we are again in the billets, but this time we were not so lucky
and they are not as comfortable as some we have had.
I got a letter from Dad and one from R.W.L. on Sunday in the trenches and was
glad to hear that all are well with you.
Everything is much the same here as usual we are sitting tight until something
happens in the East or else something that will happen at ----- in a few days
as we heart from the rumour that the Germans are concentrating there.
Hughes has been awfully decent. He has sent me cigarettes and
Punch, Graphic, Toronto papers, a Woolsey cap and a pair of galoshes.
It was quite like Christmas last night as we all got a big mail,
and had a pair of chickens for dinner which we had bagged. The
desolation of this country is awful. Crowded with refugees. In
one farm I tumbled into there were 10 babies sleeping along the
wall and three women huddled over the fire. They had come from
way down the line and you never saw such filthy people. But we
cannot help pity them. All the houses here are blown to bits
as it was at one time held by the Germans and were shelled out
by out people. I have to censor all my platoons letters
and some are very funny.
have had several casualties lately.
am well and having a fine time enjoying every minute of it. The
weather has been fine lately. All the snow has gone but it is
very muddy. The King with the P of W Poincare and a swarm of
generals review the troops yesterday at --, and we were all very
much bucked up to see him.
go into the trenches tomorrow night so will write again after
we come out.
is just a short note so please excuse but I your Mother keeps
you well posted as to my whereabouts and doings, if you are not
at home. My idea in writing is to advise you in a few things
which will be useful if you are coming over and I only hope it
will catch you before leaving, if you have not already left.
As the winter is on lots of warm clothing is invaluable, also
as there is as much rain as snow, waterproof things are needed.
live in billets when not in trenches and so far have always had
our valises to sleep on. Dont trust these beds as they
are all lousy and the Gs slept in them. The billets are very
dirty as a rule as there is a very poor section of
carry a fleece lined Burberry which is waterproof warm and light,
but you on your horse will carry a great coat. Do not take H.
warm. They are no protection for your legs in the trenches. Carry
a pack on your back. One of the men's converted is what we have.
In it carry a regulation blanket, gloves, muffler, Woolsey helmet,
one pair socks, and waterproof sheet regulations. In your haversack,
flask, iron rations, medicine case, scissors, field dressing,
maps, combination knife, fork, spoon, razor, brush, soap, comb,
tooth brush, compass. I have haversack, glasses, water bottle
fitted with snaffles to hook on s. Broms [Sam Brown belts]. A
leather revolver-lanyard. The cord ones are no good. Mine has
gone already. In your valise, fleabag, I suit service dress,
1 extra pair puttees, 3 pr heavy socks, ? dozen large hdcks.[handkerchiefs],
1 pair pajamas invaluable when you can (?) get a sleep, 1 pair
slippers, 1 cholera belt, change of underwear and khaki shirt.
sword is a damn nuisance in the trenches. A pair of waterproof
jack books would be excellent for you but useless to us. These
knitted wolsey helmets are no good being too thin, a Jaeger is
the only thing. Gloves with long wrists and no fingers are fine.
The whole idea is to carry on you as much warm clothing as possible
without killing yourself on the long marches.
have sent to R.W.L. for a pair of larrigans as they will be the
ideal thing for trenches.
course if you dont come out till the spring all your warm
clothes will be a wash out but whatever you do take a waterproof
sheet and a change of socks. They are issuing to us fur lined
British warms which we are looking forward to immensely. A cavalry
canteen is a good live. Be sure to have a flask of brandy, not
a glass one for preference. On these cold nights in the trenches
and being soaking wet a nip of rum is a god send. Also carry
in your valise a tine of waterproof boot oil.
these things I can recommend as it is only by experience that
I have found them out. An ordinary wolsey valise of strong canvas
is much better than a tent valise such as I have, because when
you do see your valise it is always in billets, and the country
is so thickly populated that you are always sure of a roof or
? roof as nearly all the houses have been shelled. Carry about £5
with you and get it exchanged for five frank notes here. A writing
case, small, is an ideal thing also a fountain pen with a small
steel ink pot, which doesnt leak. A good luminous watch
is fine but in the trenches now with so much mud practically
useless. We live in mud and are never clean. We spruced up a
gine [?] yesterday when H.M. came along.
forget to let me know when you get out here, if I should be alive
by that time. I only wish we could get moving, and get the brutes
on the run. Their trenches now are only 40x from ours and they
have a gramophone. I have had several very narrow shaves, but
a miss is as good as a mile every time and we dont worry.
