at the first opportunity. The only way out of the difficulty, then, is to lodge here and get cheap meals out somewhere, and even then I don't know how I'm going to hang on to thirty shillings. If it comes to a pinch I'll have to go without a meal or two occasionally, which will not matter very much, as I'm not doing any work or other strenuous exertion.
Wrote to Mary, telling her I would probably be coming over on Monday morning. Je sentais fort malheureux tout le matin à cause de choses qui me fait plein de souci. Je ne peux pas me débarrasser de ce sens de peur et de souci et tristesse. [I felt very unhappy all morning because of things that makes me full of worry. I cannot get rid of this sense of fear and worry and sadness.]
Got a couple of small meat pies for seven-pence and lunched thereon. Afterwards, commenced a letter to Mum and Dad. Went around to Mrs. Jewell's place, but there was nobody at home, so went out for a stroll along the Weyhill road, feeling a bit lonely and rather blue. Was agreeably surprised to meet Miss Smith with a friend of hers. They were both so lively and jolly that I quite enjoyed the walk back with them.
Went around to King's refreshment rooms and got 6d worth of bread and butter, which made quite a respectable light repast. Short rations, no doubt, but no worse than one often has to put up with in the army.
Met Dorothy at Junction station and brought her home. We spent a very happy evening, and later went for a nice long ramble in the glorious moonlight around Ladies Walk. It seemed to be a favourite place for lovers, for we met many other couples along there. How divinely happy we were! All troubles and worries seemed to have disappeared entirely, and life seemed a very fountain of joy, while we two were out alone together.
Mrs. Jewell had supper ready for us when we returned. It was late when I came away, and did not get to bed till after midnight.
Thursday, 29th. Met Dorothy and saw her off by her train this morning. She said she will try and get the afternoon off and come home at midday if possible. Went round to King's and had a nine-penny breakfast, and then took a stroll out along one of the country roads, it being a nice fine morning.
Wrote some more of my letter to Mum and Dad, and then went up town and lunched on a couple of small meat pies. When I got back to the hotel, Mrs. Burly told me that Dorothy had called to say that she had come home earlier than we had expected.
Went back and met her and Mrs. Jewell coming down on their way out to Charlton, so we all strolled out together. We stayed there for a while, in the porch of a nice little church, where were a couple of convenient seats. Coming home, we went around by the station route.
We had tea at Mrs. Jewell's place. Alors ma petite et moi, nous entrions dans le salon, où nous restions depuis quelque longtemps, en disant, bein à l'autre, les paroles jolies et pleine d'amour. Ma chérie fille se reposait sur mon poitrine, la tête reposant doucement sur mon épaule. Comme j'étais heureux! L'amour et la confiance de la douce petite enfant m'a fait bien content, et a rempli mon coeur de bonheur. Je n'avais pas su qu'il était possible à avoir tout de joie et de bonheur dans cette vie.
[So my dear child and I went into the room where we stayed for some time, saying, kindness to one another, the words pretty and loving. My darling child was leaning on my chest, her head resting gently on my shoulder. How happy I was! Love and trust the sweet little child made me very happy, and filled my heart with happiness. I did not know it was possible to have any joy and happiness in this life.]
Beatrice came along later, and we went with her to the guild meeting in the Wesleyan chapel, where a Canadian soldier gave us an address on British Columbia. It must be a grand and beautiful country judging by his description.
Afterwards, I wrote a letter to Mr. Jewell, explaining as best I could the relation between Dorothy and me, and the reason why we kept it unknown to him. Left the letter with Dorothy to send out to Rolleston with the N.A.C.B. car tomorrow.
The hotel was closed when I arrived there, it being nearly midnight. But fortunately Mr. Burly heard me knocking, and came down in his pyjamas to open the door.
Friday, 30th. The girls were late this morning, and very nearly missed their train. Dorothy jumped in while the train was moving out, despite the porter's order to stand clear.
Had a sixpenny breakfast at King's, and spent the rest of the day with Mrs. Jewell. Finished writing the letter to Mum and Dad, and sent them one of Dorothy's photos. We went out shopping in the afternoon, and Mrs. Pithers and Mrs. Brown from Charlton came in to tea. They were jolly company, and Mrs. Brown seemed a very nice old Lady.
Went up to the station after tea to meet my little girl returning from work. After we got back, Wilf got me to help him with his "meccano", of which we took an aeroplane to pieces and built a signal station, while the girls entertained us with some music.
Mr. Jewell came in from Rolleston for the evening, and, just before leaving, I suggested to Dorothy that I should ask him to consent to our engagement, and the dear child was very anxious for me to do so. So, when leaving, I asked him to come out with me, but he answered, "I'll see you tomorrow".
Saturday, 1st. Went up and met Dorothy and saw her off to work. Had a sixpenny breakfast at King's. Wrote to Viv. Went into the Co-operative Society's shop and had a talk with Miss Smith. As it was near her lunch time I waited and walked up with her. Coming back I met little Betty, who told me her mother said I was to go in. Had dinner with Mrs. Jewell, and then took Betty and a couple of her little girl friends with me up to the station to meet Dorothy. They are dear little kiddies, and Betty has such a sweet little face.
Later on Dorothy and I went up to the station to meet her father coming home, and afterwards went around the town to do a bit of shopping. After we had had tea, Mr. and Mrs. Jewell and Elsie went up town, so Dorothy and I amused ourselves and the kiddies with some music and singing, at least Dorothy did. Then we put the children to bed, and by that time the others had returned.
Mr. Jewell asked me to come into the front room, and we discussed the question of a formal engagement between Dorothy and I. He said it had been a great shock to him when he came home on Tuesday night and discovered the true state of affairs, for he had known nothing more about it since that day at Ludgershall when he declined to let Dorothy come out with me. He said it was a very manly letter I wrote him Thursday night, and he seemed to have no objection to me personally, although his opinion of the Australians generally is very poor. As he said, they would be taking me practically "on trust", as they know nothing about me or my life in Australia. Another point was that Dorothy is so very young to be engaged, but I managed to persuade him not to consider that as any real obstacle. The one serious objection to our engagement seems to be the fact that Australia is so far away, and it would mean, practically, that they would lose their daughter altogether if she came home to Australia with me after the war. However, Mr. Jewell said he would consult both Dorothy and her mother about it, and his decision in the matter would depend mostly on Mrs. Jewell's attitude, which I believe will be favourable to us, for she has been very good to us all along, and done a great deal to help us. In fact, without her help we would have found it very difficult to carry on.
Afterwards, Dorothy and I went out for a walk, along with Miss Smith, who had called in. The dear little girl seemed very excited, and anxious to know about her father's attitude towards our love affair. Her anxiety was greatly pacified when I told her it would depend mostly on her mother as to whether our engagement would be sanctioned. Beatrice had to be in fairly early, but, as it was a beautiful and clear night, Dorothy and I stayed out some time later, happy in each other's company.
Sunday, 2nd. Sent a telegram to Mary saying I would be coming on Tuesday morning. The cafes and tea shops in town were all closed, it being Sunday, so I was unable to get the usual light breakfast. However, when I called round at Mrs. Jewell's, she asked if I had had breakfast, evidently thinking that I looked cold and hungry. It was rather humiliating to have to admit it, but I could not very well evade the question. Anyway she made me sit down and have breakfast there and then.
Dorothy and I went to chapel with Beatrice and Elsie. Elsie was rather late getting dressed, with the result that we were too late for the service at the Wesleyan chapel, and had to go to the Congregational instead. Beatrice was very disappointed, as she had set her heart on hearing some special preacher at the Wesleyan, and I fear that she betrayed her feelings in undue annoyance at Elsie's tardiness, and a few unpleasant words passed between them, making things rather uncomfortable for all of us for a time.
After the service, Dorothy and I stayed for the Sacrament, Elsie thinking she had better go home with Beatrice on account of their former unpleasantness.
We decided to take a walk out to Juniper this afternoon, Dorothy and I, but after dinner saw nothing of the dear child for quite a time, and, when at last she did come into the room, she seemed very quiet and listless, and it was evident that something had gone wrong. At first she did not even want to come out for a walk, but Betty and Wilf were eager for us to take them out, so she decided to come, and we asked Elsie to come too.
After a lot of persuading, I managed to get the dear little girl to tell me what the trouble was. It seems her father had said to Mrs. Jewell that Dorothy could not think much of them if she were so readily willing to agree to go away to Australia with me after the war, and when the poor kid had got to hear of it she was dreadfully upset, for she thinks the world of her parents, especially her mother, who is just like a girl chum to her.
As we rambled out to Berry Ring, it being too late to go to Juniper, Dorothy became more lighthearted, and soon forgot her troubles. She had had a letter from George Pike, in which he said he was expecting leave soon, and asked to be allowed to come and see her. I suggested that it would be best to write and ask him not to come, as it would only worry her and make them both unhappy.
It was a rather pretty walk around Berry Ring, which is a relic of some ancient fortifications. It is a deep wide trench in the form of a circle, and is overgrown with trees and shrubs along both banks. It must look very sweet in Summer. It was a very happy ramble, with the children to make things lively, and we had some rare fun playing amongst some hayricks.
We wandered back home again about dusk, and my little girl seemed ever so much more cheerful than when we went out. We expected Beatrice to come along after tea, but she did not put in an appearance, so Dorothy and I went along to the Wesleyan chapel.
Did not feel well, so we came out early and strolled around by the station and back on to the Weyhill road, then out along the Salisbury road, and around Ladies' Walk. We talked about............
last I could see of my darling girl before leaving.
Went back to the hotel and packed up my things, and then went around and had breakfast at King's, after which I called in at Mrs. Jewell’s. Came down town later on to look up the railway timetable for Ireland, and also called to see Miss Smith at her shop. She was still a bit upset over yesterday, and seemed to lay most of the blame on Dorothy, to which I objected as being unreasonable and unfair. But womanlike, she would have her own way about it.
Had lunch with Mrs. Jewell, and stayed there talking to her until it was time to think of going. Before leaving I got her to promise that she would do her best to help Dorothy and I.
Left Andover by the 4.40p.m. train to Waterloo and crossed over to Euston, where I got a cup of tea and a small piece of bread and butter and cake at a free buffet. At the booking office I was told that the fare to Strabane via Kingstown was 38/6, but that I could go by the Greenore route for 28/6, just threepence less than I possessed. Got a ticket, and, being very hungry, spent the remaining threepence on three small buns. Our train left Euston at quarter to nine. It was a fast train, only stopping at Chester on the way. It was a very monotonous ride.
Tuesday, 4th. Arrived Holyhead about quarter past two. The Greenore boat was not sailing, but I found I could go by the Northwall route without having to pay extra. The boat was packed full, and held a large percentage of soldiers. Sailed about half-past four, and I managed to get a little sleep on the way. Arrived at Northwall about 9a.m., and was fortunate in finding a soldiers' free buffet, where I got two small pieces of bread and butter and a cup of tea.
Took a train to Amiens St., Dublin, where I had to wait a couple of hours for a northbound train, which, when it did leave, was only a slow train, stopping at nearly all stations. We passed through some interesting scenery, but it did not seem particularly pretty.
Had to change at Portadown and wait some time for the next train. There was a free buffet there, and they seemed to be well supplied with food, for they gave us as much as we cared to eat of bread and butter and paste sandwiches.
Arrived at St. Johnstone just after half-past five, and had a two-mile walk from there out to Trentagh, enquiring the direction from various persons on the way. It was a very dark night, and gloomy, and I was rather tired after the long journey, and feeling pretty-well fed up generally, but, when at last I arrived at Trentagh House and was heartily welcomed by Mary and her mother into a warm cosy drawing room it drove away all feeling of ennui.
I was very agreeably surprised to find Vern there on a month's special furlough from France, granted to him on account of having had the longest time on active service of the brigade. He has been here a fortnight already.
Mary is very like the small bust photo I have of her, and Mrs. Hyndman is very young looking. They had just finished dinner, but made me sit down at the table while another meal was provided. Their home is nicely furnished, and very comfortable.
Mary and Vern showed me their wedding presents, which formed a very nice collection of silver and silver-plate ware, and we spent a pleasant evening looking over them. Mary also had a lovely lot of embroidered linen, which constituted her "glory box". Saw too, the replica that Mrs. Morgan sent over. It was not as good a copy of the original as I had expected for the price. We arranged to go shopping in Londonderry tomorrow, and to have a look around at the same time.
Was given a very nice room with a lovely big comfortable bed to sleep in, hot-water jar provided to complete the comfort. Although it was just about midnight, I wrote a letter to my dear little girl, so that I could post it in Londonderry tomorrow.
Wednesday, 5th. A maid brought breakfast in to me in bed. Some luxurious life, this. She said I was very hard to awaken. Must have been dead beat after the long journey.
Got dressed just in time to hurry off to St. Johnston in an Irish jaunting car, a unique vehicle with seats each side facing outwards. There were some nice views of hills and the river Foyle along the way.
We got the train into Derry and went around the town shopping. It was not so big a place as I had expected to see, and, as usual, the streets and pavements were rather narrow. There was a single tramline through the city, and an old tramcar drawn by a couple of horses.
We were admiring some belleek china ware in a shop window, and I thought that one of the articles, a beautiful and dainty basket, would be a lovely Christmas present to give to Dorothy. Accordingly I suggested that I would commission Mary to get it for me when I got the next pay, but she and Vern reckoned it better to take it now, as the only belleek ware factory in existence has closed down, and this shop only had two of these baskets left, which might happen to be sold any day, and no more would be procurable. So I let Vern pay for it on the understanding that I send the cost of it over when we get paid. It was only £1-3-6, which, considering the delicateness and rareness of this kind of china, is very reasonable. There is only one town in the world where it is manufactured, and now, of course, there is none being made at all.
We lunched at a restaurant, and then I posted the letter to Dorothy and sent her a telegram saying I had arrived safe. After that we all went to a cinema show, where some good pictures were screened, but we had not time to see them through, having to leave early in order to catch the 4p.m. train back to St. Johnston.
