France (Souchez Sector near Vimy)
Dec. 13, 1916
Well old man your eldest hopeful has really spent a (censored) in the firing line now. Our Platoon was (censored) days and nights in the firing trench while we spent the other (censored) guarding a little bridge. We only had to guard by night. Just before daylight we pulled out and spent the day in some deep dugouts. The part of the line we held was a quiet bit so for an occasional sputter of a machine gun there was not much excitement.
One night I was on guard at a certain post with five others. It was my turn on and it being night my head was above the paraphet. Well, old Fritz suddenly began to sweep the trench paraphet. He did this6 separate times of course we took darned good care to duck. I happened to look at my gun when things were quiet and found a bullet had gone plumb through the woodwork at the top of the barrel. You see it had been resting on top the paraphet.
While on the bridge guard the battalion on our right made a bombing raid on Fritz's lines. He came back at us with his artillery. Our post was in the thick of it for a while. Among the stuff he threw at us were- whiz bangs (a darned nasty 3 inch shell), coal boxes (9.2 inch) and some shrapnel...... However, luck was with us and none entered the trench. Also none of us minded it as much as you would think.
The front line is pretty muddy--not the nice clean mud of Kamloops but a clay mixture every bit as sticky as glue. Thanks however to the good old shoe packs my feet keep fairly dry. Every morning we came in we got a good 3 fingers of rum, had breakfast and flopped anywhere for a doze. Even Adrian took his rum which he told me made him quite groggy. I never had enough to get that way.
What seems so exciting is to watch the aeroplane flights over our lines. Old Fritz will send a machine over our way. Immediately it has set up our planes which seem to love a scrap. He usually beats it like the wind. To-day is snowing, raining, and throwing down slush altogether. We are at present resting up for a few days before another spell in the trench.
With love to you all, your loving son.
[Editor’s note: Transcription provided by collection donor.]