Letters from the Front

Private John Cushnie

Seeing the sights in London, including Royalty

Private Collection

Thursday, October 24, 1918

Transcribed by: Anne Hales

Clarence House
Priory Lane
London S.W.

Dear Folks at Home:-
     Received your letter of Sept 29th last week and also the parcel of magazines.  Was glad to get the Confed. Rep. As it is the first one I have seen for about two months.  The box has not arrived yet but as it was posted after the letter it will probably come on the next mail.
     They are having quite a time with the Spanish influenza in England now and also in Scotland.  In fact it seems to be raging everywhere.  Fortunately it hasn’t affected this part of London yet and there have been no cases here.  I had a touch of it in France last July but it was only for a couple of days and I didn’t even report sick.
     Last Saturday we were all invited to a demonstration by the Boys’ Naval Brigade at the Albert Hall .  The display itself was not very interesting as it was mostly drills etc. but the Hall itself was well worth going to see.  It is an immense place and I have no idea how many thousand people it will hold. It is right across from the Albert Memorial built in memory of Prince Albert.
     On Tuesday there was another theatre party and this time we went to the Palace Theatre in London where there was a special matinee in aid of a fund for the Royal Navy Prisoners of War. Queen Mary was there – also Prince Albert   and I had my first view of royalty.  I really believe that most of the audience went to the show more for the sake of seeing the Queen than for the performance itself.  They were everlastingly peering through opera glasses at her or straining their necks to see her around a corner.  As for myself the performance was a very good one and I don’t think I lost much of it through gaping at the Queen.
     The main part of the performance was a spy play “The Luck of the Navy”1 and besides that there were several songs, choruses, and selections from the orchestra.  It was certainly a fine performance and I think I enjoyed it as much as the most of them – even the Queen.
     We have had a few tastes of London fog lately and it is certainly a different kind of fog than any I ever met before.  It didn’t last very long but while it lasted you couldn’t see anything outside the windows.  It must be fierce up in London proper where there is so much smoke which makes the fog thicker.
     At intervals we have a really fine day and yesterday was one.  It was foggy in the morning but about noon the sun came out in earnest and the fog disappeared.  The air was nice and warm and altogether it was an ideal autumn day with the leaves falling everywhere.
     Nearly all the fellows who came into this place at the same time as I did, left yesterday and I feel rather lonesome as I have the room all to myself now.  I have no idea when I will go – it may be next week or next month.  You see, once a week a Major comes around and has a look at our wounds and he has the say as to whether we go or stay.  Thus far it has been “stay” with me but my arm is just about healed now and it can’t be very long before he sends me out.  I am anxious to go out – I will stay willingly as long as they like to keep me as it will be rather a wrench to bet back to soldiering again.
     Well I must close for now hoping you are all well.

 1) Interestingly, Wikipedia lists this play as first being staged in 1919, demonstrating that you can't believe everything you read on the internet.

This is part of the John Cushnie Collection. This is a collection of approximatly 98 letters from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from 1918. These letters and diary entries, were very gratiously provided by Anne Hales.