My dear Mother,
Many thanks for yours & Fathers letters of the 19th & for Cecily’s of the 16th, plus a box of cigarettes also for a copy of G’s letter of the 13th Sept. I have got the mittens etc. all right, also a copy of the Autocar & a copy of the Engineering Review to-day. The trench boots have also arrived, also a parcel of eatables & cakes from Father which were very nice. Our new C. O. has not yet arrived & I don’t know who he is to be.
I think the Hun must know by this time where we are but I will do no more than say that we are within a few miles of Poperinghe, but I expect you have guessed my whereabouts by this time. Your stories of the Zepps are very interesting. I hope it is true that they brought two down but I fear not, as a Zepp is not a thing you can easily conceal.
We have a summary of information sent round to us daily which is supposed to tell us what is happening, & lately it has been quoting a lot from letters found on prisoners etc., all of which seem to show that the Huns to say the least have got the jump, both here & in Russia. There was a very funny one to-day which reads as follows. It is a (I’m sorry this sheet is so filthy I didn’t notice it but I am writing in a tent by the halo of a tallow candle) quotation from a soldiers diary & some of the entries are as follows.
“Lieut. Reinecke was drunk.”
“Lieut. Reinecke was drunk again.”
“Lieut. Reinecke was very sick.”
“We made an attack to-day Lieut. Reinecke was heard to be shouting Vorwarts vociferously from the second line of dug-outs.”
“Our Lieutenant Reinecke has been awarded the Iron Cross”
from which it appears that Lieut. Reinecke knows how to look after himself.
Another letter of the other day signed Anna was very scathing about the Iron Cross. The good lady was very depressed & wondered where they could find any enthusiasm for the war except in their papers.
Things seem to be very quiet on the line near here at present. I have quite forgotten what a gun sounds like it is so peaceful.
Love from Jack.
Peirs has been in and out of the trenches for the last month. This letter is one of the first to be smudged with some trench grime as he composed it under candlelight in the line. Peirs seems to be less concerned about being passed over for command (or more likely has accepted the situation as is after a day of thinking about it) than he was the day before. You will note that he is pretty free with information to his family – telling them generally where he is located and quoting from German letters, though, these don’t really have any significant military value. His spirits seem to be up. He has not been under fire for a while and he clearly enjoyed the funny anecdote about the drunk German officer Lt. Reinecke. Quiet routine and laughter both were significant parts of maintaining morale in tough conditions. About the enemy he knows very little: on the one hand, the Germans seem to ‘have the jump’ on the allies both on the western and eastern fronts; on the other, judging from his account from Anna, the German home front is scarcely enthusiastic for the war effort.