Your letter of 22nd of Aug came a few days since while I was in the front line trenches. Believe me that is the time when a fellow appreciates letters from the people at home. They break a fellow up wonderfully no matter how blue he may feel or how badly things may be going.
We have done our turn in the trenches as they came along and have been working hard to make them fit for the winter for unless considerable work is done now when the winter rains come on the whole bully ditch will wash in on us.
So far while we have on a few occasions been in bad places our work has been almost civilian in character. We have of course been in the trenches holding a section of them and have had a few casualties while there but have been extremely fortunate through it all having had only about four actual deaths and about 10 wounded in the Battalion and only one wounded & none killed in the company although our company has been always the one first sent to the trenches and on the most dangerous jobs. In fact I had the honour of being the first officer or man other than the Col to get to the front line. There is a great deal in your advice to keep your head down especially during the day and at night when Machine Gun fire is going on. During the day though you frequently find yourself walking along with your whole body exposed to a side fire because the trenches twist and turn so much. In fact it's a wonder to me that old Fritz has not sniped off most of our officers before now. For instance the Col goes along with head & shoulders showing over the parapet most of the time and laughs when he sees anyone with a hump on his back. Then the crazy duffer gets sore if any of the men or officers take too many chances. But no one can help but admire the old slob.
An Engineer Officer & I had a rather close call a few days since. We were leaning back against the parapet for quite a time. Suddenly he moved then leaned back again and just as his back touched the parapet a bullet struck the sandbags behind and came right through & struck the expanded iron behind me. We sure ducked away from there. I have gotten used to heavy shelling to this extend, that if I can keep doing something physically I feel quite content but if I stop for a few minutes my nerves got the best of me again just the way I was when waiting for the ballgame to start. a sort of nervous chill.
I think I described a false gas drill we had sometime ago. mighty interesting while it lasted. Then last night an attack was made on Fritz under support of every other arm of the service. The Artillery fire was awful. It must have fairly shriveled up Fritz's trenches and communications. A few prisoners were brought back all wounded. As a matter of fact we had instructions to take only two prisoners. You can guess what became of the others who held those trenches. I understand we had very few casualties. It must have cost a million pounds for last nights show. But say Old sport it was grand for miles & miles you could see the flashing of innumerable guns and hear them fire & the shells screaming and groaning thru the air. And the most funny part of it was that Fritz did not reply at all. He must be up against it bad for he almost never throws over any shells now. He uses lots of machine gun and some rifle fire but that amounts to nothing nowadays. We had a rumour a few days ago that Kaiser & Son were on their way to the U.S.A. and peace terms being discussed in Berlin also that Japan has handed an ultimatum to Berlin that unless the germs are out of Belgium in 20 days the Japs will send 2000000 men to chase them out. And so it goes with the papers frequently entirely wrong or magnifying our successes. At that there seems to prevail the opinion that the war will be over in a very short time now. But that remains to be seen.
Well dear Dad, we are all looking for minor wounds here to send us to Blightie (England) but the pip-squeaks, whiz-bangs, Rum jars, wooley Bears, Coal Boxes, German Sausages, and all the other pet german war ideas are so few & far between now that it seems impossible to get near enough to one except when you aren't expecting it. So you see we are all cheerful enough and a few killed here or there do not make us feel badly now. It's all in the game. But a serious wound even is now a joy forever for it means the end of the war for the recipient.
I am going up to the front line this afternoon to look over the situation so that when we go in if we do go on again we will not be totally ignorant of minor changes [?] to High Explosive shells known here as H.E. shells or due to shrapnel or Rum Jars.
So I'll have to close. But before doing so - please use your own judgement about showing this to the women folks. They would only take the wrong meaning out of the few ideas I have tried to give you of the war. Tell them I have not yet seen a german and that they are mighty scarce here.
I received Ethels and Stells letters but none from Mother this week yet. I saw Gordon some weeks ago and tried to see him last week but he had moved and so had we & I could get no line on his new camp. He was looking awfully well when I saw him.
Well remember me to Gerald Linder when you see him & tell him that I am saving one good revolver & bullet for him as a keep sake.
Yours with love