Daily Archives: July 8, 2016

8 July 1916

Very many thanks for your cake, it is most excellent; thanks also for the peppermints, which were most excellent, and for several equally excellent letters, none of which I deserve, as I have not written to you for ages. However there was and is no need for you to be anxious, as no news is always good news. If there was bad news I am sure it would manage to travel fast enough. Never have we seen more appalling weather. Even the General who has been in the tropics says that he has never seen rain to compare with some of the terrific downpours with which we have been favoured lately. The trenches are simply waist deep in water and one has given up wearing any clothing on one’s lower limbs. In fact we paddle about – the water is quite warm – and one can then keep one’s trousers fairly dry for the bright moment when one gets a few hours rest in the dug-out. Of course all this refers to the people who are having actually to live in trenches. With us it is different as we simply trek up there for the day and then come down again in the evenings. In this way my day has been kept pretty full. I come in as a rule very tired and have quite a considerable amount of report-writing and other such horrible things to do. Fortunately I have been left alone to do my intelligence work much as I pleased which is a great consolation. The weather, our lack of success the other day, in fact everything combined to make me most irritable, and I have been nearly a week trying to work it off. I am feeling better now, and have in fact had rather a good time at my old game of watching the Bosch in his lair. I cannot tell you where we are but you really need not worry as we have done all the pushing we are going to do in this “push”. I believe we actually did a lot of good and achieved part of our object – the part that really counts perhaps in the eyes of the Staff – i.e. the higher commands. But we did not achieve our object from the soldiers point of view; we did not so all that we had hoped to do, and worked for, for the last six weeks. To me it is unsatisfactory; even though every individual did his utmost, even though everyone behaved with great gallantry, yet it is not so satisfactory as Oct 13. It was far finer to loose one’s whole regiment but gain a few yards of trench and keep them, than to come out as we have done and feel that we might have done better. It was not this Brigade – as I said – we were out of it – but still it was people we all knew very well. One casualty list that I caught a glimpse of, shows Tennyson Smith was wounded, I hope it is nothing serious and that he will soon get over it. In the same list Hickman’s brother Terence is, I see, missing; I did not know him very well, though I had seen him about once or twice. Many thanks for the cutting about Sellar, I am jolly glad to know he has done well. I expect he, poor fellow, would far rather see his name appearing in the casualty list than in the honours list for Maths. He has I believe tried to get into every conceivable part or rather branch of the service and been refused every time on account of his eyesight. You ask about the “mention”, I do not know that it was for anything special – just intelligence work I suppose, and the Oct 13th show. But really these things are dished out so indiscriminately that it is hard to say for what they are given. Marriott has rejoined us after a long rest in England. He was hit through the elbow at Hohenzolleren and was rather bad for a time. He is a most amusing fellow and a real good sort, so we are all jolly glad to have him back with us again. One of his greatest accomplishments is a spirited rendition of Harry Tate; he knocks spots into the gramophone record. Our mess garden here is doing us very well. Until a comparatively short time ago this village was inhabited and had a civilian population; but there came a time when the authorities deemed it advisable to turn them out and so the gardens were left all standing. We cannot let the fruit go bad so are living on some most delicious raspberries and currants, red, white and black. Another billet where Hacking and the Interpreter have their abode is supplying us with quite a good number or eggs per day; so I am looking forward to a considerably reduced mess bill. Shipston, an officer of “ours”, had a most remarkable escape the other day. He was standing before the window of a first floor room in one of these houses, shaving with a mirror on the window sill. A shell appeared on the scene, crashed into the wall under the sill, and carried a young cartload of bricks, in addition to its own bits, clean through between Shipston’s legs, without so much as tearing his clothes. In fact the only thing really disturbed was his mental equilibrium, which is, no doubt, by now restored to its former unshakable stability. We have got a new G.O.C. and are all rather anxious to know what he will be like. It makes more difference than one would imagine, to the comfort and happiness of the troops if the G.O.C. himself is a good cheery person. So many of the staff are inclined to imagine that it is their business to “strafe” always, and the men consequently live in holy terror of a red-hat – an awful pity. Please than Dini for her letter. I must say some of the details rather savour of realism. It was very lurid in parts; however anything to keep us amused is always welcome, even if the cause of our amusement is a badly behaved kitten in the War Office.