From Rev. C. Lomax, C.F.
151st Infantry Brigade,
B.E.F.[British Expeditionary Force]
Dear Miss Sternberg,
ever so much for your delightfully long letter. As a rule I am a brute
about letter writing, but out here, things are so different. One is so
utterly glad to receive a letter, especially a long one, that the hope
of obtaining a return spurs one on to great efforts in letter writing.
You can have
no idea how one looks for the post, and how disappointed one feels if
there is nothing for one: I can quite understand the 'lonely soldiers'
idea at which once I used to laugh.
is quite obvious. Picture to yourself our life here. There is an incessant
thudding of guns in the distance to concentrate one's mind on the beastly
shells. It becomes an obsession with some poor fellows who have been wounded,
or been in som
through some hideous time in the trenches or the attack. The only antidote
is preoccupation of some other kind, something to take the mind off the
war. Well, what have we? Reading? A few papers now & again! A game
of bridge sitting on the sides of ramshackle temporary beds, or on a soapbox!
All the side shows of civilisation are afar off, & we live a most
primitive life, well fed it is true but in the style of a miner's cottage,
though much dirtier. The odds and ends of time between work are so hard
for the ordinary man to fill in. Of course it does not affect me quite
so much, as I have official permission to sketch. But the weather is not
always suitable, and then one sits in a tent trying to kill time. It is
fatal to go out in the wet more than is necessary, as there is no opportunity
of drying clothes, and putting on a clammy shirt & breeches in the
morning is none too pleasant.
I didn't mean
to be horrid when I said that you did not care for parsons. Strictly privately
there are heaps of good men amongst them, infinitely better than I am,
that I loathe, because of their clerical mannerism, and the damsel dear
to the vicar's heart who gushes over sermons, wears her placquet (?) hole
round on the offside, & does her hair in a severe bob, has no attraction
day the doctor and I went out to gather blackberries to make what our
miner cook calls a pudden. It is one of the contrasts of war: overhead
balloons & planes; the incessant thud and thunder of the evening strafe;
and the quiet hedge,
over the bags was rather terrible. The few who managed to pull themselves
out of the waist deep mud had to stand on the top & pull others who
were stuck out of the trenches. Imagine doing that with machine guns hard
at work, to say nothing of snipers. One man I know of was drowned in the
mud. Another was only extricated by eight men. Naturally no supports or
rations could come up, & after gaining their objective in some cases,
in others being thrown down at once they had to retire.
I have had
to make this trench too wide