I think you had better send for me before I get any worse
France Sunday 7th May, 1916
Sunday once more and I've just come back from a days work at trench digging – have been up since 4.45am and now it's now something after 3pm. I'm sure you don't approve of me working on Sundays do you? So I think you had better send for me before I get any worse, but nearly always Sunday is just the same as any other day, more especially in the firing line, but since we have been out this last week we having been working like Trojans. In fact, we will be glad of a spell in the firing line again. Sometimes we are out all night from sunset to daybreak. Other times we get up at 2.45am and sneak to a position before the Germans can spot us. In fact, all hours and any hours we go, but I guess it's all in the game; and at the beginning of the week we were getting pretty rotten grub and three of us Stretcher bearers went out with the Coy. At 3.15 am one morning on only a drink of tea and one greasy rasher of bacon. So when we got out we ducked off and got a respectable madam out of bed and got her to cook us some breakfast, but we struck a snag of a Sergeant who put us up, and so we told the C.O. What the trouble was(when we being court martialled) and although the minimum for being absent without leave is three days C.B., which we got, he admitted that we had a good case and several got hauled up over the grub stakes and sine then things have been ever so much better, and I hope to goodness that they continue. So, the real trouble is that too many have the handling of food and rations before it finally reaches the men and that was especially so on Gallipoli. We finish our C.B. Tonight, but he made it an empty title for us, for he said there would be no loss of pay, and that we would not be able to get any leave for three days, but as it is a very strict rule in this billet that absolutely no-0ne is allowed away, I don't quite know where the punishment came in, but still it came out in orders that Ptes C. Tucker, S. Fletcher and H. Massie were awarded three days C.B. For being absent without leave, but I don't think it's much of a sin to be crimed in the Army. This makes my third time up and my second conviction. What oh!
We got another gas alarm a few nights ago whilst out working. In fact, they attacked in two places with gas, bombs and shells and afterward came over, but the 20th. Knew what to do with them, and let them come as far as the wire, and then let go and quite a lot of deluded Germans are mafish, but the 20th suffered a lot owing to the bombardment. The gas is nothing for we have each two good helmets, that not even the smell of Spanish onion will penetrate.
They sent over a few shells in vain endeavor to get one of our batteries and some of them lobbed close to us, but no-one, except a woman and little girl, got killed which, of course, is pretty stiff.
The worst thing about the shells is their shattering crash when they explode. Crikey! They do make your knees rub together, and it takes something to make mine touch. It's that that sends so many off their heads.
I see by the papers that the Battle of Verdun is finished now. Finished as far as the German offensive is concerned, and that is one assault in a certain position. I believe the French won back all that the Germans took over two months to win, with such tremendous losses, but still Fritz will take some beating, but the end is assured. I wish he would sling in the towel and say he has had enough. It would save us a lot of trouble and we would get back to our Mothers sooner. I don't think the Kaiser can have a good home or a good Mother or would not have come to the war, or kept his soldiers from their homes.
There is no doubt but that the German is a good soldier. I, for one, respect their fighting qualities. They are brave, of course, they have disgraced themselves in other ways; but they will charge to the death if need be. But what troops could equal our own 8th Light Horse charge at Gallipoli. They knew that they were done for and that no-one would get there (just one of the series of blunder that lost us Gallipoli and the Peninsula). But bygone be bygones aren't they? I'll be glad when this blanky war is a bygone, not half. Please excuse the slang, but it's about three weeks since I was at a Church Service.
So I must now close hoping you are all well.
Your loving son.