Neil – Mother: 28 Aug 1918

(Letter typed)

Hornchurch, ESSEX.
Dear Mother
Things are going on much as before. There has been a good deal of delay in replacing me by another English instructor,- I am getting pretty sick of the subject. The other man replaces me soon, however, and I take on arithmetic. They have presented me, without being asked with three buckshee stripes. I don’t get sergeant’s pay yet, though, but when my appointment is confirmed at some indefinitely distant date, the extra 2s. per day will be made retrospective so that I shall be paid extra from the time I started instructing. The stripes carry with them a table cloth, a cruet, a pot of tea in it, a basin with sugar in it, and a jug with milk in it, the prettiest of the V.A.D.’s for waitresses, a second helping when feeling glutinous, also a clean bath house, and a “G’morning, Sergeant”, when a combination of unfortunate circumstances renders the saluting of an officer unavoidable.

While typing that last sentence, routine orders were brought in. They state that my successor commences work tomorrow, for which I am heartily thankful. I shall proceed to render myself indispensable at Arithmetic. It must be very heartening for the poor devils who have spent 2 1/2 years in France to think of the dodgers over here who never have done anything and never seem likely to do anything. But it’s not my fault,- I gave the Colonel particulars of my active service (or rather lack of it) and he didn’t seem to think it all a grave objection; it’s a case of the devil taking the hindmost. I should prefer that you continued to address your letters Pte. If I get chucked out, and go to France again, I don’t want to have to explain to every Tom, Dick and Harry, why my letters are labelled Sgt.

30-8-18 No more news

I have the honour to be, Madam,
Your obedient servant,
49123 N H Smith, Sergeant

They reckon the NZers have had a hell of a smack up at Bapaume. I don’t know whether the casualties are as bad as rumour says. There are no reports thro’ here yet.