Sept. 16, 1916
I am back to my unit again thank goodness. From rumours, there is to be a draft of two hundred sent to France shortly. I know darn well that I am going, likewise Adrian as we are both in the foremost training companies and have passed our shooting and entrenching course. We finished up the entrenching by staying all night in the trenches filling sand bags, building parapets, etc.
Adrian has also taken up a bombing course.
I would like to impress upon you to try and see the picture (movies) called the Battle of the Somme. These pictures are the real things and about four of the six movie men were killed in their taking. I saw them last night and am perfectly aware to what we are shortly going into.
Without exaggeration the Germans are suffering pure “Hell” from our artillery, just wait “till you see the pictures.
I am trying to get up to London next Thursday but I am not yet sure whether I can make it. I am going to write and see if Uncle can put me up however.
Orlow Reeve wrote and asked me to come and see them shortly but I do not know if I will be able to do so.
We started our bombing course of seven days to-day. Gee though the bombs are vicious little beasts. Out there every soldier is armed with at least two black little pear shaped bombs each weighing a pound. They are called “Mells grenades” and are about the safest bomb of the lot to handle. These bombs are issued, two per man over there just like a ration. The other grenades are not cheerful things to handle. They are all right until the percussion cap is adjusted. This cap is a very much more powerful one than the caps used for a blasting charge and are so delicate that they often go off by the heat of the hand.
I suppose you have all heard of our latest success, the fighting automobile known over there as
‘tanks”. Without the least exaggeration these huge things will, knock down a cottage and walk over the top of the ruins, walk over a nine foot trench, smash up dug-outs, knock down a stone wall and smash up trees that get in its way as if they were matches, and all the time belching out a hail of lead from its numerous quick-firers. No wonder the wretched Germans are frightened of it.
I read where one scared German colonel rushed up to a tank which was sitting on a smashed German dug-out and throwing up his hands shouted “Mercy, Komerad
“Well come on inside” said a voice within the monster and a hole suddenly opened and made to witness the most exciting calamities most likely ever seen by a German!
We successfully passed our final medical examination a couple of days ago. It was funny to see some of the fellows trying to fail out on their eye tests. One fellow in particular after making an awful ass of himself finally wound up by declaring that he couldn’t even see the targets down at the range. “What score did you make?” asked the doctor. “One hundred and fifteen” replied he of the weak eyes (90 constitutes a 1st class shot) “You are all right” said the doctor. Who no doubt had such cases before.
Last Sunday and old prospector named “Bell” and myself had the prettiest five mile walk in the country about here. The country scenery here is very beautiful indeed. We stopped at an inn to see if we could get some beer (I occasionally have “arf a pint) and were told by a rosy looking barmaid that that in was closed, therefore we completed a very nice quiet Sunday afternoon.
Adrian walked off to a place four miles from here to see a very old church. He met a kind old lady who very kindly asked him to supper and told him to bring along his chum sometime. Of course we all teased him about his latest hit.
I got a letter from Keith to-day and laughed when he told me about his peeling back.
Well, old man write when you can and take care of yourself.
Your loving son,
[Editor’s note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]