Wilmot Evans to Mary Downing Letter, Feb 1915

This letter from Wilmot Evans to Mary Downing, dated 16 Feb 1915 is one of six of his war time letters preserved in Mary’s Writing Box.


1/S. Stafford Regiment. Brit Ex Force


My Dear Mary

Owing no doubt to the terribly bad postage system now in vogue out here I have absolutely failed to receive any of your last 15 letters. However, if you continue trying I daresay one will find its way through sooner or later, and I cant tell you how pleased I shall be to get it. By Jove I was miserable when I got back to this bloody war after that glorious spell at home. I simply loved every second of it, and it was only the feeling that it was probably the last few days at home that kept me from going off my head with pure delight. I loved seeing you again too, and talking over all the merry times we had in past ages when there were no wars anywhere or even clouds on the horizon to spoil our young lives. It did me any amount of good going home, because before my leave I felt there was nothing much worth living for, but now I am clinging desperately to life so that I can eventually come home to all the delights and comforts, which I had for those few short days. You’ve none of you changed a bit and every thing seemed the same and now I am mad to get home again and live the old contented and peaceful life. I say I wish you’d write to Noel and tell him I am awfully sorry I didn’t write or even thank him for his very kind wire but I simply hadn’t time in London, as Molly will tell you, and I didn’t know his address after wards. I had forgotten it, and I should be delighted if you would send it on to me and I will write and thank him at the same time expressing my opinion that it is most desirable that he should obtain a commission at the first available opportunity. I will also highly recommend him if necessary. I have just had a very long and delightful letter from Molly. She is a dear really and does write splendid letters. It was to thank me for our grand burst in town and she also reminded me of that Saturday afternoon when we visited the hospital. I did enjoy that afternoon so humorous wasn’t it? Only marred by the fact the female Quartermaster had spread the rumour that I was at home with a nervous breakdown! I was awfully upset about that because I have a particular horror of it and I have seen so many bad cases amongst officers. I don’t mind getting killed – at least not very much – but God save me from a fit of nerves. It may make one do most awful things. Mine have stood the strain pretty well so far, and I hope they will remain all right till the end. At anyrate I am getting used to most things, and I have seen a good deal in the last 19 weeks.

I had a very pleasant surprise in the shape of old Hal Barlow blowing in to see me yesterday. He came on his motor bike and as luck would have it we were out of the trenches – we are going in again to-night and we spent long hours talking over old times. He seems to be quite enjoying life living in luxury away back somewhere. He stayed to lunch and we were awfully amused at the idea of this fine full corporal lunching at a so-called officers’ mess. He is a very pleasant lad and I have a great affection for him. I often think of old Ella [Hatton], and her remark about how we approached the German trenches at night. The other night I really did get down devilish quick on to my what d’you call it as I was out scouting at night and we ran into a German patrol. Rather fine night expeditions are, and I continue to make them safer than some of these brave people do by not going too far!

The Hattons are a wonderful family. I have just written to Mildred to thank her for the nuts. She is rather a dear too isn’t she? Before all my love was wasted on Kathleen but I loved Mildred as well this time. I am thoroughly tired of this war Mary dear, and I wish something could be done to stop it. I suppose it will end in time, but I am afraid I shan’t be there to see it. Though my luck is still wonderful and people get killed on all sides of me even in the trenches. The men think I have a charmed life, but I am afraid it wont last much longer. I thought my family were very well, didn’t you? They seem to thrive on war pretty well, like the son and heir. Ok I saw Mary up in town just for a few minutes and  then she wanted to go home so I had to pop her on a bus and leave her. Good bye Mary and don’t forget me. I give my love to everybody at home. Remember me to Mr and Mrs Downing and don’t forget to write to Noel.

Yrs ever

Wilmot Evans