Neil – Mother: 18 May 1918

Sat evening 18-5-18
Dear Mother,
It seems quite a fair while since I wrote – no it isn’t, it cant be much more than a week because I remember mentioning that the £20 was well in sight. It has arrived now. I have deposited most of it in the Y.M.C.A. Bank here, because my money belt went west at Etaples, and I didn’t like the idea of keeping it in my pocket after my experience at Cayeux. I do not know when I shall be getting leave. They don’t seem in any hurry to get rid of me. I am putting on weight (13 st 3 lbs now in my clothes) and I’ll soon be back to normal. My throat is not right yet but the inflammation has gone a lot sufficient, for them to cut it about safely now but I don’t intend to remind them. If I have leave and then go back into hospital to get it done afterwards, I shall be entitled to a second sick leave. The time is just about due now for me to have another relapse on trench fever but I don’t think it is coming. I think I have about shaken it off now. It is rather funny to call it trench fever, considering that the only trenches I have been in are those that Bill Massey has his photo taken in – trenches in which the occupants wear soft hats instead of shrapnel helmets. Did you see that photo? It caused a great deal of satirical comment on the Western Front. I don’t think Bill will reign long after the boys get back. There is some talk about the convalescents being pushed out to the country here for light farm work, shooting (?) fishing etc, but I am not sure whether I am going. I shall if I can. I am willing to hold the Torquay front for any period I may be called upon to do so. This is easily the best place I’ve struck on my travels. I dodge fatigues owing to the fact that I am temporarily employed in the medical room here. I am on duty at present and stopped just before the word “medical” to put a dressing on our new O.C.’s foot. Grierson is gone. His successor has a horrible wound in his ankle only half healed. I’m dashed if I know how he manages to hop about on it.

I notice in the Auckland Weekly 21-3-18 that N.R.Smith (Ponsonby) is classed as “Still serious”, in the hospital report. I received two letters from Trot yesterday (the first since God knows when) and as he doesn’t mention having done anything nearly so clever, I assume that they meant me. I am quite jealous of all the sympathy he must have been getting on my temperature. I got one of Vic’s parcels this morning containing biscuits. Each of the other two tins of biscuits sent me into hospital you remember – I don’t know whether this one will or not. Thank Vic for me. Tell him I’m enjoying them. I got several letters from NZ four days ago, including one from Dad & one from Gorrie.

Dad’s 17-318. Tell Dad he spelt “convalesce” wrongly, if he can quote newspaper literature to support him in his inexact use of the word “effects”. Gorrie’s very foolish getting wounded in NZ. It doesn’t even carry a Blighty with it from there, nor even a gold bar.

Talking in this letter of a relapse being due made me stick the thermometer in my mouth while I was writing to see what it says. It is six points above normal which isn’t much of course but is a sort of indication that there is something not quite right somewhere. I can now notice a bit of a headache, which I didn’t know I had till the thermometer mentioned it. It is probably due to the fact that I have been eating rather much today. I shall certainly postpone any trouble till after tomorrow, I am going on a sort of little picnic to-morrow afternoon & evening to Maidencombe (ominous name). Dad mentioned that you got a cable informing you that Trot was in hospital with severe fever. It is rather a good job I signed my full name to that cable of mine – otherwise you would have sent the money to Trot.

Gorries letter 10-3-18. I haven’t replied to Ella’s letter yet, but I shall as immediately as possible. Gorrie says he was afraid Vic would be in France before time of writing. He doesn’t realise the way brains run in the family. I knew I saae (?) Phillips (who he mentions was severely gassed) will. It was he (and others) I used to go and see at Frankton. I saw him in England many times when I was at Aldershot and he at Ewshot. I heard about his being gassed when I was at Cayeux and wrote him, but have received no reply. I believe he was fairly bad. I am thinking of having my dial reproduced. If I do I’ll send you one. Nothing further