24 May 1915

(Birmingham Military Hostpital)

Dear Mum & Dad & Brothers & Sisters.

My last letter was posted at Gibralter. Have quite got over my attack of fever & am picking up nicely now tho my arm is not much use yet. I can use the forearm O.K but have no strength in the upper arm or shoulder. It hurts a good bit to move it. I was marked down for the convalescent home 3 days ago, & was to leave tomorrow Tuesday, but I think its fallen throu. I fancy the reason is cos they want all the Stralians to be together & for that purpose are constructing a Home for us which is not yet completed.

We arrived at Southampton on Sunday 16th – your birthday Viola - & were put in the most comfortable hospital train imaginable & arrived in Birmingham a few hours later, where we were met by motahs which conveyed us to this gaol. There was a great crowd waiting outside the station & they cheered us till I got quite bashful – I don’t think. We were cheered & waved to all the way to prison. This is the Birmingham Infirmary, & has been converted into a Military hospital. All of our nice “active” uniform (& it was active I can tell you _ _ _.) was rudely taken from us, & we were supplied with nice grey flannel pyjama suits & also a suit of blue fleecelined material in which to knock about. I didn’t get my blue suit till the Wednesday & as the nurses wouldn’t let me stroll throu the grounds in my jamates, I had to stay in bed. Hot water is laid on, at least steam is laid on & when you want hot water you turn the water on & then turn on sufficient steam to heat the water as it passes through it. Have been able to indulge in the glorious luxury of a hot barf every morning.

I’ll probably get a complete new rigout when I leave this hospital. When I was handing in my uniform the Sgt thort I could do with a new coat, so he ripped the other to pieces. Said that most likely I’ll also get a new overcoat & troozers.

After I read the R’s & Regs of this establishment I arrived at the conclusion that we are dangerous criminals. You see, they allow us to go out, but the number of places in the back yard that you cant enter would fill a big book, & to see that we don’t enter they’ve stationed sentries all over the place, who have an exaggerated idea about doing their dootie. Result, we are confined to a little bit of earth that’s too small to exercise on. First day I was allowed up tho, didn’t do too bad. Got 3 kindred spirits & as the sentries had not arrived, we disregarded the “out of bounds” notices & went for a stroll. Got out of our own backyard by a back path & entered a loonie asylum, & had an interesting chat with a few illusioned celebrities, & on tiring of that, we passed throu & got into the workhouse & still keeping on we got back to the hospital again near the front gate. There was a crowd there, mostly attractive young ladies & flapperites, so of course we steered for them. Suddenly an unearthly yell resounded & on looking round saw a corporal going mad. He was approaching us at a high speed & his arms were describing fantastic figures in the atmosphere. We didn’t like the look of him, & didn’t like the thort of him getting loose amongst the beautiful damsels at the gate, so we moved towards him also at a high speed. Our determined front had the desired effect, & he was quite calm when we reached him. However we did not trust him, so we accompanied him back & after seeing him safe with some of his mates, we strolled off in a new direction. We also discovered a gate opening on to a street, & of course it didn’t take long for us to get boxes & planks etc against the gate to stand on, & in a few moments we were admiring an English back street & incidentally some of the residents – especially the female element. They provided us with cigarettes, lollies, fruit etc in exchange for bloodcurdling tails – mostly fishy ones – about the front. Being bashful I didn’t take an active part in the operations, I merely contented myself thoroughly examining & scrutinizing the upturned rosycheeked faces with mouths open in wondering astonishment at the experiences of the narrators.

Tuesday 25th

After a while another corporal bobbled up from somewhere & there was a general scramble down. Owing to only having one arm, & to having a strong contempt _ _ _. for rank I was the last, so he came over to me & gave me a 7ft 6 lecture & 9ft of advice. I kept saying “yes” every now & again till he finished.

I’ve just got word after all that I’ve to go to the convalescent home today. I don’t know where it is but I spose I’ll find it if I have someone to take me there.

I’ve got a new rigout cept overcoat. It’s awful. They only had two sizes in coats. 9’s & 3’s I take 4’s so had to be content with a 3. It’s a small edition of an Eton _ _ _. The troozers are too big but it was the best. I’ll look a nut when I start off. They’ve given me two underpants each about 8 lb _ _ _. Well I’ll have to close now. Hope you all are in the best of health & spirits. Don’t worry over either of us – we’ll be alright. I’ll just about get back in nice time to enter Constant’. Love to all your loving son & brother Bert.






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