My daughter Kit is proving a good correspondent and writes most interestingly from her YMCA hut near Havre:
“Do you remember me telling you about the literary miner? He is in ‘Blighty’, having been badly wounded in the head. He has sent me out Ibsen’s ‘The Warriors of Helgeland’; he writes that he has just discovered Oscar Wilde and is devouring his plays…
The others all tease me about young Davie Curry; the poor boy has had almost everything the matter with him; he has been blown up and is now lame, but he still has a delicious twinkle in his eyes, dimples, sticking out ears and a brogue of the very finest. He was eighteen the other day, having joined when he was ‘saxteen past’; he has got no parents and used to work in the Belfast shipyards…
I heard that he had lost his pay-book and could not get any pay, so I asked him as nicely as I could if I could help him in any way, and immediately he flared up, ‘Who’s after tellin’ you I had lost it? Shure it’s no matter at all, I have got plenty money.’ Though, of course, I knew he had not got any…
Next morning I asked him if he would help me clean Betsy (the car) as she was so dirty, and he polished her well, but was quite reluctant to take the ‘bulls’ eyes’ I offered him.
Since then, he has taken Betsy under his especial care and ‘shure he forgits’ everything I tell him, but I could never be cross with him, his smile is much too captivating.
He and some other Irish boys found a young boy wandering about and brought him in to their Sergeant. This young kiddy of ten said his father and two brothers had been killed in the Belgian Army and his mother in the explosion at Harfleur. The Sergeant took him to the C.O. and asked permission to adopt him – it was granted and he became the mascot.
He was called Jimmy Ulster and we all bought him clothes; the tailor made him a khaki suit, he marched at the head of the Band and we all spoilt him thoroughly. He was most vivacious and sang French songs, soon learnt English ones and he used to entertain us immensely; and help us too, with opening match boxes, peeling potatoes etc.
Then the end came, his father was discovered in the worst slum in Havre, no-one knew of his mother and all his tales were absolutely and entirely untrue!
He was taken home, but returned to camp immediately. He was put into the guardroom under arrest and finally was marched off between two burly Sergeants as an escort!”