After having dined, we retired to the drawing room for the rest of the evening, music being provided by a big gramophone. Read some chapters of "The Sentimental Bloke". Mary read us some poems from Kipling's "Barrack-room Ballads". Some of them were very fine. Got to bed late and read "The Sentimental Bloke" till well after midnight.
Thursday, 6th. Had breakfast in bed. Spent the rest of the morning looking around the grounds and inspecting the horses. Had dinner, and got my things ready for departure. Vern insisted on my taking a loan of 15/- in case I should need money at Cambridge, when I get there. Left about twenty past two, William driving Vern and I in to St. Johnstone on the jaunting car. On arriving at the station, I found that I had lost the return portion of my ticked, having flicked it away yesterday instead of the return half of the ticket from St. Johnstone to Londonderry. Had to take a single ticket, costing 12/11, to Dublin. Vern lent me another five shillings to see me through. Don't know however I should have managed without him.
Left St. Johnstone about quarter to three, but had to change at Strabane and wait there for over an hour. Felt rather blue, and lonely. Got the 4.20p.m. train to Dublin. Tried to read "Pearl Maiden" in the train, but was too sleepy.
Arriving at the Amiens St. station at Dublin, I interviewed the R.T.O. there and he gave me a warrant to Euston. Nearly missed the train, as it was already moving out when I left the R.T.O.'s. office. One of the passengers opened a door and I flung my things in and sprang in after them, although the porter was yelling at me to keep back. It was fortunate that I did get in, for that train only arrived at the Kingstown pier just in time for the boat, the only one sailing tonight, all other lines, including the Northwall, being off, probably on account of submarines. There was no third class accommodation, so had to pay 2/6 excess fare and go second class. It was just the same as going third class, really, for every available part of the ship was crowded.
It was about nine o'clock when she moved away from the wharf. On the lower deck the air was hot and heavy with the smoke of tobacco, so, to avoid seasickness, I went up on the main deck, where it was very cold and blowing a treat. Soon after we started, all lights were switched off, leaving us in total darkness. The sea was pretty rough, and caused the boat to roll and pitch a good deal. That made me feel rather squawmish, so lay down on the deck with my pack for a pillow. It was so dark that men walking along the deck could see absolutely nothing, and I was stepped on and tripped over a number of times, but managed to sleep a bit in spite of that and the chilly wind.
We arrived at Holyhead about midnight, and found the Euston train waiting on the pier.
Friday, 7th. We had to wait some considerable time before the train got a move on. Got under one of the seats and slept nearly all the way to Euston, where we arrived about half-past seven. Took a tube to Charing Cross and went to Chesney's in the Strand, but found that they would not be open till ten. Took a bus to Horseferry road and collected my various belongings. Went into the Lounge Room at the War Chest Club and wrote a short letter to Dorothy.
Reported at Hqrs., and then had to go to the Clothing Store and get a double issue of everything. Tube to Liverpool St. station, hurried lunch at the Refreshment Room, and left by the 12.50p.m. train for Cambridge. It was a slow train, stopping at all stations, and we did not arrive at Cambridge till about quarter to four. Walked up the town and found Pembroke College, where I had to report, and, after giving in various particulars, was sent, together with a lot more prospective Cadets, to Emmanuel College, where we are to be quartered for the term. We will form "C" Coy. of No.2 Officer Cadet Battalion. The college is a fair-sized building, with nice roomy apartments. Two men were allotted to each bedroom, and a sitting room is provided for each block, so we ought to be snug and comfortable all the time we are here. The rooms are furnished, not elaborately, but sufficiently for our needs.
We dined in a large dining hall, and then my room-mate, Bill Gibbs, and I went for a walk down town. The lighting restrictions here are carried out with a vengeance, and it was some task avoiding the traffic, mostly pedestrian, in the narrow streets. It was so dark that we could see nothing of what the place was like, so, after walking about for a time, we came in.
Wrote to Dorothy, and gave her my new address. We had to fall in at 9 p.m. to get some instructions for tomorrow. Commenced a letter to Mum and Dad. "Lights out" sharp at quarter past ten.
Saturday, 8th. Breakfast at quarter to eight, after which we were issued with rifle, equipment (leather), various military books, and a mat for our bedside. There were not sufficient to go round, so I did not get one. At twelve we had a lecture by the colonel, mostly concerning our course here and things connected with it. We were also detailed off to various tailors in the town, to be measured for our cadet uniforms.
After dinner, Bill Gibbs and I went round to see our tailor, J. T. M asters. The Government allows £7.12 for a complete uniform, including shirt, collars, tie, etc. Masters said he would very likely be able to have them done in time for Christmas, as we were the first on the list.
Left a film at a chemist’s to be developed, the one with the snaps of Dorothy and Beatrice at Juniper. Bill and I had a look through the Fitzwilliam Museum, where there were many things of interest, including some fine paintings. Afterwards I went to the station to se about retrieving the cost of the fare from St. Johnston to Dublin, but could get no satisfaction there. Had a look around the town, which is a rather nice clean place, possessing many fine buildings, not the least of which is a grand church in the main street. The town seems quite busy, but the streets are narrow,, as are also the pavements, but that appears to be a common fault with English towns.
Finished letter to Mum and Dad. After tea, which was at five this evening, wrote to Viv and the Mrs. Morgan, also to Winnie Fishwick. Could not find Mrs Morgan’s Scotland address, so sent the letter to Hounslow, hoping it would be sent on to her.
Sunday, 9th. Breakfast at nine this morning, after which we had a lecture on various things connected with the course. In the afternoon Bill and I strolled round the town, and finished up with a game of draughts at the Y.M.C.A. In the evening we both went to a service in the Wesleyan Methodist chapel. The streets seemed darker than ever tonight, and were crowded with people getting about.
Monday, 10th. We had a route march this morning, and a medical inspection in the afternoon. I'm booked down to see the oculist, not having been able to read the smallest type on the text card. Had to write an essay, this evening, on our experiences for the last three months. Boiled mine down to five and a half pages. Tomorrow we have to vote on the Conscription Referendum.
Tuesday, 11th. This morning we had to give in particulars as to which part of Great Britain we want to go to for Christmas leave. We get 6 days, starting on the 21st.
Voted "Yes" on the Referendum question. Got a lovely long letter from my dear little girl this morning, twelve pages, written in four instalments while she was waiting for my new address. It was very cheering to get such a nice letter from her.
Wednesday, 12th. Had some battalion drill and a march past this morning, after which we were taken to the Playhouse for a lecture by some dental professor. The lecture was illustrated with cinema films, which made it very interesting. The professor explained how it was that microbes were absolutely essential to the existence of life on the earth. Pictures were screened showing blood magnified some thousands of times, so that one could see the corpuscles. The action of the heart of a tortoise and of an ox were also shown. The expansion and contraction of the heart is considerably greater than I had imagined. There were also screened some greatly magnified pictures of the blood circulating through the arteries, veins, and capillaries, through the minute blood-vessels in the lung of a frog and in the tail of a tadpole. Then were shown some pictures of the spirochaete microbes in the blood. They are horrid-looking things somewhat resembling sand-worms in appearance, though of course they are so small as to be invisible to the naked eye. They were shown in different stages of the disease, and just prior to the death of the patient, when the blood was just a moving mass of them.
The lecture also treated the care of the teeth and the means of preventing trench-gums, and enlarged on the importance of Fletcherism, or thorough mastication of food.
Half holiday this afternoon for sports, but there's nothing much doing in the way of sports yet. Got the film I left at the chemist's to be developed. Had got them mixed-up, and, instead of leaving the one of the girls at Juniper, had left the one with the aeroplane snaps at Perham. Four of them turned out pretty fair. Left the other two films to be developed.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Thursday, 13th. Letter from Mrs. Morgan, enclosing one she had received from Mum. She had got the parcels alright that I had sent from France. She is back home at Hounslow now, so it's just as well I addressed the last letter there.
Paid today, up to the end of December, £5. This afternoon we had an interesting lecture on the war and its causes by a Lord Somebody.
Wrote to both Mary and Vern this evening, and sent a Money Order for £1-3-6, in payment for the belleek china basket. Also wrote to Mrs. Morgan, asking her to send my cap and scarf, and enclosed a dozen stamps to cover the postage.
Friday, 14th. Orderly corporal and platoon corporal today. Letter from my dear girl, written one part Wednesday morning, and the other on the same evening. In the first she was rather disappointed at not getting a letter from me the previous evening, but had got my Monday letter before writing the second part. Poor little girl, she is rather worried concerning her father, who has been very cold and distant in his manner to her of late, scarcely ever speaking to her, and only making the barest reply to her questions or remarks. But he has been rather unwell, and that may perhaps account for it.
Had a bit of a route march this morning, and then some bayonet fighting, after which I went to the tailor to have my tunic fitted. There is not much chance of it being finished in time for our Christmas leave, which has been altered to start from Wednesday next instead of the following Friday.
Wrote to Rita and to Maggie Elliott. Also wrote to ma chérie petite [my little child], and commenced a letter to Mrs. Jewell. Sent a cable home saying I'm here for five months.
Saturday, 15th. Platoon Commander today. We were issued with leave pass forms this morning, to fill in the particulars for our Christmas leave.
The parade finished early this morning. Went round and got the films I had left to be developed. They were mostly under-exposed, and two were blanks, the two that Dorothy and I took of each other at Juniper. Printed some proofs, and some of them turned out very fair, two of Dorothy, one of Miss Smith, the one of the two girls with Fred Marshall, the railway bridge near the Ludgershall Road, & the harbour at Le Havre. The snap of No-man's-land in Flanders did not come out too good.
It was dull in the afternoon, so bought some Velox gaslight papers. Left Viv's compass at an optician's to be repaired. It will cost somewhere about 25/-. Left a deposit of 5/6. Printed a number of the films by electric light, but they turned out rather poor prints, the papers or the chemicals probably being faulty.
Got busy with a bit of tailoring this evening, and altered the collar and front of my new tunic and took it in at the waist, in case the tailor does not have the cadet uniform finished by Tuesday.
Sunday, 16th. A nice letter from my little girl this morning. Like me, she is eagerly looking forward to our Christmas holidays.
This afternoon, wrote postcards to Vera Webb, Elsie Billingham, Clytie, and to Mrs. Morgan.
Bill and I went to Wesleyan chapel this evening. Wrote to Dorothy, and to Mum and Dad.
Monday, 17th. It was very cold this morning. Snow had fallen during the night and still lay on the ground and the housetops, clothing the landscape with a mantle of white. The snow had started to thaw and then frozen hard again, which made things very slippery for getting about.
Had intended to go on sick parade yesterday morning, to see if the doctor could give me anything to cure the cough that has never left me since getting bronchitis just over a year ago. But, being Sunday morning, I slept in and thus missed the sick parade, so went this morning instead. The doctor, after asking if there were any family history of consumption, had I lost any weight, etc., wrote out a prescription, and I had to go to one of the hospitals to get it dispensed. Had the rest of the morning off, so printed some photos, as the sun happened to be shining.
This afternoon we had to practice bomb-throwing, a rather finger-stinging occupation, with the ground covered with snow as it was. The times for the various leave passes are out in orders. Those for Scotland, Ireland, North of England, or Wales, will get away tomorrow evening, those for the Midlands go at eleven Wednesday morning, while we who are for London or South of England will not get away until two on Wednesday afternoon.
Got a letter from my dear little girl tonight. She seemed rather worried and unhappy, and the news she had to tell was not exactly cheerful. Mr. Jewell has definitely refused to consent to our engagement, unless we are willing to stay in England after the war, which, for me, is practically impossible. Well, we must wait in patience until more favourable circumstances arise, though it is rather disappointing. I had built many hopes upon having a formal engagement before returning to France at any-rate. But, anyway, as long as we can continue to see each other and write to each other we have much to be grateful for, for no doubt there are many others who are not near so happily blessed as we two. And it is good to know that we have a true friend in Dorrie's mother, who is as good and loving and unselfish as a mother ought to be. Perhaps when I go down on leave I may be able to talk Mr. Jewell over, but I fear he would not be very amenable to reason in these circumstances. Am inclined to think him rather selfish, otherwise he would consider his daughter's happiness before his own, especially as she has been such a good daughter to him. Anyhow, as the war is not likely to end for some time yet, we need have no worries about the immediate future, and when the time does come when a decision must be arrived at, well, we can only trust in God and hope for the best. And there is no knowing what may happen between now and the end of the war, so that, if I manage to come through all right, the circumstances may be quite different.
Wrote to Dorothy in reply to her letter.
Tuesday, 18th. The parade did not fall in until half an hour later than usual this morning. Wrote to Aunt Lydia, and commenced a letter to Flora. Bought a pretty piece of lace work that I took a fancy to. It is a dainty sideboard cloth, and the lace border is very sweet.
This afternoon the Tommies were being paid at their new increased rates, so we had no parade until nearly three o'clock. They gave us physical jerks then, in the snow.
Got parcel with cap and scarf from Mrs. Morgan. Bill Gibbs got away by this afternoon's train, as he is going to Bradford.
Went out for a nice long walk this evening, as it was such a lovely moonlight night, and everything glistened white with the remnants of the snow. If the weather continues, we ought to have skating before very long.
Packed what things I'll need to take with me tomorrow in the kit bag. Just a little longer, et alors ma petitie et moi, comment nous serons heureux ensemble pendant les vacances de Noêl! [and then my girl and me, how happy we will be together during the Christmas holidays!]
Wednesday, 19. Got a railway voucher this morning for the fare to Ludgershall, and got the ticket at the railway company's office in the market place. Went out for a walk and took a couple of photos of frost effects. The landscape looked very pretty with its heavy covering of frost.
