George Ryan’s letter to Charlie Soper dated 13 July 1916.
On headed notepaper with regimental crest 9th Middlesex Regt.
13 July 1916
Many thanks for your letter of June 5. I was much surprised to hear you had gone to France. I heard from home that you had moved there, two or three weeks ago. It’s a pity you had to be split up like you were, & I’m very sorry to hear you have had to revert to Rifleman. Glad to see you had such a comfortable journey on the Transport. You were lucky but I think you all deserved it after your experiences of the last few months.
Well as you see we are still in the hills. The weather now is much warmer than the first few weeks up here, but the monsoons are commencing so we are getting it rather wet. Our long-expected Draft has at last arrived & are living under canvas as the barracks are full. They are a mixed lot; a good many of them are “wash-outs” absolutely, but I suppose they were thought good enough to send out here. They’re spoilt the Battalion & if there was to be any serious trouble on the Frontier I’m afraid very few of them would be any use. It’s enough to make you weep to see some of them on guard.
We’ve just finished our Annual Firing Course & I had rotten hard luck in not getting a Marksman. I was going strong but was right off form the last day & missed it by six. Three or four others in our Platoon had the same hard luck but we shall start drawing First Class Proficiency pay in Sept & that’s all that really matters. It’s a very peculiar range up here, situated in a valley, the butts one side of it & the Firing Points wherever a convenient place could be found, the other side. The khuds (slopes) up here are very steep so we had great deal of climbing to do & as the range is three miles away we were not at all sorry when we had finished. I am on Police Duties now, temporarily, while another chap does his firing. It’s a dull & lazy job & I shall not be sorry when I’m relieved of it.
We expect to be up here until Sept or Oct & then rumour has it we move to Quetta, another Frontier Station, in Baluchistan. One of our officers has expressed his opinion that we shall very likely go home to England at the end of the year, provided there’s no serious trouble on the Frontier in the meantime, for three months special training with a new rifle. I think this quite probable.
I had a letter from Bert this week – the first for a long time – & he says he has heard you are in the same district & hopes to run across you before long. I can quite understand you not having heard from May for such a long time as I hear from her none too frequently. I’m afraid most of her spare time is occupied writing to Bert so if you should run across him, just ask how she is getting on. I’m writing to her this week so I will call her “over the coals” about it for you, (as I’ve done a few times before.)
Well I hope you will soon get your leave & have a good time; or a better way of putting it, considering you wrote on June 5, would be – hope you’ve had your leave & that you had a good time. (Lucky chap.) Let’s know all about it.
Remember me to your mother.
Best of Luck,
Your sincere pal.
In cover addressed to Rfn C.E. Soper, 2939.
12, Platoon C Coy,
16th London Regt (Q’ns Westrs)
Brit Exp F.
Postmark unreadable with Indian stamp 1 Anna. On back Postmarked FIELD POST OFFICE 148 dated13 AU 16. Also DLO BOMBAY 23 DEC 16 and DLO LAHORE 2 JAN 17. On front oval cachet T.F. RECORD OFFICE LONDON NO TRACE and R.E. (S.R.) A.P.S.