Friday, February 28, 2014

William Laurie Field's War - Part 14

“Aug. 24. … I don’t think I told you that, for convenience sake and other reasons, nearly all the fellows now have but two meals a day in the trenches, one about 9.30a.m., and the other about 5.30p.m., without any apparent reason, all the fellows seem to have adopted the two meals a day system, and it is now quite the rule. … The candles came in quite handy, as I have a little weakness for reading in bed every night, if I am not writing letters, and our billets are always barns without artificial light, so every night without exception we need a light. I and my two chums generally work together, and so usually one or the other has a candle. …This afternoon I had a swim in the canal and afterwards visited the flying station. It is most interesting to watch the aeroplanes ascending and descending (landing), they are beautifully made, and we seem to have a great number. They go up all ready for fighting, with machine guns, bombs, etc., the driver behind and the observer in front. … I should have liked to have been at the Fete (Red Cross). It is the lack of something like that now and again that makes things so dull, never being able to put on anything but one suit, and which we seldom take off. So I imagined I was at the fete when I tasted the chocolate … and wished I could have been there in reality. … About looking grey - well, you know, we can tell in an instant if a fellow has only just come out here. We saw some only this afternoon, and we all knew at once they had been out but three or four days. … There is a sort of worn expression on all who have been out here during the winter, to be discerned in an instant. But I expect it soon vanishes when a fellow sets foot on Albion again, on leave! One of my pals went to hospital a short time ago, and met a fellow there (in the Bucks.) who knew me well. Another of my pals who has come all through has now gone to hospital. He is a very strong fellow, too. Do you know, hardly one of our fellows who came out here at the first has not had a turn in Hospital. Some look on it as going for a short holiday, but not so this nigger. I always like to be with the boys, and haven’t missed one day in the trenches so far.”

“Sunday evening, Sept. 5 … I wish you could see me now; we have had plenty of rain lately, and the trenches are in a bit of a mess, and we got fairly wet marching here yesterday, but by a slice of luck we were able to get a “bon” dug-out, made of an old boiler sunk into the ground. It is about 8 feet in diameter, and of course the bottom is filled in flat, and a fireplace in one end. It was made by the French and jolly good they seem to be at that sort of thing. … To-night, when dusk came (about 7.30p.m.), we all sat round the fire and sang some hymns, and after that we told ghost stories. A little bit of fire makes so much comfort, and we dream of our homes and how nice it must be to live in peace and comfort again. … I was jolly sorry to learn about poor Gregory and Severn. I was in their Company only a short time ago, but your letter was the first information that anything had happened. It’s a cruel war. Since I last wrote, another of my chums has been killed. He was such a nice happy go lucky sort of fellow. Don’t forget to tell Rex about poor Gregory, as he knew him well when in the Wolverton Works. Ȃ I should like to see you all, but it seems leave is cancelled again for our Regiment., and I should not be surprised if it was not restarted until the winter. It seems years since I was in Wolverton - ten months to-day, I believe since we left your shore. … My pal has just exclaimed, “Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up and find the war finished!” Can’t hardly imagine what it would be like, but I often think I shall not relish going back to business, after so much open air and outdoor life. … To-day we saw a bit of a duel between a German and an English aeroplane. The English was a light Morane monoplane, which only carries the pilot, who observes as well. The German was a biplane which cut all sorts of figures about our machine, and we could hear its machine gun firing. The monoplane took to its heels, and I was surprised it got away all right. The German biplanes carry both an observer and a pilot. Strange to say, the pilot sits behind the observer. They are armed with six bombs and a Lewis machine gun. It is very rarely we do see a fight. Some of our machines are as white as paper, and you can hardly see them when the sky is clear and blue. We also see them all colours - black, brown etc.” Wolverton Express 1915 Sep. 17th

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