The leave passes were issued after dinner, and I caught the 1.40p.m. special train to London, where a very dense fog obscured the surroundings. Went out to Hounslow, and had tea at Mrs. Caborn's, Mrs. Morgan being out. The kiddies are looking well after their holiday in Scotland, and Jimmy has grown quite a lot since I had seen him last. Mrs. Morgan came in afterwards, and was surprised to find me there. Went in to Mrs. Morgan's later on. Did not stay up late. It was lovely to get into a nice comfortable bed between nice clean sheets for a change.
Thursday, 20. Looked through my belongings stored at Mrs. Morgans and took out several diaries, the two stories, watercolour picture, and a few other things. Mrs. Morgan is quite pleased with Dorothy's photo, and thinks that she would like her very much.
Left about 11a.m., went to Waterloo station and booked to Ludgershall. Went in to the Strand to Chesney Studio to see about the small memorial pictures. They could not be located just then, and I hadn't time to wait, so they'll be sent on later. Back to Waterloo and got the box containing the belleek basket, which I had left at the Cloak Room. The station was pretty well crowded with travellers. Couldn't afford to pay for a proper dinner, so got a couple of meat pies at the Refreshment Room.
Had intended to go by the 2.10p.m. train, but they were all considerably behind time, and I caught the 1p.m. train, which left about 2. It was a through train, only stopping at a few stations, and arrived at Andover about twenty past four. Left my things at Burly's hotel and came back to the station to go up to Ludgershall by the ten past five, but the train waited at the platform till twenty past, so did not go up lest I might be too late for the 5.40p.m. train back. The latter came in just after six, et alors j'ai rencontré encore ma chérie ange, la douce petite enfant qui j'aime tout. C'étais le moment que j'ai attendu avec tout de patience pendant les dernières trois semaines. [and then I met again my darling angel, the sweet little child that I love completely. It was the moment that I waited for with patience over the past three weeks.]
We went up home and had tea, and later on came down again to meet Elsie, who had to work late. After escorting her home, Dorothy and I went for a nice walk in the moonlight. The ground was covered with snow remaining from a recent fall, and it glittered bright and white in the moonlight. We were happy again, after two long weeks of absence.
Friday, 21. Met Dorothy and saw her off by her train to work. Had a sixpenny breakfast at the Western Cafe, and spent the remainder of the day at Mrs. Jewell's. Finished letter to cousin Flora, and wrote one to Eileen. Also wrote to Vern, and a postcard to Viv, with Christmas greetings. Poor little Betty took suddenly ill during the afternoon, and became very feverish. Poor kiddie, her chief comfort was her little Teddy Bear, of which she is very fond.
Went up to the station and met my little girl by the six o'clock train, and we spent a very happy evening together.
Saturday, 22. Saw Dorothy off to work and then breakfasted on a couple of meat pies. Have to live economically, as before, having less than thirty shillings to carry on with, and must keep a few shillings for when I get back to Cambridge, for we won't be paid again until mid-January.
Built a rough sledge for Wilf this morning. Met Dorothy by the two o'clock train, and we came up town to do some shopping, leaving Elsie to wait and meet Mr. Meek, who is coming to spend his Christmas holidays with her. Made his acquaintance later, when we got home.
After tea, Mr. and Mrs. Jewell went down town, and we put the children to bed and then gave ourselves up to the enjoyment of a very happy evening, with plenty of music and fun. It was late when Mr. Meek and I came away. He is staying at Blake's Temperance Hotel.
Sunday, 23. Slept in a bit this morning. Breakfast consisted of a cup of tea only, as I hadn't time to wait for them to get a meal ready, and the cafes in town were all closed. Went up to Mrs. Jewell's about eleven o'clock. Dorothy and I walked out to Juniper, to our favourite old rambling grounds. It was like old times to see the place once again, and to sit on the style, of many happy memories, also to see again the juniper tree around which we dodged to avoid Miss Smith and Les, quand je addressais à ma chérie la grande question. [when I asked my love the big question]
We hadn't time to stay long, and it was rather cold, the ground being still covered with hard solid snow, so we left the dear old woods, now looking rather naked in the absence of Summer foliage, and made our way homewards. On the way home we decided to toss a coin again to decide when we should get married, a double toss, this time to settle whether we should marry when Dorothy is 21, 20, or 19. As before, it came one head and one tail, the age of twenty thus winning the toss. Not being altogether satisfied to wait so long, I persuaded Dorothy to let's have a single toss for 19 or 20, but, although we spun the coin half a dozen or more times, it always came "head" for twenty. Well, as we wanted to marry in the springtime, we decided to toss once more to see whether it should be the spring after or before Dorothy's birthday, and this time our luck changed and we won the toss. So we thereupon agreed to get married, if possible, in the month of June, 1919, eighteen months hence. I was very happy at that, for I did not dare to hope that my little girl would be willing to marry so young. Of course the main difficulty will be getting her father's consent, but we'll have to manage it somehow.
We arrived home about six o'clock, and stayed in for the rest of the evening, not feeling up to going to chapel.
Monday, 24. Saw Dorothy off to work this morning. They all missed their train, and had to wait for the next one, three quarters of an hour later.
Printed some photos during the morning, mostly of Miss Smith, and fixed what I had printed. Bought a couple of books for Christmas gifts for Betty and Wilf. Went up to the station and met Alf Meek there, and we waited for the two girls, whose train arrived about half past one, Mr. Jewell also coming with them.
Dorothy and I stayed in for the afternoon, but went down town after tea to do some shopping. Gave Beatrice the photos I had printed of her, as she leaves tonight for her home at Swindon, and wanted them to take with her. Afterwards we went for a walk out along the Weyhill road, and talked over some very serious subjects for a change.
Tuesday, 25. Christmas Day. Breakfasted on some small mince pies which I had got down town yesterday. Took the box containing the belleek basket, also the books I got yesterday, and went round to Blake's hotel for Alf, and we both went up to Mrs. Jewell's. The children were very happy with all their Christmas things, which they had on the table in the front room, Betty with her tea set, tracing slate, and picture books, and Wilf with his fretwork set and several story books, besides the book of Russian Fairy Stories I brought him. Dorothy was very pleased with the belleek basket when I gave it to her.
We stayed in all day. Drew a couple of fretwork designs for Wilf. Sent small Christmas card to Mary. We were quite a happy gathering at the Christmas dinner table, and it was rather a change from the very tame Christmas I spent last year on the hospital ship waiting at Le Havre to cross the channel.
During the afternoon, while Elsie and Alf were out, Dorothy and I were in the front room, and my little girl was rather tired and went off to sleep in a chair. I took advantage of the opportunity, and kissed her in her sleep, and afterwards told her in fun that she would have to buy me a new tie.
After tea we had some music and singing, and then Dorothy and I were looking through a nice little calendar she had got for a Christmas gift, and we turned up the month of June and discussed what day our wedding should take place. We decided it must be on a Thursday, for it was on that day that we first met on the Ludgershall station. After talking it over we decided that the Grand Event should take place on the first Thursday in the month, June 5th, 1919, God willing.
Elsie and Alf went out for a walk afterwards, et ma petite et moi, nous entrions dans la salon, ou nous réjouissions la compagnie l'un de l'autre. La chérie s'asseyait sur mon genou, et se reposait la tete sur mon épaule, plaçant ses chers bras autour de mon cou, et alors s'endormait doucement, étant un peu fatiguée. Ah, comment c'est un joie à aimer et à être aimie! [my girl and me and we went into the lounge, where we enjoyed the company of one another. My darling sat on my knee, and rested her head on my shoulder, putting her dear arms around my neck and then gently fell asleep, a little tired. Oh, what a joy it is to love and be loved!] At last came "the end of a perfect day", a very perfect day indeed, perhaps the happiest Christmas Day I have ever known. When the others returned, we had supper, then more music and singing, and it was not till after midnight that Alf and I came away.
Wednesday, 26. Had forgotten about it being a holiday today, and was surprised to find all the cafes closed. Managed, however, to find a small grocery shop open, and got a few biscuits for breakfast. Alf was not at his hotel when I went there, and had not stayed there last night. Found afterwards that he had not been able to gain admittance to the hotel, and had stayed at Mrs. Jewell's, sleeping on the sofa in the front room.
Dorothy and I went out for a walk to Wherwell Wood. It was rather too cold to be pleasant, and a chilly wind was blowing.
When returning, we ran a bit to get warm, and afterwards found that Dorothy's silver crossed-swords brooch was missing. Going back over the track we had come along, we were fortunate enough to find it by the side of the path, where we had been running. The brooch is a valuable one on account of having been given by some special friend.
During the afternoon Alf was rather ill for a time. He is not strong constitutionally, having been discharged from the army with consumption. Dorothy and I went up to the station to see what train I should have to catch. The 6-p.m. train was scheduled to reach Waterloo at 8.20p.m., which would leave ample time to get across to Liverpool St. and catch the 9.10p.m. special to Cambridge.
Today has not been a very happy day, as I've been rather saddened at the prospect of parting from my dear little girl, and I think she has been affected the same way. Returning, we had some music, and Dorothy sang "O happy childhood" for me, and then we had early tea. We left at twenty past five, Elsie and Alf accompanying us to the station. It was a cold evening, and the chilly wind seemed to whisper a mournful tale of coming absence and loneliness. Then the train came in, the last farewells were exchanged, and soon we were parted, Dorothy left behind on the cold station, while I was whirling away towards London.
It was not a very pleasant journey. The train was overcrowded, and considerably delayed in consequence, not arriving at Waterloo until twenty-five past nine. Went across to Liverpool St. station, and found that another special was due to leave at seven past ten. It left crowded with cadets, some of them more or less intoxicated, and arrived at Cambridge just at midnight. Another fall of snow had taken place here, and the frozen vapour lay an inch or two deep on the ground.
Thursday, 27. Route march this morning, which was rather better than drilling in such chilly weather. Got quite a little bundle of letters, the one Dorothy had written the Monday before my leave started, and the last five she had sent to France, dated November 20th. to 24th. It was a genuine joy to read them over. There were two from Mum and two from Viola, dated up to the middle of October. They had not yet received my letters telling about Dorothy. Viola warned me to avoid "entanglements" over here, as she has several nice girls for me to take my choice from when I get back! She gave me some very good news to the effect that Dad has taken to attending the City Temple fairly regularly. Ah, I wonder if, after all these long years, this is a last the beginning of God's answer to my patient prayers. There were two letters from Mary, one written just before Christmas, and the other written to France some time ago. One from Jack Elliott, blaming the government for the big strike, and evidently sympathising with those vile dishonourable traitors, who haven't the manliness of a louse or the patriotism of a snail; who worship the great god of Self, and whose moral code is a system of base and senseless anarchy; the men, so-called, who have prostituted the very name of Nationalism and Justice, and polluted their souls in the filth of treason, while their brothers fight on and die in the dismal charnel-house of France. The very thought of these despicable traitors fills me with loathing and disgust, and I deeply regret that a former pal of mine should associate himself with anything so vile and depraved.
Received also two postcards from Vera Billingham, one from Eliza Prigg, and a Christmas card from Clytie.
Wrote to Mary this evening. Also wrote to Dorothy, and sketched a bit of a floral design at the top of the first page.
Friday, 28. This morning we went out on a map-reading expedition, taking with us maps of Cambridge and district. It was tiresome work marching, the ground being very slippery, and difficult to walk upon.
Left the last spool of films I took at Beale's to be developed. Received the three small memorial pictures from the Chesney studios. They are done in a sepia tone, and are very nice.
Wrote to Mrs. Jewell thanking her and Mr. Jewell for their kind hospitality to me. Also wrote to Mum and Dad, and to Mrs. Morgan.
Saturday, 29th. Letter from L.&N.W. Railway, saying the War Office will not allow any refund in the case of a lost ticket, so I can't reclaim the 13/- fare from St. Johnston to Dublin. Was rather disappointed at not getting a letter from Dorothy this morning, as I had been expecting one.
We were issued with rifles this morning, those who had not got them before. Got the spool of films I left at Beale's yesterday. Most of them seemed pretty fair. Gibbs and I got our finished uniforms, which Masters sent around, but neither of the tunics was a perfect fit, mine being tight at the armholes, and Bill's being much too large across the breast. Accordingly, we took them back to be altered.
Spent the last of my cash, except for a penny, on some india ink, nibs, and a cartridge-paper drawing book. Wrote to Viola. Asked her to send me a builder's illustrated catalogue, or a book of bungalow designs. Sketched a bit of a design in ink, for one of the girls' autograph albums.
Sunday, 30th. To Presbyterian Church this morning, but had to leave in the middle of the service. Nice letter from Dorothy. The dear child also sent me a tie for having kissed her in her sleep on Christmas Day. Wrote to her in reply.
Commenced a pencil sketch of the Nadder River, enlarging from a photo I took while at Fovant.
Went to the Baptist Church this evening and heard a very nice sermon, the preacher telling us some very interesting scientific facts. The sight of all the nice girls and the many happy couples there made me feel rather lonely, and I missed the cheery company of my dear little girl very much.
Finished sketch of Nadder River.
Monday, 31st. Spent the day at the rifle range. Got a packet of photos from Trentagh, four of me, which were not too good, one very nice one of Mary, and one of Mary and Vern together, in which it was good of Mary, but not extra good of Vern.
The 9p.m. roll-call parade tonight was a very ragtime affair, many of the boys being more or less slightly inebriated, and nobody giving much heed to good order and discipline.
Later on, Southey brought me a couple of letters, one from Mary and one from Dorothy, which he said were in the letterbox all day. I had not been for mail today, but had asked Bill to bring up any for me, and he brought only the photos from Trentagh. It was a very nice and a very cheering letter from my dear little girl, and took me back, in fancy, to those very happy times we spent together at her home.
Well, this is the end of another year, a year which has brought great changes in the world, in the war, and in my life, for now I have something to live for and strive for, a new interest in life, a great joy to cherish, and a sweet influence to submit to. I wonder what will have come of all our hopes and dreams by the end of the coming year? Will Peace reign once more, and the awful carnage of war be a thing of the past? Will my darling sweetheart and I still be eagerly and joyfully looking forward to June 5th., 1919?
