Your Loving Son: The letters home of Cuthbert H T Lucas. What a difference a month makes

Posted on centenarynews.com on 04 January 2015
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By the beginning of November 1914 Captain Cuthbert HT Lucas of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, the ‘Biscuit Boys’, had been with his unit for a month. During that time he had to assume command of ‘B’ Company (and was, at one time the only officer not killed, wounded or missing from the Company) and then, by November 7th, the Battalion. The previous month had been desperate, culminating in the battalion being embroiled in the last-ditch defence of Ypres around Gheluvelt.

November 7th 

My dear Mother

I hope the copies of my diary have been getting through all right. I got all the parcels up in the night and sorted them in a hole in the ground in a wood.  Put on all the clothes, throwing the ones I was wearing away, and put the other things in a sack and sent them back to the transport. The flasks have not come yet, but otherwise I think everything has arrived. We have had a hard time lately, 16 days under incessant rifle fire, the men have done extraordinarily well, but will have to go back and refit shortly , as they can’t stand much more without a rest. I am C.O. now the Col was badly wounded by a shell and Finch got a shrapnell through the heel. Ready tells me that the 1st Army have sent on an urgent request for me to be made major at once, I don’t know whether it will go through, I would much rather have something permanent like a D.S.O.

I had a bath this morning! And a shave and we hope to get a day’s rest though they are shelling close here at the moment and then back into the trenches tomorrow.

Am keeping wonderfully fit, no lumbago which is good considering the number of wet beds I have had.

We want Jack Ransome out again badly, there are not many of us here now.

I shan’t be sorry to get home again though I do get a rather softer time now as C.O.

Love to everyone

Your loving son

Cuthbert.

The Battalion did indeed get its time to refit, moving out of the line on November 15th just after a draft of 250 men had joined its ranks. Lucas seems to crave action and not to be in any way disturbed by what he was going through. Was his concern for his men’s ability to carry on a mirror of his concern for himself? His letters to his Mother rarely convey the severity of the personal danger he was himself in, always seeking to assure her that he was as out of harm’s way as possible. In his occasional letters to his father, he is more open as we shall see in his letters through 1915.  

His astuteness in perceiving the ‘good’ that will come from the shelling of the NE coastal towns is an early indication of his understanding of the exigencies of war.

 

December 18th

My dear Mother

This is to wish you all as cheerful a Christmas as the present circumstances permit. My best thanks to Father for the leather coat. Your box has not arrived yet, but will no doubt roll up shortly. We are still in the same old place, doing nothing, and it still rains. I hope they will not wait for some fine weather before they push us up again. There must be some excitement in England over the Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby affair. A pity the Navy didn’t catch them. However it will do a lot of good.

It is really extremely dull here, with absolutely nothing to do, except an occasional parade in the rain. 

We can now get the Times of the previous day by sending a bicycle orderly into Hazelbruck.

Love to all at home

Your loving son

Cuthbert.

 

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