Letters at the bottom of the sea

Trenches, November 22nd

One of my letters has gone astray I'm sure for I received none from you in the mail which left about October the fifth but of late our mails have been very badly mixed up, and also they have let the barge on which a fortnight letters from here were in go down. So what do you think of that!

I wouldn't like you to know what I think of it, all the letters what we expected to reach home, just a few days before Christmas are at the bottom of the sea. I had worked hard too, to try and answer a lot of back mail and also to remember my friends at Christmas and thats the result. You would have two, Dad, one Bill two, including a Christmas greeting to the juniors. I really forget who I did write to as I burn my mail as soon as it answer it, but I can remember a few who I will write to as soon as possible if I can get some envelopes, Miss Crouch, Mr Carey, Denis, Aunty Effie, Violet, Aunt Jenny, Harry and several others also the nippers, with some new kinds of cigarette cards for Lester. I got the photo yesterday. Thank you very much, it makes my dugout more like home, its a bonza photo too and I'm very glad to get it. I expected a letter with it but it hasn't arrived. I don't think there was any special news in the two letters of yours which are in the Agean Sea, except that one Sunday whilst writing home I was surprised with a visit from Alf Osborne, and I was glad to see him. He had been on the Peninsula a fortnight. He is stationed about three miles from us. He is towards Suvla Bay whilst we are at Anzac. He had wasted the afternoon looking for me. I asked him which way he had come and he said “Oh I walked along the beach, it was a fine afternoon and I enjoyed the walk”. “And did you get any shells along there?” “Shells?” said Alf in surprise, “do they shell along there?” And then I told him he had walked over a mile along the part where more men had been killed than in any other portion of the Peninsula right in full view of “Beachy Bill” and his three brothers. He was very lucky to have struck him on a slack day, he wasn't particularly keen on going back that way and asked me if I knew of any other track and he was releived when I told him that the Engineers had made a special road whereby the dangers of “Beachy Bill” were eliminated.

We had hardly yarned five minutes before a bit of shelling commenced and as Alf is too good a chap to be blown up by a 75 I took him to a safe dugout, not far from mine. I know what you are thinking, “one for Alf and two from me”. Oh well we will let it go at that anyhow, we weathered the storm safely although it was a bit lively for a while. Alf said “I've been fairly close to shells at times but never as close as this” and although he wasn't exactly enjoying himself yet he laughed heartily when a shell burst very close and sending a shower of dirt down upon us. Someone in the next dugout called out “Hey, turn it up Abdul” he thought that was great. We were well underground and as the Turks only have light artillery we are as safe as houses, but care nothing for shells now. I wish I was able to return the visit but I am not allowed away as we are a man short in our squad.

You will have seen Miss Ricketts before this as I got a letter from her yesterday saying she was on her way back. She has been very good to me, sending me paper, envelopes, magazines in fact doing everything she possibly could to cheer us up a bit.

I have changed my mind about getting wounded now, now that she has gone home and will wait until I know she has come back. She seemed like a link with home, to know that she was so close.

We are having some bitterly cold weather, colder than I have ever felt it in Australia and it is not winter yet. Ernie and I sleep together and between us we can muster five blankets, we sleep on two and have three on top and still we are cold. Aren't we going to have fun when winter comes on. Anyhow, this game is not what it is cracked up to be and it does not take eleven weeks in the trenches to find it out either.

On Saturday night we were called up to attend to a poor chap. He was dead when we got him, had been killed at his brothers side whilst on the post together, the poor brother following us down to the dressing station sobbing his heart out and when we got to the doctor he asked the doctor if he would live. It was cruel.

Beachy Bill has been particularly active lately for a few days and nights, nothing could be done at all on the beach. Night and day it shelled incessantly but is now fairly quiet.

I got a lovely scarf and some paper and envelopes from Aunty Effie. It is a beauty and much worn now but the letter thanking her is now “fini” so the Egyptians say but I will write to her again. I also wrote to the “shop” and that is also “fini” peacefully resting on the sea bottom.

Well, Mumsy, there's not much news, things are very quiet, your little boy is very well, have not even a cold and grows fat on bully and biscuits.

I sent my Christmas Greetings before, and now if not too late but you have all my very best wishes for the new year during which I hope to be home.

With love,

Charles

ps I wrote to Rosie thanking her for the socks and I think she will gets hers as I wrote it after the fourteenth, al between the fifth and fourteenth were sunk.

Thank you very much Mother for the care and trouble you are taking over me, don't think I don't appreciate it. I do

Charles.

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