My dear Cecily,
Would you mind sending it off.
We are moving camp to-morrow & going up about 5 miles. I don’t quite know why but presume they want a Battalion to be in reserve nearer by than at present.
We don’t go into the trenches for 3 or 4 days. I don’t think the move is to be permanent as we are leaving our Quartermaster here with the usual concomitants & I take it that we shall return here when we come out next time.
I have just had a very pleasant bath in a beer tub & feel comparatively clean.
It is hard to read this letter and not be conscious of the day in which it was written – 11.11. Three years later, Peirs’s war would be over. At the time that this letter was written he had no concept of how the war would end, when it would end, or what peace would look like. His focus was on keeping warm and clean: his new overcoat sent from London and a bath in a beer tub snatched in some downtime. He anticipates, here, being rotated back into the trenches, but for the time being, he is safely out of the line.
One wonders what his sister felt in reading this letter. This is a natural impulse when looking through correspondence – to try to envision what the recipient took from it – an exercise in historical speculation (and imagination). No doubt, Cecily was curious about his life in the trenches, and though Peirs consistently downplays danger, he doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant details of his service because he wants her to understand something of his life in the line, a life that she, no doubt, had great difficulty imagining.