Letters from the Front | Major James Ardonne (letter 2)

For Attn. of : Major J. Ardonne

Sir, I have come across this from one of the men in my platoon while playing sticky Jack with a thick stack of green envelopes bound for home. I don’t know what to do with it sir. This man is awfully disparaging about the XXX at XXX and the instructors and repeating scurrilous rumours that were this to be intercepted could be construed as downright defeatist. I don’t think he should refer to the Colonel in such a disrespectful way either. His language leaves something to be desired and while he doesn’t infringe military law as such I cant help but feel it should be stopped and the man put on a charge.

Please advise of the proper course of action.

2nd Lt. XXXXX

Dear Dad,

I write this to you, very much in the pink and I hope this finds you the same. I have written to mum like you made me promise but I wanted to get these few lines off to you as there are many things that I cannot write to mum about. We have not long finished at the XXX and are heading up the line and towards the sound of the guns. We had a hell of a time at the XXX with the canaries (they are the instructors and they are called canaries on account of the yellow arm bands they wear). A right collection of bastards they are, most of them are scared blue of going up the line. It is queer how you don’t often see wound stripes on them and the sweats that turn up in camp hate them something like poison and when they got told “do this you” or “do that you” well if looks could kill there’d be hardly an instructor left. They give us new army lads hell and will push the sweats so far and no further after one of the canaries had an accident in his tent with a Mills bomb a few weeks back. It must have been some accident as he was asleep at the time. The talk is it was someone’s mate that had chucked a couple through the flaps of his tent to even the score after this particular instructor had been too free and easy with the field punishments for some old sweats not long out the line. The bloke ain’t moaning though as they could barely scrape enough of him up to fill a sand bag. Anyway, that is all behind us now and we are currently about five miles back and waiting to go up for the first time. I remember what you told me about the french bints and I have not fucked any, a few of my mates got back from the red lamp in XXX and told me I was a doolally not to have come with them. Still three days on two of them are scratching away like billy-o at their jewels and one swears he has the French pox, which if the MO cottons will mean catching hell from the old man as they will undoubtedly get batt. punishment rather then Mr. XXX dealing with it in the company. I am learning to sling the bat with the best of them and I am quite the old soldier now, you would laugh to see us at Crown and Anchor calling each other all the names under the sun in Hindostanee. I have got round to thinking about you a lot and the adventures you used to tell me about when you was in the Sudan and South Africa and I hope my doing my bit makes you proud. I am keeping my “Bundook” spic and span and will have to go pretty “Juldi” now as we are about our third inspection of the day. When we go over the bags I will try and get one of them spiked Hun helmets for you like I said I would.

Love to mum and brother Cyril.

Your affectionate and loving son, William.

For Attn. of : 2nd Lt. XXXXX

XXX don’t be such a prig, if anything I’m rather impressed the lad can string a sentence together. We all know what scrimshankers and rogues the instructors are at XXX and if anything he’s probably right about that Sgt. who spontaneously exploded. As for the content, I censor your bloody letters and I can tell you I don’t see much better in fact I often see much bloody worse. Pass the bloody thing and have a quiet word that anymore scathing honesty from the tip of his pencil could be problematic for him. That is all I don’t want to see him on a charge or we will have words. You’re a platoon leader, be their father not the school sneak.

Major J. Ardonne

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