September 30th 1916

We have another letter from Lieut. Hugh Sidgwick (RGA), who is keeping us in touch with events on the Somme. I am delighted to hear that he has received his copy of our magazine, even if I have every intention of overlooking his protest:

sidgwick-ah-2“The ‘Draconian’ has arrived and I have been devouring it in a hole beneath the earth, to the accompaniment of heavy howitzers and field guns.

But I must write at once to protest against the publicity given to my private and amateur attempt to translate Roger Mott’s inscription…  I have always hated and frequently insulted archaeologists and now they have got a handle against me.

If, as I expect, about six of them write to the next number of the ‘Draconian’, cutting off my head and holding it up afterwards to show that there are no brains in it, for Heaven’s sake either suppress the letters or bribe some really eminent archaeologist to say that my translation is right.” 

Since his last letter, Hugh has been sent back to the headquarters in order to attend a course that will equip him for the role of Adjutant.

20/9/16. “Headquarters are a number of dug-outs and tents in a sea of mud: the Adjutant is a cross between a bottle-washer and a private secretary and there are more and worse telephones than ever. So for all practical purposes I am back in Whitehall and any sympathy expended on me as surrounded by the horrors of war will be quite wasted. I feel an awful backslider in leaving my battery, but orders is orders…

What I find most difficult to realise is that since I came out I have been in the middle of a big battle. It is quite a shock to read the ‘Times’ and find names mentioned as critical and exciting points, when I have been there on the previous day.

There is a casual air about a modern battlefield, until the show actually starts – people walking about, horses standing in lines, men cooking food, and telephonists brooding over their instruments at tapping in stations.”



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