I am very wet & cold & have been so almost continuously for the last seventy two hours. The rain is very nearly continuous & the cold absolutely so. I came up here prepared for fine weather which lasted quite a long time, but haven’t, nor could have, anything to cope with this sort of stuff. There is however one good bit of news. After three months of this most abominable place we are going to leave. Where we are off to we don’t know, but everything points to a move of some distance & we all hope to get clear away. One thing is certain & that is that wherever we go to it cannot possibly be as noisome as this place which is acknowledged by all to be the very worst spot in the whole line. The mud alone for the past few days has been enough to drive one to desperation; thank goodness I have been able to raise a pair of rubber boots. Without them I should now be just about dead of pneumonia. I am afraid this letter sounds very pessimistic & hopeless, but we are really all feeling quite bucked up by the news of a move. If nothing else comes of it we shall see some new country & may for a day or two escape from the never ending din of heavy gun-fire. This, as you might imagine from a scrutiny of your paper, is as continuous as the bad weather. So far we have not personally been subjected to anything very terrific, but people catch it on both sides of us & not so very far away. This afternoon we were sitting down to tea when there came a terrific crash & everything shook. A German mine had been blown up some way away on our left. Well away from our trenches & did practically no damage as far as we can gather at present. This of course was promptly followed by a fiercening of the shelling & funny little rifle bullets flying all over the place which were equally harmless as far as we were concerned. Now, after about two hours, it’s beginning to be quieter again & the situation can once more be described as normal. About two days hence when we have forgotten all about it we shall hear the cause of it all, or see it in the Daily Mail of the day before.
The move of course means that all leave has been stopped for the Division, but that will doubtless start again as soon as we are fairly comfortably settled in our new place. I may not get mine for some little time to come, because besides being the I.O. I am now very unfortunately the Senior officer left in D Coy. Mould as you know is away ill, & the night before last poor Jeffries stopped a stray bullet when going out of the trenches & died within an hour. I do not know any details being still in the trenches & consequently cut off from the Regiment. His loss will be very keenly felt both in the Company & in the mess, of which he was one of the oldest & cheeriest members. I too loose a very good friend. However such is war. I am afraid it’s years & years since I wrote to either Tom or Mary, but tell them that though they don’t get any letters, I have still got their photographs which I look at very often, & wish I had the real person instead of only the picture. This last few days of battle & the constant observation that has to be kept of the enemy’s movements really has reduced me by the evening to a state of wreck absolutely incapable of consecutive thought, & consequently unfit to start on a letter. A rest must come soon though & I shall deserve it. This is my X1th day in the trenches. By the way please do not think by the word battle that we are fighting. We are still in stu quo here & likely to remain so. Will write next from Brussels – n’est- ce -pas?