17/05/1915                                                                                                                         Rouen

My Dearest Father

I am sending you some photos I had taken at a funny little shop: they are pretty weird, but rather amusing. I used one of each for you and one of each for mother. The one in the outdoor uniform is not so bad, but the other is a poisonous libel!

Have you seen much of the Scottish Horse officers and their wives? Are they as nice as the Scouts?I suppose Captain Hadfield has had the bullet extracted from his thigh by now: I expect he’ll have a slight limp for life. How is John Budibent ?

I hope the letters and cuttings I returned have got home safely. I have had a letter from Colonel Sandall fairly recently and also one from Mr Clayton-Smith. I am so sorry to hear that Mrs Rawnsley has broken her arm; it is indeed rotten luck. It will keep her in England for some little time. How is Claythorpe going on? I suppose you have got some little pigs there now, and how many calves were there altogether?

Wasn’t the Lusitania devilish and diabolical. I hope bluffing boasting America, who up to now has been all swank and talk and no deeds, will really wake up now. I’m jolly glad enemy aliens are to be interned: the time is late now: it ought to have been done last September. I was horribly shocked to see that Newton Woodwiss is killed: poor boy it seems such a little time since I was dancing with him, and he was a nice lad despite his little affectations. I saw about poor Tommy Garfit too. Have you seen Betty Fenwick-Owen’s baby and is it a nice little thing?

This is a very scrappy letter so far but I am answering some of yours, and that makes it rather disjointed. I wish I could come over in a little biplane and do a little rook shooting and have a look at you both, and the garden and then fly back. It would be ripping.

I went up to the camp again yesterday to see Teddy Tomlinson and as I was crossing the Rue Jeanne D’Arc I casually glanced at the 3ASC Tommies , and behold the middle one was Charles Lacey. Mother will probably know better than you who that is. He was Tom Parker’s butcher –boy who enlisted last October. He is here at Rouen at the docks cutting up frozen meat. He has been all over the place, Bruges, Ostend, Dunkirk, Amiens, Boulogne and other places that I can’t remember. He looks awfully fit and rather less “soft” than before. He still has the same crazy smile! I asked him how he liked it, and he said well enough, but he wouldn’t mind a fortnight’s holiday.

He has applied for exchange into another regiment as he is tired of cutting up meat and wants to do a bit of fighting. He was more astonished to see me and stood open mouthed for several minutes, and declared he wouldn’t have known me in uniform. I chatted to him for some minutes and then went up to No 9 and found the boy much better. His temperature is much steadier and he was lying outside in his bed in the sun with an awning to shade his head. It was a gorgeous day and beside him was a Canuck (Canadian RE man) who had had a mild attack of gas but was well on the way to recovery: he simply sounded as though he had a bad cough and cold in his throat and chest. I sat for half an hour between their beds on a camp stool and talked to them. It is quite true that the Boches crucified a Canadian sergeant : the soldiers all tell one so, not one or two. Wasn’t it a ghastly thing. I came back from the hospital on Tuesday with a lot of wounded who were going to England. They were all wounded in the upper half of the body and able to walk and sit and more or less take care of themselves. They were as merry as sandboys in their clean bandages and bloodstained uniforms. Each man was labelled like a parcel. I gave them some cigarettes and chatted with them and they were awfully interesting. Of course one has to take some of their statements [with a pinch] but still the whole conversation was really thrilling, I have come to the conclusion that the English Tommy is one of the most charming characters in existence. They are simply delightful. Tomlinson will quite possibly be sent to England towards the end of the week so the sister told me. I saw a military funeral as I was going up: a Highlander, with a pipe playing “the Flowers of the Forest”.

Tuesday. It poured with rain at intervals yesterday and again this morning, and it is quite cool. Funnily enough, I was talking to one of the girls here who lives at Cheltenham and looking at her paper, and found an account of Kathleen Richardson’s wedding. Please thank Mother very much for the overalls which arrived last night. She would do well to put “On active service” on the outside of parcels and also their contents, though the latter isn’t so necessary. I went with Miss Brodie on Sunday Morning to the Indian Post Office here and bought two sets of stamps ( Indian surcharged BEF ) and had one set stamped with the FPG post-mark and the other left plain. They are great treasures. One of the Belgian girls here is also going to get me a set of Belgian stamps marked with their special Havre postmark.

How is Mother getting on with her maid hunt. I regret Robert’s departure but I don’t care about the rest. On that Jo. c from the 5th W. Yorks. A. Gaunt was the subaltern who arranged the matches with me. C.E.Ward the colonel, BS Bland, a Cambridge half blue hockey, and a captain in the regt, DP Mackay another Capt. ( I had tea at his digs with Mrs Wood and Edith, and W Goldie, the very charming Major.

Tell Mother that I certainly think Whiteley’s bill is very heavy, but I know shipping rates have gone up immensely since the war. I enclose the bill. I’m so sorry her coat and skirt was not a success. I hope she enjoyed Jean Stirling Mackinlay: I would have loved to take her to it. What a pity there has been trouble at Woodthorpe: it seems all the more sad as there have been Kelks there for hundreds of years. I got my wee lamp all right, many thanks for it.

I must stop now, as I’m busy.

Best love to you both

Your loving Dorothy

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Mrs T

Beyond the day job, and the garden, I love to delve into local and family history. While pursuing one project other snippets frequently distract me, resulting in the eclectic mix of tales from the past found here.

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