B. E. F.
14. 8. 1916.
My dear Father,
Many thanks for yours of the 8th. I am glad to hear the [illegible] is wandering along all right, & also that the pram has recovered her equanimity. I am glad to hear that the I. R. people are reasonable & that we shall get a little more. Would you get a little War Loan or War Certificates with mine & send them when obtained to my bank. I was very interested to hear about Burridge & also got the circular about Solicitors in the Forces.
I think it would be all right out here, as men want to know things occasionally, but I can’t see myself loitering around the entrance to the Y. M. C. A. with a K & E. in either hand. I had a letter from Gery Clayton yesterday. His young woman is quite a new one & found at Eastbourne where I remember meeting her last year, but I have forgotten all about her.
I fancy Jo Brookes is still at Oswestry but I gather that he may be coming out soon, though no one can guarantee that he will come back here. The last of the 4 who came with Charlie was wounded last night, I am afraid rather seriously, but they can’t say for certain yet. We have been up in the line for a few days but are out again for the moment. The Hun is very active with his artillery & gave us a regular doing 2 nights ago more or less all night. Owing however to a lot of luck & the narrowness of our trenches we had one man slightly wounded & several who thought they had shell shock chiefly because they had been buried &
had to be dug out. However our artillery is equally active & the net result is that no one fires any rifles & when there is no shelling the nights are absolutely silent. At the moment we are near some guns which I suppose have been annoying the Bosch as he is chucking back some enormous stuff & a great lump has just come back about 300 yds & hit our cook house & nearly destroyed the dinner. The lump weighs about 25 lbs & is evidently a part of a big shell. the gunners say it is an 8 inch armour piercing shell & it seems rather poor spirited to play on us with stuff like that when the ordinary whizz bang is quite sufficient. However they are going to town in a 9.2 to even things up, destroy Fritz’s dinner in return. We don’t lose our soup for nothing.
I had a letter from Miss Waldie myself
she is a phenomenal letter writer.
I hear the French have been making more pushes in the South. I wonder how long the Bosch will stand the hammering. They say he has already used up about 17 Divisions, which means that his losses are at least equal to ours & he has lost more than 1 ½ Divisions in unwounded prisoners alone. He must be very annoyed at finding that the French are replenishing themselves with more Russians, as all his labours to do the French in is in vain.
Love to all
Peirs is chatty in his August 14th letter to his father. He has been pulled out of the line and now has the time to reflect and relate to his father the ordeal they have been through. The passage about artillery shells is particularly interesting, especially when he discusses the toll of shelling on the men, several of them exhibiting signs of shell shock, by which he probably means the temporary shock of being buried alive. The definition of the condition was quite fluid and his use of the term in this way reflects that.
He also discusses the progress made by the French south of the river and the casualties sustained by the BEF as being equal to that of the Germans. He doesn’t offer much analysis or commentary on what he thinks of this, but there is an implication that he is glad that they are giving out as much as they are getting, particularly, as he has spent the last few nights passively being shelled while holding some narrow trenches.