11 August 1916 – “I would sooner by far be here doing my bit, than be called a slacker.”

11 August 1916

J Simpson

MZ/831Misc Signals No 50 Mess

Crystal Palace, London SE

Dear Mother

More YMCA paper you will say but everyone is welcome and as my Sleeping quarters are 5 minutes from the main buildings and as I have only 2 small pockets in my garb, it is a bit inconvenient to carry much writing material about with you hence the YMCA paper every time.  They gave me your letter at tea time today at the mess table and what relieved me the most was the letter from Park Hall.  I struck an old College chum of George Newport’s and he told me George was either killed or very seriously ill.  I was very glad to hear that he is now alright and still alive & kicking.  Your letter was most interesting reading and HB seems to have had quite a flash wedding.  The authorities see to have made a pretty fuss about my allotment.  As far as I can see you have done the correct thing. You have to sign a declaration that your statement is correct and I struck the average of 20/- for the last 6 months wages which is not far from correct.  I have a letter from Mr Neill this morning and he also has had a paper.  He inserted 20/- as an average so I think your conversation with the representative was  quite in order.  They are very particular about everything, and you have to mind your P’s & Q’s at every turn of your duty.  Mr Neill knew what I got at IBn’s and 20/- is a fair average.  I think I ought to put off my leave for a few weeks as a good many people will be away.  I must see Ellen & Fanny when I come home and I shall not be able to get 2 week ends so close together yet, so the best thing would be to postpone my leave for 3 weeks.  This is the week ending Friday Sept 1st, Fanny’s Birthday. This is the wisest thing as I must see everyone.  Of course it is rather a disappointment but I shall have to take it smiling as always.  Very likely by that date I shall be in the signaling School when things are much easier and settled and leave is much more regular.  The daily routine of drills is still in operation but I am feeling very fit and strong.  Home is the best everyway and you should just see the faces of the leave men when they are booked for home on a Friday.  All the same I would sooner by far be here doing my bit than be called a slacker and remain smugly at home.

I was one of the “picket” last night. Our duty was to walk at a creepy crawly step around the streets in bodies of 8 and see that all the men behaved themselves.  We were out till 11 O’clock and a lazier & more tiring job I have never had in my life.  Everyone gets his turn so it is the same for everyone.  You just do the job whatever it is & however irksome it may appear when you are told and smile every time.  Things appear to me more as a routine every day and before long it will be more of an instinct than anything else to do the various duties.  Our class (No.5) is quite an aristocratic squad.  Several of the men possess motor cars and most of them had very good berths in civi life.  We have 3 brothers together in our class.  They have all gone on leave together tonight to Sheffield.  They all came down at once so there will be a big vacancy at that home.  I have two buns left.  I keep them exclusively for morning  about 6.15 before fall in.  Of course I could eat and give more than you could bake but just send me a reasonable number.  Some of the chaps are poor givers but splendid receivers and you generally strike one or two chums who share a little amongst themselves.  I have taken none of the health salts as yet as I have been regular to the latrine and you cannot get any drinking vessel.  At sleeping quarters we have massed prayers every other morning when a Chaplain reads them to all denoms except Catholics.  I have now been transferred to Starboard batch and as a result have had to stay aboard 2 Saturdays running.  I hope Ellen had a good time at Chester.  Little John would have to be clean here my word, & I could do with Olive to clean my boots and Ducks, etc.  Tell Dad to drop me line how things are getting along.  I notice he does most of the addressing and I am glad to see his handwriting on anything.  Hope Grandma, Uncle & Auntie Emma are alright.  Give my best love to all at home and write again soon as you appreciate anything from home.

Best love from


Thanks very much for all stamps included.



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