Training for mobilization: clerical accuracy is essential

Two days earlier, Percy Spencer had planned to return some knitted socks his siter Florence had sent him. But he found they were just too cosy to leave behind:

Belmont Hill
St Albans
Nov. 22nd, 1914

Dear Florrie…

In a weak moment I tried the bed socks on, and succumbed to their comfort, so they are not going back to Maidenhead, thank you…

Today, all the troops in the division have been out as if for entrainment – that is to say, exactly as if we were off to the front. Of course, all that sounds very simple, and so it looks, but while you remember that the distance occupied by each unit has to be calculated, and the rate of movement arrived at to determine the times of starting of each section so that each will fall into the column in its right place at the right moment (each of the sections, by the way, coming from a different point) you will begin to understand that my simple little statement at the beginning of the paragraph implies a lot of labour and clerical work, accuracy in harrassing conditions is essential, and I’m looking forward with some anxiety to writing orders for advances or retirements on the field, when a clerical error may mean a hitch and subsequent misfortune – it’s as well to look on the gloomy side of things (our operations today were right on time, and successful).

Sunday, and I’ve done a hard day’s work, so I’ll say goodnight, and promise a longer letter soon.

Yours ever
Lance Sergeant

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence (D/EZ177/7/3/25)

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