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Thursday, 29 September 2011

Letter Home (Bee) - 29th September, 1916

15th Battery RFA

Dear Mother and Father

Well I hope to get some sort of note off this time. We were ordered away from our old position on the 21st with only two hours' notice. This is about the shortest notice we have had since we have been in the Battery. Of course, no one knows where we are going. That night we proceeded to our wagon lines and stopped the night and got orders the next morning. There are only two brigades of our own divisional artillery and we are attached to another division. We have come down to enjoy some of the privileges of the "push", much against our will. It would not have been so bad if we were under our own divisional staff but these people's methods are very different to what we are used to, although they have had wonderful successes. Their infantry are the stoutest of men and have proved themselves so by what they have done. I'm afraid I can't say the same for the gunners. All the same, the war still goes on. The push is going on well and we are still gaining ground, bit by bit. The front we are on is not very far from where we were before. In the last three days, we have had attacks and gained our objectives. But it has been uphill work for the feet.

Our position is just behind what used to be a respectable village but is now no more than bricks and dust. There are a few guns, which the Hun had to leave behind. There are two big guns which had been torn right out of their gun pits, as if they were bits of paper. The only signs of anything standing in the village are two observing stations, which the Huns had built inside another house, with reinforced concrete. But even it has only a small portion of wall standing. Round this village there are shell holes you could put a horse and dray into and not see it from 10 yards away. The holes are so close together you can't pick a path to walk on without walking in and out of shell holes. I have not seen a tank on the move yet but have seen one stationary and have followed their tracks. Houses or trees and nothing to them. They rear up until they crush the bricks underneath them. They did wonderful work the first time they were used, but now Hun knows how to deal with them. The crews are stout fellows and have an awful time if they break down but, even if the Hun does capture one that is undamaged, he will never shift it, that is certain, nor be able to copy the design, which is a good idea. At the present time there is an awful bombardment going on some distance to the right of us.

It is rotten weather, drizzling rain, but I expect this heavy shooting has something to do with it. Our present OP is rather a novelty but you rarely get anything else these days in this area. It is a shell hole. All round has been a battlefield and every shell that goes near it unearths some poor fellow who has done his bit. But, as the men say, I suppose we are winning. Anyway the Hun is getting a far worse time from our artillery than we get from his. Mind you, we think he gives us a bad time. The only thing in his favour is, as he retires, he gets fresh ground to live on, while we get the ground that has been blown to bits. Heaven knows how they will ever level this country out after the war, for the number of unexploded shells and bombs lying about under the ground and on the surface is tremendous.

We are in amongst the Canadians here and a fine a lot of men they are too. Our men can't make them out. Privates talk to their majors and call them by their Christian names, but they are tigers to fight.

I am as fit as fiddle and with just a little luck ought to be able to get away on leave as soon as this show is over.

With love to all, from your loving son,


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