(to H G H) Trench 35 Blowpoort fm
Very many thanks for your letter which I got on arrival at the lugubriously deserted billets. Just after I had written to Mother it came on to rain, & continued to do so for the rest of the night. Our journey to the trenches was therefore, as you might imagine, anything but pleasant. The first part of the way we rode, the cape coming in very useful indeed, & proving a great success. After dismounting we continued to plod along over sloppy ground while the night became gradually darker & darker. We were with the Transport, & the Transport Officer, Burnett, was one of those who had been on leave with me. Consequently the Transport Sergeant who had been up to the trenches the night before; was acting as guide to the party. At length the rain increased & the night was as dark as a bag, when the afore–mentioned Sergeant stated that he didn’t remember passing some dug-outs the night before. We were quite lost & not in the best of places; as you can imagine if you get out of the right road you may well find yourself in a bullety area. However we fortunately struggled back on to the right track & turned up all right, though a trifle late perhaps. Everyone seemed pleased to see us, doubtless for the sake of the salmon, possibly because we are so short. Allen, Langsdale & Sharpe & the Adjutant are all ill, Tomson & Petch on leave, & Beasly & Marsh wounded, so you can imagine our conditions. The trenches seem very nice, they get very wet if it rains but dry with great rapidity as soon as it ceases. On our immediate right is Cyril Lugard’s Regiment, they have been in their trenches for seventy odd days & are expecting to be relieved shortly. Cyril, as you know, was wounded in the Hill 60 Affair. That cheerful edifice is well in view from one part of our trench, it looks a rummy place, but is not so flattened as the wounded veteran at Oakley was inclined to make out. It still commands a good part of the country round. Opposite to us are Saxons, funny people who do not like the war, & mistrust the Prussians. Not long ago they threw over a request for an English paper that they might “learn the verity”. On a previous occasion they sent a note to say “We are going to send a 40lb. bomb, we have got to do it but don’t want to. It will come this evening, & we will whistle first to warn you”. They did. Today I have spent a considerable portion of my time potting at a German loop-hole or two that I discovered could be seen through one of ours. It was soon reduced to a pile of loose earth, & the surrounding sandbags cut to battered ribbons, on the whole I had quite a satisfactory shoot. In the end almost every shot fired brought forth showers of muck which I sincerely hope fell in some Hunnish tea-cup. The fly avert is a great success. I put a minute portion on my hands & face this morning & was very nearly averted myself. For a few seconds I was gassed, asphyxiated, carbon monoxidized & had to fly for a respirator. No wonder that the poor innocent blue-bottle shows a distinct disinclination to approach me. The Serg-Major has just been along to say that if this letter is going to go today it must go now.
Huns seem at work ! Must shoot !