GWL 10th January 1915 (Belgium)

I wish I had time to write a decent letter, but since leaving our last resting place five days ago there has not been time really to collect one’s thoughts.  We had an awful march of 16 miles over pavé – very trying to the feet.  The Belgian roads are worse than the French a good deal.  We are at present in a farmer’s cottage.  The kitchen, where we all feed is very small and the whole thing very amusing, the place swarms with children, who howl all day long……. Please send me a complete change of underclothing – The ones you have sent have not turned up and are urgently needed!  also get me another pair of boots from the Stores – The chocolate has not arrived, I think that too has gone astray – Shelling goes on pretty well all day.  Yesterday we watched them potting at a German aeroplane – Awfully interesting.  Our trench is a perfect brute.  Over our knees everywhere in mud and in some places nearly to your thighs!  Tell Dad that the waterproof trousers he gave me are simply splendid and that I should like a pair of waders if he can manage it.  Please send me another bottle of Mars oil, will you?……

The Battalion moved up to the front line near St Eloi to the south of the Ypres Salient to relieve the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry, part of the 80th Brigade.

ypsalient0115

The Front in January 1915.

The description of the march to the front, as well as the description of the trenches give a good idea of the miserable conditions.  As an officer George could alleviate the discomfort to an extent with comforts from home.

From the Battalion Diary of January 11th:

“Artillery fire carried on all day, particularly heavy between the hours of 2pm and 4pm.  From observation our artillery fire seemed good.  Artillery fire ceased at nightfall.  At 6.30pm there was very heavy rifle-fire which lasted about twenty minutes: after that there was continual sniping all night.  Snipers between our fore trench and Battalion Headquarters were very annoying.  Great difficulty about water and rations which had to be fetched from Kruisstraartoek, a mile in rear of Headquarters.  Rations were eventually man-handled to Headquarters and issued there, this took from 9pm to 3am.  Platoons sent men direct to Kruisstraathoek for water”.

{next post January 14th}

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