August 25 1915
Dear old man –
As I leave tomorrow at a perfectly ungodly hour in order that there may be time at the railway station to examine the passports, I write my little daily letter to you now. I hope to be in Folkestone by 6 o’clock tomorrow evening but this is a deceitful world and there have been several delays in the Channel boats. I expect the submarines are on the rampage again. Yesterday’s train went off crowded to the lee-scuppers (if that is the right word) on account of no boat going the day before.
I have been working all day at my accounts of my travels and saying pretty things about the French Army. I really think that they are excellent and I expect as time goes on, you will be of that opinion too. Really, there isn’t much difference between the way in which the officers of the English and French armies look at things. I was talking the other night “Somewhere in France” with a delightful old General. We were some miles from a town and the German and French searchlights were playing all around us. I asked him if he knew who was his opposite number on the Hun side. “Quite well,” he said. “I’ve known him for months.” (He told me his name.) “He’s an old man and I think he has gout. Every now and again I keep him awake all night with my big guns. He always loses his temper. He gets excited and begins to fire away all round the landscape. I should say he cost Germany a lot in ammunition.” Now isn’t that very much as an English officer would talk.
11 p.m. Just back from an idiotic cinema theatre at the Ambassadeurs. There were lots of faked pictures of the war and the only funny turn was about a kid who was spanked for throwing stones into a river where a man was fishing. So he went back to his father’s caravan (he was a gipsy), got a crocodile’s skin and fastened it over his dog. Well, as you can imagine the sight of a sky-blue crocodile on four legs running at him like Hell rather upset the fisherman and then the dog-crocodile got loose all over the country and the usual upsets and panics followed.
Thursday morn 9 a.m. Just off for Boulogne and have just received copy of your letter of 20th describing your billet with the Mayor and the maid Marcelle and the immoral luck of Grayson and local Gaby. I’m sorry about the food but Bateman’s will do its best to supplement. You ought to get a whole lot of letters from me when you arrive as I’ve written you regularly. Now for the Gare du Nord and a hell of a crush at the station.