Neil – Mother: 11 Apr 1919

Dear Mother,
Back in camp again, but no NZ mail yet. There has been none delivered for about a month. I got three 1-lb parcels from you, two containing assorted sweets and chocs,- the other not opened yet, for all of which many thanks of course. There is no news much,- nothing to write about unless I talk nonsense and I think I talked all the nonsense possible in my last letter to you and Mat. Saw a good bit of Ireland,- Larne, Belfast, Coleraine, Giants Causeway, Londonderry, Donegal, and Dublin. I have become an enthusiastic Sinn Feiner. Their leader is a Professor of Mathematics. Sinn Fein is still smouldering in Dublin. You can see the charred ruins still of buildings in the mail street, where the artillery pushed stuff around in the revolution of easter ’16. I shouldn’t be surprised if they had another little flutter this Easter. They make no bones of singing a very hearty hymn of hate at England from their newspapers, and the military orders pasted up all over the city (it is under a sort of martial law) are openly flouted. About 75% of the city are Sinn Fein and the rest, bar the garrison of British soldiers, are neutral. Sinn Fein (pronounced Shin Fairn) is gaelic for “We for ourselves”. Would you have known it from what you know of Scotch Gaelic?

I wired for an extension of four days, but they refused, so I took one extra day, partly accidentally; they aren’t going to trouble me about it so far as I know at present.

There is no work here. I was sent here to replace a man who is doing nothing and is not going away. Its a way they have in the army. I am spending a bit of time learning German. [I did start on Gaelic (Scottish Gaelic), but quickly gave it up]. German will be very useful for reading German mathematical and scientific periodicals and textbooks. I have rather a language fever on just now,- been reading several novels in French (not wicked ones of course); and last night in the Bedford Hotel conversed in broken French for an hour with the French Air Secretary, and with the British Adviser to the Air Council on matters connected with raw materials (oil etc). They wanted to know all about oil in N.Z. but I wasn’t able to tell them much, [especially in French]. The French Secretary could not speak a word of English and the British chap spoke French fluently, so I had to plod along in French to be polite to the Frenchman. He understood me alright but I only got about a half of what he said on a first hearing. We talked a lot about chess, the English chap was an enthusiast, but it was too late for a game. He was a bit stunned, too, I think.

Mac is in No 3 Hospital here. I had a long yarn with him today. First time I have seen him for two years. He is pretty alright again now. I suppose you have heard all about him from him.

Well, I must settle down to work and save some money now. It costs on leave about 3/- to 4/- for each bed and meal on the average, besides costs of trips etc.

Expecting a big mail,

Yours sincerely