September 4th 1915

Charlie Childe was reading Medicine at Pembroke College, Cambridge, when the war broke out. Having got a commission in the 8th Gloucestershire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant, he has achieved rapid promotion, from a full Lieutenant now to the rank of Captain.

His life on the Western Front, as described below, is distinctly preferable to that described recently by our Old Dragons in Gallipoli.

Charlie Childe

Capt. CM Childe

6/8/15. “I can’t plead the excuse of being at war for not having written before…  for my part, I live, eat, sleep and feed in perfect comfort and feel no more uncivilised than at a garden party at home.

One day Jack Smyth turned up to lunch here. His regiment was then in the trenches quite near. However, the trenches are on the reverse slope of a hill, so once out you can get on a horse or motor-bike, or your flat feet and go wherever you like. He chose the motor-bike, lunch here, and an afternoon’s shopping in a town quite handy; then in the evening he went back and took on the role of cannon-fodder for a bit during the evening ‘hate’ period.

Another rum thing: the trenches are close together and so each evening the various regimental transports on either side come along with supplies, and the only available roads are well known to both sides. Consequently neither side shells the opposing transport coming up, because it’s a case of both or neither being knocked out, and ‘live and let live’ is more satisfactory when possible.

Then there is long corn between the trenches, and so you can get out and sit about, if you feel inclined, quite happily. Apparently it has been done, but Jack wasn’t for it himself.

Tomorrow the Padre and I are lunching in the town. A pal of his in command of a motor-ambulance is calling for us and bringing me back in time for an afternoon’s parade.

We bathe in the river before breakfast – the whole section, 65 strong – and again after lunch, and generally go for a ride in the evening.

The bathing has apparently offended some august swell’s senses, as an Army Order now insists on pants. The Padre is a very good sort and has a pair of very shrunken and minute ones which he uses for diving in. He keeps them on the bank to put on when he gets out again, and so the order is complied with.”

By a strange coincidence, we have been informed that by the wish of the Curators of the Parks (here in Oxford) all those who bathe in the river after 8 a.m. will, for the future, be required to wear bathing costumes.

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