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Date: October 28th 1916
Henry Crozier Smith

Oct. 28th

My Darling,

I am afraid I have not written for a long time, but I have sent post cards. Thanks for the big cake, also Archie's letter. I think the place had better be sold for what it will fetch. We went up to the front line on Monday night and came out Thursday night. It is certainly not a nice experience. I had a bad foot and it was all I could do to get to the front. Miles and miles of muddy trenches with mud so sticky that one had to be pulled out at times. There was nothing special doing at the front, so we just had to sit in a muddy trench, raining most of the time and wonder how close the next shell would burst. I got slight cuts on both hands and my nose and several hard knocks from bits of spent shrapnel, but nothing to need attention. I was on a different gun this time with Schubert as No. 1. He was unfortunately killed. Went to get our rations one day and was found dead along the trench.

Bradshaw, McCurdy and, I think, Bruin were wounded on my old gun. The journey out was even worse than in, my foot was very bad and I could hardly make the trip at all. Our gun crew went out alone, 7 of us. We were not sure of the way and went a very round about one but eventually reached the main road. At one place we had rather a narrow shave. We had stopped for a rest and were sitting by a trench. When suddenly a shell burst right against us. We were all buried in mud, but no one hurt. After walking for a mile or more down the main road and leaving our gun and magazines for the limber to pick up, we rested for a while in the shelter of a "tank" and then got a lift home in an empty transport wagon which took us as far as the YMCA where we had hot cocoa and biscuits, and finally got to camp about 11 and had hot soup and tea. My foot is rather bad now and I am lying up for a bit. I saw several air fights at the front. In one the aeroplane came down with a terrible bang, but in most they were generally forced to land. I think the worst part of the front line is the getting there and back. At least that is what plays me out most. Also the want of water. Our gun crew (5) could only get 1 ¼ bottle between us the whole time we were there. You would have got a shock if you had seen me when I reached camp. A thick coat of greasy mud from head to foot. I have been scraping it off with a knife ever since, but have not done yet.

There was rather a good joke against the 54th on Monday before we started. They gave out whale oil for our feet to prevent trench foot. Most of the men got it and rubbed it on their feet making them a beautiful mahogany brown. Afterwards it was found that they had got the wrong stuff and they had been given "lice killer". The M.G.S. did not get it luckily! We had very wet, cold weather in the trench, but it is fine again now. I think Max's battalion is in now.

It is a pity we should have to sell the ranch so cheap but I think it had better be done if possible. It will certainly be in a poor state when we get back and I think we might do better elsewhere. Anyway, it looks as if it would be a long time before I am ready for it again! I wish they would hurry up and finish the old war. I have had quite enough and want to go to bed for a month or so on end! I hope your new hospital is turning out a success, it sounds quite a big place.

With best love to all, especially Herbert and yourself, my Darling,

Yours ever, H Crozier Smith