4th December 1914
I feel as if I could do with a rest for me nerves are all shattered, we get relieved from the trenches tomorrow night and then we go back for five days rest which we have all earned.
The Dorsets spent the day in billets. Whether they were to enjoy the five days Frank hopes for remains to be seen. But I do hope he got some rest and possibly enjoyed a bath to get rid of the hitchey coos. Another man, Lance Corporal Lithgow, died and was interred at Dranoutre Military Cemetery. Presumably he died of wounds from the previous day.
I don’t want to dwell on Frank’s mental state. What he’s has been through is impossible to imagine. He’s lost most of his friends, having fought continuously without a break in horrific conditions ranging from the blistering August heat through to the freezing snow of late November and the wet mud of early December. I think we can forgive him feeling below par.
What I admire about Frank more than anything, is that despite what’s happened to him and even at this low ebb, he’s still cracking jokes and still finding nice things to say about people. Onto the letter…
and he hopes to be round at the Hope and Anchor before long trying the cold tea.
He’s still dreaming of a nice cold pint of beer. Frank’s local in Acre Lane, Brixton is sadly no longer called the Hope and Anchor. It’s now a chain pub called Grand Union. Next time I’m up there I’ll pop in and buy Frank a pint of cold tea.
Yes we heard about L Roberts the day after he died. I expect it was a fine sight to see, so you blacked your nose and saw the funeral.
L Roberts was Lord Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts. He had died on the 14th November 1914 while visiting the Indian troops in St Omer, aged 87. He was possibly the most famous British military commander of the Nineteenth Century. He was the embodiment of a soldier-hero of the British Empire. The Telegraph dedicated much of its pages to him for nearly a week after his death.
To put his fame into context his funeral was one of only two state funerals dedicated to non royals in the Twentieth Century. Kipling’s poem, Lord Roberts, laments his passing.
He passed to the very sound of the guns;
But, before his eye grew dim,
He had seen the faces of the sons
Whose sires had served with him.
I’ll leave the rest of the letter for now. I’m off on holiday, rather aptly, to Dorset for a few days. I’ll be posting as and when I can get on the internet.