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Date: June 13th 1918

Thursday, 13 June, 1918 The trenches, France

Letter No 40

My dear dad,

I guess that you cannot imagine me sitting in cubby hole in the side of a trench wearing a "tin" hat and a [?] for gas tied around my waist. If you had told me seven months ago that I should be here now I shouldn't have believed you. But it is always the unexpected that is happening. The night before last I did three hours sentry duty but as I am in support line there is not the same need for great vigilance in keeping a look out. Every few [?] the night Fritz sent over a few mortar gun bullets [?] stopped on the [?] but they all were a good many feet over the top. Fortunately we are not under observation here , there being a ridge in between us and the front line and consequently Fritz is under a disadvantage when he tries to fire at us. The night was very quiet indeed .. our heavy and light guns sent over a few shells from time to time during the night and if Fritz replied in the same manner I never heard him. Old Jerry is in constant fear of someone approaching his front line under cover of darkness and to prevent surprises in that way he sends up lights like our verry lights which illuminate the country for quite a distance around. The disadvantage of this practice is that it gives the position away. Just before it gets dark in the evening and light in the morning we have to "stand up" for an hour in readiness for any attack as this is the most likely time for both sides to advance. I was off duty at 4am yesterday and slept until 8.30 when breakfast was ready. Being out in the open air all day I am always ready for meals and of course I miss the canteens where I could supplement the rations altho' I occasionally manage to buy a little chocolate when some is brought up. You can bet that parcels are appreciated in the trenches. During the morning I had a wash in half a mess tin of water and managed to freshen myself up a bit. Of course there is only a limited supply of water and I have to make about a pint do for all purposes. I am given a fresh pair of socks every day and thus I manage to keep my feet in fairly good state. I wrote a letter to [?] before dinner and [?] alright and quite well. I know you will both reassure her on this score and tell her not to worry. If you were in the same condition as myself you would see clearly that there is for all practical purpose no danger at all.

In the afternoon I slept with Stuart in the little cubby hole further up the trench and read the Quad magazine. After tea three of us had a game of cards on the [?] and one of our airmen gave us a little demonstration of how to dodge old Jerry's "Archies" over the lines. At dusk I had to "stand to" again.

The trenches here are dug in a chalk soil and consequently my clothes are covered in white powder - what might be termed clean dirt.

It seems ages since I had a letter from home; the last of my letters that I heard you had received was that of the 28th May, 1918. My only hope is that you have received all the others safely.

I do hope business is going well and that you are still in good health.

Give my best love to dear mother and the boys, also Grandma and Cookey.

I cannot write letters to any but you as I am almost out of paper and envelopes especially the latter. I only brought a small supply of paper up here so any that you [?] are expecting to hear from me, I should be very glad if you explain my position at the same time pointing out that their letters will be very welcome to me.

Now I must say farewell for a little while from your loving son,

Bert xxxx