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Saturday, 25 December 2010

Letter Home - 25th December, 1915

25 December 1915

Dear Mother

Here we are with Christmas round again. It seems very different to the usual one , and I would like to be placed at home with you all for the day. I do not think anything very special has taken place since I last wrote. On Wednesday, there being a favourable wind, the gas attack was held - at least the gas was let off. I was up at the O.B. for the evening, with the Major and an attached man. The ball was opened at eight pm and, as soon as the gas was let go, the rifles and machine guns commenced to spit lead. Bullets were buzzing past our house in thousands, and a machine gun seemed to be searching about on our left. It was weird to hear them singing past. Of course, as soon as the show began, the Bosch sent up 100 flares – they are like rockets and made of magnesium wire, I think. They light the surroundings up wonderfully. The rifle and machine gun fire died down at eight thirty, and the only things to be heard were the guns barking away to our rear. The whole show was like a fireworks display, with the flashes of the shells bursting all over the place. The Bosch sent up red berry lights calling for artillery support, and soon the shells were singing about our communication trenches, but the whole show was over within the hour, and no one seems to know what result the gas had, as our Infantry never got over the parapet, which I think was just as well for them. However the Bosch seemed to be very angry about it as all the night he kept firing. He landed some uncomfortably close to our billet, but they were only "pipsqueaks". Needless to say no one got much sleep, as our batteries were barking all through the night and one was rather inclined to listen for the sing of the next shell. I was up at the O.B. next morning and, on going round the battery, was told that a shell had gone plumb through a house about 200 yards to the rear of our position. The old Frenchman who lived in the house seemed highly amused and showed us where it had gone through the bricks and knocked a panel out of his front door. Luckily for him, it was what is called a “dudd” and did not burst. I also noticed, on going up to the O.B., a very nice little hole outside the 36th brigade office, but it had not done any damage.

On Saturday afternoon, four attached officers arrived. We had hard work to find room for them to sleep and they simply crowded the Mess out. One man describes them as being like "locusts, which swoop down and devour all your food and then, at the end of the week, go away". This explains them exactly. They were an objectionable lot of people, except for one of them, a Canadian, and we were all very pleased when they left on Wednesday. Another two men took their place in the afternoon, but they are quite good chaps.

Yesterday, Hoyland and I, having a day off, went into B├ęthune to get some Christmas luxuries from the field canteen. Most of the things had been got the day before, but there were two cases of port and a case of whiskey to be collected. We lunched in there and spent most of the time fighting for this stuff at the canteen, as the place was packed. We also had the good luck to get a haircut.

Everyone expected to have a Bosch 15 inch drop in town at any moment, as we were dropping a few as Christmas boxes into the towns behind their lines. There have been strict orders issued about the two armies fraternising and, in consequence, we are doing quite a lot of shooting tonight, which means I will be out of bed pretty often, as I am on duty.

Well, I am afraid this is a bad letter, but my head won't think this morning, so you must excuse,
from,
Walford

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, the fraternising.

    My main knowledge of the gas is from Wilfred Owens, so it is best left to the imagination like this.

    I love the name 'Peerless".

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