Alf takes a leisurely stroll through Lone Pine

Trenches, Sunday November 7th

The mail has been very late this time, it only arrived this morning but attempts to land it have been going on for a few days, as even with a slight breeze, a rather heavy swell arises but thank goodness its here at last. I pulled 15 (I think thats what you say, isn't it?) anyway I am far from being downheartened, it is the one day we look forward to here in this monotonous trench warfare.

Of course we get other things to break the monotomy such as schrapnel – 75s, bombs, aeroplanes, trench mortars and sundry other things that keep us on the move at times but it is the mail we look for most among the sundry other things I might mention 8=2s as being emminenetly first. Oh Crikey, they're hot, I never want to sample a 15” such as are thrown about by Queen Lizzie. I received two letters from you and a program of the Civic Service, what a pity it rained. Lester also wrote and told me about it, he said “he had a lot of funny cloths on” on meaning our new Mayor. And also meaning, I suppose, “clothes”. I have received papers up till the 18th September and they make no mention of us being in action, what a long time to keep the news back, we were here on the fourth of September. I noticed the death notice of Colonel Linton though didn't it strike you then that we must have been here for he was our Brigideer and was in the Southland. When she was torpedoed he was tipped into the water by the faulty lowering of a boat, rescued then upset again and after being in the water sometime was again rescued but died exhaustion. He was a fine soldier and we can't afford to lose many like him.

We have had some beautiful weather lately this month is supposed to be the best of the season in these parts. I'm not looking forward to winter though but up to the present I've been in absolutely the best of health and we've been in the trenches for nine weeks. Such a number are sent away sick and we are as short as we were before our reinforcements arrived. Do you know Chester Mather? You may have heard me speak of him at times well, he's with us now in the second reinforcements, also Ron Holdsworth, Charlie Jayer, they are all from Trinity. Mrs Blamire will know them well, also a young chap named, I think, Scholfield, a friend of Bill's came to see me the other day.

Poor old Ernie, I think I wrote last week and told you he had been sent away with a septic hand, although he waited down at the dressing station for the angry waters to subside (as the poets put it) for it was too rough to send the wounded out to the hospital ship and whilst waiting there his hand got better and he got sent back. Rotten bad luck I call it, he's never forgiven his hand for that. He thought he was in for a trip. I was nearly going with him for on the same night he was sent down to the clearing hospital Stan Fletcher and I were sitting on my front door step yarning when without the slightest warning, WHIST, and big lump of iron made a big hole in the ground just below my legs. Stan was lucky for he was sitting just on the edge of the door step with his head between his hands leaning forward, but I was well inside with my legs sprawled out it would have finished him if it had been an inch closer and would have made me limp for a month or two if it had been an inch the other way! Just my luck. I thought of Ernie going away and how I was nearly going with him for the chaps here would give 10 pounds for a little wound like that.

The latest papers I have received state how the Turks are nearly done and are short of ammunition, those statements were not written from the trenches I bet and I saw a cartoon in The Punch that Bill sent me representing Turkey with a big lion on top of him singing out for help. I suppose they have to put those things in to cheer the folk up at home, but the truth is that we are up against a big thing here, and apart from a few minor success and advances we are in practically the same place as the boys were on the third day. Of course, we must be wearing them down to a great extent and in the end we must win.

My word, our aviators all deserve a VC. They stop up observing amidst a perfect storm of schrapnel. The Turks don't like aeroplanes, they see too much. Anyhow, their own planes are not game to come very often. One flew over yesterday morning a dropped a bomb on our trench and then when our gunners had put two shots into her, she was off for dear life, and yet I've seen sixteen shots in the air at once around our machine and the Turks still firing and she never turned a hair so to speak.

(Monday morning) I was interupted when I had got thus far by a face appearing around the corner of my dugout. My word, I did get a shock, and wasn't I glad to see him. It was the frontice piece of Alf Osborne that was looking at me. He had come miles to find me, for his crowd are north of Anzac towards Suvla Bay, whilst we are south of the famous landing on the part of Gaba Tepe and he had been directed wrong and had been all through Lone Pine in his travels but finally arrived at the Royal Dugout just as a bombardment had commenced. I was sorry to have given him such a reception, but it wasn't my fault, he must blame the Turks, anyhow things got too warm in our quarter so as Alf is too good to get blown up, I took him around to a pretty safe dugout. I know you are thinking to yourself “one for Alf, and two for yourself” so you might as well say it out loud as to think it. We got it fairly solid for awhile and then Abdul turned his attention to another part of the line. Alf thought it very funny once when a schrapnel shell burst directly over our dugout (schrapnel is absolutely harmless when in a dugout) to hear a fellow sing out “Hey, turn it up Abdul” and although he was not enjoying himself too well, yet he was tickled with the remark. When the storm ceased, he said to me “Wel, I've been fairly close to shells before but never so close as this”. He does not think he would like to stay in the trenches. His station is situated midway between the trenches and the beach. I asked him which way he came to find me and he said “Oh I strolled around the beach and it was a beautiful day and a lovely walk. I enjoyed it” I said “Did you get shells there at all?” “Shells?” he said, “Do they shell around there?” He did get a surprise, anyhow, he came for a mile along the most exposed and most dangerous position on the Peninsula where more mules and men have been killed than on any other position, and where there used to be one big gun “Beachy Bill”, there are now four which command the whole of the beach. Afterwards he wanted to know if he would have to go back that way but I told him I could find him a safer way than the track he came by, also shorter by about two miles. Later we went to see Ernie, then Ralph. We found Ralph having a bad time with neuralgia but I went over first thing this morning to see how he was and found him quite right again. He is looking real well and say he feels it. They are shifting back from Wire Gully today so he will be much closer after this. Harry Ivory is still away, I think he put in three weeks in the trenches then a week on fatigue work down on the beach then he called up his old friend gastritis to his aid and got sent away for a trip. I have been here nine weeks and have no old friends to come to my assistance so I guess I'll have to stay on a while longer.

I got a lovely scarf and paper and envelopes from Aunt Eff this mail (three mails late they were) so I am doing very well I think with warm things for the winter. I don't know what I would do without that lovely balaclava you gave me, its a true friend, the nights and early mornings are bitterly sharp sometimes and I appreciate it genial warmth but I am sure I don't know whats to become of my feet, they are a problem I can't solve there are such a lot of them too.

Well Mother I think I will ring off or you will think I am developing great propensity to loquacity won't you so hoping you are quite well and not worrying for as I told you before that the safest place on the Peninsula is in the trenches. I will say goodbye for another week with love to all.

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