Somewhere in France
June 10th / 17
My Dear Betty & Kiddies:
It is Sunday evening & rather quiet so here goes for a few minutes with my little family - I received two more letters from you yesterday No's 27 & 28 that leaves 24-25-&26 to come, Was delighted to have the two snapshots, have not tired of looking at them - you are all looking fine I hope you will send me some more you are getting things fixed up pretty nifty, I'll hardly know the place when I come back, It's very good of the people to help you as they are doing I'll have to write Mr Faulkner & Gunns & thank them, yes you ought to have a nice little garden there, I wish I could put it in for you. I laughed to myself when I read of your trip down to the P & B store with Billy & the waggon - I could imagine I saw Billy with the waggon & the upset, also you chasing back after your stew-meat - Right there I want to warn you against having at least two things when I return & they are anything in the way of [?] & stew - we get our share of them here.
Well I'll tell you what I have been doing to day - It's been rather a quiet day for this part of the world. The guns have not been barking very much & Fritz has left us pretty well alone - I guess he is glad too, for we have been shaking hum up pretty badly this last week, the (ours) artillery is beginning to open up a little just as I write.
Well I got up - (not a very elaborate process here) about 9 am, & after attending a parade which lasted only a few minutes returned to the dugout with two of my dugout chums - lit the fire & we made tea, & had breakfast which consisted of Tea - bread & margarine & apricot jam, after breakfast we tidied up our dugout, washed & sat down to read & smoked until dinner time - at 12 noon I had tea, did not feel like eating (too soon after breakfast) & got myself ready for bathing parade, this operation consisted in taking off my underwear, & after looking over it for lice, putting it in an old biscuit time with a dunk of soap & water & putting it on the fire to boil while I was away getting a bath.= These bathing parades are few & far between so I can tell you they are appreciated - this is the first I have had sence I came up to the front line & heaven knows when I shall get another, there were 100 of us to go - well we marched about 1 mile to a village or rather what had once been a village before the Hun guns laid it in ruins - the bath house was an old building which had been fixed up a little, & showers installed, under each shower was a large wooden tube - we stripped off in one place - then taking the things we had taken off we handed them in at another place, & then passed to the tubs - after we had taken our places in the tubs of water was turned on, & we were allowed about 5 minutes to wash ourselves, & we certainly make the most of it, the water was nice & warm, when we were through, a clean? change of clothing was handed to each man and he passed out, also a towel, my change consisted of a dubious looking grey shirt - a pair of white calico [?] which just come down to about 3 inches above my knees - I think they must have been meant for some 200 lbs French lady - they were very similar boots which come up to my knees - I gave a man 5 francs for them he was going back to England they are just the thing for here.
Well we have seen this week one of the hottest bombardments of the war - my it was fierce - it seemed impossible that anything could stand or live in the tremendous barrage our Artillery put over - in fact when the Canadians went over into the German trenches - beyond a [?] or so stupified prisoners they found nothing else but dead etc - We can smash the Germans anytime we want to now - they won't stand up to the bayonet, & as soon as we charge their trenches they are ready to put up their hands & shout "Kamarad" they only fight from safe cover its only a matter of time before the end comes - it may not come this year, but its going to [?] end one way - Russias condition is the great draw-back now, but the U.S.A. may make up for that
I wish you could see the areoplanes at work, there are all kinds of them & they are doing great work - The country arround is ripped & torn with shell & bombs every-where you go - its awful to see the villages etc nothing but heaps of ruins, & the women & old men & children living among the ruins of their once happy home -& working away at their gardens - then there are thousands & thousands & graves - British - French & German - in places you can hardly stand the stench from decaying flesh, while often when we are digging, we will turn up bodies or arms - legs etc, just the other day I was out in charge of a working party & we were working in some trench which had been taken from Fritz, just a little distance away I saw a German boot & on bending down to pick it up, I found to my disgust etc that it contained a German foot & leg also - I didn't hold it long I can assure you.
We have been under both shell fire & bomb fire this last week - & have seen men bowled over, but we ourselves thank God are in the best of health - I never felt better - hardly 5 minutes pass without hearing the noise of guns somewhere -& sometimes the din in terrific. Well I must close again dear ones, don't worry about me & write often.
I guess Mr Aylward well be going home I havn't seem or heard of him sence we left Seaford. Remember me to Faulkners - Gunns & Mr Birchhill thank them from me for their kindness. God bless & keep you my dear ones here are kisses & hugs from Daddy with fondest love 494.
Small yellow flowers I plucked from the wall of a ruined villages (Flower in trhe crannied nook etc) The larger ones are buttercups plucked from the front line of trenches, on what will be one of the greatest battlefields in the world's history - The large daisy is also from same spot.