Jan. 23rd 1916
My dearest Mother,
I have an interesting letter from Olive to thank for which arrived three or four days ago. Congratulations to her on passing her two exams. I should like to see her in uniform. I was glad to see the enclosures from Madge and Mrs. Barwick. It is a pity Doll and Madge have to work so hard for no remuneration, the labourer is worthy of his hire, and they deserve it just as the soldier who is fighting for his country. We finished the trenches we have been working on a few days ago. They are complete with barbed wire entanglements, listening posts, dug-outs and everything. In consequence our work has been a bit more varied and rational lately. This morning a general and his staff came along to see us bomb the trench out in approved style. Of course only a small amount of explosive is used in the bombs on these occasions so as not to damage the trench. Two bomb squads of eleven each, comprising bayonet men, snipers, throwers and carriers go up the trench in single file, followed by a work party carrying sand bags, spades, barbed wire and spare bombs. As each section of the trench is thoroughly bombed out the word is passed along to advance, and when the next danger point is reached you all halt until that is cleaned up of Germans. Every dug-out and side trench has to be bombed, in case the enemy should hide there and attack the party in the rear. When it is considered we have gone far enough in advance of our attacking force, the word is passed back for the work party to come up at the double, and the trench is blocked up with sand bags, wire entanglements put up and machine gun and store bombs put ready at the barricade to stop a counter attack. Of course the big bugs were above ground watching our progress up the trench, and all went well. This afternoon we threw live stuff, about [? pounds]50 worth of it. I threw eight myself, and they are worth about five bob each; the time went quite quickly. The weekly parcel came last night and gave the accustomed pleasure. The cake was a picture, quite an echo of Christmas, and it tasted as good as it looked. Tell Olive the peppermint creams were very good. I had supper with Bill in town on Sunday and gave him your letter which he was very pleased with. I walked in again tonight with Jack. We went to the picture show after supper, and it was quite good. One of the films was "She stoops to conquer" played by a good company. The room was packed with soldiers representing dozens of different regiments, English, Scotch, and Canadians, and to hear them laugh at the antics of Charlie Chaplin you wouldn't think they worried much about meeting the Germans or going in the trenches. Well, dearest Mother, I am expecting lights out to go any minute so I had better stop.
Fondest love to all
Your loving son
Tell Olive I am enjoying the "Caravanners" now.