trouble is to get food and H2O up to the trenches. Their beastly
machine guns 12 per bttn. [battalion] Have every road, trench
entrance, tree and likely spot continually under fire, so you
can imagine the fun changing reliefs in the trenches. Our artillery
is excellent, also RFC Last Monday we were shelled all day, but
not effect. We have lost about 150 men and officers. The snipers
are the devil, apparently civilians who are given a bounty for
each man and officers particularly. When moving at night behind
our own lines we always carry a cocked revolver. Write soon and
tell all the news. (How is Hazel bank getting along?)
letter and one also from ... in which was a glowing
account of the prowess of the old oss at the rural fall
fairs, and Uncle ... Great excitement and winning box of cigars.
we came out of the trenches in a pouring rain, heavy wind and
a cold noreast gale. The mud was knee deep. I never believed
there was such mud and really I am not exaggerating when I say
it was knee deep. You can imagine the confusion and time in taking
over trenches from another battalion. The
and took an awful time as they had lost ? of their men and we
carry three days rations so that each man carries besides his
80 lbs equipment, sacks of coke, coal, rum jars filled with water,
rum kindling wood, and sacks of biscuits, bully beef, etc. slung
all over his equipment. Well when I was leading my platoon out
and three platoons behind we came to two platoons of the W. Yorks
in a narrow communication trench 2 wide, and all the time
a machine gun was playing around us. There was nothing to do
but get out on top and let them past. For a while it was a bit
exciting but we got out alright but very late, and we got to
the billets and simply lay on the floor and slept like logs.
we were having breakfast yesterday in a trench in rear of the
fire trenches Capt. Wordsworth was shot. He was standing beside
me and dropped immediately. He was one of our best officers and
loved throughout the battalion. This makes two of our company
gone, and the two best. There is only one sub and myself left
in the company from the original officers that came out, but
of course we are filled up with other officers in their places.
I had two of my men shot on Sunday I think it was.
hits direct through the loophole of the iron plates. Some of
the Huns are excellent shots, and extraordinarily persistent
in sniping. Of course a man hit in the trenches now has no chance
whatever as the hits are all in the head. I am getting quite
proficient in banding and can stand almost anything I think now.
We buried poor Wordsworth today. It was very remarkable but one of my men hit
on Sunday is still alive and doing well. The bullet cauterizes as it rips through
so the doctor says. On Saturday nigh the Huns attacked and caught one of our
men in a listening sap well in front of the trenches. Of course he had not
a chance. Our machine guns cleaned up for a few of them though. Last night
bde. On our right had a show. The Huns use a lot of star shell and
illuminating balls. We do not much, but use rifle and hand grenades, as in
our line we are only 50 yards from them and just a nice heave takes one right
into their trenches.
billets are very good. There is a large open fireplace which
we appreciate extremely. We do ourselves awfully well when possible
paying ridiculous prices for luxuries such as bread, butter,
milk, etc., but it certainly pays, because if one is not continually
fit this life would be awful. I never felt so well in my life
and enjoy it immensely although sitting in trenches is a weary
game. We amuse ourselves during the day in spotting shots for
one another with field glasses and knocking down the Huns iron
loopholes with occasionally bulls eye in the hole at 100x
it is really only a mug that would miss it.
letter on Sunday. It was dated 17 Nov. Believe
me you can do more in Canada by staying at home and make it possible
for the young chaps to enlist than by coming over here. It is
a young chaps game entirely, and by the time we get them on
the run which will be soon only the fittest will be able to stick
it and we are hoping then to lose all our reservists who are
awfully soft compared to the rest of the regulars.
casualties have been very few considering what we have gone through,
but we have lost a lot by front bite and sore feet, they have
gone to the base and many were cases for amputation, so you can
imagine how cold it has been. Out company have been issued with
long haired fur capes for the winter, but as yet nothing has
come for officers.
are all looking forward to a hot bath which we get at the next
billet and a complete change of under clothing for the men. About
80% of them have the itch and lodgers, a thing which
is bound to happen but as yet I have not been visited.
servant religiously washes my things when the chance offers.
dont know where we shall be for Christmas but I hope in
saw Colonel Paleys name in the casualty list. He was certainly
a very fine chap. I believe the Canadians are out here now, but
where I could not say.
Monday we had a rather nice fireworks display. A farm on the
edge of which our trenches are was shelled with high explosive.
