Captain A. S. Morrison writes Sergt. Gormley as follows:
My Dear Friend:
At this time of the year ones thoughts wander back to bygone scenes and days. At the present time I have in my mind's eye the annual meeting of the Sergeants' Mess. I suppose it has been broken up more or less by the absence of some of its members who are away doing their duty to the Motherland, and who, I hope, will be spared to come back so that we can have a grand reunion and also one of those good times for which the Sergeants' Club is noted, so therefore you will, I am sure, forgive me for allowing my thoughts for a moment to roam on bygone days.
Well, Sergt.-Major, you no doubt know how we are faring here by the papers, but it is one thing to read about it and another to experience it. To begin, this country is very low and with the winter now on, from now to March, which consists of cold, sleet, snow or rain continuously, and very little or no drainage, consequently the water cannot recede but backs up. The result is the water is up to and in some places over one's knees. In addition, our parapets in the firing line are all down level with the waist, so that we are constantly exposed to the enemy's fire.
There is another enemy to face also and that is 'trench feet!' From standing so long in the water, one's feet swell up to an enormous size and then turn numb, as there is no blood circulation, and the feet and limbs get so that one could stick a pin in without feeling it, and if left too long gangrene sets in and the limb has to be amputated, a very serious matter I can assure you. We overcome this enemy in this way. Before the men go into the trenches, their feet and limbs are rubbed with whale oil. Then we give each man three pairs of socks, one on his feet and two pairs in his haversack. His officers are held responsible for his well being, so when we arrive in the trenches we make them change socks every six, hours, and dry their feet. This' creates a lot more work for the officers, but it is a pleasure to do anything we can for the poor fellows, as they have to work very hard, sometimes as many as three fatigues a day, in addition to their sentry duty. As the darkness sets in here at 4:30 p.m. and continues up to 7 a.m, we have a very short day of it for light.
But there is no complaining. The men simply grit their teeth all the harder, and it will be a bad day for Fritz when we come together.
We are continually receiving drafts from the 39th Battalion which is in England. Personally I feel fine yet. In fact I feel that cannot spare the time to be otherwise. Well, my friend, I think I have wearied you long enough so will close with best wishes to you all, and the Mess.