"Good Luck Australia"
France, Trenches 30th April, 1916
I'm a norful lucky bloke, for during the week, I got two letters from you and now this morning another mail has started to filter through, and I got yours of March 13th and a lovely parcel from you and the dear old nippers. Thank you oh so much. You just can't see how much I am enjoying the butterscotch in my capacious mouth at this present moment. It's a bit from Lesters. I will write and thank him as soon as ever it is poss. (Ernie has just blown along and is licking in also.)
We go out again tonight and will be stopping out for some time. The 6th Battalion is relieving us, the same crowd that we relieved on Gallipoli, and I don't think that we will be coming back to this position again but up toward Wipers (Ypres).
I'm glad my letter turned up telling you of the receipt of the Christmas parcel. Perhaps Amy's will turn up likewise. I hope so. It is very good of Mrs. Linton to interest herself in her unfortunate husband's Brigade. We did hear something about it. No doubt it will be a sort of information bureau also. Colonel Linton had stiff luck, didn't he?
I'm sorry to hear that Vic Smith is down with Rheumatiz, in any case I would not have seen him for a long time as we are only up to our 5th reinforcements, the others being goodness knows where.
You mention in your last letter that you are glad that we are not in fearful France, what a pity, but it's funny isn't it? And we are having the best time we've ever had. I'm writing this from the front fire trench, where my dugout is. It's a lovely sunshiny day, and there's a lark singing for all he's worth just over my head, and I can see right across the lovely green fields, almost to Fleurbaix. There's hardly a bullet fired. Occasionally a bomb arrives and either falls short, or else goes well over. So far this is the best war I've been to, and what with the mail coming in and bread and bacon for breakfast, I'm almost feeling happy. There are two Taubes, at least one Fokker and one Taub away over our heads, but they are not worrying us, but I suppose are just trying to find our guns, but they are well planted.
I'm so sorry to hear of all Mrs. Down's trouble. She does seem to have a lot and still is always the same. It would drive many a person crazy. I think she is a splendid woman.
I've just heard from Sister Ricketts, written from her sick bed. She is too faithful to her work and will kill herself.
There's is not very much news. We have had a pretty quiet trip in this time, with only two casualties to our Company, although the other boys have had some. We think that the Saxons must be in, for the Tommies told us that they never strafe you if you leave them alone and we only send over an occasional grenade, for we have got to do something and last night, before dark, they sent over an unlighted flare and attached to the stick was a piece of cloth with the words “Good Luck Australia” on. Of course that can be taken in two ways, can't it? I heard the flare fired and wondered what on earth they were firing over in the early evening for. Then I thought it might be a grenade but as no report came afterwards, I knew I was right in my original idea, and early yesterday morning a bonza little spaniel trotted over from the German lines – a great little dog too. A Coy's Stretcher bearers are looking after him and they have fitted him out with out with a gas helmet and identification disc.”Fritz 22nd Battn I.N.F. R.I.P” What the latter is for I'm sure I don't know. He's a terror on rats and they are the ones who ought to have R.I.P. on, but perhaps it's for the ones inside him.
We only had one “hurry up” and that was a gas alarm and a midnight bombardment. The gas didn't reach us but it was a bit lower down the line, but the shells did and were decidedly rotten. It's uncanny to be sitting under a bombardment with your gas helmet on, with the shells lobbing not too far away. We were sitting on the fire step with our guns on our knees wondering if Fritz would come over to see if anyone was hurt with the shells, but he didn't, and the rest of the night we put in taking a couple of chaps down to the Doctor.
It's daylight here at 3.30 am. And it's not too good turning out at that hour.
I will close now for the present, with much love and thanks.
Your affectionate son.