A.A. Laporte Payne letter 21 April 1917
April 21st 1917
My own darling,
Now that it is all over it seems like a delicious dream that could not possibly be true, but if it were so I should be very miserable indeed.
It is perfectly horrid to be back here again – it is bad enough in the ordinary course of events but it is infinitely worse now. I miss you very much darling and the times when I could carry you off to town or elsewhere and be alone with you.
How are you keeping? I do hope your cold has not got worse and that you are rested after a very exciting nine days. Have the blue lines under your eyes gone?
I want to thank you ever so much, dear, for being so kind during my leave, giving me so much of your time and all else I wanted. You have quite spoilt me you know and the Gods have been very kind too haven’t they?
Probably you thought I was very quiet and moody at times. You must forgive me. It was so unexpected getting your peoples assent that it quite took my breath away and then latterly I had the thought of leaving you always in my mind which is very silly when one is enjoying oneself at the time as I did then.
However I have you to live for now and the time when I can see you next. What more can a man want than to make you happy if it is within his power.
I am simply longing for your first letter, and considering what you will say – your first letter after our engagement. I found your letter awaiting me here. It was a delightful one. Thank you so much for it. The cake arrived safely but was used by the mess as is the rule – so alas! I came in for none of it – but I got what was not to be compared with it didn’t I?
I arrived safely this evening after two long days on the way. Everything is as usual here. We are still in the old place. The horses are looking very nice but the Boche has dropped some shells very near the stables – the brutes.
The Colonel professed himself pleased to see me back. He is in fairly good form except for a cold. It was not at all to my liking to have you on Thursday evening. I was really miserable for once. When I left you I went for my bag and coat and took the tram to Golders Green & then tube to Victoria. I stayed the night at the Grosvenor Hotel and was up at 6 a.m. After breakfast I went to the station early thinking to get a nice corner seat – forgetting all my usual precautions – I must be badly in love – I had hardly got into the station when a major in a brass hat stopped me and said “Leave or Duty” and like a fool I said “Leave” – so he said “I want you” & gave me a paper. I knew what that meant. The paper informed me I was in charge of 200 – 300 men for the journey across. You can imagine my annoyance. My party was detailed to go by the second train leaving about ¾ hour after the first. I travelled in a Pulman alone (!) with another officer cursing my fate for I had visions of marching to a rest camp outside Boulogne. At Folkestone we arrived just in time to see the leave boat going out with the first train load, & that meant a day in Folkestone. I marched the men to the Rest Camp, which was a tin enclosure, happily close to the pier and left them there until 5.15 p.m. I went & called on a friend – a parson – Offer by name and had lunch with him. Then called on General Marsh & family, whom I had not seen for a long time. I found one daughter just married, another ill and one a widow quite recently. Leaving them I went to tea with Mrs. Sherbrook, a dear old lady – the mother of several officers – one of them a colonel of 29 years. She was entertaining some wounded to tea. One young fellow was wounded near us on the Somme, and had lost a leg & was only just recovering from blindness, the result of shock.
The boat left about 6.30 p.m. We had dinner on board, and I read “The Morals of Marcus Odeyne” by Locke. At 8.45 p.m. we arrived at Boulogne and I stayed at the Metropole Hotel with another fellow I knew. Luckily I was able to hand over the men on the pier at Boulogne so I was free. We started next morning at 9.45, a.m. and travelled via Calais, where we had 2 hours for lunch, St. Omer, Hazebrouck etc to within 10 miles of my destination and then rode up to Headquarters arriving here at 8 p.m. this evening just in time for dinner.
Yesterday was a glorious day. I thought it would be fine as soon as I came away – but I don’t mind because I could not possibly have had a better time.
How did the Canteen go off? I hope you were not very weary. Let me know all about your concert. I suppose Mr. Cross leaves on Monday for a short holiday. I hope his cold is better. What a lot I have to thank him for this leave.
This letter can’t go until tomorrow so I don’t know when you will get it. I am sorry it is so long before you will hear, but I was unable to get a censor stamp on the way up and so could not send anything but a Field Post Card which I did not wish to send.
I must close now as I want to get a bit straight before I go to bed. I am rather tired as you can imagine.
You are thinking of me sometimes, I know, dearest and that cheers me up a lot. I shall always remember you as I last saw you, looking down the steps as I said goodbye with the light in the hall shining behind you.
Please give my love to Mrs. Cross – kindest regards to Mrs. Lowe – I hope the lady is well – (I forgot for the moment that she is leaving on Monday)
With all my love to you darling & many kisses & thank you very much for making my leave so happy.
Ever your own