Letter from S. Gore Browne, responding to Wynne’s enclosing the photos you see above. 5.10.
Dear Mrs Jackson
I am very much ashamed of myself for not having written before to thank you for the wedding groups. I was awfully glad to have them, the intellectual expression of the contracting parties is something to be glad of in these superficial days. One question. Is it to be hoped that somewhere about next March ? the union may be blessed etc? If so I should like to be allowed to present a christening mug. Of course there’s always the chance that a War baby may have already appeared – one is so suspicious of these hastily carried out marriages.
I don’t know what to tell you in the way of news, as I expect you hear it all. The General is very well, and wonderfully cheerful and equable in spite of the Arctic beastliness of the vulgar little booth we inhabit. I expect he’s told you all about it – how the beautiful blue sky and the lush green grass show through the walls, and the sound of the spitting of the ancient Flemish farmer in the next room mingles with the cooking of our (ex Mauretania) chef. However we’re off tomorrow, thank goodness.
You will have heard all the tales, repeatable and unrepeatable, I expect also. One rather nice incident occurred the other day when a soldier wrote to a cousin of mine asking her to send him some drawers, “for my trousers are so harsh they have my skin scoured off me”! I thought it was rather prettily put.
My home has become a hospital, at least Brooklands has, and my people now inhabit the servants’ hall. I rather envy the patients in it, but very likely they’d prefer a nice cheery spot like the Herbert Hospital with its outlook on the cemetery, one never knows.
I am always meaning to write to your son to thank him also for a photograph in which I look only a little less inane than the bride and bridegroom, but that is by the way, I expect I do too.
The apology for a fire in Dobb’s 50 Franc stove has ceased apologising for the last hour and icicles are beginning to form on the Louis Seize chairs (spoils of Ypres which adorn our hut like rubies round a charwoman’s neck) so it is fully time I got into my blankets, and the General into his. He is sadly reading the Daily Mail of the day before yesterday (price 2d in this country) at the moment. Once more thank you for the photographs. Yours sincerely, S Gore Browne.
A second letter was sent, written 18.10.1915.
Dear Mrs Jackson,
Thank you very much for your letter. All I can say is that if they’ve been in bed for 5 months on end, and still there’s no change then the gentleman must be what Le Petit Bob said the visitor was of whom his mother had such a poor opinion, in Gyp’s (?) book of that name!
We are still idling and living in comparative comfort. I said to the old woman who cooks for us, the other day, that the general was pleased with his food. She beamed all over, and asked if you were a good cook. I plunged in, and was in the middle of explaining that you were famed throughout England for your feats in the kitchen which only just fell short of her own, when her husband interposed with “Perhaps, since he is a General, he keeps a cook as well as a wife”!
We are anxiously awaiting our next orders. To be prepared for everything I have sent for a Greek Testament, the only book in the language I now possess, but I think it is hardly likely to be required. Opinions still vary and everywhere from the Keil Canal to the Caucasus is still suggested.
Thank you very much for the kind things you say at the end of your letter. As far as I am concerned anyhow they are only too little deserved. I wish they weren’t – for it would be quite impossible to have anyone nicer or easier to work for. I’m not saying that to please you. I wish you could hear what all sorts and conditions of people say in the Division, on the same subject. Perhaps you can realise the difference it makes when everybody both trusts and is fond (the two don’t always go together) the man who is responsible for them, and how grateful one is.
Please, whatever you do, do not say that I said this – but I thought you would like to hear it perhaps first hand.
Yours very sincerely, S Gore Browne.