GWL 5th June 1915

Another lovely day; your letters up to the 2nd June have all come.  The Brigade Staff has gone down with measles with wonderful unanimity.  Any chance of a stray measle for master, I wonder.  I think I should look rather nice in red spots.   The doctor has just been in – Quite mad! – He wanders round most of the day picking up odds & ends for his dressing station.  24 railway rails has been his bag so far to-day.

This place has the reputation of being an easy one, but there is precious little sleep for the officer man.  There are so few of us and such a lot of jobs to be done.  I have not been to bed for three nights now, nor have my subalterns.  The regiment on our right yesterday dug up a trench mortar in their zeal and roused Fritz from his afternoon siesta with it.  Fritz awoke in wrath and for about two hours there was quite a little fray with mortars and grenades.”

Periodic epidemics of infectious diseases including measles were not uncommon and could prove fatal.  Quite what the doctor did with 24 railway rails one can only guess!

{next post 7th June}

GWL 3rd June 1915

Just cut my finger, so be not alarmed at any marks of “blug”.  Fritz has been most entertaining to-day.  He has made a dummy which moves its arms and legs and waves a small flag.  We pot at it and it kicks.  He still flies kites and hoists flags and is a s regular as ever in his shelling and evening machine gun.

Just a few spots of rain this afternoon.  A little would not be a bad thing as there is a good del of dust about just now.  Did a little hay-making last night – Fritz got rather worried, wondering what was up and gave us a Brocks Benefit – very fine –

Have got all your letters up to the 31st.  I do so enjoy them, you cannot think how much.

One of my subalterns is an old Rugbeian, who left about two terms after I went to Rugby – an awfully nice fellow, who has done a good many different things in the business line including a little company promoting as far as I can make out.

From the papers there seems to be a push going on at Ypres – We always said that as soon as we had come back from that front line they would have to retake it all again.”

Brocks Benefits were free firework displays put on by Brocks Fireworks Ltd at Crystal Palace.  Elsewhere on the Eastern Front Przemyl was retaken by Austro-German forces.

{next post 5th June}

GWL 2nd June 1915

Another heavenly day.  A great parcel arrived yesterday; the one with the razor blades, which were successfully located.  Fritz still flies kites and puts up flags.  I think he is light-hearted.  He is also very regular in his habits.  Exactly at 8.30 PM he sweeps the parapets with machine guns; at 11.30 AM & at 4.15 PM he does a little shelling and at night he snipes a bit.  Otherwise so far quite quiet.  A funny life isn’t it?  And how are you?  Well, I hope.. I had a letter from your Mamma the other day and a letter every dat from you.”

{next post 3rd June}

GWL 31st May 1915

A lovely day.  Here we are again in trenches; quite good and Fritz at present flying red white and black kites, but whether in pure light-heartedness or for some ulterior motive I cannot say.  It is all very different from the place from which we have come.  So different that it seems impossible that it can last but you never know your luck, do you?  

I think I am happier where I am.  I had practically no machine gunning to do on the Brigade show.  It was somebody else’s work I did all the time and that is never satisfactory.  I had done all the M.G. work in the first week.  My one regret about it all is that you may worry more;  and that is a very big regret.

The company headquarters consists of a mess room, master’s dug out with couch (!) two other dugouts also with couches and a kitchen.  Not bad, is it?  The rooms are rather larger than I would have built myself but that cannot be helped.  The mess room has a bell to the kitchen.  There is also a cat.  Fritz, when feeling lighthearted, used to play the regimental march of the battalion whom we relieved.”

George would have done well as an Estate Agent!

{next post 2nd June}

GWL 30th May 1915

Another lovely day.  Yesterday we went up by motor bus to have a “look see” at the trenches.  Very nice indeed and at present very quiet.  Let us hope they will remain so.  A man can ride a bicycle right into the trenches so that gives you a pretty good idea of how different they are from the others.  What a blessing it would be to get a really quiet piece for a change.  I do hope it will remain thus –

“Basdell is back again quite fit & will come in useful.The country round here is lovely.  Very flat, but plenty of green fields and trees.  One very fine orchard should produce some excellent cherries in due time.  The most remarkable thing is that all the civilians are living in the town, which is hardly damaged at all.

Your letters up to & including the 27th have arrived.  That little bit of leave was the best ever, wasn’t it.”

This gives an indication of the marked difference in the effects of the war across a relatively short distance.

Elsewhere: Affair of Sphinxhaven (Lake Nyassa).  British command of the lake secured.  A truly world war.

{next post 31st May}

GWL 29th May 1915

Well, I am once more a trench wallah!  Many damns, but it must all be for the best, so don’t worry.  After all they are short in the battalion, and I am in the battalion, so really it is rather natural they should want me back.

They are awfully good trenches we are going to.  The General says they are the best in France.  He knows them well.

A perfectly glorious day.  I wish I had thou here in peacetime.  It is so pretty.  Everything beautifully green, although a bit dusty in places.  Rather a bad business about the Triumph and Majestic, isn’t it?

So now you won’t forget to change the address on my letters, will you?  I will get all the ones you have written here as I have arranged with the clerk man.”

HMS Triumph and HMS Majestic were two pre-Dreadnought Battleships both sunk by German U-boats off the Dardanelles on May 25th and 27th respectively.

At this point the Battalion had moved south to a new position in Armentieres just to the west of Lilles.

line may 1915

{next post 30th May}

GWL 28th May 1915

Rather cold again and very dusty on the roads.  There seems to be some rumour that as the regiment is so short this little job may come to an end, but there is nothing official as yet and I do hope there will not be.  It would be very annoying, wouldn’t it?

It was wonderful getting home again.  Now it all seems too good to have been true;  but it really did happen.

Garnier turned up to-day looking pretty fit, also another man called Smith – a queer person, who was attached to us in Portsmouth.  Clarence Gardner is in great form and Vicary’s piece of leave seems to have done him all the good in the world.  He is much better.  This seems a horribly dull letter and nothing to recommend it.  Anyhow we are very well.”

{next post 29th May}

The First World War seen through the letters of George Power