Tuesday, 1st. New Year's Day. Went on sick parade this morning to get some more medicine, but did not hear my name called in its turn and was marked "absent". This is the first New Year's Day in my life, if I remember correctly, on which I've had to carry on work as usual. Formerly I've always had it a holiday.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Wednesday, 2nd. On sick parade this morning. The doctor gave me a prescription but said he could not guarantee a cure. This morning's mail brought me a nice New Year card from my dear little girl, and three letters from Myrrhee South, from Aunt Lydia, Flora and Eileen.
Wrote to Viv this evening. Thompson, of the 3rd. battalion, told me that Col. Blumer was drowned on the way home to Australia, the ship having been torpedoed.
Thursday, 3rd. Light snowfall during the night. Nice letter from Dorothy this morning. Received a parcel from Trentagh, a tin box containing a lovely cake, and a pair of sox which Mrs. Hyndman had knitted for me. They came at an opportune moment, for my present stock are nearly all through at the toes.
Wrote to my little girl this evening, but hadn't the stamp for the letter, nor money to buy any with.
Friday, 4th. Sold five local view postcards I had to Bill Gibbs for five pence in order to get some stamps.
We went out to the Golf course ridge near Coton today, and practised map-reading, compass work, visual training, etc. It was bitterly cold, and a very chilly wind was blowing. There were some people skating on a pond we passed on the way home.
Saturday, 5th. Got a very nice loving letter from my dear little girl this morning. Fixed what photos I had ready this afternoon, and then went out for a walk along the Barton road to see what the ice looked like. Did not take my skates, thinking there would be no skating, as it has been comparatively warm today, but found when I got there that there were people on the ice. Walked out on the pond, and it seemed pretty safe, but was treacherous in places. If it freezes tonight there'll be good skating tomorrow.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Sunday, 6th. Another nice letter from Dorothy this morning. Elsie is leaving Andover and returning to London to please Alf. My poor little Dorrie will find it rather lonely when Elsie has gone.
To Presbyterian Church this morning. It was a special intercession service by proclamation from the king. Went out for a walk towards Trumping this afternoon. Went to the Baptist church this evening, and stayed to the social which is always provided for soldiers after the service. Spent a very pleasant hour there. Tea and cake was provided, and there was plenty of music and singing. A dear little child recited a piece very sweetly, and put plenty of expression into it.
Wrote to Dorothy afterwards.
Monday, 7th. H.T., uhihtl rh hfl lwuf tht ntitft tw oefl hteu. Ctt tuw, oiw witwf & ihre. Ettt oiw hthef utlftulhp titfefte.
Tuesday, 8th. Nice letter from Dorothy, and a postcard from Mrs. Morgan. Day out at Gog Magogs. It was freezing, and a bitterly cold wind was blowing, and the ground was covered with snow.
We got back early, and I went down for an hour's skating on the pond by the Barton road...........
Wednesday, 9th. Letter from my little girl this morning. Had job of company commander today, but, as it was snowing all the morning, we did not do much except a short route march. Went skating again this afternoon. The ice seemed rather precarious, and the snow rather spoilt it for skating.
Ett oiw witwf then titfeft. Iwil uhih. Wootfltl oiw. Ihtt ohih, nihitl otfit.
Thursday, 10th. Short letter from Dorothy this morning, but she said she would write a long one next time. The poor little girl had had a headache, so probably did not feel up to writing much. †The parade was dismissed this........
to Dorothy. Went up for the exam at eleven. Did fairly well at it, I think.
This afternoon we who failed in the eyesight test had to parade to the Opthalmic Surgeon at the hospital. He put some stuff in my eyes, and said to come again after tea. At the lecture this evening I was unable to read the typewritten list of headings, as a result of the stuff that was put in my eyes. The optician tested my eyes for glasses this evening.
Heihtl rh uith hteii uhw uhel nht uhn hfrintipehel. Ettt hti hthef weflhp titfeftn.
Finished writing letter to Dorothy.
Friday, 11th. Short letter to Viv. They are still in Belgium, up near the line. Viv had not had any home mail for some time.
Today's programme was musketry all day at Coldham Common, but those whose eyes had been treated last night had to stay off parade.
Paid this morning, £3. Got Viv's compass and had to pay 19/6 on it, the total cost of repair being 25/-. Went to the Cambridge School of Arts and Crafts and arranged to take lessons in Drawing, four nights a week, during my stay in Cambridge. It is only costing 10/6, which seems remarkably cheap. Am to start Monday evening.
Got some Leltona paper and printed some photos this afternoon.
Aeiip lel fwt trif rhy then titfeft.
Finished fretwork design for Wilf.
Saturday, 12th. Disappointed at not getting expected long letter from Dorothy this morning, but got one by the second mail, a short one, written at work yesterday, as the dear girl has been rather busy.
Masters sent my tunic around this afternoon. It is not a perfect fit yet, but will have to do. Got a pair............
of the possible 50. Some of the chaps did very badly.
Went to Drawing Class at School of Arts and Crafts. Afterwards wrote to Dorothy. Suggested to the dear child that we make the date of our marriage a bit earlier, perhaps next September.
Tuesday, 15th. A thaw set in during the night, and most of the snow has disappeared. Nice long letter from my dear girl this morning. She had been working at stock-taking most of Sunday. They had had some trouble at the N.A.C.B., and Fuller wanted to blame Dorothy, but she soon let him see that she would stand no nonsense from him. I guess he would soon find that he could not bully Dorothy.
Letter from Viv by the second mail. They were still in Belgium, and were about to go up to the line for a fairly long tour, after which they were to come right back near Boulogne and change places with Vern's lot.
Went to the Optician again this evening, and he prescribed glasses for me, but could not issue them, as the Govt. does not supply the kind I require. Will have to get them privately.
It was too late, when I got back, to attend Drawing Class. Packed Viv's compass to send to him. Commenced letter to Dorothy, but was unable to get it finished before "lights out".
Wednesday, 16th. Short letter from Dorothy this morning in answer to the hurried one I wrote Saturday night. There was a good six inches of snow on the ground this morning. Some consternation has been caused amongst the Australians here by the fact that three men, Caddy, Kennet, and Phillips, have been ordered to return to their units, the crime of the former two being that they failed to awake in time to be present at the breakfast parade, and Phillip's offence was taking an electric globe from the Dining Hall to replace a broken one in his room. The whole thing must seem preposterous to any man of some judgement, for there is no fairness or justice about it at all. It seems that Major Rose has been the cause of the trouble. After dinner we held a meeting of the Australians to discuss the matter, and appointed Parker to go and interview the colonel on our behalf and protest against the treatment meted out to the three chaps.
Finished letter to Dorothy, which I had commenced last night.
After tea, we had another meeting, and Parker said the major would not parade him to the colonel, nor would he reconsider the decision to send the men back. It was moved that if we could not get satisfaction we should show our disapproval by refusing to take part in any sports, concerts, etc. I opposed that motion, for, sports being laid down as a part of our training here, it would amount to nothing more or less than refusing duty. Several others also took the same stand, but most of them seemed to think that they could get anything they wanted by "striking", and, when put to the meeting, the motion was carried easily.
Went to Drawing Class, and afterwards wrote to Viv.
Thurs. 17th. Snowing again this morning. Caddy, Kennet and Phillips left for Horseferry Rd. this morning.
To Drawing Class this evening.
Friday, 18th. We had to go out this morning with compasses and take bearings and particulars of a piece of ground for mapping purposes.
Major Rose called a meeting of the Australians in the big Lecture Room, at half-past one, and explained his action in regard to the three men who were sent back. He denied having made any insulting remark about the Australians, and said that the punishment of the three men was meant as an example to the whole company, and not to the Australians alone. He kept his pipe in his mouth the whole time, and spoke with a transparent air of carelessness, which was obviously affected to cloak his inward nervousness. His explanation was very poor and very unsatisfactory, and was well lubricated with what is known in the vernacular as "soft-soap". He kept an eye on the clock, spoke slowly and made the subject spin out, so that he continued talking until the time was just about up, for we had to parade again at two o'clock, and then said, in his stereotype way, "Er, well, er, er, has anyone got anything to say?"
I stood up and expressed my views pretty plainly about the injustice and unreasonableness of what had been done. Parker also said something about it, but then the Major announced that he would not argue further about it. Referring to our "sports strike", he said that if it was continued he could do nothing but report it to the colonel, who would have no option but to send us all back to our units, as sports was laid down as a part of our training here.
This afternoon we had the job of sketching maps from the notes and bearings we had taken this morning. Got parcel of sox, gloves & handkerchiefs from Jean McPhee.
After tea a meeting of the Australians was called to discuss the "sports strike". A number of the wild spirits were all for continuing the strike, regardless of consequences. Others, who had previously voted for it without fully realizing the seriousness of such an action were now inclined to change their minds, and we who had opposed it at first still maintained the same attitude, but all agreed to abide by the decision of the majority. The meeting was a pretty lively one, and those who took part in the talking seemed to be about evenly divided for and against. A secret ballot was decided on, and when the count was made it showed 13 votes for continuing the strike, and over 40 against it. And so our short-lived "sports strike" came to an abrupt end.
To Drawing class again this evening. Finished the tailpiece design and started a drawing of a cat.
Saturday, 19th. Nice long letter from my dear little girl this morning. As I expected, the dear child did not fall in with my suggestion to bring the date of our marriage a bit nearer. She asks, very pointedly, if I have ever been out with a girl whilst at Cambridge.
Got a dear little letter from Betty this afternoon, with a note from Dorothy enclosed. Betty writes extremely well for one so young. She is a sweet little kiddie.
Sent Viv's compass to him, registered to make sure of him getting it. It took the last of my cash and what stamps I had in hand to get it away.
Wrote a long letter to Dorothy this evening. Answered her question, and gave what explanations I thought necessary.
Sunday, 20th. To Presbyterian church this morning. Went out for a walk this afternoon by the Gog Magog road and returned by the Trumpington road. Wrote a short letter to Betty.
The latest report from Caddy, Kennet, and Phillips is that they have been sent to a camp somewhere, and that Mr. Fisher and the heads at the A.I.F. Hqrs. are making enquiries into their case.
Bill and I went to the Baptist Church this evening, and stayed for the social, which, however was a wee bit tame, although one girl there sang very nicely.
Monday, 21st. Before dinner today the colonel had all the company brought before him in the big Lecture Room, and gave us a lecture about the lack of discipline generally, and the case of Caddy, Kennet, and Phillips in particular. Said he had reconsidered his decision and had asked that two of the men (presumably Caddy and Kennet) should be sent back to this company. He took great pains to impress upon us that he did it of his own accord, and that the A.I.F. Hqrs. entirely endorsed his former judgment. But he seemed to labour the point a bit too much, and I suppose that, if the truth were known, he did ask for them to be returned here, thinking that they would be in any case.
The results of our second Progress Exam. were made known tonight. This time I only got 39 marks out of the possible 65.
To Drawing Class this evening.
Tuesday, 22nd. Nice long letter from Dorothy, written Sunday morning. She was eagerly looking forward to getting a letter from me by Monday's mail. Poor kid, such a horrid disappointing letter it would be when she did get it.
Got Christmas parcel from home this afternoon. It contained various knitted things, sweets, soup powders, extract of beef, sugar, a cake of soap, and a small writing block, and a note from each of the children. It came at a very opportune moment, for I had just run out of both soap and writing paper, and had no money to buy more.
Drawing Class this evening. Finished the drawing of a cat, and started one of a dilapidated-looking Italian.
Wrote to Dorothy.
Wednesday, 23rd. Letter from Mrs. Newland in answer to the one I wrote her nearly a year ago. Enclosed was a photo of Bert, which I had asked her for. Poor old Bert, he was killed in the battle of Pozières, eighteen months ago.
Also got the letter from Dorothy which I had been rather anxiously looking forward to. The first part of it seemed so kind and forgiving and yet so sad, I felt ashamed of myself for thinking she might be angry. But the letter finished up with an outburst of feeling, which seemed like a mixture of anger, disappointment, and grief all combined. It made me feel very miserable. Elle a dit qu'elle est terriblement désappointée de moi, et cela m'a coupé au coeur. Ah, je suis puni bien du mal que j'ai fait. [She said she is terribly disappointed in me, and it cut me to the heart. Oh, I'm being rightfully punished for the wrong I did.] Oh well, experience begets wisdom, and one has to pay for experience, but the price at times is extraordinarily high. Je crois que je serai jamais si heureux qu'autrefois. Il y aura toujours le mêmoir de ce que j'ai fait, et de la tristesse et souci que j'ai fait à ma chèrie petite enfant. [I think I can never be happy otherwise. There will always be the memory of what I did, and sadness and concern that I did it to my dear little child.]
We had some ceremonial drill this morning, practising for Saturday, which is Anniversary Day, when Andy Fisher is coming up to review the Australians here.
Went round to Palmer's studio and had photo taken this afternoon. Wrote to Dorothy, in reply to her letter received this morning.
After Drawing Class this evening, went to bed early, feeling very unhappy and a bit fed up with myself and everything generally.
Thursday, 24th. Caddy and Kennet have arrived back here. Nice letter from Mary this morning. She says Viv is expecting leave about the end of February, or perhaps a bit earlier. Vern is hoping to get a job as an instructor at an O.T.C. I do hope he gets it, and that it will be permanent, so that we could feel assured of at least one of us getting home again.
Paid this evening, £3. Don't suppose it will last very long.
Went to Drawing Class. Finished the sketch of the Dago, and commenced one of a couple of funny-looking drunkards.
Je suis très inquiet à recevoir une autre lettre de ma chérie, une lettre dans laquelle elle me dit qu'elle m'a tout à fait pardonné, et qu'elle n'est malheureuse plus. Car c'est impossible que je sois content pendant que ma chérie reste triste. Il y aura, peut-être, une lettre de lui demain, mais probablement elle n'écrirait pas jusqu'a jeudi, après avoir reçu la lettre que je lui écrit mardi. Et peut-être elle n'écrirait pas jusqu'a elle a reçu la lettre que je lui ai écrit hier, dans quel cas je ne recivrai sa lettre jusqu'a dimanche.
