Letter from Arthur Powell

Scope and Content

Arthur has received his various cards and letters from his parents, he is still feeling 'in the pink' and hopes that his letter to them, finds them the same. Arthur goes on to explain in great detail the discomfort caused by the plentiful presence of fleas and lice; no amount of the 'supposed destroyers' his parents sent out to him, have killed them. Arthur, to no effect, has used Powered Alum; which is a bitter chemical potassium aluminium sulphate, even though he took an improvised bath in a bucket and covered his underclothes and body in the powder. Arthur draws a gruesome spectacle describing how the lice and fleas were so large they covered his shirt in blood when he crushed them. The men, even though they are exhausted, once billeted in the barns at night can get no rest. He does, however, manage to paint an amusing picture how they are all awakened and then get 'cracking' with the 'bloodshed', this is what is referred to as 'chatty'. He makes a humorous reference to Cole Porter's 'Hitchy Koo' as the disturbance is similar to the rhythmic melody of the same song. Arthur asks for a jar of 'Harrison's Pomade' to be sent which purports to kill lice. It is similar to vaseline, but emits a dreadful smell. He was sorry to hear that his brother Norman did not get the job he had hoped for at the 'CWS' [Co-operative Wholesale Society]. Arthur is optimistic that the British Army have now 'got poor Fritz's measure' as well as having a good supply of 'munitions', he feels that they will soon 'put paid to him'. Arthur's birthday must be soon as he mentions birthday gifts for which his parents have asked him what he would like, he cannot think much other than to be sent a tin of Harrison's Powder. He enquires whether the Zeppelins have caused much damage to the railways back in England as there has not been any post in camp for three days. He closes his letter by saying there is little else to report, and makes a small joke by saying he is glad that he has been 'chatty' in one sense, because it has given him something to talk about.

Dated at: France.