Letter 15

Hospital train en route

to Boulogne

3rd March 1916

My dear Barbara

Just a short letter to let you know that I am only slightly wounded in case you see my name in the “wounded” list in the paper before you get my field postcard that I sent you this morning from the casualty clearing station at Poperinghe.

I have a bit of shell in my right upper arm and so far feel very little inconvenience though it will probably be more painful later; the bit is still in my arm & probably they will leave it there. Well my dear we had a terrible time of it though the operations were entirely successful, and we gained the whole of the position we were requiring and it is estimated that we accounted for 2000 German casualties of which 300 were taken prisoners. We lost fairly heavily owing to the awful shellfire from the German heavy batteries. It was something indescribable, at all events by me. I am sure none of us ever thought we could live through it. I was completely buried three times and had tremendous showers of earth thrown on me and it was only in the evening when I was trying to get my section away from the position that I was wounded. It was a heavy high explosive shell about fifty yards away, and a splinter struck my arm; it felt like a blow from an iron bar and then a burn and that was all. I thought it was only a graze and expected to be all right after having it dressed, but they injected anti tetanus serum and have sent me down. I do not know how long I shall be in Hospital. Anyhow it is rumoured that the Division is again going on “rest”. I do not suppose they will let me go home though I will try & get a week.

We went up to the position at 10.30 on Wednesday night & had to stand in trenches ankle deep in water & mud & even knee deep in parts till 4.30 the next morning when the attack started. At about 8.am. I had to go forward to the captured German trenches and build them up to face the opposite way, then the German bombardment started, and everybody many of whom have been through the whole war say that they have never known anything like it; a perfect deluge of heavies which make a crater 20 feet wide and 8 to 10 feet deep, and thousands of small shells; the crash and noise was deafening & this lasted two hours without a moments cessation, then we replied for a bit and then they again started and kept it up till evening when I had to relieve my section as we were all dead beat; we had been 20 hours standing & crouching in mud & water, under bombardment for 12 hours & without food except for a few biscuits. I was myself 30 hours without food, wet through to my knees & cold as ice before I was put to bed in the casualty clearing hospital. This train is full of wounded. I am still very weak & miserable; but getting better every hour we get away from those beastly guns.

I trust you are better yourself & if not that you will see the doctor again & get treated and the babes how I long to see you all again after all this experience & to know you are real & existent. This experience has simply been terrible & leaves one dazed.

We have heard that a new R.E. Railway Construction Company is being formed here & I am putting in an application for it.

Well I am getting tired & think I will stop for a bit.

Much love from



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