I never dream about the war, for which I am truly thankful

The Royal Dugout

Here we are again, we have been in the trenches now for three weeks and have not seen a Turk except in the distance through a periscope and for the fleeting space of a second.

When there is no shelling going on you would not believe there was a war on at all, for during the day there are scarcely any shots fired, but as soon as night falls the shots begin to sing out, each side firing at the others flashes but no damage is done.

We have not been called out once during the night since arriving, all our cases have been during the daytime and I have seen some awful wounds, mostly through the head, the fellows get too careless and stand up too straight. The bullets come with such force that they go clean through the skull. The last case I handled I had to scrape the man's brains off my trousers first before sponging the blood away and he was alive when we last saw him. I'ts just wonderful what some chaps will live through.

Thank you very much indeed for the socks, they arrived quite safely, they are beauties and I'm sure they must take an awful time to make. We lucky boys must be an awful nuisance to everybody.

Another small mail came in during the week and I drew nine more, the only thing is the answering of them. I am afraid I can't answer all of them and friend must not be hurt if they don't receive any reply. Things are vastly different in the trenches, than they were in Heleiopolis.

Among others I got one from Aunty Effie and one from Vic Smith and missus, at last my new cousin May (don't it sound scrumptious) Victor says he is having a shot for the army by this time he is rather well in or out of it. Aunty Eff said that she supposed that he was tired and wanted a change. By Cripes! If that is what he wants and comes here he'll get it all right.

Last Tuesday I had the luck to go down for a swim. It was lovely, I also did some washing down there. The articles were better than when I took them down anyway. While I was undressing Sir Ian Hamilton and staff passed by having a look round, he has the appearance of being a real keen man.

Last Thursday the war ships started fossicking around and at last got the range of the trenches directly in front of us, and they let them have a few 9.2s My word, they so stir up the mud when they explode. I was in the trench with a periscope and watched the things moving some. The large shells explode with a nerve-wracking crash. Thank Heaven we have only had a few last ones.

Our worst enemies are the viscous French 75mm, they have a battery not too far from us, they were captured by the Turks whilst on the way to the Serbians during the Balkan affair. You will often see the 75mm mentioned in the papers. They are doing good work in France.

On Thursday night we gave poor Abdul a birthday party at 7.30 just as darkness came on, we bombarded all along the line. I have never heard the like in all my life. War ship Batteries, Mortars, Bombs, Machine guns, Rifles – it was a demonstration in earnest. The noise was simply awful, the thunder of the guns the shriek of the shells, the crash of the explosions all mixed up in a jumble with the machine gun crackle and the rifles. And what the poor old Turk thought of it, I don't know, they began firing like mad and they stuck to their post well, inspire of the terrible shells. They shelled us too but it was absolutely nothing, to what they got. Although the Turks are one hundred yards from us, the force of the explosions are so great that pieces of shell fly over our heads, a piece got me on the knee and I wondered what happened for a while. It was a spent piece and didn't come hard enough to hurt.

Ernie came up to see one that night and waited in my dugout for me until I was dismissed and while sitting there a piece of a 75mm tore through the stretcher over the top of the trench and banged in beside him, he nearly got a nasty crack but still a miss is as good as a mister any day. I might state he has not been up in the evening to see me since then but still, he's got a sore throat so I suppose that's the reason.

Do you remember the chap that left Nivens before me? Well, he's gone. He was a chap with hardly any relatives and still I saw six death notices in one of the papers you sent me. His proper names Soanes but we knew him as Stevens, that was his foster parents name. I will put the notices in.

Well, Mum I never thought I could get so homesick in five months and well and truly so now.

Last night I dreamt I was landing again at Port Melbourne. You and Olive were there to meet me and then again after “Stand too” at dawn I crawled back to bed and I'm blessed if I didn't finish my dream. I never dream about the war, for which I am truly thankful.

I got a letter yesterday from Flossy (Bill knows who I mean) it has been straying around somewhere. I should have got it a week ago, enclosed was another golliwog, aren't they little dears. I have not answered the nippers letters yet but will try in the near future. I was very glad to hear from them (don't tell Mabel I said nippers, will you) Ask them can they spare the Little Paper out of the Children's magazine. I used to find their war news exceedingly interesting. We get no news here beyond the news of our own little trench, we are quite in the dark.

We are trying to make griddle scones as we had some flour issued to us the other day, and one of the chaps is rolling out the dough now with the case of a shell on an old biscuit tin.

I hope you can make out the writing as I have an old copy of the World's News and my knee as writing desk.

Is it true that the war is to be over in October? With love to all and a big percentage for yourself. I have not seen Ralph for a fortnight he is on the other side of the gully, all the boys are well. Your loving son

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