Such a wonderful letter from Mrs. C.J. So good of her to write in all her trouble. Will you tell her how much I appreciate it? Poor Mrs. Atkinson, how much I feel for her.
[Eperlecques—The Battalion would remain here until 20 July.]
5.00 p.m. Got in after a 15 mile march—fine. Such a nice peaceful place. I have asked everyone to prevent my letters getting into the press. You might keep it in mind. I have a horror of it. A draft of 53 came in this evening, which brings us up to 356. We had parties out every night searching, and the last one when we were six miles back. It was dangerous work, and one officer was killed, and one wounded at the job. Everyone volunteered for it, and till we moved back 12 miles, parties went up every night. No trace of ‘At.’ could be found, but the area to search was about 450 x 500 yards, and under fire all the time. I still think it possible he may still be a prisoner. Ask Sloan to find out where Sgt. Caulfield, of Lurgan, is in hospital, as he stated he saw ‘At.’ dead, or apparently dead. If the men’s story about his being in the 3rd Line trench is true, he may be wounded, and a prisoner, but I doubt the story. No posthumous honours are allowed or given, except the V.C., and though I know they all earned it, there is no evidence. Old Bernard was killed in Thiepval wood, bringing up his Battalion, in support—shrapnel, I think. Ross Smyth sprained his ankle, I’m told, going up that night, and wasn’t wounded. Sgt. Johnston wounded, and not bad, I believe. Sgt. Foster killed. Sgt. Barbour all right. Will find out about Brownlee and Addis. I wish I could feel I deserved the men’s devotion, and the kindly thought for me on the part of the bereaved ones touches me to the heart. Old Q.M.S. [Quartermaster Sergeant] Russell is all right. He has been on a soft Div. job for months. This seems a charming spot. People are much more friendly here and helpful, Billets good, and so peaceful, and such a pretty country, so civilized. Two posts out in the day! I return your letters. How kind people have been, writing about me.