It was remarkable shooting. Every shell hit either the farm or
some of the buildings. It was only 25x in rear of us but the
high back parapet prevents any sayaktues [obscure], The noise
and smoke of their H. H. shell is terrific.
write again after we come out of the trenches., Arthur.
letter of November 11th arrived last night and to date I have
received all your letters and the ones with the clippings. We
have been in the trenches for the last two days and are being
relieved tonight, so we will have a good sleep in the billets
unless something happens. On the 13th all the men are going to
have a hot bath and a fresh suit of underclothing, socks, etc.
it is certainly needed. In the day time when there is not much
going the men take off their shirts and go big game hunting,
and always get quite a bag. It is really very funny to watch
them and the conversation during the process is extremely educational
to say the least.
weather has been wet lately so there is considerable mud. Coming
in the trenches the other night it was actually knee deep. One
gets perfectly filthy, but also very used to it. Am sure you
would not own me if you saw the state I get in sometimes. I got
a letter from Aunt
last night also, which was very much
appreciated. The news of the box is extremely interesting and
should be here about Xmas time. I wrote Leonard advising him
in a few things which we have all found the most useful, as one
coming on a show like this is very liable to take a few unnecessaries
and wish after he had never seen them. By the time you receive
this you will have been in
for Xmas, so you must tell
me all the news and what happened there. I suppose the
in and the usual fun at night with the lame, halt and blind and
children of the neighborhood. In billets the time goes too quickly
but in the trenches is very monotonous, but I dont mind
it a bit. Of course everyone is anxious for the time when we
get moving, but it will be very hard when it does come, as the
winter is not an ideal time for such a move. The officers are
getting 5 to 10 days leave now, but our turn will not come (I
dont think) till January or February. It will be short
but very sweet I can assure you. You can send letters to the
above address and they will get here much quicker than by going
to Chance & Hunt, put via London on though. We
all have fur capes now which are fine and warm, as yet officers
fur coats have not come, so we use the mens and look like
Teddy Bears with long hair. Aug dolly [?] tells me of all the
young blood joining the Army. I cant imagine that B
be very gay this winter. What a change from last, eh?
had a fireworks display last time we were here the Huns shelled
a farm about 50x in rear of our position, and it was fine to
watch and very excellent shooting, as everyone was a direct hit.
However they did us no damage. Mr. Hughes is very decent. Sending
all the illustrated papers with every mail as well as writing
paper at odd times. I have not heard any news of the RMC chaps
so can tell you nothing of
You can tell me how he is getting
on and where he is. I would ask my girl friends to send things
for my men but I know they will all be working for the Canadian
boys, so will not bother.
look for a letter soon. Tell the children to write and dont
forget you can write direct with the address above. Arthur.
is Sunday and we have celebrated accordingly, first by having
kippers, ham and eggs for breakfast and by having a bath.
men were marched to a factory, in which were some big vats. Here
they had a hot bath and were issued with a clean complete suit
of underwear. Considering as the men hadnt had a bath since
they left Malta, and each had a good supply of cut little
strangers, it was very welcome.
hasnt been exactly all that could be desired. Coming from
the trenches the other night in the rain was one continual goulash
have fur caps and they look like this. Notice, we look very happy.
had a letter from
and he said the box would come PDQ once
he got hold of it.
awfully for the box it will be most welcome. We are promised
some 300 lbs of plum pudding to the company which means the same
number of double barreled, 60 HO tume aches [?] so we have something
to look forward to. Some it has just blown in with this mail.
is very little news to tell you except that we are all well and
progressing very favorably. Everyone is keen on the leave which
is coming either in January or February if we dont get
on the move go before then.
you had mentioned the Larrigans in your letter. I think they
will be most useful in this mud. The trouble with boots is they
get wet and when cold are no fun, but the Larrigans with several
socks will obviate all this. Arthur.
letter of November 20 arrived here today with a letter from
is also very keen to get into his job. I believe he took an Imperial
commission. He says
and myself are the only ones out here.
have been quite exciting around here lately. We are on the Qui
Vive all the time, that is all I can tell you I am afraid.
box hasnt arrived yet, but is eagerly expected.
me a dozen handkerchiefs and a pair of hair clippers, exactly
what was wanted as we are regular Rib Vans at present.
He is too good he sends all the latest papers and amusing stories
from American papers. Once he sent several Toronto papers. We
get daily papers from England sent as presents to the troops,
so we get in touch with what is going on outside of our little
sphere of assassinations, as that is all we have been doing up
to a week ago.
was an enormous parcel mail yesterday. Last night we had chicken,
mince pie, and plum pudding, and vast hordes of figs, dates,
etc., so that when our daily bully beef and biscuits came in
they were promptly heaved out with accelerated motion as
a bit leary now whether those larrigans will not be too big and
give me sore feet. I hope the second pair are a bit smaller.
Electric pocket torches are invaluable to us as we use them in
the dugouts, and at night, we are issued with candles though,
which are very useful. We had a double time in trenches this
last time and a day less in billets.
