Wilmot Evans to Mary Downing Letter, Mar 1915

This letter from Wilmot Evans to Mary Downing, dated 10 Mar 1915, is one of six of his war time letters preserved in Mary’s Writing Box.


1/S. Stafford Regiment, B E Force

My Dear Mary

Just one short note to tell you how I loved getting your cake & how kind & good I think you are to send me such a nice one.  I have just done 8 days in the trenches, as I was left behind when the regiment went out to teach the Canadians, who relieved us, how to carry on ‘mole warfare’. Well the cake arrived on the 4th day and the Canadians on the 5th so I shared it with them and their enthusiasm was terrific. They all talk beautiful American, and seem much more American than English. I had quite an amusing time with them. I hope you will be able to give me a description of Ernest’s wedding some time, if you managed to get to it. I hear they had crossed swords and all that sort of rot and I am sure you will be sad if you have missed it.

I want cheering up badly, as I am full of depressions these days. Another very nice fellow who had only joined the regiment before Christmas was killed with us a few days ago. At least he died of his wounds at the hospital behind us & I have just come back from his funeral. We seem fearfully unlucky us officers and have lost more than any others I think in killed, and I wonder every day how much longer I can last. I got actually hit again the other day a bullet managed to break the skin in my shoulder and just drew blood so I can say I have been wounded again. Also I am sick to death of the infernal miseries of the trenches, and the only consolation is that it can’t last much longer, trench warfare, I mean.

How are you all getting on at the hospital and at home? I wish I was there myself and I would give anything for this war to finish tomorrow or today even would do quite well. I am awfully sorry to hear about Noel and his billet being fever infected. Mother told me about it in her last letter. I hope he will get out of it all right. I should think he ought to as they don’t spend much time in their billets. I imagine as they are too hard worked for the most part. We are having a tremendous lot of officers going sick and they all think I am a bloomin marvel because I have stuck it 3 times as long as any one else, but it wasn’t my fault. There is nothing I’d like better than to come home for a few days rest on the score of ill-health, so that I would come back even more ready for the fray than I am now. I would honestly much rather have a proper ‘fray’ though. The ordinary trench ‘frays’ are bad things altogether.

Yours was a splendid letter to me and I have sent it home for safe-keeping with many others as I hate destroying nice letters and I can’t keep them out here. It is as much as I can do to keep myself in the space allotted to one generally. But I loved your letter and you gladdened my heart more than I can say. I laughed loud and long about Ernest’s engagement being 3 years or the period of the war. I am afraid the poor devil will find it has to be longer than that & you all seem to think that she is not very attractive.

Daisy Hatton sent me some awfully nice photographs of Rags the other day. Did you see them? I hope he still behaves like he did when you said he was such a perfect little gentleman when he pretended he was still on his chain when he was off it or words to that effect. He is a good fellow though and I am very fond of him.

I have just had a regular shoal of letters in by the South African mail, and I must try and find an hour or so to put by for reading purposes some time to-night as there seems to be pretty considerable subject matter in them judging from the size.

There has been tremendous excitement at The Lawn since I left, I believe. Not only was the housemaid convicted of theft, but Molly’s best winter hat blew off by the Crab Mill Inn and was never see again!  Isn’t this horrid paper? Molly sent it to me for writing paper but there isn’t room for my full well-rounded sentences and flowing phraseology as the lines are so short & I keep stepping on to a new page. However, I know that you will realize that it is all I have got & will forgive me. I have at last written a long letter, or fairly long letter to Noel to persuade him to take a commission with the greatest possible speed. I enclosed a very mad letter I received from Mrs Hatton for his amusement.

How are all the hard worked nurses getting along at the hospital? I wonder if that unfortunate pretty one has had to hold any more just like the one we saw that afternoon. She will soon lose her health and good looks if she has much of it, I should think.  Was Miss Lylette very much upset because we ragged her show and pushed her off her dignity that afternoon? One had to do something after an accusation of having had a nervous breakdown, which had been spread all through the hospital! Well, Mary dear, I am afraid this is a bad effort, but I feel awfully down in the dumps just now. Do write me even a note just to cheer me up a little bit some time and I shall be forever grateful to you. You were a dear to send the cake & you have no idea how much we liked it.

Yrs Ever

Wilmot Evans

Give my love to Mr and Mrs Downing and Daisy if you see her please. Much love to you as well.