Neil – Mother: 8 Jul 1917

Still Somewhere or Other
8-4-17  (This appears to be an error – date should be 8-7-1917)
Dear Mother
Clydes birthday. (8 July 1907) Wish him many happy returns of it for me.  I expect this will reach you just before your own (23 Aug 1861) – the best I can wish you is that you will be able to eat as much on yours as I did on mine. (4 July 1896) We made mine last Wednesday quite a cabin affair. There wasn’t a single member of the corps who did not glory in the fact that my happy careless childhood was gone forever.  It seemed quite pathetic to me.  In fact I wasn’t able to eat any tea.  I am not quite certain whether my loss of appetite at teatime was due to the pathos of my departing infancy or to the fact that your cake was so good that I ate not wisely but too well.  Anyway my 21st birthday suffered little [from the eating point of view] from being held on board ship.  I reverently committed my moustache to the deep just before my birthday but I shall grow another on later on and get it photographed.  My nose is quite all right now – it has not bled since I embarked.  My ankle is still inclined to be a bit troublesome.

Draughts and chess tournaments are being held on board.  I have entered for them to while away a few hours.

By the way, I don’t think I ever told you to tell Dad that I got the Varsity marks he sent alright.  Things were so rushed about that time that one was liable to forget things.  Tell Roy and Gorrie that I shall reply to their letters some day.  Transport life is too lazyfying for extensive correspondence.

This by the way is the second letter I have written.  News is extremely scarce.  We have seen nothing but sea and sky and ourselves for a fortnight so we have very little in the way of inspiration.  – I interval (?) to invite ptomaine poisoning by eating pineapple out of a tin.  Funny how risks don’t matter when there are mines about anyway.  Well we’ll be safe off the boat by the time you get this.

Ever yours

Records from the Auckland museum indicate that Neil and Norman were embarked on the “Maunganui” which sailed on 12 June 1917, destination Plymouth England.