Wednesday 21 Aug 1918
My dear Mr. Waller ,
I did miss the opportunity of writing you last Sunday very much but to let you know I was thinking of you I just dashed off a field card which I hope got.
I can not settle down to write a good letter this week as I have had such a horrible shaking and have not quite got over it. The anticipated stunt over the top did not come off for some reason or other but this Batt had to hold some of the ground taken in the recent push (left flank) and Fritz gave us a warm time. Naturally the ground has not yet been consolidated so that there was very little protection to be had. On Sunday morning (early hours) I was digging a communication trench near the front line when Fritz got wind of it. For three hours he shelled us with very heavy stuff 5-9s etc., HE and gas. It was impossible for us to go back to our dugouts as we should have had to go about 300 yards in the open under fire and at the time no shelter was known in that trench sector. Unfortunately there were one or two direct hits which killed two of our boys and wounded several - one of them, Cansick, was a chum of mine; he was killed. After some time a dug out was found and with some difficulty a few of us left behind managed to get the wounded in safely. I found that while my mind was occupied with work of bandaging up the chaps I was in charge of I seemed to forget the danger and scarcely noticed the hostile shells. It was hell! How I came through without a scratch I don't know. It must have been that God thought fit to answer many prayers; but I hope I never have to go through such an awful ordeal again.
We get shelled pretty heavily each day so that very little work could be done. While in reserve in this sector I was able to explore the battlefield, the scene of the recent fighting. Even if I wanted to describe all I saw I could never do justice to the scene but I don't want to. If ever I was sick of this war it was when I first saw this place. If only everyone knew of horrors of this war it wouldn't last another 5 minutes. But until its over we have got to "stick it"; the only reward I desire is to come out alive - not so much for my own sake but for others. Happily Mother didn't know I was even in the trenches, and you are the only one I shall ever tell the little I have of the experiences of the last week. After all they are dead and buried so far as I am concerned altho' they have left their mark; I don't feel I could face the same again with the same fortitude or steady nerve. But by prayer all things are possible and what better assurance of anything do I want than that. Thank you very much indeed for your kind gift of the book "Secrets of Success". I hope to read it in the near future when out on rest. But a rumour has just been circulating that we are going up the line again and that there is to be a push I am practically sure. What part I shall play in it I don't know but I hope I do my best. This letter is quite "off colour" but never mind - it is an expression of love from your affectionate chum
PS Remember me kindly to all at home and keep cheerful!