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Date: March 3rd 1917
Beulah Bahnsen (wife)
Ralph Watson

3 March, ’17.

My very dear Lal,

The weather still remains most boisterous and stormy, the wind is terribly cold too, and there seems little chance of the wind decreasing any as yet.

I saw something this morning most interesting; a large number of our boys going through an attack as nearly similar to what they will have to contend with as possible. They used flares and worked in conjunction with aeroplanes circling a few feet above. The planes signalled, “Morse code”, I think, with motor horns. It was most realistic. Signalling the lifting of the barrage was rather amusing. Two men with white flags advanced ahead, and were supposed to represent it. Hardly looked the real thing. Any thought of a home manoeuvre or sham battle, though, must be quickly dispelled, when you remember that in a very short while it will be done again through a hell of real fire.

(I wondered last night if I am taking too many liberties with green envelopes. In Orders were four battalions who had lost the privilege through one man being indiscreet. The name of the in-dividual one was published. I think I’d sooner be shot than have my battalion lose through me, — I guess I would be, anyway, — I must be very careful.)

In bed — most uncomfortable!!!!

The runner who goes for the mail returned with some awful news, tonight — awful! The 29th want twenty more men on Tuesday, and I don’t think there are twenty men here, so — your uncle will have to partee (French for beat it). B. sent me the news with a message that a pal of ours had volunteered to go as he had not got cold feet. I’m sending him a message that he has to go, too. I’ve been making a cover for my Gillette tonight out of waterproof silk usually used on wounds — also one for my diary (for I keep a diary now) in anticipation.

Personally I think I’m lucky to have got the worst of the winter over in positive luxury.

I hate (and fear) cold and wet; but when the sun shines and it’s warm, I’m awful brave, ready to eat up all the Fritzes in France.

I particularly hope they make me a stretcher bearer; but they may not. There’s no honour in the damn job, and no chance of advancement, or anything but work. But I like the work and I understand it a little, while I hate looking after a beastly gun and forming fours and all that. If I’m not a stretcher bearer, I shall try my best to be a bomber or a gunner — something you can specialize on.

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