‘As slow as carthorses’: Percy Spencer tries to move on

Percy Spencer continued to struggle getting his transfer organised. On 19 September he wrote again to Captain Holliday, his peacetime boss, suggesting a medical discharge might be fudged:

Pte Spencer
The Gloucester Regiment
Horfield Camp
Sep. 19.14

Dear Sir

As wired to you today, I can’t get the adjutant to transfer or discharge. He is not unwilling, but acting, as it seems to me, on the advice of the head clerk in the Orderly Room, he cannot see his way to do anything.

I suggested that a medical exam might discover that I had a weak heart (which I’m supposed to have), or that a stiff joint on my big toe might get me a discharge, but this I understand would prevent my re-enlisting.

The only course he could suggest was that you should apply to the War Office through your CO for my transfer. This I gathered might involve the payment of a few pounds, but I should of course be prepared to repay this to you.

As I am being shoved about from pillar to post pending the settlement of this matter, and if I do not soon get away to Abbey Wood (which would be convenient) I shall be booked for this place or Tidworth (both of which units I hope to avoid), could you let me know by Monday (midday) whether you are doing anything further in the matter. Otherwise I propose to apply for my pass to Abbey Wood to rejoin my company. Drilling with Cheltenham farm hands is getting on my nerves – they’re as slow as carthorses, though very useful lads to have around in a charge, if once they get going, I should think.

I daresay, too, if I get attached to a permanent training station, I shall get through my course in time to see some service.

But I hope to hear on Monday that you have been able to take further steps in the matter of my transfer.

In any case, whether you are able to do this or not, I am very glad you wanted me to serve under you, and grateful for all the trouble you have taken.

Yours faithfully
Percy J Spencer
To – Staff Captain Holliday

Letter from Percy Spencer to Captain Holliday, D/EZ177/7/12/5