A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 9 July 1917
July 9th 1917
It is our last night in this area – I hope for ever. I came here first from England and in this neighbourhood I have been the whole time with the exception of the Somme – and I have been in every part of the line in it – and now tomorrow morning I leave at 7.30, a.m. in charge of the advance party. I am not at all sorry except that I don’t suppose we shall ever be so comfortable as we have been the last week or so. At any rate we finished off well with the last push.
You may be able to guess where we are going.
Thank you so much for your two letters. I was very glad to hear that you are well and not too bored although a little homesick at times. I am rather glad really that you have had that feeling so that you can sympathise with us. But it is no good grousing is it? I think I am getting a bit fed up with spending the best time in ones life in this fashion. War is not exactly like a cinema show at the Scala with tea at Fullers afterwards.
I hope you both enjoyed Mrs Cross’ visit I shall be very interested to hear what arrangements you have made. You will be leaving Eardiston soon I suppose.
The weather has been perfectly horrid the last few days. I hope you have had better. Thunderstorms and torrential rain has made this place in a beastly mess. I hope it will be fine tomorrow for our trek.
England must be looking perfectly lovely now. There is no place like it. The French countryside is absolutely different. There are very few hedges, the trees are tall and skinny and the roads mostly pave are straight and very uninteresting. The inhabitants never look clean except on Sundays, the women are generally very ugly but the town girl very often dresses extraordinarily well. The houses are ugly and decorations appalling. The rest of what you see when you come out of the line is khaki everywhere, lorries, and lorries and still more lorries – horses everywhere – in every field – and of course staff and other things in gorgeous uniforms and perfect breeches called A.S.C. These & such like inhabit the chateaux of the land. Occasionally you see an English girl in white & blue with red capes – the nurses. They look awfully nice in their uniforms – but there are other extraordinary get ups and apparently they thought they were soldiers for they took to saluting officers. But when the Scotch officers took to returning their salutes by curtseying, they gave it up in disgust.
Please forgive my very uninteresting “impressions” of France as seen by the jaundiced eye of a superior and sarcastic field gunner.
I hear that London has been bombed again. It will do them a lot of good. As long as you at home don’t get bombed I don’t mind. I suppose there will be a thunderous out-cry again about retaliation and so forth. Just because people live in England the dear things think they are specially favoured of heaven and no one should touch them let alone bomb them. They can’t think of thousands of fellows killed by the Boche and the many French towns bombed by them – all without a murmur against the authorities for allowing such things. The “Daily Wail” & other papers would be quite amusing if it were not so pitiable.
There now that’s off my chest. Forgive it. As you can see I am in a very bad temper. The only person to cure me is you – and as I can’t see you now I must go on being in a bad temper.
Give my love to Mrs Cross when you write.
With all my fondest love to you darling and many kisses