11 August 1915 (1)

The Barracks (infantry) Ypres

It is years & years since I wrote, but really time, or rather want of time must be my excuse.  One cannot write letters when the noise is so shocking that one can hardly think, let alone concentrate ones thoughts sufficiently to write a letter to one so illustrious as yourself.  First then for the customary thanks, every letter contains them, which says a great deal for the number & regularity of the cartloads that you dispatch to me.  The last one arrived this morning, the cake looking really well except that the jolting had bi-sected it.  That of course is a minor matter & in no way effects either the beauty or the taste of the masterpiece of cuisinerie – in other words it looks and is first rate.  At the present moment we are not in the trenches.  After seven days of noise, rain, shells & yet no casualties, we have come out & for the next six days are in support.  We cannot go right back to rest, at the same time they do not want all of us messing about in dug-outs which are likely to be shelled, so half of us including D. Coy. are here.  Here is a large ruin, shelled to blazes, in a street which is all shelled to blazes in a town which is also likewise.  The Cloth Hall is really a most appalling sight & the Cathedral is little better.  There is not a whole house left standing anywhere & the Germans still drop plenty of shells on it whenever there is a battle in progress.

Talking of battles we started one the other morning.  As you know they got a bit of our line the other day by means of flame projectors.  We tried to knock them out at the time but failed completely.  After that we did nothing much except that each morning from 2 till 3-30 a.m. we shelled them very hard.  So hard indeed that each morning they imagined we were going to attack.  Gradually however they got used to our little hate & took no notice of it.  So the other morning having collected all sorts of troops we took those trenches back again.  The poor fellows were Saxons & when the attack did finally come after all this terrific early morning bombardment they just “hooked it” & made off.  A few stayed to be killed & a few to be captured, but the majority have lived to fight another day.

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