My dear Father,
Many thanks for your letter of the 3rd inst. & Mothers of the 2nd. You will have had my letters by this time explaining last week’s events.
Since I last wrote I have had a lot to do as the Battalion is being refitted & what with new drafts & the training of various specialists ones time is pretty well occupied. I sent 300 men up to the trenches on Tuesday to see how things are done there, & I came up myself with another party yesterday & am now writing this in a dug out in the firing line. It was very quiet last night & this morning but the gunners have started now & are making a fit of a noise at each other. I personally am going back to-night & the others are coming out to-morrow. It is fairly comfortable here in the dug-out with a table & chairs and a bed dug out in the wall. Both sides have snipers going at each other through loop-holes all the time but they don’t seem to have much effect on each other. The trenches here are not very deep, but built up with sand-bags & the important ones are all boarded with a gully beneath.
As it is dry I do not know how they drain in wet weather, but I expect they get pretty muddy. However there is no reason to suppose that we are going to take over this bit of the line & at present I have no idea what is going to happen to us.
When I get back to-night to where the Battalion is, we are in huts of a sort but rather crowded & when we all get there & especially when we get made up many of the men will have to bivouac, but I think they will be able to make themselves pretty comfortable with walls of sandbags & waterproof sheets over the bivouacs.
I must stop to catch the post
This letter finds Peirs back up the line after spending the previous week in rest regrouping with his battalion. As he indicates, the battalion had received new drafts of officers and men, 60 in the previous week, who had to be trained for specific duties in the trenches. According to the battalion war diary, on the 5th the battalion was split up, half of it marching 18 miles through heavy rain and along muddy roads to go into the trenches while the other half went into rest. On the 7th, the second half of the battalion relieved the first in the trenches, rotating these soldiers back to their base camp, which according to Peirs, was not much to write home about.
Peirs came up with the second half of the battalion on the 7th and left that night to rejoin the rest of the battalion who were now at Reninghelst in Belgium. This letter was written from a dug-out in the trenches. Now in command of the battalion, he was traveling back and forth to check in with his officers in both the trenches and in rest. You will note his description of the trenches and the sophisticated system of field fortifications that had been built: comfortable dug-outs, sniper loop holes, drainage gullies covered with duckboards, and high parapets to compensate for the shallow trenches (likely due to the water table).
Of course, he can’t help himself in commenting on the locals, who appear to him to be unfriendly at the least, if not outright sympathetic to the enemy.