Alexander (Alec) Mee was a cousin of Sandy, George & Ted Mulligan. He also joined the New Zealand Army and, shortly after marrying Jessie Coutts, he went into Camp to begin training for service overseas.
In France Somewhere
Aug 8 1917
My Dear Jessie
As I have just heard today their [sic] is a mail leaving for N.Z. in a few days I thought a little yarn with you would not be out of place. I am writing this lying on my back in a camp hospital. I came in yesterday with Influenza. I was pretty crook yesterday but am feeling pretty good again. I will be going out again tomorrow. I think they put you in here to see how you go, if you get any worse you are sent to one of the numerous large hospitals. This one is a marquee & holds about a dozen bunks. I tell you it is alright after sleeping on hard boards & sand, & 13 to a tent. For this last 3 days & nights it has been raining without a break & still going strong. It is bad luck for the allies because it is holding up their advance.
We are still waiting word to up to the front as we have been finished [sic] our training about a week now. Some of the companys that came over with us are away & up about 2 wks ago.
I have met Tommy Fisher here, he has had shell shock, but is on his way back to the front again, he is like all the returned boys not keen to get there. I also met Bill Dickson here last Sunday he had just come over from Sling. he had met Jack in Sling & he said he was looking well & expected to be over here in the next draft. A corporal has just come into the hospital who has won the V.C. he got a great cheer outside. he killed about 14 Germans by himself. I think I will have a try for it when I get up. I sent you a photo I got taken in London, I hope you get it alright. I could only afford to get 3 taken. I have been very short of money. 1/- a day is too little for a chap to live on here. but one I have a good mate in [sic] ??? since we came here we are on field pay & that is less than 1/- a day. Of course we get an issue of cigarettes (3) packets a week thats a good lift for a smoker like me & then I get Vic's share as well. The Dr has just been round. I go out tomorrow. I am please [crossed out] / Aug 4th Mon Dear Jess I was interrupted last night by Vic coming into see me & we started a game of 500. You will think I am pretty cool knocking off writing to you & playing 500, but it was just to make up the number don't think I am forgetting you, because I am not. I dreamt & thought more about you last night than ever I had before. I think I would give the world to have our honeymoon over again.
I was discharged from the hospital this morning, feeling alright. It was a good place to be in very well treated, plenty to eat & do what you like (nearly).
Dear Mate o Mine. about Billys you can call him whatever you like, I will leave that to you whatever name you like best yourself I know you will pick a good one. You picked a good man so I have no doubt you will pick a good name. how about putting the name Coutts in. I think it would be alright I would like but again I will leave it to you. The main point is that everything goes alright before the nameing comes off. Once I get that cablegram, I will say. (Set.) You will be getting quite a stout lady now, if every thing has we, it on as you have expected and I hope they have. Do you think I would forget what was going to happen in Nov, not in you life. I count the days. I just heard this morning that the 25ths were coming over in a day or two so I might see Frank. Jack will most likely come over with them. Now sweetheart I will have to get this posted.
I hope everything is going well with you, & that you don't have to visit Dr Moody [?] before Nove.
I will say Goodbye with heaps of love
from your old man Alec
Don't forget to write plenty (hurrah Micky [?]
August 31, 1917
My Dear Jessie,
I think it is nearly a fortnight since I sent you a few lines, the reason is we have been shifting about from place to place we have been in about four different camps. You would have seen the account of the great Messines battle where the N.Z took a big part with we have been over a lot of that ground, & my word it is great. It was a great win. The Huns thought it never could be taken. We are winning all along the line & not before time either. I have seen the worst side of war, chaps I know laid low. Vic & me have escaped without a scratch, though he was in a very hot place, one time. I haven't seen Bill yet he is in the 4th Brigade we might be miles apart, though Geo was telling me he had saw him. W. Bonnin [?] is in the same Coy as I am in, I heard someone mention his name, & I asked him if he was the one. He is a very quiet chap, like Mrs Dunlop. I think, you never see him smile. I think he is like all of the rest of the N.Z.s completely fed up with the war. This a few days later than I started this letter. It is Sunday we had for a wonder nothing to do today it is quite nice.
Since we came to this part of France we have hardly had a minute to ourselves. When we have finished tea it takes you two hours cleaning your gear, by then you feel like going to bed, which I am glad to say we have at present.