[I am very anxious to receive another letter from my darling, a letter in which she says she forgives me completely, and is no longer unhappy. For it is impossible to be happy when my darling is sad. There will, perhaps, be a letter from her tomorrow, but she probably will not write it until Thursday, after receiving the letter I wrote to her on Tuesday. And maybe she will not write until she receives the letter I wrote her yesterday, in which case I won't receive the letter until Sunday.]
Friday, 25th. All day out at Coldham Common. Letter from Dorothy this afternoon, enclosing one from George Pike. La chérie fille dit qu'elle me pardonne entièrement, mais il me semble, à propos de la tone de sa lettre, qu'il y a, à la profondeur de son coeur, encore une restante ….. [My dear little girl says she forgives me entirely, but it seems to me, from the tone of her letter ,that there, in the depths of her heart, yet remains...]
Paid this evening, £3.
At Drawing Class, Mr. Brown took me away from the top room to the antique room downstairs and put me on drawing from a plaster cast of a head. Wrote to Dorothy.
Saturday, 26th. Anniversary Day. The Australians paraded in cadet uniforms with rifles and side arms. The battalion was formed up as one company at Pembroke College, and afterwards we were marched off to Leys Park, led by a Tommy band of flutes, bugles, and drums. After waiting in Leys Park for some time, the inspecting party at last came along, Gen. McKay, Andy Fisher, C.G.Wade (formerly premier of N.S.W., now agent-general for N.S.W.) and the agents-general of the other states. After the inspection there was the usual march past, in column of platoons, and then a number of medals were awarded to those who had won them, including Bill Gibbs. After that Fisher gave us a short address, and then the various agents-general got the men of their respective states around them for a short talk. While Wade was chatting with us, one of the boys suggested that they ought to treat us the same as the New Zealand Cadets. That is, after they have got their commissions, they are sent home to New Zealand to train the fresh drafts and bring them over, a job which keeps them away for about eight or nine months. Wade said, "You ought to suggest that to Andy Fisher, he might be able to use some influence in the matter". "Right" said the chap, "you take me over to Andy Fisher, and I'll put it before him". So they went over, and a few minutes later, as they walked past, I heard Fisher say that it was a good idea. H'm, too good, I'm afraid, to come true.
In the afternoon there was a football match, Australian rules, between a team from the A.I.F. Hqrs. at Horseferry Rd. and a team picked from the cadet battalions here. The game was very fast and exciting, but the visitors managed to keep well in the lead. Some of our lads barracking kept up an infernal noise with toy trumpets, gas alarms, and their lusty, if not melodious, war cry. The Hqrs. team won the game by about 9 goals & 9 points to 6 goals 13 points.
Finished letter to Mum and Dad this evening.
Sun. 27. To Presbyterian church this morning. After dinner, took a walk out along the Trumpington road and back by the Gog Magog road. It was a perfect day, the sun shining warmly over the tree tops like real spring weather instead of midwinter. It reminded me of the nice long walks I used to take along the Murray River at Corowa and Wahgunyah, and the happy rambles over the wild bushland hills about Oberon; also the picnics we used to have at National Park, Lane Cove, and the other nice pleasure resorts of Sydney Harbour. I wonder how long it will be before I see all these dear old places again.
Afterwards wrote to Mrs. Morgan and to Dorothy. To Baptist church this evening. The preacher there seems always to speak in a very kind and gentle manner, yet with firmness and conviction. His manner seemed to bring back memories of dear old Bert, who was always so kind and thoughtful. In fancy I went over that last meeting we had on Salisbury Plain, and, it seems so hard that we shall never again in this world see his bonny blue eyes and cheerful smile. But still we may rest assured that God does all for the best, though we cannot fathom the motives that underlie His actions.
Monday, 28th. Ordered a pair of slacks at Masters' today.
Tuesday, 29th. No letter from Dorothy this morning, though I fully expected she would have written on Sunday. There has been a great air raid on London again, over forty gothas having come over.
Wednesday 30th. No letter from Dorothy again this morning. This is the longest I've been without a letter from her since coming to Cambridge. Can't quite make it out.
Went to the dentist this morning and had a couple of teeth filled. This afternoon, fixed what photos I had printed.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Thursday, 31st. Was surprised and terribly disappointed this morning when the mail came and there were no letters for me. Besides one written Sunday, there ought to have been another, written in reply to my last one, on Tuesday. However, when the second mail arrived this afternoon, it was a genuine joy and relief to recognise the familiar handwriting on a couple of letters. They were very nice, cheery, loving letters, written on Sunday and Tuesday, and had somehow been delayed in transit. La chérie petite enfant me dit qu'elle me pardonne entièrement du profondeur de son coeur, et elle me prie de ne pas me soucier ou chagriner à cause de ce qui est arrivé. Elle simile notre amour à une rose, qui est une très belle fleur, mais qui est pourvu des épines pour la proteger du mal. Et les tristesses que nous avons en précemment represante les épines qui existe pour proteger et aggrandir notre amour envers l'un l'autre.
[The darling little girl told me she forgives me entirely from the depth of her heart, and she begged me not to worry or fret because of what happened. I compare our love to a rose, a beautiful flower, but is filled with thorns to protect it from evil. And sadness that we have previously represented the thorns that exists to protect and enlarge our love for one another.]
This evening we had a lecture in the Guildhall on Munitions of War, by a Mr. Bailey, M.A., of Dublin. It was very interesting, and was illustrated by lantern slides.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening, but could not get the letter finished by "lights out".
Friday, 1st. Got spectacles today from Hallen, the optician. They make me look considerably older, and I don't like them at all, though they do improve my sight a bit, and are a necessary evil.
Another examination this evening, in trench warfare. Got the slacks I had ordered, Masters having sent them round. Finished letter to Dorothy.
Saturday, 2nd. Went to Bradley's Dental Chambers this afternoon, and had an impression taken for a couple of teeth. Commenced a letter to Mary this evening, also to Mum and Dad.
Sunday, 3rd. Very nice loving letter from Dorothy this morning.
Church parade to Wesleyan chapel. The sermon was a good one badly preached. Finished letter to Mary.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening instead of going to chapel, as I did not feel inclined to go out.
Monday, 4th. Finished letter to Mum and Dad, and commenced one to Mrs. Newland. No.2 Christmas parcel from home arrived this morning. It contained tins of fruit, cream, and .........
The rest of the letter was, as usual, very nice and loving.
We had a lecture this morning at the Union Club by a Mr. W. Atkins, on "What Belgium means to us". It was intensely interesting, and dealt with the various causes which led up to the war, and the very important part Belgium played in the early part of the fighting. It was calculated to remove a lot of the misunderstanding regarding Belgium, and the unjust and unnecessary ill-feeling which many people entertain towards the Belgians.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening, after Drawing Class. Did not mention the betrayal ..........
started on Sunday. It represents a woman and a child in the foreground looking over towards a house in the distance.
After Drawing Class, went to lecture in the Botany Hall on "The Evolution of Coins". It was rather dry, but one point of special interest was a lantern slide showing a beautifully engraved silver chalice, found at Antioch, and made not later than fifty to a hundred years after Christ. The design represented Christ sitting on a throne with the apostles sitting about him, and grape vines twining in and out and around the cup. The inner bowl was a separate, plain, and much older piece, and had evidently been treasured on account of antiquity or memorable connections, for it was carefully preserved in its entire and rough state. The lecturer suggested that it might possibly have been the very bowl which the Lord used at the Last Supper, and was on that account so greatly treasured by those early Christians, who had had it mounted in the beautifully carved silver chalice.
Thursday, 7th. Letter from Dorothy, enclosing a birthday card from herself, and one from dear little Betty and Wilf, also a short letter from the dear girl, but she said she would write a long one next day, so that's something nice to look forward to tomorrow. Elle dit qu'elle a été à une danse. Ca me fait bien jaloux. Ca n'est pas raisonable de moi, je le sais, mais j'ai peur que j'ai une caractère un tout soit peu jalouse. Je me demande si la petite aurait allé à la danse si je me lui avais pas dit ce que j'avais fait il y a un peu de semaines? [She said she was at a dance. It makes me jealous. It is not reasonable of me, I know, but I'm afraid I am rather jealous. I wonder if the child would have gone to the dance if I had not told her what I had done it a few weeks ago?]
Nice letter from Mary this afternoon, enclosing one for me to send on to Dorothy, as she did not know her address. Mary had got a letter from Ida saying she was about to leave for Tasmania on holidays, presumably the Christmas vacation. That will be something great for Ida. a trip to Tasmania, and will be a very delightful change for her after the long and tiresome months of studying. Mary also says that Vern's hopes for O.T.C. instructor had apparently collapsed, and that Viv expects his leave about the middle of this month, or perhaps a little later. Perhaps, with a bit of luck, his leave may coincide with my mid-term leave.
Friday, 8th. Nice long letter from my little maid this morning. The "Burglaring" scheme does not seem to appeal to her. Parcel from Ireland this afternoon, with a lovely cake from Mary, one of her own making. Also got a delightful surprise packet in the form of a dear little gold collar pin as a birthday gift from Dorrie.
At the figure drawing class this evening we had a living model for the first time. Got on fairly well, but couldn't get much done in the limited time. As the other students at this class were all girls, it made me feel rather awkward at first, but, once we got busy with our work, everything seemed quite natural. I pitied the poor fellow who had taken on the job of model, for it must have been very embarrassing to have to stand there in front of all those girls with practically nothing on.
Wrote letter to Dorothy.
Saturday, 9th. Another letter from Dorothy today, written at work yesterday. The dear child does not seem to entertain any hope whatever of the possibility of our engagement being sanctioned by her father, unless I accept the condition imposed by him. That, however, is absolutely unthinkable, for it would be downright wicked of me not to go home after the war, considering all the anxiety and sorrow that my darling old Mum has suffered during these last few years.
Wrote a short letter to Betty and Wilf this morning.
Went to the dentist this afternoon and got teeth, paying £1-1 for them. Also paid Hallen for the glasses, £1-1. The plate I got from the dentist has turned out a misfit, and is absolutely useless.
Continued landscape drawing this afternoon and evening.
Sunday, 10th. To Presbyterian Church this morning.
Finished landscape drawing, but rather spoilt it with a clumsy mass of clouds in the sky.
Did not go to chapel this evening. Wrote to Dorothy, and sketched "The Ship of Roses".
Monday, 11th. Letter from Vern today, written on the sixth. He did not include any birthday greetings, so evidently he has forgotten it.
Finished letter to Mrs. Newland.
Our mid-term leave is definitely settled, and is from 22nd. to 26th of this month. Can't help being rather impatient for the time to come round.
Russia has accepted Germany's terms for a separate peace, and is demobilizing her army.
Tuesday, 12th. Lovely long letter from Dorothy, and some Australian mail, one each from Mum, Jean McPhee, Mrs.Tanner, Eliza Prigg, and Lorrie Maloney. Ida and Dad have gone to Tasmania for a holiday.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Wednesday, 13th. We had another lecture on the care of teeth this morning, by Professor Cunningham.
Thursday, 14th. Mr. Kerry has died of his illness, which is the result of head wounds received in France.
Very nice letter from Dorothy. She says she does not uphold her father's condition.
At drawing class this evening, finished the interior, and commenced a drawing of some flowers.
Friday, 15th. Letter from Mrs. Morgan saying Viv is over on furlough, and inviting me to meet him, if possible, next weekend, when he returns from Trentagh.
The whole company is to attend Kerry's funeral on Sunday afternoon. Leave passes have been issued to be filled in for the mid-term leave, which begins next Friday.
Had another examination this afternoon. Got 37 marks out of the possible 50 for the last examination.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Saturday, 16th. Nice letter from my little girl today, also a letter from dear little Betty, with a drawing of a carrot enclosed. Also got a letter from Myra Lang.
Saw dentist about my teeth this afternoon, but could not get much satisfaction from him.
Wrote to Dorothy telling her I'm coming next Saturday. It will be a bit of a surprise to her, as she is not expecting me to come until the end of next month. Enclosed Mum's letter for her to read.
Sunday, 17th. Packet of home mail today, 3 from Mum, 1 each from Ida, Clytie, Jean, Doris, and Vera Billingham. Dear old Mum expressed many kind wishes for the future and happiness of Dorothy and I in our engagement. In one of her letters was a photo of Dad and her, and one of Eric and Gordon. They all looked very well, only Mum looks rather older. By the tone of her letters, she seems to be longing to see us all home again. Jean says Bob Park is married. She sent some nice little snaps taken while at Katoomba. Clytie expressed good wishes for Dorothy and I in our engagement. Ida gave me a lecture for getting an English girl. She seemed to be a bit disappointed with me, but most of her letter was more in fun, and I had a jolly good laugh over it. Vera Billingham repeated her solemn warning not to get an English girl, and she also indulged in some very disparaging and almost insulting remarks about English girls.
At Kerry's funeral this afternoon. The whole No.2 battalion took part in it. A large crowd of townspeople followed the funeral to the cemetery.
Monday, 18th. Letter from Vera Billingham. She had heard, probably from Taree, that I was engaged, and she was very upset about it. Said she had a weep over it.
Wrote to Mum, and promised her that I would not stay in England after the war.
Tuesday, 19th. Letter from Dorothy today. Wrote reply.
Wednesday, 20th. Another letter from Dorothy today. Says she is very happy that I am coming on Saturday.
Paid today, £5. Wrote to Dorothy.
Thursday, 21st. Packed what things I'll want to take tomorrow in my pack. Train leaves at 8.22a.m.
