A letter written to his mother from the 72nd Battalion’s position near Auchel in northern France on Dec. 16, 1917.
The Battalion had spent the last week in intense preparation for a marching and firing competition held on Dec. 15th.
The Battalion spent the Sunday afternoon preparing for the move that Harry alludes to in this letter. On Monday they moved from Auchel to Canada Camp at Chateau de la Hare and then to Dawson Lines. They were subsequently ordered to relieve the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion and entered the trenches on Dec. 19th.
“Sunday, Dec. 16th 1917
Two of your letters came last week. One dated Nov. 6th came first and yesterday one dated Oct. 30th. There are still some earlier ones missing. The sweater & socks also came early on in the week & the sweater is fine. I certainly will wear it as it is and not use it for anything else.
We hear that we are turning in our kilts on Tuesday. I will be glad, though I am quite used to mine now, but it is foolishness to go into the trenches with them at this time of the year. Tomorrow we are leaving these billets and I fancy are going back to where we were when we first came to the 72nd.
Tell Kathleen that the honey was fine. Last week grub was short & it came in finely. I wondered how you got the pot into the cake but since you explained it, it seems quite simple. The cake was jake a loo. Compris?
Surely you have had some letters in which I told you about my wound? It was in the left wrist – no bones broken, but the wrist is weak & I presume it will always be so. It healed up quickly but is very tender.
It is good of Mrs. Travers to send me jam & I hope it arrives safely for it will be a treat.
I wish all your letters would come. I’m sure you make reference to certain things you have said in others, such as Mr. Rose & the Rickmans & it is hard to patch up the gaps.
Mrs. L. wants to come over here & see what we have to put up with & if she had to shift for herself or if W. would only use the poker a little it would do her good.
Did Denis ever get the dog & have they got a cat? If they have both it will keep him busy.
Did Glen Campbell do you any good?
Denis must be amusing and from what you say he is all there. He certainly seems to pick up things very quickly.
The tongue you sent was fine but don’t bother sending me more things like that. As I said once before the shortbread & candy are about as good things as you can send. Have most of my letters come? I have written every week. Sometimes they might be a day or two early or late as it is not always possible to write on Sundays and once in a while I’ve written in the middle of the week.
Thank Denis very much for the bag for my tooth brush. Don’t tell Elsa, but it is quite possible that it won’t be used for long. It certainly is pretty.
When you told me that the F.O.A. was sending me a box, I immediately wrote a long letter to Miss C. I should have written long ago, but you don’t always have the time & sometimes you don’t feel like it. Of course I didn’t mention what you had said, but I was glad of the reminder.
I am not surprised that Maud— is selling out. It was always a wonder to me what kept him going, but I hope they weren’t dependent on his takings for a living. Your letter acknowledging brooch & earrings has never come so I don’t know what you thought of them.
There was a letter from Harry R. yesterday. He is at Seaford and seems to think he will be back in France shortly. It’s a pity he can’t stay where he is. If he was in the ranks and his arm was permanently injured as badly as his must be, he wouldn’t go back to the trenches though he might be sent back in some clerical position. On the other hand I have seen officers over here with just one arm and they seem to get on alright.
Dorothy wrote early in the week and again later. They are sending me a Xmas parcel. I hope it won’t come for a few days as we’ve all had parcels this last week. Their house in London had been broken into and clothes and many other things taken. Luckily they had a lot of silver with them & the rest was in a bank so they didn’t lose that, but D. said a lot of her own things were taken. I think she collected old silver. Evidently a lot a bric-a-brac was taken too. They had a lot of beautiful stuff and things from Farf’s Aunt Taylor which I hope they didn’t lose. It was foolish to leave the house without some kind of housekeeper. They have been away since early summer.
There was a small parcel from Aunt Annie a few days ago. I may have mentioned it last week. Yesterday there was a pair of socks from Aunt Mary – posted on Nov. 11th in London!
It was much milder this week, but yesterday was colder & today there has been some snow. I hope it doesn’t lie at all.
Love and good wishes to you all,
Address: No 1015507
Pte H K Burnett
View the original letter on Flickr