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Date: May 15th 1918

Wednesday No 11

The same place

15 May, 1918

My dear mother,

Yesterday when I awoke the sun was shining brightly as a welcome change after the rain of the day before. I got up just before 7o/c and had breakfast which consisted of bread, margarine, beef rissoles and tea - a posh meal. I must say that we have jolly fine food, mainly through the efforts of our cooks who evidently take an interest in their work and try and make a variety, which is difficult. After breakfast I had a wash and generally cleaned up ready for parade at 8.30. From that time until 2pm our Lewis Gun squad were training in an orchard. The bloom on the trees is just dying off, but it still looks very pretty. In fact you cannot imagine that there was such a pretty out of the way place left in northern France. The country round about here is very wooded and although rather flat is rather picturesque.

I had dinner at 2o/c and spent the remainder of the afternoon writing in the barn. After tea and a wash Stuart and I went on an exploring tour round the village and on our way bought "quatre oeufs durs" which we had for breakfast this morning. The village is larger than at first I thought it was but all the houses are exactly the same - whitewashed mud-walled cottages. Every farm house seems to be built after the same style; buildings on three sides of a square to form a sort of court or farm yard, the entrance to which is on the road. Chickens run about everywhere and even trespass in the living rooms of the villagers. There is of course no drainage system and the roads are dirty with stagnant pools here and there on the road sides where the water from some farmyards are drained. The first place we explored was the church which is a grey stone building surrounded by trees and on one side a small pond in which occasionally a duck splashes about. The church was open so we walked inside to explore it. From the architecture inside I should judge the building to be of Norman origin. Several parts of it have been repaired but on the whole the building seems in very much the same condition it was in when it was built. Like most RC churches it is elaborately decorated and finished and looks rather pretty. There are three altars with statues and candles on them at one end of the church while all round the walls are different banners for various saints and many Sacred pictures. There was one chap in the church when we entered and he being a Roman Catholic explained the many things of interest to us. It seems that the old priest is preacher and organist too; the organ by the way is a harmonium. We stayed talking in the church until nearly eight o'clock and then just wandered to the eastern outskirts of the village where we could see quite a large expanse of country. The sun was just beginning to set on our right just behind a small town that could be seen as a grey patch nestling in a fold of the green landscape. All was quiet but for the distant rumble of the guns on the western battlefield which could be heard quite distinctly and we thought as we listened to it how utterly out of place the war was in this quiet peaceful place.

I should like an old rag for cleaning purposes when you can send it.

I do hope that you are quite well and happy as I am here. Give my love to all.

With fondest love and xxxxx

from your most affectionate son, Bert