Friday, 22nd. Left by the 9.5a.m. through train to London. Went to the Strand and got the negative of the memorial picture at Chesney studio. Went to Horseferry Rd. to enquire about black kit bag. Went to Fulham and had a long tiresome search for the kit store, which eventually I found near Hammersmith station. Got the two black kit bags, and then went out to Hounslow, to Mrs. Morgan's, in time for tea. Mrs. Morgan had not had any word from Viv since he went to Ireland, and could not make out why he had not written.
There were three home letters there for me, two from Mum and one from Rita, written in late December and early January. They had received my cable from Cambridge, and the Christmas cards I sent from Belgium arrived home on Boxing Day. The memorial replicas had not yet come to hand, so I'm very much afraid they have been lost. Rita's letter, referring to my engagement to Dorothy, was very kind and loving.
Looked through my old kit. Four of the five 1/3-farthings were missing, also the little bouquet of wattle that Viola gave me on the day I left Sydney. The flag Rita gave me was still there, also the sea-shell fossils I collected while at Malta.
We went in to Mrs. Caborn's, and I had a lively time with the kiddies. They are growing into a couple of fine children. We waited up till after eleven for Viv, but he did not come. We were rather anxious about him, as he ought to have come back tonight, in order to be present at the investiture at Buckingham Palace tomorrow, when he is to be decorated with the M.C. and bar by the King.
Packed my things ready to leave early in the morning.
Saturday, 23rd. Up early, and left Mrs. Morgan's about 7a.m. Went to Euston hoping to meet Viv in case he might come this morning. The Irish boat express was over an hour late, and when it did come there was no sign of Viv. Went to Buckingham Palace and waited at the gate hoping to see him after the investiture, in case he may have crossed yesterday and stayed the night in town. There was quite a crowd there waiting, and a great number of officers went into the Palace for the investiture. Had a long tiresome wait there before the decorated heroes began to come out.
At last Viv appeared, quite unconcerned as usual. He had come by an earlier train this morning, and arrived at Mrs. Morgan's about an hour after I left. We walked down to Charing Cross together. Viv told me that Morcom has spoilt his chances of a commission by his foolish action in the line recently, when a German patrol had got behind the lines. Westmeat has been recommended for O.T.C. The battalions are at present over strength of officers, and Viv thinks he may soon get a 6 month's job in a training camp in England.
We parted at Charing Cross, and I went to Waterloo. Missed the 11. 25a.m. train to Andover, but caught the 1p.m. Had dinner at the Union Jack club while waiting, and bought a bunch of daffodils, jonquils, and wattle, for Mrs. Jewell. They were very beautiful.
Arrived at Andover at half-past three. There was no sign of Dorothy at the station, but I met the dear little girl with Betty coming up. Left my things at Burley's hotel, and we went up to Mrs. Jewell's. Afterwards we came down to the station and met Mr. Jewell and Bessie Ham, also Dorothy Bryan and Hugh Saity.
After tea Dorrie and I had the evening alone together with the children, the others having gone out shopping. Later on, after they had returned, Dorothy Bryan and Saity came in, and the four of us went for a walk to Charlton and back. Dorrie and I afterwards went down to the station with the other two to see them off, and then came back to supper. Left about eleven o'clock, after a very pleasant evening with my little girl.
Sunday, 24th. Slept in till nine. Had breakfast at Burly's and then went up to Mrs. Jewell's. While we were washing up the breakfast things, Dorothy..........
about her sweet little face.
Commenced drawing some daffodils in Dorrie's autograph album this morning. In the afternoon, Bessie and Mrs. Jewell and Dorrie and I took a stroll up around Ladies' Walk. Coming back, Dorrie and I stayed in town to do some shopping. Bought a couple of pretty panel pictures, also a nice seascape picture for Dorothy.
After coming home, Dorrie and I were together in the front room, and on coming out to the kitchen, found Bessie looking very unhappy. Poor girl, she was troubled over the tragedy of her love affair, and the sorrow of it all seemed to weigh heavily upon her. Tears came to her eyes, though she fought hard to keep them back. I tried to get her mind on to other things, but it was no use. Being unable to keep the tears back, she went away upstairs, and Dorrie went up to try and comfort her. Poor Bessie, her fate seems a cruel one. Her scapegoat lover, whom she loved intensely and had many a time forgiven for acts of gross wickedness, suddenly broke off their engagement about three months ago, though they were soon to be married. The reason of this act is explained by the fact that he is now in a venereal hospital.
After tea, Dorrie and I went up to the station with Bessie, to see her off. Afterwards, in the front room, I teased and provoked Dorrie until she succeeded in getting vexed. But she very soon recovered, and told me in her loving artless way, that she was not cross any longer. Her dear little face was very flushed and her hair beautifully ruffled, and she looked extremely sweet at supper. She was unusually loving and kind to me afterwards, although I had been so provoking.
Tuesday, 26th. Came round early this morning and finished the drawing of daffodils in Dorrie's album. After dinner, put a little sketch in Dorothy Bryan's book. I was feeling a bit down-hearted, thinking of the parting tonight. Dorrie was at the piano, playing, when she got up and went in to the front room. Guessing what was the matter, I went in also, and found the poor little girl crying. Tried to comfort her as best I could, and managed to cheer her up a bit.
Teased and provoked the dear little girl until she got vexed with me again, and would not let me come near her. After a while, though, when she saw that I was really unhappy over it, she came and knelt down before me and put her dear arms around me, saying, "Cheer up, Perce", in her kind loving way. What a joy it is to have such a treasure of a girl for a sweetheart. The dear little angel became very loving and lovable after that, and, being a bit tired, she eventually went off to sleep in my arms.
The afternoon slipped away only too quickly and soon it came time for tea. After the meal, I left with Dorrie about quarter past five, and on the way down to the station, as we were talking about the difficulties in the way of our marriage next year, Dorrie said someone had told her that in England a girl could marry without her parents' consent if she was over the age of 18. Asked her if she would be willing to marry on the date we agreed upon, if that should prove to be true, but she was rather undecided about it, not relishing the idea of flouting her parents' wishes.
The Rainy Day
The day is cold and dark and dreary,
It rains, and the wind is never weary,
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
And, at every gust, the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is sad and dark and dreary,
It rains, and the wind is never weary,
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
And the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the day is dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart, and cease repining,
Behind the cloud is the sun still shining,
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
Soon we arrived at the station, and had not long to wait before the train came in, and with it the end of our happy holiday together. As the train whirled away towards London, I leaned out of the carriage window enjoying the breath of the cool fresh breeze, and thinking how wonderfully my fortune had changed since that first meeting with Dorothy at Ludgershall. Couldn't help feeling a bit lonely for awhile, which was only natural. However, it made me very, very happy to know that I had such a dear lovable sweetheart. This leave has been, without doubt, the happiest time I have ever spent in my life.
Arrived at Waterloo at quarter to nine, went to Liverpool Street, and caught the ten o'clock special to Cambridge, arriving there about midnight.
Wednesday, 27th. Found this morning that I had left my glasses behind on the mantelpiece in Mrs. Jewell's front room. Nice letter from Dorothy this morning, written before I went on leave, also one from Ettie Cunynghame. She has had a lot of illness, poor girl, and is far from being well yet.
Wrote to Dorothy this afternoon. Bought a little book on Wireless Telegraphy, and prepared notes for my lecture on Friday. Volunteered for this evening's lecture, which was on Colour Photography, but missed it through not knowing where it was to be given.
Thursday, 28th. Was rather disappointed this morning at not getting a letter from my little girl.
Revolver instruction, and live bomb throwing, all day out at the Reservoir. On arriving back, there was a packet for me from Dorothy containing my glasses and a very nice letter. The poor little girl was feeling rather lonely and miserable when she wrote. Asked me about my promise and if I would keep it faithfully.
Stayed home from Drawing Class tonight in order to prepare notes for my lecture tomorrow.
Friday, 1st. The "Glenart Castle" hospital ship has been torpedoed by the Huns and many lives lost, including a number of nurses. This is the vessel which brought me from Mudros Bay to Malta when I had pneumonia, over two years ago.
Letter from Dorothy this afternoon. She is terribly upset and miserable. Mrs. Jewell had been talking to her about the condition her father had imposed upon our engagement, and said that our love affair must come to an end unless I decide to stay in England after the war. Dorrie did not tell her mother that I had promised Mum not to stay here. It came as a rather startling piece of news, and I was very surprised at Mrs. Jewell going against us, after all the help she had given us in times past, and after having promised that she would do her best to influence Mr. Jewell in our favour. But I suppose that he, being a very strong-minded and determined sort of man, has won her over to his way of thinking. Could not help being rather worried as to what might be the outcome of it all, but I feel confident that Dorrie's love will remain steadfast, in which case there is little cause to worry about parental opposition or any other obstacles.
Gave my lecture on Wireless Telegraphy this afternoon, and managed all right. The rest of the platoon had agreed among themselves to bombard me with questions at the end of the lecture, and they carried it out with a vengeance. Fortunately, I was able to answer all the questions except one, which was rather irrelevant.
Stayed home from Drawing Class this evening to write to Dorothy. Tried to comfort her as best I could in a letter. After "lights out", continued writing the letter in my room till nearly midnight.
Saturday, 2nd. Had my photo taken again at Palmer's this afternoon. Wrote to Mrs. Jewell, reasoning with her and appealing to her honour and the sacred responsibility of motherhood, and respect for the promise she made. Tried to show her the foolishness of making her daughter's life unhappy rather than allow her to come out to Australia. Also wrote to Mr. Jewell. Reasoned with him, and pointed out the gross injustice of his action, and tried to show him how foolish and selfish it was to follow such a course. Told him I could not possibly fulfil his condition, as I had promised Mum not to stay here after the war. Wrote a note to Dorothy, and enclosed the letter to her father with it.
Sunday, 3rd. Wrote to Mary. Didn't go to church this morning, but went for a walk instead. Wrote to Vern.
Wrote to Dad, Ida, and Rita, this afternoon. Went out with Bill Gibbs to Girton College. He had received an invitation from a Miss Douglas to come and to bring a friend with him. We had tea with Miss Douglas and a couple of her friends, Mrs. Hart and her daughter, and then were shown round the college.
Went to Baptist chapel this evening. Wrote postcards to Clytie, Jean, Doris, Eliza Prigg, Mrs. Tanner, and Myra Lang. Wrote to Dorothy.
Monday, 4th. Wrote postcards to Lorrie Maloney, Aunt Lydia, and Flora. Wrote to Ettie Cunynghame.
Tuesday, 5th. Long letter from Dorothy, started Saturday and finished on Sunday. Another note, written on Monday morning, was added, saying that her mother had been talking very seriously to her, and she could see now that it was her duty to stay in England, if only for the sake of Betty and Wilf. I was stunned, and afraid to think what might be the full significance of Dorrie's letter. There was something very decisive about it. Was she going to end our acquaintance if I could not agree to stay in England? I was very much afraid that her mother had persuaded her round to her own way of thinking. Still, it only made me all the more determined that I would never give in, but would eventually defeat all their attempts to stand between my little girl and I, and that I would marry her in the end, even if I had to wait many years in order to do so.
Wednesday, 6th. Wrote short letter to Dorothy this afternoon.
Thursday, 7th. Card from Mrs. Morgan saying that Viv has come over and gone down to Salisbury Plains for a 6-month instructional job, and that Vern has been made a staff-captain. That is very good news indeed, for now Viv will be out of danger for awhile, and Vern will be comparatively safe. This is especially gratifying in view of the great German offensive that is expected on the Western front this spring.
Friday, 8th. Got a short hurried letter from Dorothy today, assuring me that she is still true and will always remain so, and that since writing her last letter she finds it too great a task for her to give up love for duty. It was a great relief to get the letter and to know that the dear little girl is not going to end our acquaintance, even if there are insuperable obstacles in the way of our marriage.
Received a postcard from Jean McPhee. Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Saturday, 9th. Letters from Clytie and Vera Billingham, and a postcard from Ettie Cunynghame. Clytie said the memorial replicas had arrived all right. Vera had got my letter telling her about Dorothy, and, though manifestly very disappointed with me, she was very nice over it, and said she would do her best to make Dorothy feel at home when she came out.
Very nice loving letter from my little girl today, complementary to the short hurried note received yesterday.
Commenced a drawing for the company magazine, to be entitled "Bloaters again!" and representing the disgust and chagrin expressed in the features of four cadets at the reappearance of the unwelcome dish.
Sunday, 10th. Continued the drawing today. Did not go to chapel this evening.
Monday, 11th. Nice letter from Dorothy. Her father has been very churlish, but has not mentioned receiving my letter. Mrs. Jewell, however, has been unusually good and nice to her, and Dorrie is even hoping for her father's consent to our engagement. If he broaches the subject to her mother, the latter will stand by us, so evidently my letter has convinced her.
Mr. Brown took me into the Lithography Class this evening, saying that it would be advisable to learn the art.
Commenced writing a letter to Mum.
Tuesday, 12th. Letters from Mum, Viola, Doris McPhee, Clytie, Miss Prigg. Viola and Wal Frazer are engaged now. She expresses good wishes for Dorrie and I in our engagement. Mum says the garden is coming on fine.
Also got a letter from Dorothy. Her father had been very cold and churlish all the weekend, and on Monday morning, just before leaving for Rolleston, he came to her and said he considered my letter to be very insulting, and that now he would never consent to her going away. For a moment she was astounded, and then tried to reason with him, but he would not listen, and went out without answering her. Poor Dorrie seemed terribly unhappy, and was afraid she would have to end it all. There was a sweet little spray of primroses and moss pressed between the pages of her letter.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening and tried to cheer and comfort her, saying that things would be sure to work out all right in time.
Its easy enough to see through Mr. Jewell's tactics. Having no other reasonable argument, he has declared my letter "insulting" in order to provide some sort of an excuse for his continued antagonism. No doubt he also thought to intimidate Dorothy by being horrid and churlish for several days before dramatically announcing his decision, and probably he will be extremely kind and nice afterwards, so that the contrast in his manner will produce such an effect in her mind that she will avoid doing anything that is against his wishes.
