30 July, ’17.
My dearest Lal: —
The weather has gone clean back on us. Isn’t the coincidence amazing — and the bad luck of it! Think, every time we have planned an advance on a huge scale which would of necessity bring the war nearer to an end, the weather has intervened and stopped us. Today it is cold, wet, dirty, not a plane to be seen. The guns go on, though. There are minutes when you cannot hear yourself speak. The “whizz-bangs” don’t open up till the zero hour when the boys jump over, or, rather, a few minutes before. Though the ground throbs day and night with this titanic preparation, there are hundreds of hidden guns that have never even fired a round yet. At Vimy, too, there was only a gun barrage; in this are to be all kinds of new-fangled contraptions in addition. I certainly don’t envy Fritz. I wonder if the Canadian papers are putting you wise to the thing. The English papers openly speak of it. . . .
As you know, all trenches bear names, like streets. They have to, for map purposes, and so you can find your way about, direct people and everything. What sort of a humorist was the guy who named the trenches we occupy? We enter by “Cork Screw Trench” and through “Suicide Hole”, our resting place being “Murder Alley.” He had a genius for the job evidently, and one is not likely to forget the names. . . .
So thorough is this job, that roads have been built in the night right over the shell-torn, open ground, over trenches, and everything, then covered over lightly with soil, so it looks just the same as the surrounding ground. Nothing has been forgotten, you bet!