15 May, ’17.
My very dearest Lal: —
Have just come down the stairs of a Fritz dug‑out— “safety first” — as the afternoon strafe has begun. We moved “up” to a delightful place all surrounded with guns, our guns, which Heinie seems to know all about, down to an inch, and keeps us in a perpetual state of flopping and “scrunching” up in funk holes, dodging shell slivers. Yesterday he kept it up off and on all the time. I had a very nice sandbag funk hole. It wasn’t far from what was once a road. All afternoon he shelled where he thought batteries were; and as the nearest was at least fifty yards off, we felt fairly safe. Towards evening, I noticed that they seemed to be dropping closer to our “home.” Good big rocks began to drop in it, and the concussion of bursts began to be unpleasant. I said to the fellows I was in with, “Here’s where I beat it.” And I did. They followed, as did another fellow in the next funk hole who had heard us talking. We just got a few yards, when two dropped in our late doorway. Can you beat it? Is luck like this going to last? Can my hunches always be relied on? The fellow who had heard me talking and came, too, got hit. I had to put five dressings on him, all slight wounds. The lucky devil! Today he’s laid in a nice white bed with a Sister handing him cool drinks. Why couldn’t it have been me? It’s all very well to be whole and unwounded; but this life is not exactly a rest cure, and anybody can have it for me. . . .
We have the Canadian papers now, giving the account of the Vimy scrap — rather amusing some of it. One of the papers said the preliminary bombardment lasted ten days. As a matter of fact, it lasted less than an hour; but it was the concentrated kind and evidently lasted long enough. . . .
One thing you said in your letter — that you supposed I would get hard and all that, through this thing. Well, the exact opposite is the case. The sight of this continual killing and wounding is making me madder and madder at such waste. I have even got where I wouldn’t kill a mouse or a bird, if you paid me. It seems ridiculous maybe, but that’s how it is with me at present.
Tonight I go on a working party, and I guess in a day or so we take the advance line, and in due course out again — the sooner the better.