Tuesday, 16 July, 1918
Somewhere in France
My dear old dad,
I received your letter, written last Wednesday, last night and I started a reply but was interrupted; as the other piece of paper is "missing" for the time being I have commenced another. Yesterday reveille was late again so that I had a good night's rest. From about half past ten, when I dumped my pack, until 12.30 I was doing jerks and drill in the field at the back of the billet. I was told that I was going to occupy a reserve trench about two miles away and about two miles from the front line in the evening and consequently I spent all the afternoon getting all my kit ready for the march. The Div'l concert party gave a show in the cinema but for the above mentioned reason I decided not to go. I took the opportunity of having a good wash down and I also bathed my feet. At half past five I moved off and for the most part followed the road, turning off to the right to get to my position. It was a lovely evening and, but for the heavy guns here and there which occasionally belched forth, one would find it difficult to realise one was on the "Western battlefield". It was interesting to watch the Gunners as they stood by their guns ready to pull the cord and so fire the charges when they received the signal from the battery commander. I thought how jolly "posh" an artillery man's job was so far back with comfortable dug outs and no old trenches. The trenches where I am are just in front of some of these guns and, my word, don't they kick up a row. It took me some time to get to sleep last night on this account. Well, I am in quite a posh place. The L. Gunners of 7 platoon occupy a bivouac in the trench, which, although there isn't much room, is comfortable and will be more so tonight after our labours today. The soil is clay, unlike the last trench I was in a month ago, but I am on the same sector only a little more to the left. Happily, this sector is still very quiet, as witnessed by the fact that at present Stuart, Worthington and myself are sitting on the grass under the shade of a tree in front of our position, We are of course not under observation from Jerry's lines. To the right is a tree lined road which leads to the village where I have been billeted these last few days and in the wood nearby is another village which is now practically unoccupied.
Last night I had a gas guard to do from 11-12pm. My duties were to warn all the platoon in case Fritz lobbed a few gas shells over. This was "cushy" and for the remainder of the night I was able to sleep. I was awakened at six, or thereabouts, with the pattering of rain on the tarpaulin and grumble of thunder. The rain was so heavy that it got into our "bivvy" and disturbed those unlucky beggars sleeping on the bottom of the trench. This morning it cleared up and now the weather is smiling as if innocent of the storm earlier on. Luckily I slept on the "berm" - i.e. the ledge between the parapet and the side of the trench and did not get wet.
It did not seem any time as I looked at the verry lights going up in the distance and saw the occasional flashes of the guns, since I was last in the line.
Now I have been very confiding and told you all there is to tell so that you can judge for yourself that I am quite OK - very cheery and am going to have as good a time as possible. I want you to cheer old "Ma" up and tell her that she is a silly if she worries in face of what I have said. After all we have only to pin our faith on the "Eternal father strong to save" and trust in the Divine will - I know of nothing more comforting, and after all I ought to know seeing that I am actually "on the spot".
So cheerio. My fondest love to mother and the boys.
Your very affectionate,