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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Letter home (Bertie) - 18th February, 1917

Dear Mother and Father

I am back again at the guns after a very good leave but was very sorry I had to leave Fatts behind with a very bad cold. It is a rotten trip these days, both going and coming on leave, but I suppose it is a privilege and I should not growl. The day I left, I bustled down to the station, only having four minutes to spare, but when I got there I found that the R S M (Regimental Station Master) had altered the time of starting to an hour later, so we of course cooled our heels on the station. Then, when we got across the channel, they kept us there a day. The next morning we were supposed to start at ten a.m. but did not start till twelve noon. The journey by car takes about three hours but in the leave train or troopship anything from seven hours. Meals of course you can never get but I am cunning now and always leave London with a parcel of food. I was glad to find the thaw had started, and it is turning to mud very rapidly.

I stayed at the wagon line one night and came up to the guns next day. The horses have improved - the overhead cover has made a wonderful difference. I could see a great difference in their appearance. It is wonderful how frightened you are after a few days of leave. I used to duck every time I saw a shell ,but one soon gets accustomed to it again. They had been strafed very badly while I had been away but very little damage done considering. I landed back in the thick of the show. It came off next day. Poor old feet, they don't get much peace, and don't suppose they will from now on. We did good work and captured 27 prisoners, a thing which very rarely happens. These fellows appeared over the crest right in front of the guns, and as they did so each of the other batteries let off a salvo of six guns each, which fairly put the wind up the Huns. They put up their hands and fairly ran into our positions, most of them crying with fright. The first thing I looked for was a revolver but, of course, my servant had left it at the wagon line. They could have scuppered us with bombs when they got behind the guns, but they were really much too frightened. It is not often the battery has a chance of taking prisoners. There was an officer with them but he was killed by one of their own guns just in front of us. You could see by their expressions that they quite expected to be killed or knocked about and were quite surprised when they were not.  

I have tried for some time to write to those people who have sent me socks but it is very hard to find time and as time goes on it will be worse. So, if you see any of them, I wish you would explain – Ethel Green, Estelle, Mrs Thornton and Mr Jim McKinnon. The latter is Mister McKinnon's Cook, to whom I owe letters, but really it is hard to write these days, even one letter a week.

Mum, I got another pair of socks yesterday, with a fly veil, and a note asking me to write.

With best love to all,
from your loving son,

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