My dear Mother,
Many thanks for your letter of the 23 received yesterday, for two of Father’s also received yesterday dated the 23 & Olive’s of the 22. I am awfully glad you are all learning on the pram & hope you will soon be independent of a professor.
I am back again on the old canal but in a
slightly different place as we are building a different section of the line. The trenches are an extraordinary maze & the line is very in & out & it is all beginning to crumble, so we are setting to work to put it up.
Yesterday when we came in was a pig of a day with an easterly wind & heavy rain, & when we left camp it looked as if we were in for it but the rain stopped by the time we got in & now the wind has changed & the sun is out. However I am very grateful for the trench boots as the mud getting to the trenches is pretty bad, not quite the Shoreham kind but very adhesive. The trenches themselves are not so bad as there are duck-walks at the bottom i. e. slats of wood nailed on to planks & the water runs away underneath.
Our Headquarters dug out is quite comfortable & warmer than the last as it is smaller & we have got a brazier. It is furnished with the contents of a neighbouring château (it is only a small country house but quite a bijou like place) & some of the furniture is very good. The walls of the dugout are lined with the Venetian blinds.
I think I told you we were inspected by the Corps Commander last Saturday & to-morrow I have got to go back as we are to be inspected by a still greater personage. I have had a maze of instructions issued to-day as to what is to happen but I don’t understand a word at present, but I suppose it will come all right on the day. I have only got a representative crowd of 20 per Battalion from this Brigade to look after.
Very many thanks to father for going down to the C. O.’s memorial service. I saw from the Surrey Advertiser this week that he was there.
The socks will be very welcome if you send them along. If you have things & don’t know what to do with them Mrs. Elias Morgan at the Depot Guildford would take them. she runs a thing called the Queens Comforts Fund for all the Battalions of the Queens & I have got several things from her & am expecting more.
Many thanks for the tongues & cake & pickles from the J. A. & N. C. S. L. I had an excellent meal last night at 2:30 a. m. after we had taken over. It is always a busy time getting settled in & one gets little sleep the first night & the tongues filled an aching void.
I have now got Peter as my adjutant having very tactfully got rid of Woollatt & turned him on to command a company in Peter’s place. I think the change will be a great blessing, especially to me as it relieves me of a lot of work.
There was a little excitement last night a few trenches away on our right. I think someone put up a mine or two, anyhow there was a terrific rumpus everybody, guns & everything going for all they were worth for quite a long time. Our own trenches were absolutely quiet but down here we got the full benefit, as all the bullets which miss the trenches whistle over our dugout. Of course in the dug out & when under the shelter of the canal bank we are absolutely all right, but our transport was just coming up at the time & I was afraid that they would catch it all. However they came through unscathed & now all is peaceful again.
I said 6 footballs before counting them, but it was 4 & they will come in very useful later on. We are starting an Institute at our Rest Camp & I suppose later on there will be concerts there & suchlike I don’t know if we have any talent in the Battalion, but I must find out. The Institute is a large barn & will be a very good place when finished.
I have it on my mind that some of you have asked me some questions in letters recently which I haven’t answered. I am afraid I have torn up the letters, so if you want to know anything please repeat & I will try to answer. I got the Engineering paper all right, but I should prefer the Locomotive Magazine price 2d published on the 15th of each month & shall be very much obliged if someone will send it along. Please thank Cecily for her cigarettes, which are very nice. Unfortunately I am stocked with them at the moment & have more than I can get through, as I do not smoke them much.
I must now cease
love to all
As to the pram I don’t want Jo to have it, if anyone else is using it but only when it is idle I am letting him know.
It is easy when reading a letter from the front to only focus on the military details present. To do so misses some of the interesting things that concerned soldiers and their families.
This is a long letter in which Peirs is addressing some specific issues of concern to his mother while also telling her what he is up to. It demonstrates the closeness between home front and trench and shows something of the emotional bond between family members as they try to figure out their new roles in war-time. At the start of the letter, Peirs acknowledges the correspondence he had received the previous week. This is a courtesy but also has a practical value so that family members could track what they did and did not write to him (and which letters have been lost, etc.). You will note that letters took about two to three days to reach him at the front from London, so he was able to keep well-informed (and well-connected) to his parents. Though the world around him is very different than that of his civilian life, home is never that far off his mind.
You will also note how active his family is in trying to support him. His father sent footballs the previous week for the men in the battalion to play with when they are out of the trenches. His father also courteously attended the memorial service for his commanding officer who was killed at Loos. His sister Cecily sent him a bumper of cigarettes, which he didn’t need being ‘well supplied’ but was thankful for anyway. Finally, his mother sent a hamper of food along as well as some comfortable socks. Peirs instructs her to send what she has but doesn’t need to the Queen’s Comfort Fund, which will distribute the items to men in the Regiment.