Letter from the trenches
(accompanied by drawings)

(Handwritten letter)


From Rev. C. Lomax, C.F.
151st Infantry Brigade,
B.E.F.[British Expeditionary Force]
Sept 7th/[19]16.


Dear Miss Sternberg,

          Thanks 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.
          The reason 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 for me.
          The other 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,
          Last time 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

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