The fourth Brigade, the one Bill B Palmer & H Dickson are coming passed our billets tonight sometime. I am going to keep a lookout for them. We are having very wet weather raining every day, the ground is soaking. I don't know what it will be like in winter. Like all the rest of the places we have been in France the people here have very dirty habits. I have got 3 parcels from you lately & everything was alright except cigarettes, you want to seal the tins when you send the next, the Biscuits were first class, didn't think I had such a good cook. Golden Eagle suits me alright, I think Vic & me enjoyed the coffee best of all, we have it for supper when wwe can score some hot water. We just finished it last night. Everything you sent seemed to be just the thing. I like getting parcels, we don't get to [sic] much to eat sometimes - 1 loaf a day for three & sometimes four men, 1 tin of jame for 6 men, a bit of bacon you could put in your eye in the morniongs, about 1 slice of Bread for Dinner & stew for tea made of Bully beef.
I have been sick last week for a couple of days, just a bit out of sorts, feeling fine again. The lice are pretty plentiful here, any minute we have a warm day we have a silent raid. There [sic] about as big as dogs lice, & you can't kill them with any powder. I hope this finds you in good health & looking after yourself. I am glad your mother stopped you from going up to McColls. I didn't think you would be so silly as want to go.
You must be some fat if you are as big as Mrs Norman, would like to see you. I got your last letter dated Julky 1st a while ago, I was pleased to hear everything was going well, I expect another this week. We get NZ Mail every fortnight send as much nice things as you like but nothing too heavy as our packs are too heavy already when you have to walk 20 miles a day. I hope this finds you very well & in good spirits & I know you are loving me as much as ever. I would like to be with you for the next four months (especially) but no such luck. I will be there in spirit. Good night sweetheart heaps of love from your ever true husband Alec.
[written across top corner of final page:]
4th Brigade has just passed but only Canterbury Otago some others only. Don't be like me Write often
I hope John got off again in August. The chocolates were lovely, send some more. I can live on the money I get.
Goodnight Love Alec
Somewhere in France
Sept 11, 1917
My Dear Jessie,
Today we have had inspection by the Brigadier General, & after it he gave us the afternoon off , so we must be winning. When a thing like this happens. I thought the best way to put the time in was having a yarn to my mate in good old NZ. Well to begin with, I am in good health & I hope this finds you the same. We are not fighting at present but we are drilling very hard the same sicking thing every day. Of course we are quite safe here & that's a big thing. We have not been in the fighting line but have been in the trenches at night doing fatigues. I have seen some of my mates wounded, & a few killed, it is as dangerous work as holding the front line sometimes worse. Every thing looks lovely at night when the flares are sent up it makes things as bright as day.
Since I started this letter the N.Z. mail has come in, 3 from you, two from Anna & one from Sophia dated July 8-12th & 18. I was very glad to get them & hear that you were all doing well. I was 1 of about 3 that only got mail in our platoon. We don't get all the mail the first night. [Note added across the top-right corner:] I hope this is alright Censor, I don't want to break the law.[!]
And so the Postmistress has fallen in at last. I don't think anybody would be surprised I would think somebody would be shaking in his shoes. Mulrooney would be away in Trentham[?] before that time, thats what all the indegestion was, I reckon her mother & father would know. At least a lot of the boys guessed, all I can say it is a pity another girl ruined. I would like to see it sent home to the right one, dirty scoundrel.
Fancy you spending £2, you must have been lashing out, you didn't tell me what you spent it on like in a letter you wrote me before the only thing you missed out was the tram fare thats what its for you know Mrs A Mee.
I am in bed writing now & Victor is sewing buttons on his trousers & cursing his luck that he was not in the second division all the boys swear they will be in the second Division for the next war. I will have a good start won't I (missus. Vic & me still together we are very lucky our names both starting with M. Victor had a close go one night. Him & about half a dozen others were in a trench together when a shell came over & didn't go off but struck the chap next to Victor and wounded him pretty bad if it had of went off the chances are 100 to 1 the whole lot would have been blown to pieces. I will knock off for the night & write some more another time. Goodnight sweetheart. XXX Alec
Sept 14, 1917
Dear Mate O' Mine,
You will see I have been some days in starting again we have been going early & late this last few days. On Wed night it was Vic & I turn to go up to the canteen for biscuits When we got back about 9 oclock our boys were all shifted from the old billets to tents, (one chap had got measles we had to set too [sic] & shift our stuff in the dark.
