It seems that the Secretary of State for War, the Earl of Derby was visiting the Front yesterday. Today he has sent a letter to Major-General W I Williams commanding 30th Division. This formation has as its divisional badge the arms of the Stanley family, of which the earl is, of course a member. This is in recognition of the role the earl played in recruiting many of the battalions of the Manchester Regiment and the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment in the early days of the war. Since December 1915 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been a part of this division, which is well behind the front line around Bourecq, a few miles north-west of Béthune. The earl’s letter is reproduced below.
"I am sorry that my visit to you yesterday was all too hurried but I am sure that you and your Division generally will realise that I was obliged to hurry back home having been away for four days. I cannot tell you what pleasure it gave me, not only to see the 89th Brigade, but those members from the whole of the Division who have received Honours in the late fighting. I have been associated with the Division from its very beginning and have taken, and do take, the greatest possible interest in its doings and feel as proud as the Division itself must feel when it receives well merited Honours. I shall never forget the satisfaction I felt when in the Somme Battle I received telegrams from Sir Douglas Haig and General Rawlinson congratulating me on the success of the Division, and I am even more proud of the Division now than I was then, when I feel that after continuous fighting they still uphold the splendid reputation they then gained. I fear there is much more fighting in front of us before the end comes, but however much fighting there is and however severe it may be, I have no fear but that the Division will retain the confidence now felt in it by all Commanders and I am certain that you personally will appreciate having under your command such a magnificent lot of Officers and Men”.
“I hope you will keep me informed on your doings and will realise the deep interest I feel in the welfare of all ranks."