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Date: July 1st 1915

23rd. Battalion
Dibgate Camp
July 1st. 1915.

My own darling Fern:

The letter, or rather the short note I wrote you the day before yesterday must I am afraid have been the cause of some pouts on some certain sweet lips that were never intended to pout except for kisses and worse still, some frowns on the brow that was made so fair and smooth. However, dearest, you must forgive me, for honest t' Gawd, as one of the Battery officers used to say, I only had about twenty minutes to drop a line to both you and Mother, and I simply had to get it off to meet the mail.

This morning by good fortune I managed to get a couple of hours to myself. You see Major Smith dashed off in the morning to see his wife right after breakfast, for a couple of hours, since there is no time at time while this infernal sleep-walking keeps on. Before leaving he usually leaves me a list of some four dozen things to be looked after before noon.

Well this morning I suddenly came alive and realized that I was in charge of the Company, and immediately right away quick I sent my intelligence batman Campbell, to present my compliments to Messrs. Mackenzie and Davison, and would they see me at once. At once they saw me, and I divided the jobs up between them and wished them joy. They are getting it now down in the company office, while I converse with My Queen in the privacy of my own state sitting room.

Without exaggeration though I have been working from eight in the morning until one the next morning, and am tired and sleepy. Perhaps next week we shall come back to civilized living again and forget this own and bat life. It gets monotonous, marching along for three hours or more in the darkness without opening your lips or even coughing. However, all the marching at the front is now done at night for safety and to avoid the heat, so I suppose we must get used to it.

You have no idea what a lot of training and what great care the simplest night operations require. As soon as one gets off the fenced in roads, there has to be absolute silence. No lights and it is the easiest thing in the world to march in the wrong direction or get completely lost on a misty night in the middle of a measly ten acre field. We have practised entrenching, occupying and relieving each other at night in the trenches and last night we marched ten miles with advance and rear guards out. To-night we are going to do an outpost scheme. I suppose you know what outposts are: to protect a body of troops bivouacked for the night further back. Three platoons are going to take up the position and mine is going to start out later and find out as much as possible about their position. That should be interesting and perhaps a little exciting, don't you think?

You know I hate to oppress you with these professional details, my sweetheart, but really I haven't been in the big city for so long that I have heard practically nothing but military news for nearly a week. Perhaps as you are a soldier's bride, you wont mind knowing something of the technical side of his calling, eh!

I'll just give you a little drawing of some of these things I am talking about, and then you will know what it all means and be able to look wise when anybody talks about them. Of course over here although we are all soldiers we know nothing about the war in its political aspect. All we hear is the list of casualties and all we study is how to slip one over the Germans. The thing is getting to be horribly like a huge game of chess with armies as the pawns. Of course it is necessary to get that spirit into an army to a great extent in order to keep them interested and cheerful under all circumstances.

Well here goes:

                [original drawing missing]

This is what a line of trenches looks like. The men in the second line sleep and relieve those in the front line every night. The machine guns are to prevent the enemy getting down to the second line in case they capture the first line trenches.

                [original drawing missing]

This is an advance and rear guard to protect a column marching

                [original drawing missing]

This is an Outpost. The sentry groups are posted where they can see without being seen about a quarter of a mile out from the pickets. The pickets are posted where the line of resistance is to be if the outpost is attacked when the groups fall back on them. Two men in each group of 8 are awake at all times. The Supports a place for the back and brought up to reinforce the picket line if necessary.

Well dear, I must shave for parade. I loved your letter darling, and I'm just aching for the next one. I also got a letter from each of the family. I rather worry about Mother, her letter sounded so brave and yet broken. Do let me know, sweetheart, how she is.

How is your dear sweet brave self. Oh, Fernie my little love, my heart breaks for you sometimes and all my loved ones. Dearest keep bright and happy for my sake. I hope you got my letters all right and also my cable with address.

Good-bye my darling for a few days.
Yours lovingly and always,

Original Scans

Original Scans