the Huns behind barbed wire

FRANCE SUNDAY 23rd JULY 1916

Once more 'tis Sunday and nothing of importance is happening to us. During the week we've been travelling from village to village, generally about ten miles between halts, but are here today and gone tomorrow, but I fancy that we will be here for a while now, until the work is done.

This is the first free Sunday we've enjoyed for a long time. As a rule, it is one of our busy days, but this morning we had Church parade and this afternoon there is to be a kit inspection. I have just come back from Communion. It's great to get a real Sunday occasionally. I like our Padre very much. He can never do too much for us.

They won't take our mail from us, which is pretty hard lines on you folk. I still have my last two weeks letters to you in my pack. They are too much unsettled I suppose to censor our mail and as we have no green envelopes, we will have to wait until such times as they are able to censor them. I sent P.C.s to the nips during the week. Les was telling me that he made up his mind to be good at school and is now in the back row at school. Also Olive was telling me she was in for sitting the S. S.exams, so I wrote and said that you were to buy them a book or something each. I'd send the cash but I've got no English at all, only French, and you can pay what you like for them and nothing under five francs, just to give them a bit of encouragement.

Things have been pretty willing in the booze line here lately. There's any amount of cheap beer and wine in France and so the Padre gave it out from the shoulder in his his sermon this morning and our Colonel clinched the matter, or rather drove the lesson home, with grim force in his very own style. He paraded two fellows who had been tried by court martial for offences arising from drink and read out their offences and then the sentence – twelve months each with hard labour. I'm mighty glad that I know when I have had enough. I take as much as Dad, so I don't get too far gone, but this incident coming directly on top of the sermon, gave somewhat added force to things.

I was looking at some of the Huns behind barbed wire yesterday, and they are as happy as kings, lucky beggars. They are far luckier than us, and although they are straight from the trenches, they look very healthy and well-fed – big, fair-haired, fair complexioned men, from youths to men of perhaps forty. Some speak good English and one young fellow lived in Adelaide until the beginning of the war and greatly enjoyed talking to the Australians. They don't like the French infantry and they say that when they charge they go fair mad, but they all have different opinions.

I have just enjoyed my Sunday dinner – a drink of tea, a piece of bully, a couple of armour plated biscuits, a quarter of a raw onion, and as I was hungry, I almost enjoyed them. We get bread and fresh meat every three days here, but in some respects, it's better than Gallipoli.

I'm afraid that Andy Boyd's crowd have been having a pretty rough time of it around Armentieres. You will have heard long before this reaches you of the event, and will have heard how he got on. I hope he is well. Ernie is still “tres bien” and his billet, home, residence, domicile, or what ever it is (mine has no walls – only a roof) is only across the yard. I'd like to invite him to tea with me tonight but we've only got biscuits and jam and I don't like to, wouldn't be so bad if we could buy bread, but I'm getting fatter than ever, so the life evidently is suiting me, but then we haven't the worries that you folk have got.

There is no more news so I must close with love to all.

From your affectionate son.

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