Home Guard must be quite a corps. We are far away from the division
is, so Im afraid I wont be able to
have just gorged ourselves again and hear that there is another
mail in. It is all very nice when we are in billets.
yet I havent seen or heard anything of the Canadians. Im
sure you would be awfully glad to know anything about them but
Im afraid I cant oblige.
English people are awfully good in sending the Tommies cigarettes
and chocolates, and woolen things, all of which are most welcome.
I suppose with you everything is going along as usual.
had to bury one of my men the other night just off the trench,
a Zeppelin was over us for two days, but too far back for our
airman to tackle. One of theirs and ours had a dust up just above
us yesterday but the Taube got away although we had the legs
on him. Excuse the awful scrawl, but am in terrific hurry, and
am trying to make this worth reading as it seems a waste for
it to travel all the way across and be all piffle. The Huns are
excellent shots. They smash our periscopes every time we stick
them up, but who couldnt at 50x? Arthur.
Didnt write on Christmas day as I was expecting your parcel
to arrive, but as yet they havent turned up. Mr. Hughes
wrote me that he was sending the watch. Thanks awfully Im
sure. I will serve its purpose when it comes. I wish those larrigans
were here now. It rained all yesterday and last night, so the
trenches are 2 feet deep in mud, also several springs have come
up and it is waist deep in places. Also the parapet has fallen
down and the dug-outs caved in. You cant imagine what it
is like and cold too. The men just have an awful time. We, the
officers, manage to get a little sleep sitting in a puddle with
a waterproof sheet over ones head. We are very cheery nevertheless.
I am exceedingly gay because I have taken over the machine guns
of the battalion, and am M.G. ]machine gun] officer. I have a
battery of 4 guns and a horse to ride. It will be grand when
we get on the move. The nice part also is I am absolutely responsible
to no one but myself and live at the H.Q. mess so when we care
in billets it is very nice. I have tot to swat M. gunnery life
blazes though for a time.
cigarettes for the men will be appreciated.
had a very fine Christmas, an enormous spread but oh how mad
I was on the night of the 24th. I had a bed, it was my turn,
the 3rd time since being over here. I hadnt been in bed
2 hours when we were turned out in a hurry to reinforce. A deserter
(Hun) had said that they were to attack in force at dawn. He
was an orderly and said he had seen the order and was fed up.
We got back at 8 a.m. and came here the same night. I only hope
the enemys trenches are as bad as ours. We hear authoritative
reports of their suiciding and any amount wanting to desert.
There are a great number of bodies in front of us now.
night I was pulled out of my dugout, left gun out of action.
They (Huns) had put a bullet through barrel casing and let all
the water out, so the crew took it down, shoved in a wooden plug,
plastered it with clay, and in two minutes pat, pat, pat, as
merrily as ever.
few yards in rear of our trench the RHA have a small mortar the
same as we saw in Bannermans in N.Y. for they plum pudding
bombs to the Huns. We call it Lobbing Lucy as you
can see the puddings go.
is another rumor of leave in January. I hope it is true. I think
we could do with three days rest in London. I got a cable of
Xmas greetings from home yesterday, also 12 letters from Canada
on Christmas day, which were very welcome. Arthur
billets again. Watch and cigarettes arrived. The first is excellent.
Thanks awfully. The Germans will be able to know the time in
the trenches when it chimes, it is so good.
deserters of theirs wandered in to our lines absolutely fed up.
programme of the Magistrate is very good.
news of 6 days leave just came, sometime in January, but no exact
date. Of course though we shall be sorry to take it(?) ALB
morning brought news of the parcels from Mr. Hughes with your
letter also, and a list of the contents. My but you people have
sent enough stuff to outfit an orphan asylum at Xmas time. Many
thanks. I will give a great deal of it to the machine gunners.
I am sitting in my dugout writing this, dodging raindrops as
the roof is leaking and has been for days. The enemy have changed
their dispositions a bit. We now have Prussians in front of us
and they are dirty sods to be sure. Yesterday several of them
amused themselves shooting at our dead which are out n front,
after the other nights affair, and there are quite a few.
I turned my right M.G. on them and they soon cut it out. Arent
they up to all the cads tricks though?
is fed up with this trench game. Night before last and yesterday
our artillery literally pasted them with H.E. [high
explosive]. By Jove, I never saw such shooting, dozens just on
their part and so they are busy, what is left, in digging today.
The wind was wrong though the fumes nearly suffocated us.
heave bombs at one another, made of jam pot tins filled with
nails, bolt and such toilet articles, but are the very develop
got a card from
yesterday. The 3rd Div is away south of us
I am told, so I wont be able to see Gen.