How can you expect men to live in this, and then to put a dampener on the lot, was the language from the occupiers who unfortunately were in a residence that fell in during the night. While in the trenches last week John and I were up to our knees in water and got our gum boots half full.
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The line is a bit quiet lately and only now and again do we get a shelling, but one gets used to it. That, to give you an idea, is like sitting at Paddington and hearing the engines screech. After our stretch this time I shall be looking forward for a short leave for I have been here nearly three months now and we stand a good chance.
Primary Source First World War Letters Home June 1915
Well I must now conclude…Yours sincerely. I replied in the affirmative and decided to run the risk of getting potted on the way. So I commenced crawling on my stomach until about a few yards from the parapet, then made a spring and rushed headlong over the top, nearly spoiling the features of a few who happened to be in the trench and were not expecting me.
We were relieved that afternoon, but some of the fellows did not get in until nightfall and these experienced another bombardment… Billy Hastings is quite fit and the only pal left.
Letters from the front
We have been resting since and getting information about the illegible but by all reports we shall be up again soon. No rest for the wicked it is said, and if true we must surely be a bad lot. What a terrible thing about the Lusitania, and with so many Americans aboard. Should imagine there will be more trouble. I lost all my belongings except the Gillette razor so should be glad of a few toilet requisites when next you are sending a parcel.
Do not trouble about towel and perhaps Frank would get me a shaving brush.
Letters from the Trenches
They have been condensed in certain places. We are proceeding with great caution. The only lights shown at night are a stern light on each ship so that from in front the fleet is invisible. It is really a magnificent sight in daylight.
I do not believe that such a fleet ever crossed the ocean before. Be sure that we have seen no Germans yet. We had one day of rough weather and a great many were sick, but none in our room. At night there is generally a concert of some kind and many of the men are full of talent.
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Then there is a great tug of war competition between the different companies of this battalion. At night, when all is quiet, I often go up on deck and sit and think of you all. On Tuesday, we were inspected by King George and the Queen.
We left at 9 a. After the usual amount of dashing about by the mounted officers, we finally got settled and waited for three hours.
I thought that all was over, but after about 15 minutes, who came down the line but the King with a few officers, then the Queen with a gentleman in civilian clothes, and more officers, then a young lady of about 18 years with Lord Roberts, then Lord Kitchener, and then a whole string of officers. They all passed a foot in front of my face, and you may depend the Life Guards could not have beaten us for steadiness.
Just a bit of a line to let you know that we are in France. That is all I can tell you. I hope you got the letter I wrote just before leaving England. I never thought how valuable it would be to know French fluently. It is funny to hear most of the boys trying to make themselves understood. On the evening of the 22nd of April, the enemy subjected the French, who were on our left, to a violent bombardment, mostly with chemical shells, and it proved too much for their troops, who were mostly Algerians.
They beat it in great disorder, leaving a wide gap in the line, through which the enemy began to pour. We were rushed up in a hurry to put a stop to this, and came in touch with the enemy about 11 p. It was a cloudy night, and the ground was quite new to us all.