Yesterday we were taken for a motor ride to the seaside, 30 motor lorries altogether we did not enjoy ourselves much standing up in the motors for about 4 hours we had about 2 hours there but was a cold sort of day & you could not get much to eat. We arrived home about 4[?] oclock, by the time we finished tea it was dark. Then we had to clean all our brass or Web gear which took us till lights out; then orders came round breakfast at 5 oclock for this was to be a big day. Sir Douglas Haig was to review the troops. We rose about 5 oclock, & marched off at 6. We had to go a few miles to the grounds, all the N.Z. troops were there except Rifle Brigade. Sir Douglas rode round us first then we all marched past him when our platoon went past (I was 6[?] from the end) he said very good, he told our Capt our company was very good if not the best, he is a fine looking fellow.
We arrived home again about 1.30pm, & got the afternoon off, the first thing I done was to have a silent raid (lice) I didn't get any. Then I had a sleep, (I still like a sleep in the afternoon). When I woke I started my yarn to you again a little later the mail came that all we look look forward to here, is our bed, mails, & a feed. You should see the rush for the mail & if any one gets a paper there is about a dozen round it. The Otago Witness get a great, I seen one this afternoon where &[?] in was were H & E Baxter [?] were arrested they had had a good spin. I can't make out why they were not caught before.
You might not get a letter from me again for a while, as I don't know how long we are stopping here, & the next place we might not be able to write so handy, of course we might not leave here for weeks, or we might go in a hours notice (compre[?])
Dear sweetheart, if you don't get another letter from me before the stranger arrives, you do what you think best, go to a home if you can't get some one good. Don't for a minute leave the work for your mother, she will have quite enough worry, don't save money on it. You want to keep back plenty, beforehand. Now this is all this time be[ing -crossed out], look after yourself & keep fit.
[written along the left-hand margin:]I am still loving you & longing to be with you but by the way Pacse[?]is going on I think I will be a while yet. Write plenty & [queer?] I up. I've got awfully lonely sometimes & long for dear old N.Z. Goodnight love heaps of kisses from your loving husband. Also remember me to your mother & all old friends. Alec
Letter postmarked 26 September, 1917
Reply to: 14 Company, 2 Bat 2 Regt
Stationed at Seningham[?]
Still in Billets
Sept 23, 1917
My Dear Wife,
When you come to this part of my letter you will see I did not get the rest away, as I thought I had the letter all right, & the next morning I was mess orderlie in the rush I forgot to give it too him. However there is another lad going tomorrow, so I will try again, you get ten days when you are here 12 months. It will be a while I get away. I don't think any of us N Zealanders will be here when my time comes, they are shaking up the Germans now we have the best of it alround. Fritz is getting full of it & not before time.
In my last letter I was saying I might be away from here but we have not shifted yet they say we are going this week into the front line up Ypres way, a pretty lively place, I think. The church Bells are ringing for afternoon service. The Frenchies are great at attending their churches. They have little places anywhere in the country where they worship.
The 4th Brigade are away about 9 miles from us. I would like to go & see them but the distance is too much, for me. I would like to see them because the most of the boys I knew well are in it. I have not dug out A McIntosh R Westwood or W Walker I know where most of the other boys are, I just found out today there is a chap called J Ramsay a brother of Mollys husband in our platoon. Geo & Sandy Mulligan rode over to see me last Sunday. They are looking well, Sandy especially. He is a Warrant Officer wears a fine[?] uniform he had just come back from leave in Ireland, had a great time among the Mulligans, he told me there was one very like me. We had Bible Class this afternoon, followed by tea in the Y.M.C.A. every Sunday evening the Y.M.C.A. gives a tea to the Bible Class boys or (Men of Goodwill) after the class we had a sing song it was alright it made me think of choir practice, only one thing missing the girls voices expecially that nice looking girl who used to sit in the second seat the one Archie Irvine took the fancy too. What a chance he had. I mind now he used to come to the store to tell his troubles. Dear Jessie, I would give a lot to be near that store again. Wouldn't we have a time We would go for a row on the river & walk on the beach & finish with supper & a smoodge on the couch XX I think I will go home sweetheart, I don't know I believe I will have a smoke & warm my feet, XX eh?
I have been at church & am now in the tent in bed, where I soon will have to draw this to a finish. By the ime you get this Sweetheart it will be very near Dec 5th & I hope & will pray that everything will go alright with you. I would do anything to be with you & I know you have a brave heart, that will carry you through. I hope I will be there in time for the christening, I will have to go love lights out has went.
Now, Goodnight love, my heart is ever with you, & I ask God to look after you till I return
Your loving & true husband Alec