02 August 1916 – Physical drill on the famous Crystal Palace football ground, prices, vaccination and the daily routine.

02 08 1916

Dear Parents

I have just received your parcel with Buttons, Pins, Laces included. I have only just received Ellen’s’ letter and yours of July 29th.  It is necessary to put “Miscellaneous Signals” on all letters to me or they are sent to the Sea Draft Post Office and not to the Signals’ office.  This has been the cause of the delay. You say you would rather send me the cash and let me buy what’s required here. I would rather you would send me the things down here as the Shopkeepers are inclined to fleece you especially in London.  I paid 6d for a small roll of bandage in London last Sat.  I could have got the same bandage for 4d at home.  Of course it is no use sending Blacking Soap down as you can get them from the stalls in the Palace.  You can get soap at the Naval store at 2 ½ d a pound, so that is cheap enough.  As regards being clean you have to be or you catch it.  I have a warm Shower Bath once a week and we have to wash ourselves clean for the 9-O’clock parade.  We can get our clothes washed at the YMCA Laundry but the general opinion appears to be to wash them yourself.  I have bought a scrubbing brush and have washed several handkerchiefs & pairs of socks already.  We are being put through the mill a bit this week with Squad and Physical drill, especially the latter.  However I have gone on merrily so far and have been able to stick it in fine form.  We have Physical Drill on the famous Crystal Palace football ground and I shall have cause to remember that ground as long as I live.  If you set your heart into the work it goes down alright but if you funk it and turn faint hearted it must be a terrible bore.  However I can feel  it is doing me good and we must train hard to (get) fit as far harder  tasks in days to come should we be wanted.  They do not serve us out with oilskins at this Depot but you can buy them for 16/2 at the Stores.  This is very reasonable as they would be very useful in civil life to anyone.  I am sure they would cost 25-30/- from a shop.  I have been wondering whether to buy one or not as I shall have no coat to put on if it rains and they don’t allow you to wear civil overcoats.  What do you think of it ?  Of course they give you one when you go on board but this will not be for 3-4 months yet.  If I bought one I could send it home when I had finished with it and  Dad could wear it.  If any friend wants my address give them the one at the top for the next month but after that it will need to be slightly changed.  We are allowed out every other night.  “Port Watch” goes one night and “Starboard Watch” the next.  I am on Port Watch and all must be past the Palace gates, back by 9-15 PM.  If not then it is guard room and sleep on boards for you.  We get up at 5-15 to 30 AM then fall in for Muster parade at 6-30 and drill till 8 when we have breakfast.  At 8-50 we have Inspection parade when you have to be clean and tidy.

We then drill till noon but have 5 minutes interval then dinner. We fall in at 1-40 PM and have drill or instruction till 3-15 when we get another 15 minutes rest. We then have Physical drill till 4-15 PM and then change into blue suit & have tea at 5 O’clock when we have finished for the day.  We do all work and drill in Duck suits.  We have a good kit as regards clothing but have to provide soap and cleaning materials ourselves as regards my allotment.  You will draw 2/- + what the Navy allow you and I draw 2/- every Friday from the Paymaster.  I don’t think you will have any further need to bother about Separation allowance as they ought to let you know when you may draw it.  My vaccination is beginning to trouble me a  little.  They did us all in three places.  I bet Fanny had a good time at NB and little John will not know me when I get home as I am getting quite bronzed.  Send me a slab of your cake every week as it will come in handy for supper.  You can get any amount of good stuff at the YMCA but give me a bit of ‘Sudden Death’.  Send the first down in a suitable tin or I shant get any of it.  Tell Olive (1) we get any amount of Blackpool Sauce and I have never seen a milk pudding since I came down.

Best love to all and tell Dad to keep his Pecker up and “Smile Boys Smile”. Yours Affecty James

Tell Harry Bannister to get on as a writer if possible but I think it will be too late now. In any case this is better than the Army.

(1) We think Olive was the Maid in their house.




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