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Date: October 18th 1916
Henry Crozier Smith

Oct. 18, 1916

My own Darling,

I am afraid it is a long time since I wrote, but we have been having our turn in the firing line and have not had much time. Most of the battalion went up on the 11th but I was not among them. The rest went up on the 13th to a place a few miles behind the firing and dug dugouts for ourselves and camped there and spent our time day and night carrying munitions and water up and loading mules. On the 15th a party of us were sent in broad daylight to carry ammunition to the lines, but could not make it as we were seen and shelled. 2 men killed and 3 wounded. On 16th 9 of us were sent forward to the reserve trenches, we were shelled going in but made it safely and were there until we came out with the battalion last night. Not very comfortable as we had only little holes scraped out of the side of the trench to lie in and very cold. Last night we came out over very rough country (the country here looks just like an enlarged photo of the moon, nothing but a mass of craters). It was dark and raining and we had to carry a lot of ammunition for about 2 miles. We left the ammunition on the road when we reached it for the limbers to pick up and then we waited for hours in the pouring rain and bitter cold for the gun crews from the front line, but they never came, so we went on and reached a new camp a mile or so from town where we got into badly put up shelters with rain coming through the roof and also running in streams across the floor and there we slept. I was nearly frozen in the morning but hot tea and mulligan revived me, but I am still soaked through and very muddy. Men are still coming in, they got scattered all over the country. You will be sorry to hear that Buchan Stratton has been killed and Ben Creasey badly wounded last night. Poor Richard is looking very cut up, he only learned about Buchan this morning. There are rumours that we have to go in again tonight, but I don't think that can be right.
I have not heard from you for a week now. I think a good many of our mails must have gone astray. Weather seems to be breaking up now, cold and wet. I had my overcoat and balaclava stolen when we were in that reserve camp, but managed to find an old Imperial one to take its place. I think you may go on sending tea, cocoa or coffee tablets. They were very useful up there, but no more fuel for the T.C., it is too bulky to carry and we use cut up candles and sacking. The fuel burns up too quickly. I saw a "tank" here the other day, also a wrecked one at the front. They are weird looking things. We were camped in those dugouts right in among the big guns and the noise was terrific when a heavy bombardment was on. We must be putting a fearful lot of shells into the German line, far more than we get back and that is bad enough. I was so sorry to hear about McClure John. Longbeach has done badly so far. I wonder how it is going in other parts. We get no papers here, have not heard any news for a week or so. Heard a report today that Lemberg had been captured by the Russians.

Now I must stop and try and rustle some water and have a wash. Have not had one for days. Got a little water out of a puddle in the road this morning and had a shave. This is a pretty hard life and I don't know how we stand it as we do. I find the marching over rough land with heavy loads very trying, but recover all right after a short rest. I fell 3 times coming in last night and am at present caked with wet mud.

Best love to all, especially to you and Herbert,

Yours ever, H Crozier Smith