2nd July, France

Posted: October 26, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Well I have been in one place over a week now – quite a record for some considerable period. We have been having glorious weather the last few days, but before that it was very dreary – muck and slush everywhere. I have a pair of gum boots and they are just the thing for the mud and wet. We are becoming quite used to the rats and mice now, in fact we treat them more as a joke than otherwise. Sometimes the men turn out with little muddy marks all over their faces where these little pets have been roaming at night. I have a couple of quaint little mice keeping me company. There were three, till one foolishly let his tail dangle out of his dugout. He swung to an early doom! Just at present there are a couple building a nest. They come in and tear up all my papers, and then walk off with it in their mouths. They used my felt hat as a sort of halfway house till I moved it.

Tuesday I had a busty day here. I was visited by two Padres, two majors, and two Captains. They all chose awkward times to come too. One, just as I had lathered my face for a shave. It is very hard trying to appear dignified with one’s face covered with soap. And the others in batches, or when I was at dinner. There has been plenty of “stouch” knocking about. Bombing attacks, raids, and bombardments.

Have you received your Anzac magazine yet? It is absolutely true to life. I was speaking with Capt. Sprent the other day, he is the prize poet in it. He is our brigade gas expert. Our greatest trouble is to get exercise. We can only move at night, and then there are only about five hours of darkness, during which we want to sleep. We are very much like a stagnant pool in a big stream. Everywhere around us is intense hate breathed forth, but we still manage to keep out, we are like a miniature Sargasso Sea. I am beginning to feel the rub to keep myself employed now. Have at last had to descend to the depths of that awful and moral wrecking game of chance, much indulged in by old maids, called “patience”. The strain is beginning to tell. I take a feverish delight in shuffling the cards. Capt. Jeffries has been promoted to major. I suppose we will be losing him now. He will probably take a Field Ambulance. Jack Clarke is billeted about eighteen miles from here, in the same billets we first occupied.

Our best sport is an Aeroplane duel. Our chaps come out in mass formation, very seldom less than ten planes. A couple of nights ago I saw 16, some say there were 20. The Bosches pepper them with hail of shrapnel, but they don’t seem to mind. I saw one chase a Fokker last night. He dived from about 6,000 ft. I should say (although I have no idea of judging height at all) straight down like a big eagle.

The act of censoring letters makes us personally responsible that nothing of value goes through of course purely military value – not monetary. They know better than to trust us. I had thought of writing to —- but on second thoughts didn’t consider them worth the trouble. They would probably break some poor instructor’s heart. You manage to pick some weird names for the feline tribe. I am going to get a kitten for this post and train it to catch mice.

They were more than Turks and Arabs that we were watching for along the canal. There were several regiments of German and Austrians not far away. All along here the Australians are mixing things for their lives. One of our batteries broke the world’s record on getting off 156 rounds in a minute. This was with four guns of course, but it is “some going eh!” Just here we have the Huns walloped in the air, in machine guns, and in artillery. I don’t know what it is like elsewhere. I had a look through a military cemetery this morning. There were about two acres of crosses all regiments. Some dated from April 15, but not many, nearly all were recent. One grave has 37 11th Battalion men in it – due to the bombardment when they made that name for themselves.

Received a letter from Mrs Logan, a couple of days ago. She invited me down to their place if I could get leave. She says – “even if you do succeed in getting leave, Helowan is scarcely the place a desert banished young man would choose, but you know a warm welcome would await you and two Bohemians who would not be surprised if you only appeared at bedtimes, or wore pyjamas all day in the heat, when obliged to stay in the house”.

Arthur Hill worded that letter to the rifle men very well. A little high explosive might do some good. They want to see a few men shovelled into sandbags and dumped in a hole, as I did, this morning. They want to see these houses here, just a heap of bricks, Churches knocked to pieces, and desolation everywhere – then – perhaps- ? they would hear the call. I am enclosing two cheques. They are rather damaged but the tearing is quite legitimate, being done by a bullet. There was a terrific bombardment this morning. I was up most of the night over it.

Well I have run dry,
lots of love to you all,
Lance.

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