GWL 24th January 1915

First I must acknowledge the receipt of many parcels &letters.  The groceries have arrived with toffee, peppermints etc.  All very good indeed.  Also your letters of 19th-21st.  I think I have acknowledged all the others.  I got the cake, it was splendid.  I answered that on one of the postcards I think.  I am sorry if I did not.  The first pair of boots arrived just before we left for our last go in the trenches & along with my baccy & some other officers’ stuff, we sent them back to wait until we came back.  Some mean devil has looted the boots and baccy, so the problem as to what to do with them is solved.  We now await the arrival of the next pair!  The Bystander of the 20th has an excellent article called “Mud, blood and khaki” I think.  It hits off the particular kind of fighting in our bit anyhow, to a T.  If you have not read it, do so – it is the truest thing written for years – sordid from beginning to end; very little that is amusing, nothing romantic in this war!  At home you think of hardly anything but the war; at the war we think of very little but home.  Your letters & those from others at home are the only things that reassure us that some 50 miles away there is a land where all is not misery & mud.  This is rather an outburst, but it must come at times.  We are just back for a rest, badly needed.  My feet were awfully bad in spite of vaseline & numerous pairs of socks & waders and I could not go in the trenches the last night.  In addition Little Mary rose up in revolt at some insult imagined or real and so have been rather seedy, but am quite right again now.  Poor young Fitzpatrick (one of the drummers & son of the former Sergeant Drummer, MHP) was hit the other night very badly in the head.  His mother will be in an awful way……I certainly cannot imagine Graham B. wanting to come back to this, although I believe the 28th have got a better bit than we have.  C Company is the only one with a second captain now, (three captains were sent to the 28th, on landing in France, MHP)we all got on very merrily.  I am so glad to hear about Mrs Brown.  Tientsin wasn’t such a bad place; and we had a topping time in Japan too, didn’t we?”

Sir John French’s sixth despatch simply states:

“Weather conditions were abnormally bad, the snow and floods precluding any active operations during the first three weeks of January”.

Clearly the lack of active operations didn’t exclude the misery of war.  By all accounts the trenches at this stage of the war lacked the sophistication of later trenches and were often no more than interconnected shell holes filled with water.  Casualties were sustained at a steady low-level rate from sniper activity.

{next post 25th January}

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