23 September 1916

Flanders
23/9/16

My Darling Sweetheart,

I got your letters Nos. 34 & 35, dated 30th July and 2nd August respectively O.K. and as always, they brought you ever so much closer to me for a while.

Since arriving here, we have been resting and have not yet been in the trenches, which are, I believe, in rather a battered condition, not having properly recovered from the third battle of Y. Was also greatly pleased to get the cutting from "The Sun".

Do you know, that cutting is the only photo I have in my possession now. You can make up for me, if you like, an Xmas box of a pocket wallet containing photos of both families, and I can promise you, it will give me as much pleasure as anything bar being at home with you again.

The weather has been very cold and wet, but today is gloriously fine and so comes out our friend the Taube. We know he is about because we hear the anti-aircraft guns ("Archies") and see the white puffs of their shells mottling the sky. Those who have strong sight can pick out the tiny speck that all the commotion is about, flying so high that, with the slight haze the heat has brought forth, any but large objects below must be indistinguishable. Perhaps they are merely out for "moral effect" to hearten their troops who must be sorely disappointed to see so many of our machines flying so low while theirs hardly ever venture out. If so, the height they keep at is explicable, and is regulated by the range of our "Archies". The radius of the action of the Taubes is governed by the time it requires for one of our machines to reach their height. They take no chances.

Our visit to the line has been postponed, and disquietening rumours are afloat concerning an early revisit to the scene of our late activities. None of us are hankering after more of "that".

Just had a message from Ernie Graham. He is in the 52nd, and I believe is within walking distance. He met one of our sigs. and enquired after me and sent a message that he was O.K. Believe he has a stripe and is in the transport. If he has any sense he’ll stay there too.”
(Afternoon) --- Ernie has just been over to see me and is camped within a few miles. He is looking well, but occasionally has trouble with his leg. Alfie is with him, but could not come over to-day. "A" Company played the Transport cricket to-day, and got a hiding by six wickets but our boys won’t be satisfied with that, and if the weather holds up, there’ll be some keen contests. All our lads are keen on any sort of sport, and I think that it’s better for them to be playing than working until they get their dash back again. I sympathise with your feelings in regard to the "Stay-at-homes". Stan, of course, has bad eyes, but even so could do some base work and release a fit man, as for the rest ---Well--
The papers are, or were, full of the doings of the Australians at Pozieres and thereabouts. In the second stunt, many units went in under half strength, consequently the usual system of frequent reliefs for the front line was impossible, and the line became dangerously thin in places.
You may have read the story of Mouquet Farm and how it was won and lost. If the supporting, flanking, or even attacking units had been full strength, the gap in front would not have occurred, or would have been immediately filled and so the situation would have been saved. The wounded are being rushed back in indecent haste as soon as their wounds have closed. The few left in the line have usually to do, or attempt to do, the work of a full unit -- so they are worked to a stand-still, and one finds it impossible to obtain any rest for them. In a couple of days they are useless for offensive purposes, although they are still as game as ever. This is, undoubtedly, the reason why our operations were not as fully successful as the courage and spirit of the men deserved, and is also the direct cause of a great many casualties.
Two or more attempts at a position are always more costly in life than one successful attack would be. The only reason why more than one attempt was necessary was that we had to use tired men on almost every occasion, and not enough of them even had they been fresh.
Our base depot is empty, and we are still waiting for men we should have had a month ago! Where are they? Still walking the streets! You see them every time you go to town. How many of us will be left by the time they step in to give us a hand - I wonder?

Well, I must close now. Goodnight, Sweetheart. Remember me to all enquiring friends, and keep a cheerful heart and a smiling face to all that comes along. God keep and guard you always, and realise for us our hopes and dreams.
With all my love sweetheart,
Ever and only yours,
Viv

 

 

 

 

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