(written in our little dugout in sight of the German lines)
Thanks so much for the sox, Oxo and cigs. I smoke Players when I feel tired or wet out here so I know you will send me some more.
You know that we were staying at that convent when I wrote you last. Well we had a rotten time there as the grub was rotten and the accommodation poor. They called for thirty volunteers to go up the line and you should have seen the rush. Adrian and I were among the chosen. Well next morning we shouldered our packs with a blanket thrown in and after a muddy tramp arrived to our next billets.
These billets were about a mile from the line....were nothing more or less than dugouts in a hill side. We stayed in these billets with hords of rats for (censored) days. We slept by day and worked by night. Our work was carrying stuff from the ration dump to the trenches. We packed most of the stuff overland and believe me it was some job as the ground was covered the most sticky slippery mud you can possible imagine (as I write our shells are whistling overhead.)
Our guns certainly give old Fritz H---- when they wish ('scuse the cuss). You know when darkness falls old Fritz repeatedly send up very powerful flares which light up the nearby country like day. Well, when one of these goes near you, you simply freeze and he can't make you out from the many tree stumps about here. But if you duck, then Fritz promptly turns a machine gun on you. Several times a machine gun was turned on us so we promptly flopped in the mud and corruption about here. As the Germans are a long way away there is really no trouble to worry about. One of our jobs was to carry in bombs weighting 60 lbs each. We worked like this for (censored) days. Then we again shouldered our packs and arrived here.
Our battalion is at present resting up for a few days before taking their turn in the trenches. Adrian, 2 others and I are at present in a jake little sandbag dug out... there is hardly room to breath but we are jake and fine as there is a dandy little fireplace in one side.
The country around here is a sight Everything is absolutely shot to bits. The trees about are all ragged and torn. There are a couple of villages or what were villages once a short distance away...these are shot all to pieces. There is what was once a beautiful old church all in ruins now. No one lives in the villages but a few soldiers as there is not a single house left undamaged. A little way away are skeletons of Germans all over the place. The ground about here is littered with old shells, etc.
The first night we arrived our artillery opened up on a section of the German trenches and believe me it made a row. Then it stopped suddenly and our infantry stormed and took the German trenches. During the bombardment our side set off 3 mines..goodness knows how many people were killed... the Germans seldom seem to shell this part of the lines. I guess they are scared we will retaliate if they do.
We were paid 65 francs the other day so I will send you some French stuff as soon as I can get into a town.
Now, old girl, don't worry about me as things are not half so dangerous as you at home imagine. In case you don't hear from me for some time, I wish all the dear ones at home Merry Xmas and a Happy New year. (P.S. I am in the very best of health, so don't worry)....
Your loving son. Sid.