Wednesday, 13th. Got a couple of January letters from Mum. She mentioned getting the replicas all right. Dad and Ida had arrived home from Tasmania.
Thursday, 14th. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan asking her for Viv's address, as I've not heard from him yet.
Friday, 15th. Rather disappointed at not getting a letter from Dorothy today. Finished the letter to Mum that I had started on Monday. Wrote to Dorothy this evening, so that she would get the letter Sunday morning.
Saturday, 16th. Letter from Dorrie today. She hasn't been too well these last few days. The dear child says she will continue writing to me as usual, but will not come to Australia with me without her parent's consent.
Out at the Gog hills this morning. Lord Derby came out to see us training, and the whole thing was an absurd lot of eyewash. We just had to hang about doing nothing until Derby came along, when everybody got very busy on various kinds of training, our company doing a bit of an attack stunt. All the battalions were out there, and I suppose Lord Derby went away thinking that we always work ardently and strenuously at our training. It makes one disgusted and fed-up with official methods and their flagrant deception.
Wrote to Viola. Continued drawing for magazine.
Sunday, 17th. Got drawing nearly finished today. Took a walk to Histon this afternoon. Went to Baptist chapel this evening, where a very nice sermon was preached. Wrote to Dorothy. Proposed that we just carry on as sweethearts, and leave the future in God's hands.
Monday, 18th. Postcard from Mrs. Morgan with Viv's address at Sandhill Camp, near Warminster.
Bought an old bike at a shop in Mill Road, for £2-10. It is to be renovated and fixed up by Friday. We are getting four days' leave at Easter, but no train travelling allowed, so with the bike I ought to be able to get down to Andover, if I cannot manage to get train travelling allowed. Am determined to see my dear little sweetheart again at Easter if at all possible.
Lithography class this evening. Wrote to Viv asking him to write me a letter inviting me to meet him at Andover for Easter. May possibly be able to get leave with train travelling allowed on the strength of such a letter.
Tuesday, 19th. The photo proofs came today, and were very good.
Nice letter from Dorothy, written on Sunday. She is up again, after having been in bed for over three days. Her father has been extremely nice and kind to her since Monday, thus proving the truth of my supposition.
Finished the drawing, "Bloaters again!" Didn't go to Drawing Class this evening. Wrote to Dorothy, and told her I'm coming down at Easter per bike.
Wednesday, 20th. Commenced drawing a head-piece for Bill Gibbs' article, "Australia Day". It consists of three waratahs and a spray of wattle.
Thursday, 21st. Very nice happy letter from my little girl, written on Tuesday, with another letter enclosed that she had written Monday evening. Dorrie gladly accepts my proposal that we just carry on as before as sweethearts, and not worry about the future, which we will leave in the hands of God. The dear child is quite well again after her illness.
This morning we had a very good lecture, by a chaplain, on venereal disease, dealing mostly with the moral side of the question.
Did not go to Drawing class this evening, but continued the headpiece drawing. A telegram came through tonight saying that the Germans have started their big offensive on the Western Front.
Friday, 22nd. The Germans have attacked on a fifty mile front from Arras to south of St. Quentin, throwing massed formations into the assault, and suffering terrible slaughter. They have had some local successes, but no objectives have been gained.
Got the bike at the shop in Mill Road today. Ordered 12 cabinet and 12 postcard photos at Palmers'.
Saturday, 23rd. The Germans are following up their attack, and have had a few slight successes in places, but no objectives gained.
Letter from Dorothy. She is very cross with me for having entertained any doubt as to the depth and steadfastness of her love.
Finished the headpiece drawing. The other drawing has been declared "unsuitable" by the printer, as it will not reproduce properly, many of the lines being too fine.
Bought a pair of toe-clips for my bike this afternoon, and went for a ride out Trumpington way. When I came back, there were a lot of people lined up along the street for Princess Mary to come by on her way to the station. She had been awarding badges and medals to land workers and others. Dismounted and waited there to see her go past. At last the cars came along, and, when the people caught sight of the princess, they started cheering, but she did not even deign to turn her head to look at them.
This afternoon a telegram came through from Lloyd's, to the effect that the Germans have broken through our defence system near St. Quentin, our troops retiring in good order to prepared positions in rear.
Started redrawing "Bloaters again!".
Summer time commences tomorrow morning, the clocks going forward an hour at midnight tonight.
Sunday, 24th. The German attack has now extended to the French front. No details of the breakthrough are yet to hand. There seems to be some doubt about the French left. It is officially reported that Paris is being shelled by a long range gun.
Letter from Viv saying he would be getting leave to Andover at Easter, and asking me to meet him there. He says that Vern is expecting a job of understudy to the Brigade Major.
Submitted an application, with Viv's letter attached, for Easter leave to Andover, with train travelling.
Went out for a ride this afternoon, through Grantchester, Trumpington, Horston, and towards Royston.
Finished the "Bloater" drawing, making it rather simpler than the former one, and with only three figures instead of four.
According to latest news there is a lull in the fighting on the Western front, the line being held everywhere.
Wrote a letter to Dorothy.
Monday, 25th. The summer time proves rather inconvenient, as it cheats me out of the spare hour I used to have before breakfast. More definite news about the German success came through today. Their maximum advance is about 14 miles, and they have captured Peronne, Ham, and Channy. The Somme has been crossed in places. Our troops have withstood the onslaught along the northern part of the battle front. Heavy fighting is now going on in front of Bapaume and Combles. The gun that is bombarding Paris is a 9-inch, and is firing at a range of 75 miles.
Wrote to Viv, saying Saturday would be the best day for him to come to Andover. Commenced a letter to Mum. At lithography class, commenced a copy of a very beautiful design by an Austrian.
Tuesday, 26th. The Germans have captured Bapaume. Very nice pleasant letter from Dorothy, written on Sunday.
While we were out at the Gog hills today I sketched a pretty cloud effect from the sky in a small sketch book I had with me.
Wednesday, 27th. Another letter from Dorothy today. Rode out to Cherryhinton this afternoon, and commenced a sketch of the church there. It was a cold day, and my fingers eventually got so cold that I couldn't draw any longer.
The drawing class this evening was the last of the term. The next term starts on April 15th.
Wrote to Dorrie, and told her I would be coming on Friday, or perhaps tomorrow night. Packed up a few things to take with me.
Thursday, 28th. The Huns have captured Albert. Letter from Dorothy, and one from Mrs. Morgan with her photo. She is going to Bristol for a week.
Got the photos I had ordered at Palmers'. My leave has been granted, and I drew rations of sugar, margarine, and about 2lbs of meat. Wired to Viv, saying I was going to Andover tonight.
The parade ended early this afternoon. Got my things ready for departure. Obtained leave pass and found out that a train was due to leave for London at ten to five, so did not wait for tea but took a taxi at once to the station. Had to line up in a queue at the booking office and couldn't get a ticket till after five, but fortunately the train was delayed and did not leave till quarter past five.
The train was late getting to London, so I missed the 6p.m. to Andover at Waterloo. Got one at 7p.m. It was packed full, and a second relief train was also packed full, besides which a good number of people were left behind on the platform. A porter had told me that that was the next train to Andover, but after we had gone some distance I discovered that it was the wrong train, being the express to Portsmouth, first stop Winchester. Hoped to get off at Basingstoke, but the train did not stop or even slow down, so went on and changed at Eastleigh. At Romsey there was no train tonight to Andover, so went on to Salisbury. There is no train from here to Andover until eight tomorrow morning, so came down town, and, not having too much cash to spare, put up at the Y.M.C.A., where beds were provided consisting of bedding laid on chairs. They are quite comfortable.
Friday, 29. Caught the 8a.m. train to Andover, and put up at Burly's hotel. Came down town, and wrote a note to Dorrie, asking her to come down and meet me at the town station. As there was no express letter delivery today, I gave a little boy 3d to deliver the note for me. Later on he came back with a message that I was to go up there at eleven o'clock.
Strolled around a bit and then went up, and met the dear little girl on the way. What a joy it was to be with her once again. I did not want to go up home, in view of her father's objection to me, but she insisted that I come, saying that her mother wanted me to. Mr. Jewell and Wilf are away at Exeter for the Easter holidays.
Dorrie and I went for a delightful stroll around "Ladies' Walk". When we got back she wanted me to go in for dinner, but I declined and went down to Burly's for the meal.
During the afternoon, Mrs. Jewell told me that, during her recent illness with influenza, Dorrie had been seriously ill, and her condition at one time looked very doubtful.
After tea we both went for a walk to Bury Ring, where everything seemed so calm and peaceful in the growing dusk. It was like a foretaste of Heaven, that happy walk together. We arrived back about half past nine, and had supper, after which Mrs. Jewell took Betty up to bed. Dorrie and I nearly went to sleep in the big chair. Before I left, the dear little girl took her lovely thick hair down, ready to go to bed, and it made her look very sweet and bewitching.
Saturday, 30th. Got up about nine o'clock. No sign of Viv having arrived yet. Met Dorrie at the shop, and then went up home. Came down for her at twelve, and we went home for dinner. During the afternoon I made a sketch of Betty's teddy-bear for her.
Came down to the shop for Dorrie at tea-time. After tea, continued writing the letter to Mum that I started on Monday.
Dorrie was allowed off at eight, which is an hour earlier than her usual time Saturday nights, and we strolled down to the station in case Viv might turn up. No sign of him, however.
We spent a very happy evening together, and I left about half past eleven.
Sunday, 31st. Came round early this morning. Dorrie put on a new dress of a really beautiful shade of green, which harmonizes wonderfully with the rich auburn colour of her hair, producing a very charming effect altogether, a perfect chord.
We went out for a nice pleasant walk through Clatford, arriving back about half past one for dinner. Dorrie went to Sunday School, but came back early as her class had been taken by someone else. We stayed in for the rest of the afternoon, and were very happy in the enjoyment of each other's company.
We went to the Wesleyan chapel this evening, and afterwards went for a nice long walk, returning by way of Ladies' Walk. A rather cold breeze was blowing, but we rested awhile on a seat in a sheltered spot.
After supper, when Mrs. Jewell had taken Betty up to bed, Dorrie and I just stayed there alone, and were very very happy together. Although I teased her a bit, the dear little girl did not get cross with me, and was more loving and indulgent than ever she had been to me before.
Monday, 1st. As this morning was Mrs. Jewell's washing day, Dorrie and I got out of the way by going for a pleasant ramble to Bury Ring. On the way we were talking about a story in which the hero put an engagement ring upon his loved one's finger while she was asleep. I asked Dorrie how she would take it if I were to do the same with her, and would she continue to wear the ring, even if her father ordered her not to. She said she would, and her father could never make her do otherwise. "Very well", I said, "that's a promise." And she blushingly agreed that it was.
It was very pretty out at Bury Ring, and ought to be just lovely in Summer...........
consequence, not arriving at Waterloo until after half-past nine. Got across to Liverpool St. station just three minutes too late for the last train to Cambridge, which left at 10.7p.m. Will have to catch the 5.55a.m. tomorrow morning, in order to get back to Cambridge before my leave ends, at 9a.m.
Went to Sloane Square, and put up at the Cadet Club in Cadogen Square, asking the porter to call me at 4a.m.
Tuesday, 2nd. Up at four, had a sandwich and cup of tea for breakfast, and then got down to Sloane Square. The tube trains did not start running till nearly half-past five, and it was after that time before I could get one to Liverpool St., with the result that the Cambridge train was gone long before I arrived there. Had to wait for the 7.20a.m., which was a slow train, and did not get to Cambridge till nearly ten o'clock.
There was a letter from Ida awaiting me. She did extra well in her examination, getting 1st. class honours in English. She was one of the only two Fort St. girls who got that, but six others passed with honours (not 1st. class). Ida also got an A pass in History, and a B pass in French, Botany, Art, and Sewing. She failed in mathematics, which has always been a weak point with her.
The company were out at the Gog Hills, and, after hunting about for some time, we eventually found them at about half-past twelve. A shower overtook us as we were coming in, and we got somewhat damp.
Letter from Mum this afternoon, and one from Dorrie, written soon after I left. My poor little girl was feeling rather lonely. Mum's letter enclosed a photo of "Koppin Yarratt", and it was simply great to be able to see the dear home again.
Its just what I've been wanting for quite a long time. The house looks much the same as when I left, except that the front of the veranda is grown over with passion vines and the nameplate is put up beside the doorway. Mum, Dad, Ida, Rita, Eric, and Gordon are in the photo. It is a good likeness of all of them except Ida, but they all look rather sad, except Rita, who has a smile. The letter was in answer to the one I wrote from Andover just after coming across. They had received the photo of Dorrie all right.
According to today's paper, the Australians have been in the fighting in Picardy.
Wrote to Dorrie, and posted the letter early, so that she would get it tomorrow afternoon. Got 37 marks out of the possible 50 for the last examination.
Wednesday, 3rd. Packet of readdressed mail containing four November letters from Dad, Viola, Clytie, and Jean, and two January letters from Mrs. Tanner and Ida, the letter written in French, from Tasmania. Both Dad's and Viola's letters were very nice, and included loving greetings and messages to Dorothy. Viola finds true Christianity a very happy calling. I only trust and pray that she will find it so all through life. Jean enclosed a snap of Doris, Clytie, and a friend, taken at the top of Wentworth Falls.
This afternoon two letters came from Mum, dated Feb.11th. and 18th. Mum says Rita is coming on well at her music, and Gordon wants to take up Electrical Engineering after leaving school. Ida has started taking shorthand and typing at Stott and Hoare's, and is doing very well at it.
Wrote to Mrs. Morgan this afternoon, asking her had she heard from Viv.
Bought four packets of Lustre Powder at Heffer's for Dorothy, packed them up, with a note enclosed, and posted them to the dear girl.
Finished the letter this evening that I started to Mum last Monday week, eight pages altogether.
Thursday, 4th. Today we commenced with the early morning parade, at 7a.m., having squad drill, at Parker's Piece.
