Lovely weather for a fight

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister to Florence. He was currently stationed in a quiet area, away from the fighting, and enjoying the sunny weather.


Dear W.F.

Ain’t it ‘ot!

Lovely weather for a fight, what?

Harry Pinder has been next door to me for some days – by the merest fluke he went to one of the other two Brigades of our Division – his two friends in distress came to us. I don’t know how he likes his “instruction”, but he ought to be fairly happy as he’s in what is now a pretty quiet part of the line. It’s a tricky bit of country, however, and just over 2 months ago was the scene of a terrible bombardment, & may be again.

It’s a most perfect day and we’re very comfortably billeted in cool rooms of one of a range of schoolrooms. The schoolmaster’s daughter is perfectly charming – about 10 years old, I should guess, & every bit as pretty. This morning I helped a big farmer’s boy chase her round the playground to mount her on his grand cheval, which she was afraid of because it was trop gros [too big]. Of course we didn’t catch her – it was much too jolly a game to bring to a climax.

It’s very difficult to write these days, an awful lot of “business”, precious little time and a rigid censorship.

So these few lines and those I hope to send will be just to let you known we’re all serene and very well, including the gallant Corporal, who is becoming quite a horseman, at least he thinks he is after being made to ride the General’s charger by the General, as far as the stables.


Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/5/21)

Hard bread, but making Christmas as cheerful as possible in internment

The four Cusden brothers, originally from Reading, had been teaching languages in Germany before the war. Together with thousands of other expatriate Britons, they were interned in a camp at Ruhleben, near Berlin. They were allowed to keep in contact with family back home, and in fact food parcels were an essential supplement to the meagre supplies doled out by the Germans. Here Albert Cusden writes to another brother, Len.

Jan 5th 1916
Dear Len

Since my letter to Mother many thanks for parcels N & O & one from Edie to Arch, leaf from Sawyer’s received Dec. 28th, parcel from Aunt Mary to Dick received Dec. 31st. If anyone sees Aunt Mary, please thank her very much. We do not much care for the bread batons, they are very hard when received. Would much prefer the toasted bread.

Christmas went off here much better than the previous one, and we are very thankful to all who helped to make it so. I don’t think anyone here was left out in the cold, arrangements being made by those who received plenty of parcels that others not so fortunate should have a share. On Christmas Day we were allowed to go to bed at 9.45 instead of 8.45. We also had our Xmas “parties”. Had Harris up on one day, and Arch’s chum Pinder on another. So you see, we made Christmas as cheerful as we could, and although we cannot ourselves thank all those who helped, we know you will do so for us.

Father asks whether we can manage with parcels we receive from various quarters. We are quite all right in this respect at present. I daresay the parcels we receive from other quarters will continue. The parcel Father mentions as being sent from your office we will distribute as desired. Thanks for information re ABC School of Drawing. Am very pleased to hear how you are getting on with your drawing, and am, looking forward to seeing some of your work. In letter to Vic you mention picture of Ruhleben in the Daily Mirror and think you recognise Vic there. Have seen the picture, but none of us are there, unless we are somewhere in crowd behind.

Father mentions Miss Pietz in letter. She has been a brick all along. Had not been here three days when she wrote Dick [she] was sending him a parcel, and has sent periodically since and always requests Dick to write stating his desires. In a recent letter (have not same before me) believe Father says Miss Shrimpton had said some parcels had been sent Dick which he had not acknowledged. The Aldershot News, through agency of Shrimpton, sent parcels to Dick for a time, each one was acknowledged to the firm, and Shrimptons written to several times. Dick wrote them again after the above, so daresay the matter is now right. Vic says will you tell Sawyers Reni is suffering from peritonitis, but she is getting better. They asked how she was. As we received more mittens and socks than needed ourselves, found others who needed them.

Love to all.

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to L W Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/1)