Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 13 Feb 1918
Headed BRITISH RED CROSS and ORDER OF St JOHN notepaper
Private A. Deall M/322688 M.T. A.S.C.
No 21 General Hospital
Feb 13th 1918.
Rev W. Laporte Payne,
To revisit at this date to Christmas Greetings sounds like a far cry, and yet I am going to make the attempt, having lacked an earlier opportunity.
Your unexpected, and therefore, all the more welcome letter and Card reached me in Jaffa early last month, and the sentiments conveyed by both touched me very much indeed. The special reference to the Holy City was most apt, as your hope regarding it was an accomplished fact, and the British flag of freedom was already flying over Jerusalem before your letter reached me. I have been denied by circumstances from visiting the City, and am very disappointed that my chance now seems remote, although one never knows where duty, or again circumstances may take one. I can only claim to have been within 30 miles of the place. Still I have seen many places and sights I never expected to behold before I enlisted, despite my limitations, and I shall not easily forget them.
At Jaffa I unfortunately contracted a severe cold, coupled with which was a recurrence of an old trouble, as a consequence of which, within a week of the receipt of your letter, I was sent “down the line” to a Base Hospital, where I am now. I am back at my point of starting, and shall have to begin all over again. I wonder where I shall be next time!
I thank you most sincerely for your thoughts of me, and for the inclusion of my name in your prayers on behalf of the Troops on January 6. I appreciated both all the more because I don’t happen to be a member of your Church, though in spirit and purpose we are all one. Long ago I entrusted to Him all my cares and anxiety for the future, and I have been able in consequence to “carry on” with a light heart and inspired faith. Your message and thoughts for us all on January 6 cheered me greatly, and I passed on your message to several of my comrades with mutual pleasure. God grant that your hopes for a real and lasting Peace may be realised during 1918, but it must be satisfactory to the Allies to the lest degree.
As a Finchley resident I have often noticed and admired your zealous and interesting work for the Parish and the Church you love, not deeming it beneath you to come out into the open places of the district to reach the people and deliver your message. I have often listened to you. I have had the pleasure of meeting Rev R. Mannering several times, and learned to appreciate his value in the work of the Church and the loss to your Parish his leaving it must be. He was nobly inspired to relinquish home for Africa, and I earnestly hope every blessing and recognition will be his in his new sphere of work.
I have written a good deal more than I intended, but I’m going to let it go, even though I fear you will lay it down with pleasure. I am glad to be able to say (since I have mentioned it) that I am rid of my cold, and a slight operation for the other trouble will soon put things right.
Need I add how pleased I shall be to hear from you again if you have an opportunity of writing. News from Home and friendly good will expressed in letters loom very large in Tommy’s eyes, and when the Post-Orderly Corporal has to shake his head on hearing our enquiry “Any for me?” well then that’s when we begin to feel lonely, though there may be a thousand Tommies around us.
With kindest regards and best wishes, Believe me to be
Very sincerely yours