Very nice loving letter from Dorrie this afternoon. Saw the proofs of our magazine illustrations. My headpiece for Bill Gibb's article reproduced very well, and the other one not too badly, though greatly reduced in size.
Missed being paid with the others today.
Friday, 5th. The Germans resumed the battle for Amiens, delivering very heavy attacks, but have gained very little ground.
Commenced a letter to Dad.
Short letter from Dorrie this afternoon, saying she received the Lustre Powder all right. Wrote her a long letter this evening for Sunday morning.
Saturday, 6th. Left negatives of Dorrie at Beale's for an enlargement to be taken from it.
Sunday, 7th. The Huns have made but little progress so far in their second attempt for Amiens, and have suffered heavy slaughter.
Got a packet of old Australian mail this morning, a July letter from Mum, and some home snaps taken by Clytie, a July letter from Aunt Lydia, with one from Eileen enclosed, and a Christmas card from Jack Elliott, with a leaflet containing some doggerel, supposed to be poetry, called "Australia will be free". It was a bit of anti-conscription propaganda, and I was amazed and very angry at my one-time pal for insulting me by sending such a thing. I promptly wrote across the face of the leaflet -
This miserable drivel arrived today. I am a man, and not a traitor and a mongrel. You can apologise to me if you like for insulting me by sending this, otherwise I do not require your friendship any longer. Please understand that I don't associate myself with the filthy scum who have polluted the fair name of Australia and disgraced her among the British Dominions. Cowards and traitors, they blaspheme the name of God by calling upon Him.
Jack, if you've got any manhood left in you, cut adrift from that miserable soulless lot of cowards and come over here and do your duty as a man and a true Australian, and as a Christian.
I put the leaflet in an envelope and sent it straight back to him.
Finished writing letter to Dad. Spent the afternoon writing up notes from the copies of my old diaries that Rita sent over to Mrs. Morgan.
To Baptist chapel this evening. Wrote a short letter to Dorrie.
Monday, 8th. Short sweet little letter from Dorrie, written in bed by candle light Saturday night. Also three February letters from Clytie, Doris, and Aunt Lydia. Clytie has started getting a home built for Viv and her.
Met a couple of chaps of A Coy, 24th. battalion, this afternoon. They are at St. Chad's hospital, recovering from the effects of mustard gas. They told me that practically the whole of A and D co’s. were gassed, only five men of the former coy. remaining. A few died from the effects of the gas, and a few were killed by direct hits from gas shells. The bombardment occurred on March 21st., at the time of the opening of the German offensive. There was a heavy fog, which retained the gas, not thick enough to be noticeable at first, but putting the men out of action after several hours. Most of them were blind for several days.
Tuesday, 9th. Letter from Viv, saying he was surprised to get my letter and wire, as he thought I would understand that his letter was only written so that I could get leave to travel by rail. He was too short of cash to be able to come to Andover.
Also got a lovely long letter from Dorrie, written Sunday, enclosing the postcard views of Southampton that I had asked her to send.
According to today's paper, the Australians have been in some very heavy fighting at the Somme.
Wrote to Dorothy this evening.
Wednesday, 10th. We had another examination this morning, the questions being taken from the last War Office examination. Knew it all fairly well, except a question on wiring, which had me beat.
A new German attack has developed on an 11-mile front south of Armentières, at the place where we used to enjoy peaceful warfare soon after first coming to France and before the Somme battle started in 1916. The enemy has captured Laventie, and advanced 11/2 miles towards Bac-St. Maur and Estaires.
Nice letter from Dorrie, written Monday night. Continued cloud sketch.
Thursday, 11th. The new German attack has been extended north of Armentières. Our troops have had to fall back on the Messines ridge and Ploegsteert Wood. The Huns have captured Bac-St. Maur, Sailly, and Fleurbaix, places of many old memories of green fields, leafy avenues, and lovely French people.
Nice letter from Dorrie, written yesterday, and enclosing the ring card I had asked her for. It came as a very delightful surprise, and shows that my little girl is really in earnest about our formal engagement. Replied to her letter tonight.
Friday, 12th. The Germans have captured Merville, and are fighting for Steenwerck.
Rode out to Cherryhinton after tea, and continued rough sketch of the church. A number of anti-aircraft guns and transports have parked just outside the college, and are attracting quite a crowd of curious spectators.
Wrote to Dorothy.
Saturday, 13th. There was a zeppelin raid somewhere during the night. The guns went away from here hurriedly about midnight. While they were leaving, a civilian was killed, being crushed between two of the gun carriages.
Got the enlargement of Dorrie at Beale's today. It came out very well. Ordered two more. Commenced a letter to Mum.
Sunday 14th. Nice long letter from Dorothy. She has told her mother about our decision to be formally engaged, and her mother thinks I should certainly see Mr. Jewell about it first. Dorrie upholds this suggestion, and her words seem to imply that our formal engagement is to depend on her father's consent. That will mean another useless interview, and the inevitable repetition of his former decision. Can't help feeling terribly disappointed over it, for I had confidently believed this time that Dorrie would keep to her promise in spite of any opposition.
Very cold weather today. Went for a ride out through Histon this afternoon. To Baptist chapel this evening.
Wrote to my little girl, asking her the full meaning about her suggestion to see her father first, and whether she meant to break her promise if he still objected.
Monday, 15th. The School of Arts reopened again today. Went to Lithography class.
Tuesday, 16th. The Germans have captured Bailleul at last. Nice long letter from Dorrie this morning. Wrote reply this evening.
Wednesday, 17th. Letter from Mrs. Morgan this morning. Viv had been with her on a few day's leave.
Got a hurried note from Dorrie written at work yesterday on the back of a couple of Banks' handbills. The dear little girl, in her usual goodness of heart, had written at once to say she meant to keep to her promise (whether her father objected or not) so as to save me any unnecessary worry over it. She seemed rather hurt that I had doubted her.
Read "The Woman Thou Gavest Me", one of Hall Caine's books.
Thursday, 18th. Nice long letter from Dorrie, supplementary to the hurried note received yesterday. She was very hurt about what I had said in Sunday's letter to her, and was greatly tempted to be sarcastic, but refrained from so doing because of her resolution to say only nice things in her letters. Wrote to the dear little girl this evening.
Friday, 19th. Packet of readdressed mail, two from Eliza Prigg, one from Vera Billingham, May Curtain, and Beattie Bostock. Beattie's letter was in reply to the one I wrote her last September. She did not continue writing as she thought I might not have much interest in her now, but says she will keep up the correspondence henceforth. May's letter was in answer to the birthday card I sent her, and enclosed a photo of the Murray River bridge during the recent floods. Mary Luxton is still working at Ritchie's. Florrie Thorpe was living at Wahgunyah, so Bobbie Laidlaw must have been making a mistake when he told me Florrie was dead. Vera Billingham still seems, by her letter, to retain a lot of animosity for English girls.
Wrote to Dorrie. Continued reading "The Woman Thou Gavest Me." It contains some remarkable passages dealing with lower life in London.
Saturday, 20th. Very nice letter from my little girl this morning.
The weather was fine this afternoon, for the first time since Monday, so rode out to Cherryhinton and finished rough sketch of the church.
Went for a ride out past the Gogs this evening.
Sunday, 21st. Wrote Mrs. Morgan, also to Dorothy.
Monday, 22nd. Nice hurried note from Dorrie this morning, written Saturday. The dear little girl says she will keep the Wherwell promise next time I come. Got another letter from her this afternoon, written Sunday. Asks why I keep bringing it up about Wherwell. Wrote reply this afternoon.
To Lithography class this evening. Nearly finished the Austrian design.
Tuesday, 23rd. This morning we had to march for half an hour in box respirators. It was very trying and fatiguing, as it was not too easy to breathe freely through the respirators while marching. Afterwards we went through a test in a very strong concentration of chlorine gas. Took a small sniff of it once, and I reckoned that about two good breaths would be sufficient to kill a man.
This afternoon the company magazines, "Cheerio", were issued. On the whole they seemed rather better than the average, especially the art work, but much of the wit was very mediocre. Both of my drawings reproduced well. Dud Elliott's "King's College Chapel" and "Clare Gates" came out splendid.
Wednesday, 24th. Out at the Gogs today for the last time.
Two letters from Mum, March 4th. and 10th. Discovered from "Cheerio" that Stevenson hails from Black Springs near Oberon. Had a good old yarn with him about all the old acquaintences there.
Thursday, 25th. Packet of old mail, one from Mum, Nov 11th., with a nice photo of Ida, one from Miss Burke, with all the Corowa news, dated Jan 1st., also an unexpected letter from Olive Watts, written last July.
Nice loving letter from Dorrie today. She said she had only been joking about Wherwell. Poor little darling, she seemed rather unhappy about it.
This being Anzac Day, we had a parade of all the Australian and New Zealand cadets in the Nos. 2 and 5 battalions, and went to a memorial service in King's College Chapel. The old building had a rather fine interior, and some wonderful stained-glass windows representing biblical scenes, several of which were easily recognisable, such as The Triumphal Entry, The Betrayal, The Agony in Gethsemane, The Last Supper, The Trial before Pilate, and The Mocking before Herod. The colouring was really gorgeous.
After the service, which was more or less unintelligible, we were formed up for inspection by General Sir William Robertson, and then took place the usual march past, during which a cinema man was busy with his camera. The general awarded a number of medals to men who had won them, and then gave us a short address, which seemed very genuine and straightforward, unlike the usual extravagantly eulogising speeches we have delivered to us. Postcard from Mrs. Morgan. Letter from Mary. She had been so anxious about Vern since the recent fighting commenced that she had not been writing to anybody else at all, which explains why I had not heard from her sooner. Also got a nice letter from Dorrie, written yesterday.
There were some sports on this afternoon, but I stayed in and wrote to Dorrie.
Friday, 26th. Very interesting and instructive lantern lecture on "Tanks" at the Playhouse this morning.
The Germans have captured Mt. Kemmel. To the Life Class this evening. Invited to have tea with Mr. and Mrs. Browne on Sunday.
Wrote to Dorothy.
Saturday, 27th. Nice letter from Rita. Continued sketch of the Cherryhinton church this afternoon. Took a stroll out to Cherryhinton this evening. Cullen has been put in gaol for assaulting a police inspector while intoxicated.
Sunday, 28th. Having come to the conclusion that I had got trench gums, I went on sick parade this morning, and found my suspicions justified. What a beastly bore! And leave coming so soon too! Oh well, it can't be helped, I suppose.
Nice letter from Dorrie. Commenced a letter to Mary this afternoon. Went round to Browne's for tea, and spent a pleasant evening there.
Wrote to Dorrie.
Monday, 29th. Lectures and private study today. Cullen has been released and is going to hospital with the injuries he received in his encounter with the police Saturday night. He is a sorry looking specimen today.
Finished letter to Mary. To Lithography Class this evening. Took off the proofs of the Austrian design, which came out pretty well.
Tuesday, 30th. Short letter from Dorrie written Sunday. Said she was not in a letter-writing mood. She had received a nice letter and photo from Mary.
The great examination took place today. The first paper, "Military Law, Organization, and Interior Economy", was none too easy, but the second, "Musketry, Engineering and Trench Warfare", was a "chuck-in". The afternoon paper, "Map Reading and Tactical Problems", was hard. Three hours were allowed for it, and I just got the five questions finished five minutes under the allotted time. A sixth "bucksheesh" question was given, for anyone who cared to have a try at it, but few had time to attempt it.
I think I have managed to pass all right, but am sure I have not done particularly brilliantly. Most of the questions were based more on commonsense and experience than on book study.
Commenced a letter to Dorothy during the dinner hour, and finished it this evening.
Went to the Kinema Theatre, to see the Anzac Day pictures.
Wednesday, 1st. Handed in equipment, rifles, and books.
Postcard from Dorrie asking me to come by the 1p.m. train from Waterloo on Saturday. The address on the card was "63 Old Winton Road", so I suppose Mrs. Jewell has succeeded in finding another house.
Packed up a lot of my things this afternoon, and got rid of a lot of rubbish.
Thursday, 2nd. Went up for another medical examination at the hospital laboratory this morning, the verdict being that a few Vincent's organisms were still present.
Went to the Fitzwilliam Museum, and was allowed to see some fine original drawings in pencil by Griggs. Many of them were local scenes and there was one of the church at Cherryhinton, which I have been sketching.
Wrote to Dorrie, said leaving early tomorrow. Paid, £3. Sent "Cheerio" to Mum, 2 photos to Mary, & returned gloves to Mr. Masters. Sent him £1 in liquidation of account.
Exam results published. Got 196 marks, out of 290. 25th on list. 6 failures. Bill Gibbs 6th on list.
Rode out to Cherryhinton after tea this evening to sketch the flagstaff and weathervane of the church, in order to complete the picture. Called in at Browns' afterwards, and stayed till ten o'clock. Mr. Brown gave me a lithograph of a picture he had drawn of Trinity College.
Stayed up till after midnight packing up my things. Job to find room for them all. Filled pack & kitbag, & made up a parcel besides.
Friday, 3rd. Reveille at 5a.m. Handed in blankets. Took pack and parcel to station. After breakfast, got sugar, butter, and meat coupons for a fortnight.
Took kitbag and rode bike up to station, just managing to catch the 6.50a.m. train to London. Got in a compartment full of Tommies, and they were a jolly cheery lot, singing most of the way.
Arrived at Liverpool St. just after nine. Left bike and pack in cloak room, and then we went to the A.I.F. Hqrs. at Horseferry Rd. We were kept waiting about for some time before we could get our leave passes. Issued with Sam Browne belts. Got leave pass for ten days' leave, paid £4, went to Waterloo and left kitbag at the cloak room, had dinner at the Union Jack Club for 11d., and then went out to Hounslow to Mrs. Morgan's. She says Viv is going to Ireland on his next leave, so its evident he has no intention of going to Andover to see Dorrie. Mrs. Morgan has not heard from him lately.