Dear Mr Allan,
I received your welcome letter also the one enclosed from Mr Henry Lithgow. I wish to return thanks for both letters, also the one I received from Mr James when I was at home. You might also thank all the Boys for me, for the splendid time they gave me while I was at home.
I may say a week is not long in passing; in fact, it is short and sweet. I personally never spent a happier seven days and now though I am back here again, I feel happier and more contented after seeing how things are at home, thanks to yourself, Mr Lithgow and some of the Boys.
I have made a list of all the addresses in your letter, including that of your Minister, and if ever I come across any of them I won’t let them pass by.
There has been a big change for some of us out here lately. The week I was on leave the Head of Affairs decided to form a Guards Division, taking all the regiments of Guards out of the 1 st and 2 nd Divisions and the new Welsh Guards that have just landed out here and making one Division of Guards.” There will be some dirty work at the cross roads ” when they get in amongst the Germans. It is practically speaking the pick of the British Army in one Division; a fine body of men, nothing below 5ft 10in.
As there are 3 Brigades in a Division, they must have 3 Field Ambulances, so they had to pick them from the ones out here. The three picked for the work I am not sure of yet, but No. 3 Field Ambulance was the only one picked from the 1 st Division, as the general put it-for our good conduct and splendid work in the past. No.4 from the 2 nd Division is another I am told, but who the third one is I don’t
know at present.
Our Colonel says it is a great honour for the ambulance. It may be but it is no joke carrying a guardsman two or three miles, and if I understand thing right, this Division of Guards will be in some hot corners. It will be a case of “Up Guards and at them”. Never mind No. 3 Field Ambulance has been in some hot corners before and can do so again.
I may say the week I was on leave our brigade was in action but were back from the Firing Line on Friday, and when I reached here on Monday morning, they were all packed up ready to move off, but as things turned out we did not move off till Tuesday morning at 9 am, so I had the chance of visiting the 45th Field Ambulance and speaking to Sgt Kirkwood, Private A. Brown and the remainder of the Kingston Boys in that unit.
I gave them all the news from home and bid them goodbye, as I might not meet them out here again, as we have now left the 4th Army corps which the 1 st and 15th Divisions were in. I might meet them again before long but might not. They were all in the best of health when I left them.
After marching 15 miles on Tuesday we halted for the night at a village between Lillers and Aire called Mollinghem. On the Wednesday we moved off again at 8 am and marched on for 18 miles till we reached the village we are now in called Hallines. It is about 6 miles South West of Saint Omer, so we are well out of range of the guns at present. It is round about this district that this Guards Division is forming. We will be here for a week or two till the Division has been got into working order, then, after that keep your eyes on the Guards as the Officers of the Guards have been telling their men when they go into action there is to be no
more trench work. They have got to get the Germans into the open and keep them there. As far as I can see, they expect a lot of this Division and I hope they get it. I am glad our Ambulance has been picked for this job; for though it means more work and more danger it will be very exciting and hope to be just behind the Guards when they march into Berlin.
I don’t know what more to say just now, as there has been nothing of importance happened here since I came back except on the Sunday night before I landed one of our aeroplanes was brought down and the two men in it were killed. A shell burst just under it and down it came.
I hope to have some good news to tell you next time I write, and of the good work of the Guards. There is a rumour here today of a great victory in the Dardanelles, but cannot be certain, let’s hope so.
I am glad the Russians have done well lately. It is time something was done at this end now.
I will now conclude once again thanking everybody for the splendid time I had while on leave.
I remain, Yours faithfully
P.S. This is my new address, also a post card, the only one I could get of this village. It is also the largest place in it.
No. 3094, Private J. McFarlane
3 rd Field Ambulance
3 rd Guards Brigade
British Expeditionary Force