In this letter, Alexander Henry Tod is in Glasgow on leave. Some readers might recall that much of his family emigrated to Canada around 1910, hence he’s still writing to them rather than visiting with them.
Glasgow – 24th January 1916
Here I am back in the old country for a week’s leave, which expires on Saturday. [He’s writing on Monday.] The joyful news was sprung on me when I was in the front line and I did not stand long on the order of my going. I left the trenches at 2 o’clock on Friday afternoon and was in London the following afternoon about 5 o’clock. It was a horrible crossing and the boat was packed with those like myself going on leave. I was nearly nabbed for duty in Boulogne to look after some details going over but I successfully dodged it. There were generals and officers of every rank, plenty of red tabs (staff) and hundreds of tommies and a good few nurses, but the mal-de-mers caught everyone alike and the lee-rail presented a very interesting picture. I managed to keep all right but it was at the expense of a thorough wetting, as I stayed on the upper deck and got every other wave that came over.
I saw Rob Bell in London at the bank, but Aunt Jessie was out at Chorley Wood. I shall try to see her on my way back. Mr. G., my old chief in St. Petersburg, was also in the city and I saw a good deal of him and some other old friends during the two days I was there, and I was pretty well looked after. I then came up to Scotland and paid them a surprise visit at Stirling, where they were all very glad to see me. I only wished they had Cockburn there to welcome back. [In his October 9th 1915 letter, Henry writes of Cockburn’s death – Cockburn fell at the head of his men at the very beginning of the action (Loos).] They are all very well but the blow has been a heavy one and Uncle Fred and Aunt Alice will always feel it. Beatrice, Muriel [his sisters, I think] and I went to see a musical comedy in Glasgow and enjoyed it greatly. This morning Chris and I had a round at golf and I just managed to win by one hole [clearly there’s a long standing family interest in golf which explains my husband’s love for the sport]. It was very bad golf.
I go south again tomorrow and the time has flown all too quickly. It is a funny war – to think you can get off for a week’s holiday.
A ‘funny war’ indeed.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.