19th Dec 1915 56th Field Company
My dear Barbara
I received your letter & the socks last evening. My dear you are an artist at knitting, they are the very nicest I have and I shall be glad of as many more as you can make. I live in rubber waders with two pairs of socks and the outer one gets wet every time I go out. I am an expert in mudlarking now. Today is the first fine day we have had for a week and we should have enjoyed it thoroughly, had not the Huns started an attack this morning at about 3.30, and the bombardment all day has been something indescribable; can you imagine one of those Paraguay thunderstorms is ten times magnified and continued without ceasing for 5 hours.
The whole of the horizon and it is only a couple of miles away, was one blaze of fire till dawn; the Huns were utterly repulsed, then they sent over a shower of heavy shells & tear shells; these latter made our eyes smart for a long time. Our dug-outs are under a high bank of a canal and we could see the whole thing without much danger. This afternoon we again gave them an hours “strafing” with our heavy artillery. I have had two interesting night jobs this week, making a connecting link between two fire trenches that were not joined together; a Hun sniper was stalking us and we caught sight of him and sent a couple of men to stalk him, but he cleared back to his trench like greased lightning; we were in the open so we placed two bombing parties in front of us and a “listening post” still further ahead in a hollow. My work each day is to inspect the communication trench & work on any repairs; the fire trenches are kept in order by the men manning them unless the work is a new work or something difficult when we do it.
I have told you, my dear, that I do not wish you to send me anything; you require all the little money we have for yourself & the children. I have had a notice from the L & R P bank & and think I have over a hundred dollars there; this may come in useful when I go back so perhaps I had better not draw it unless I am forced to. I had a very nice letter from Morgan & he told me he had let the house, but only when Wiley agreed to keep it on; he also said Moore was leaving to join & that he himself hoped to be able to do the same.
I hope you have written to Mrs Girdlestone, have you heard again from Mrs Griffith?
I am so glad to hear about Ruth being industrious, I wonder from whom she gets it, not from me I am afraid; and so Dicky thinks himself a big fellow now that he is six; how I long to see you all.
This is an extraordinary war; here we are in the midst of daily battles & yet the transport comes up with letters and parcels from England; tonight it is all delayed owing to the road having been shelled, and I believe a few casualties have taken place. This morning one of our men in the dug-out on the other side of the canal bank had his arm broken & ripped by a splinter from a shell, not thirty yards from us.
I received Erskine’s note & was glad to hear he was getting away from that Coy which he did not like.
I have Territorial officers messing with me; they are in charge of a working party attached to us; they are a peculiar crowd but not bad fellows at all; Lancashire business men with the county accent, though one, a Jew, was at Harrow and Cambridge. In a way I am sorry to think that Mrs W has not turned all as we thought her, but then this stupid military caste spoils everybody connected with it; it is the same with 90% of the men; perfectly good fellows originally develop into conceited asses, frightened of their superiors and arrogant to their inferiors, their conversation extremely limited & their ignorance something extraordinary.
It is possible that this war will do a lot of good; it has shewn the whole of manhood of England how easily they can do anything the soldier man can do with all his training & in most cases do it a good deal better; the most glaring cases are the Artillery & the Engineers, both having been considered “scientific”; whereas their science is that of a junior student. Everything is so cut and dried for them that they seem unable to go outside of the rules, and they have no idea of organisation. Conscription must come in England for the young generation, and Pat will have to do it in the Argentine; the idea makes me laugh. Dear little son! how is he?
This will probably reach you by Xmas & I hope you will have a peaceful & cheerful one; think of me.
Good- bye my dear much love to you all from
Your affectionate husband