Neil – Mother: 12 Apr 1918

No 2 Stationary Hosp
Friday 12-4-18
Dear Mother,
I was rather unwell last Saturday at the Conv. Camp and was sent into Depot Hosp. there about eleven o’clock that night. I had a high temperature all that night and the following morning, so the Colonel marked me for General Hosp right away on Sunday morning. There were thirteen of us marked to go as stretcher cases. I was the thirteenth and so was cut out of it, because it would have meant putting on a special ambulance car for me – each car holds four. However my temperature continued doing things it didn’t oughter, so they sent me on here to Abbeville on Tues. The con. camp you know I suppose, is at Cayeux on the mouth of the Somme about 20 miles from here. This place is just behind Axxxx. It is nearer the line than Cayeux is – there was a bit of a strafe on the other night and the guns woke several of us up. But it is quite safe. It is out of reach of his guns except the “freak” long range one. They say that our engineers have invented a gun that will carry 150 miles and if the shell fails to kill it brings back prisoners. They also reckon that the recoil of each gun is worked so as to pull up the rations for a division from the Supply Base, but I cant vouch for that. But to get back to our mutton. I got here on Tuesday night. I was carried down to the ward here by a poor little B3 beggar who felt sorry he’d enlisted for the first time when he got me on his stretcher. The doctor had a look at me that night and next morning the orderly told me he had marked me BE, which being interpreted means Berth England, which again being interpreted means I was to go to Blighty as a cot case aboard the Hosp. ship. “England”, it seems is the old name which the prewar people used to call Blighty. Unfortunately a convey train had just left at 3 a.m. that morning so that at present I am waiting for the next. I have waited 48 hours of 60 minutes each, and every extra hour that passes makes it easier for that possible slip “twixt the cup and the lip” to occur. It occurs about once in four so you can imagine my state of mind. You know this Hosp. is so near the line that it comes in what is termed the Battle Area and therefore is acting as a Casualty Clearing Station which is not supposed to retain any patient fit to be moved longer than 48 hours. So if that train doesn’t hurry up, I may be bumped out to Base Hosp. This morning my temperature was up again. I shall keep my mouth open when he sticks the thermometer in tonight, because if your temp. goes above 101° F they declare you unfit to travel, and “I’ve gotter kinder feelin pound me stealin” that my temp is off for a stroll up to 103° tonight. If I don’t get to Blighty, I am going to destroy this letter of course. If I do get there I’ll wire you for some dough. I’ll wire for £20 because I’ll be having two leaves in Blighty and Trot will be falling due for leave and may want that £3-15-0 or so that I owe him. …. Interval there while I had a shave with some hot water the next chap brought me in a tin. The tin was leaking horribly so the shave couldn’t wait. I shall go to Scotland for my first leave I think. 900 Aussies and NZers get married there every month, but there will only be 899 the month I go.

I may possibly be sent home to NZ. Far funnier things than that have happened in this war and if there is any luck walking about I usually click for it.

(In the letter Neil has crossed out the paragraph above and scrawled across it “NO CHANCE”)

It is wonderful what a cheering effect Blighty has. If I was just hopelessly in hospital now with my present temp, I’d probably be feeling pretty blue. [Shan’t write any more in case it is wasted


What do you think of me as a member of a “fighting family”