Miserable digs – but song and dance by the keenest soldier enlivens life

Percy tells his sister some of the lighter side of army life.

St Albans
Oct. 22.14

My dear Florrie

… Last night I learned that Dean Bleaken does not arrive until the 28th. By then I should have commenced my training, and have more regular hours than at present, which will enable me I hope to use Mr Image’s introduction. It will be rather funny if I meet our Brigade Major there. His name is Capt. Shenton of the Somerset Light Infantry. A fine fellow with a most musical voice. He is apparently a great friend of Canon Glossop here, so it is quite possible that I may therefore meet my Brigade Major outside the office later on.

I expect to change my billet on Saturday (of this I will give you prompt notice) as the condition of affairs where I am is too miserable and hopeless for words, so do not write to me at the above address after you receive this until I write again.

Every other night I am sleeping at the Brigade office, so that, in the event of a night alarm there will be an intelligent fellow here to get the Brigade together!!

There are all sorts of rumours as to our next move, but I really don’t think anyone knows what is going to happen to us. Probably it will depend upon how the war goes, and if it goes favourably, I don’t suppose we shall see foreign soil this side of Christmas.

I dare say you know, the men of this Brigade belong to the lower classes of South London. There is a sprinkling of swells and decent fellows, but mainly they are rough – very rough.

One fellow, “Dave” is a hefty baker’s lad for whom I already have a great fondness. As Capt. Holliday says, no matter what you ask him to do, he’ll have a dart for it – he’s a kind of Horace, only much more boyish. If he hasn’t anything to do, he’ll find a job. Today I found him voluntarily scrubbing the doors and paint generally, just to pass the time away, pausing now and then to execute a vigorous sand dance to the music hall ditty he was singing in the real Bermondsey style.

Now I am just off to try and fix up my new diggings, so I’ll say good night.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his siter Florence (D/EZ177/7/3/13-14)

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