23 July 1915

Ypres

Since my last letter it has started to rain & rained all night almost without a stop.  This morning at dawn it ceased for half an hour, and since then it has been continuing by showery intervals.  The result of course is that the trench is a swamp.  There are no floor boards, it had been newly dug, & this is its first experience of heavy rain.  Think pea soupy mud & water, varying in depth from ancle to knee, cascades of wet earth falling in from the over steep walls, sodden sand-bags, leaky dug-outs, these are only some of the smaller discomforts that we had & still have to put up with.  The last straw was when some “red hat” sitting comfortably in an armchair with a glass of port & a fat cigar, probably in a Chateau, gave orders that we must devote the night to “Hate”.  In other words instead of trying to keep ourselves as dry as possible, & taking no notice of the Bosch, we were to worry & harass him in every way & make a general nuisance of ourselves.  So we unfolded ourselves from our water-proof sheets, & climbed onto the soaking pre-step, & clipped the Hun sand-bags & played chimes on his loop-holes & threw bombs in his pet saps, & shells on his comfortable supports, & all the while got wetter & wetter & wetter.  The Hun made no reply.  Probably he evacuated the trench & kept dry 400yds in rear.  Now we are trying to get clean, our selves, our trench, & our rifles-we have succeeded in the last, in the first two we have failed.  In fact I have refused point blank either to shave or wash today, & don’t at all see why I should do so.  The trench is uncleanable, not even a vacuum cleaner, worked by a 2000 horse power turbine could remove the muck through which we periodically wade.  As to rifles as fast as we clean them, the rain comes & mucks them up again.

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