Harrogate Herald – 17th January 1917
Writing from Salonica, E Ruddy says :
I don't remember the last time you heard from me,
but I think it was about the time of the first battle of Ypres.
Since then I was sent home for repairs, overhauled, and sent out to
France again. Then I was invalided home once more, and when I was
patched up I was sent out to Salonica. Now I am with the Serbian
Army in the Balkans. Some of the road are awful, and the mountains
would make one makes of carts give up the ghost. We are going right
across the old battlefields that we used to read about, but never
thought to see. The Serbians are very nice chaps to get on with, and
will do anything for our men. The Greeks are the biggest rogues
living, but Tommy takes a lot of doing. We don't see many British
troops on our Front, but all the same things are lively.
You will notice we took Monastir from
the Bulgars. That was some job, I can tell you. In the summer this
country is a white man's grave. We have had lots of our fellows 'in
dock' with malaria and dysentery, and they take a lot of pulling
round again. I myself don't ail much and keep very fit. Some of
these old Turkish villages look very
nice from a distance, but when we get to them they
are far from it. The men and women look as if they never washed in
their lives, and how they live I don't know. Most of the carting and
heavy work is done by oxen. Take it all round, Macedonia will have
to change its ways, and if the British stop here long they will see
it's done. The mountains are covered with snow, and we are expecting
some tonight. When I tell you we are in tents you will be surprised.
It is very cold now, and the wind carried a NCO's mess away today.
In the days of peace I did not care about the weather, so long as it did not rain in
bed, but now it does rain in bed, and still we have to grin. If one
mentions it, the sergeant gently reminds you that you are on active
service. If the beef is raw, the cooks tell you they are on active
service. I am never likely to forget it for some time. War has its
drawbacks, so has civil life when you come to weigh it up. They
can't "sack" a chap in the Army, anyway. My pal says he
wishes they would "sack" him and send him to Blighty.
met a chap last week who worked on one of Bell's taxis. He had the
special service medal given him by the Crown Prince of Serbia. I
also met Walt Voakes and Exley at Salonica, but that is some time
ago. Walt looked as fat and strong as usual. I've seen an officer
out here whom I have seen at home, but can's name. Perhaps you will
know who it is. They are all with the British, and we don't meet
now, worse luck. Do you hear from "Sos" Parsons, who went
to France with me? I should like to hear from him. Billy Bell,
Parsons, Calvert, Judd, and myself all joined the Army the same day.
I wonder shall we ever meet again. If you have a razor, safety or
otherwise, I should be pleased if you would let me have one. Three
of us use the same one now, and it is awkward.
Also if you have a single string fiddle to send us, the boys
would be no end grateful. Now I must conclude with best wishes, also
wishing you a happy New Year.