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From the Trenches, 1915
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From the Trenches

Letter of a Delta Boy – Written from the Firing Line

The Weekly Gazette 1915-10-29

Belgium, Oct. 12, 1915

We got your letters from home yesterday, the last dated Sept 22. You were quite correct in your surmise that we would get them in the trenches. We are just finishing our second six days, and have had good weather this trip, and rather a quiet time.

Yesterday the Huns (in the trenches opposite and about 50 yards away) put up a sign “Belgrade captured by us.” We have not had it confirmed yet.

They set off a mine on our left which did quite a lot of damage – blowing down a long section of trench, but it was fired out between the trenches and damaged their own as well as ours. Our field guns opened in retaliation and more than squared accounts.

Our artillery is very efficient and always there when wanted.

The fields behind the trenches are full of guns and I have often been within fifty yards of one when fired and been unable to locate it.

I don’t find this work hard on the nerves, in fact I can’t say that I have been really scared as yet. One becomes indifferent to rifle fire, and we have not been shelled to any extent. Our sappers give us the cheerful news that they think the Germans have a mine below us here, but no one is worrying.

This trench is about four feet deep with sand bags up to seven feet and with a firing step two feet six inches – the “bags” are about eighteen feet – three or four men to a “bag.”

One of our aeroplanes has just made a thorough reconnaisance above us and as a result our batteries are firing shrapnel over our heads, and getting a few replies – when we promptly duck. The Huns are amusing themselves by shelling another ‘plane and the sky is full of white smoke puffs. Our planes have a white ring on the wings and the Huns as Iron cross. We continually see enemy aeroplanes being shelled – our superiority in the air is so great that a Taube is seldom seen. I have seen the Germans waste thousands of shells on our aircraft without doing any damage.

From what little I have seen there is nothing to justify one in being pessimistic over the situation. We seem to be superior in nearly everything, and must greatly outnumber the enemy.

I suppose you wonder what our sensations are on first being under fire. I was surprised to find that I was not nervous, and to see us just now you would not imagine for a moment that we are under fire. We have been very fortunate so far and it has been splendid training for us. The life, of course, is rather rough. We sleep with our boots and equipment on. I have only had my clothes off twice since crossing the Channel (Sept. 25). From what I can gather the climate here is much the same as at home. There have been no heavy winds such as we had in England, and no frost as yet, but it is cold at times and there is little room for exercise. We sleep by day and work – or rather keep watch – by night. There is no moon now and nothing to prevent a Bosch sneaking over and dropping a bomb amongst us as a souvenir. They have a new star shell now – one with a parachute which floats for over a minute. Must stop as we “stand to” in a few minutes.

4 pm – We have just finished a two hour’s bombardment – some noise. The shrapnel was bursting all around but mostly in the supports. We made a “feint attack” and I fancy gave the Huns a bad scare. They sent up a lot of rockets, which I took to be a hurry call for reinforcements. We threw a lot of bombs – I threw two – which made a dense smoke and hid our line, then we opened rapid fire and I think our guns smashed their trenches badly. There was a continuous shriek of shells just over our heads from both sides. Then our guns ceased fire and we lined the parapet. Altogether it was a pleasant afternoon. I enclose bit of shrapnel which struck near me. While reading your last letter a bullet struck the parapet, splashing the letter with mud.