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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Letter Home (Bee) - 11th April, 1917

15th Battery, RFA

April 11th, 1917

Dear Mother and Father,

We are having a much quieter day today than yesterday. The attack we took part in was a great success and we gained all our objectives. Our position is more or less a rest spot now, as he is fully occupied further forward. The weather has been awful, cold rain and sleet, and it is extraordinary how cold it has been. During this rotten weather, we had one beautiful day and all got bucked as we thought the spring had come at last.

I saw three weeks ago on our march up a gosling willow in ud, which looked as if spring was on its road. We shall appreciate it all the more when it does come.

These days the Heads take no notice of weather conditions. In fact, one of our objectives was taken during a snowstorm and a bitter cold wind. Of course, the cold does not affect those who attack, but the poor wounded go through more torture than you can imagine. It is always a marvel to me what the human body can stand when put to it like it is out here. It was only a few days ago I wa trying to help some fellows to get to a dressing station. A shell had landed between 15 of them and they were the only two living. One had a broken leg, a fractured arm and some nasty wounds. The other had three wounds in all parts of his body and had been sniped bringing his mate back. Those poor fellows had been wet through for nearly 36 hours and had made their way over very rough ground for over a mile. On my way back to the battery that evening, I heard a voice from a stretcher which was being carried back: 'Sir, I'm all right now, I've got a life".

Well, I thought I had seen some mud about Courcellette, but this beats all. Another officer and I were on ground captured the afternoon before. He got completely bogged and it took  me all my time to get him out, and we had no kit on. But the poor infanteer with fighting kit of course has an awful load.

This might sound rather depressing but really we are all jumping with joy as this is the biggest victory the Allies have had since the war began and there is no doubt Hindenberg will have an awful liver when he gets the news.

There are quite a lot of fellows we know round here - Messrs Brice, Austin Burston and Chetty - but have had no time to go and see them. Poor Jack Russell was killed the day before yesterday He was very unlucky as was hit direct by a shell when working in his battery position. His battery is not more than half a mile from us. Jack is not so very far from us, but he is now on leave. Hope to see him when he comes back.

We got two mails this week and enjoyed reading in the cutting from the "Age", 'A man's experience in France'. In his account you would think gunners (British!) were the last word.

I must end, with very best love to you all, from your loving son,



  1. The Burston in 76th Brigade looks to be Lt Gerald Keath Burston, from Mason Street, Hawthorn, Victoria - who went to France with 6th Bn Australian infantry and was then commissioned into the Royal Artillery