Injury: ‘arrived here with only one boot’

This is one of many letters sent by staff of the Great Western Railway (GWR) Audit office at Paddington who had enlisted to fight in the First World War. This letter was typed out and circulated in the Audit office. (RAIL 253/516)

Charles Douglas Mayo, 22 October 1915, Courtrai, Belgium. Born: 30 June 1893, Regiment: Artists’ Rifles; 2nd Royal Scots Regiment, Rank: Lieutenant; 2nd Lieutenant, Retired: Resigned 17 February 1919, but seems to have re-joined GWR on 17 November 1924 and subsequently retired on 16 April 1955


Dear Father,

I do hope you and mother have not been worrying much about me as I am getting on all right. My wound is well now and the broken bone is my only trouble-  the two ends took the wrong turning first time so a couple of days ago they put them on the right road again. I ought not to be left with a short leg as there is about 40lb weight on the end of it, in fact I should not be surprised if it finishes off ahead of the other. One good thing is I get very little pain except when I am moved.

Did you get my postcard? I haven’t had an answer yet but expect letters take a long while. I believe I asked you to send me some fruit but as things take such a long while to get here I am afraid it would be bad, besides they take French money here, and as I drew £5 from the Field Cashier only a few days before I was wounded I am quite well off and the orderly will buy fruit for me in the town.

I expect you are surprised to get a letter when I said on the post card that I should only be allowed to write once from this hospital, but a fresh order has come out and one letter a month is allowed.

Well, I have written quite enough about myself I think. I am longing to get a letter from you and mother, it seems ages since I heard from you. Have you taken a house in Uxbridge yet or are you waiting until Auntie and Uncle move there. I do hope you are getting a little more used to the lonely house. Please remember me to everybody and give my love to all relations next time you write and tell them I should like to hear from them if they would write although I shan’t be able to answer their letters. Have you heard how Frank is getting on, I meant to write him but put it off too long.

I expect my kit has been sent home, hasn’t it? I am afraid your field glasses are lost as I left my equipment in the wood when I was hit. I am awfully sorry if they are but perhaps one of the men picked them up. I arrived here with only one boot and only one puttee, so will you send me a pair of puttees and a tie out of my kit. I shall be supplied with boots when I leave here, which won’t be for a while I expect. One thing I shall be very glad to get will be some books.

We are very well treated here, and the Belgian sisters from the convent are very good and often bring us grapes or apples.

I didn’t get a very long run for my money, did I? It is rotten being out of the show, not that I wanted the war to last long, far from it, but while it was on I liked to have a finger in the pie, but it is no good grumbling and the best thing to do is to hope it will soon be over so that I can soon be home with you both again. Please give my kind regards to Kate. Very best, love to you both. Cheer up and don’t worry about me.

Your loving son, (2nd Lieutenant Mayo)


P.S. I hope you can read this, it is awkward writing lying down.

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