We are out of the trenches for one day & are going in again tonight to a different lot. However the temporary release gives me time to write one letter at least, so I have seized the opportunity. First may thanks for your letter which has just come & for the photograph which I think is rather good, not to say very good. Last night was I think about the worst we have had to go through since we came out. It had rained all day & continued to do so during the night, which consequently was even darker than the proverbial bag. Through all this the battalion had to slop its way from the trenches; pools, puddles, holes, knee-deep mud, loose telephone wires, just a shell or two to liven things up, & over all the most oppressive & clinging darkness, which made one feel as if one was walking into a brick wall. One simply had to waddle on hoping that one’s ancle would not collapse, & that we would remain above ground & not at the bottom of some water-logged shell hole. On the way home we came across a small crowd of men & horses, swear words & electric torches at the corner of two muddy lanes, & on enquiring discovered that the cause was an overturned limber with two holes at the bottom of the dyke. The mules were then cut free & seemed none the worse. Why they weren’t drowned, goodness only knows. But that is just the best thing about a mule, he survives & seems to enjoy a situation which would have been certain death to a horse.
They have now decided that there is no reason why we should not have parcels sent to us in the trenches so that if you can find time for the promised cake, I can assure you that it will receive a most hearty welcome. There are scenes of depression here this morning. Knighton came in last night, just about done up. He is fearfully jealous of Mould who is sitting in peace at Rouen, & can do nothing but grouse extensively at that. I personally feel in the best of spirits, which fact merely adds to Knighton’s depression, so on the whole ours is not a happy little home. Jefferies is in none too good a temper at the thought of going in again tonight. By the way it might interest you to know that various quality & quantity of the different drinks that I consumed during last nights manoeuvres. I had come out of the trenches early in order to find bivouacs for our battalion who according to the first scheme were to stay just behind the line, instead of coming right back to hutments. This arrangement was afterwards cancelled on account of the wet; but no amount of cancelling could alter the fact that it was several hours since I had anything to eat or drink. The mess sent me up some sandwiches & a bottle of wine which arrived just before we started on the last four miles. These disappeared hastily, why I wasn’t drunk on a quart of wine, I know not. We then started back & on reaching home I was not unnaturally both hot, & interiorally at any rate, very dry. I rushed round & could only discover gallons of cold tea which I swallowed, & was in the act of swallowing more when the Doctor appeared who insisted on my swallowing a large whisky & soda, which was not over nice, but certainly had an enlivening effect on me. He, good man, went round administering similar doses to each officer as he came in, thought he had every excuse to retire to bed, as he had done as much working & walking as any of us. This morning in spite of the number & diverse character of these beverages I feel none the worse, & as I said before, am as fit as a fiddle. Sick Parade has just started, the number of men coming up is appalling; there are well over a hundred in the battalion. Last night certainly seems to have found out the crocks, & done for a fair number. Of course the root of all the trouble is this prevalent dysentery, mild in most cases, but getting worse each week. Its not surprising really for the water all round this benighted place must be pretty well polluted by this time.