October 2, 1944
Well, folks, body and soul are still keeping company, though I sometimes feel the body would gladly break the partnership. Before I go further, I must ask you to excuse the scrawl as I am writing under difficulties. We are still in action and Gerry is just as tough as the papers claim. At the moment, we are just four thousand yards or less from his lines, so he makes things pretty uncomfortable with his artillery. The secret of long life these days is dig deeper and deeper. You would really be surprised how close a shell can land without hitting you if you are dug in. In fact, it takes a direct hit to knock you out.
He is banging a few down at the moment but they are several hundred yards to our left, so no need to worry. You get after a while so you don’t worry anyway. You hear one coming and duck automatically and, when it bursts, you pop up again. Some of the boys are slightly nervous which makes me glad my nerves are good. As you probably know, the rainy season has started again here in Italy. This means rain every day and mud up to your boot tops. It really makes life miserable and in the long run, harder to take than the shells. We all had such high hopes, but now it looks like another Winter campaign in Italy. We should all be due for a rest in the not too distant future with roofs over our heads and perhaps a fire to warm your bones.
All the Tofield gang are well and I was over to see Art McLachlin last night. He particularly asked me to give you and Dad his regards. I think a lot of Art even if he is a little on the rough side. You really get to measure up a man under shell fire and Art takes it all just as I knew he would. I think I told you in my last letter that I had to go back to Lance Sergeant to make room for a full Sgt. who came back from the Holding Unit. It was just a piece of bad luck, but as there are two Sgts scheduled for a trip to Canada, I should get my gun back shortly. The worst part of the whole thing is, that the chap who took over from me is one of the Sgts who was made in England three years ago and, in action, doesn’t stack up, being much too nervous. All he talks and thinks about is going back to Canada, which doesn’t go down well with the boys with equally long service who know they will be here until the war is over. ------