A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 5 October 1917.
Tonight I am feeling very lonely. I have had time to settle down and think about you and realise what I miss by being out here. It is very cold too – not a bit like those lovely nights at Eastbourne. A gale is blowing, it is pouring with rain all mixed up with thunder and lightening. I have been relieved at the gun line by the major so I am alone at the wagon line. My abode is a tiny shanty, 10 feet by 6, and it possesses no door and of course the opening looks in the direction from which the wind is coming. In spite of all I am feeling fairly cheerful.
I have got you to write to, and I have just received a delightful post. Thank you ever so much, darling, for your dear letter – and the photos which are very good in spite of the awful subject or object of one of them. Send me as many snapshots as you can spare. I do love to get them – also the delicious cake which arrived in perfect condition. I had a tea party of five on the strength of it. The Major, another captain, John Amour and a R.H.A. subaltern. All of these have now gone their various ways, leaving me alone. J. A. is not at the Wagon Line now and I don’t care for the fellow who is in charge of B’s lines so I am living alone with occasional intervals when I go over to see Capt. Gilbey – O.C. of our Brigade Ammunition Column.
He and I rode into a neighbouring town last night to do some shopping. He is an expensive fellow and bought some extraordinary note paper and I weakly followed suit – hence this atrocious stuff. I am trying to get a stove for my hut but as everybody is doing the same are rather hard to find.
I was glad to see the mare again. She is in good condition in spite of standing out in the cold and rain. I really must rig up some sort of shelter for her or she will be getting pneumonia. She gave me a very exciting gallop across the sands this morning on exercise.
I am very glad you all enjoyed Clara Butt last Saturday. It was most good of you to take Evelyn. What an exciting time you do seem to be having. I hope they have not been too near you – I mean the Boche. Lloyd George has been making an ass of himself again & talking about giving them hell. Doesn’t he know that they have been doing that sort of thing to French towns since the war began? I suppose an English woman is much more precious than a French one or a ‘man’ who votes for his beastly party than a fellow who fights out here. If we have not been trying our best to give the Boche hell the last few years it is the fault of the politicians and ‘reprisals’ will not make it any better for us now.
I am glad you like the Aldwych Hut. Don’t do too much though. It must be very tiring work waiting. What a long time you are getting well. I am so sorry. I do hope the spots got no worse. I am much better thanks to my leave.
Please send me out ‘No-man’s-land’ by Sapper unless you want to keep it. Do you mind if I keep D. Hankey’s ‘Student in Arms’ a little while longer and lend it to another fellow to read. I should not have brought it out as it was yours: it does not improve a book to be on active service. I was very glad to be able to read it though.
I enclose a much crumpled tearing from the Continental ‘Daily Wail’. I should love to see Inspector Cross in a tin hat. I will send him mine if he would like it. The beastly thing gives me a headache which is worse than the possibility of being hit by shrapnel. I generally carry mine over my arm like a baker’s boy.
Did you see those delightful photos of Horatio Nel – I mean Bottomley in one and a gas mask? He must have thought himself greater than his namesake.
How is Betsy? She does not get smoke blown at her now. At least I hope not.
My servant will ruin my digestion altogether if he produces many more dinners similar to the one he gave me tonight. I am almost glad I have to dine at Headquarters tomorrow night.
I wonder what you thought of me when I was so obviously against your going to church my last Sunday evening. It was horrid of me wasn’t it? of course I did not think you really wanted to go; but the real reason was I had heard that the lesson reader would be away and I had stupidly offered to read the lessons – however it was not necessary – and the vicarage pew contained others than the vicar’s family – for Evelyn did not go to church there and I sat in the choir.
Have you had any more riding lately? I shall get quite a lot now. It is the only pleasure we can get out here. How are your gees? Have you got any oats for them yet? Do you remember the priceless old man at Pevensey?
We have good news again from Ypres; but I am afraid this weather will put a stop to anything much more now.
Please give my love to all,
With all my fondest love, dearest
And many kisses
Always your own