My dear Mother (& family)
I have to acknowledge to-day an enormous mail item one colossal cake which I prepare to sample shortly, item one box of cigars very good & welcome as I smoked the last one of the last box last night item a letter from you item another from Cecily item another from Odd & with it one from Odd dated the 19th November written from the hospital.
I am sorry the pram has given in. I rather suspect that Wardill has not seen that the bearings of the Differential & back axle & also the bearing on the sliding joint in the connecting rod from the
engine gear box to the back axle have not been greased. These should be done frequently & are easily overlooked I hope the pram won’t be out of action long & that the damage is not serious. While I am on the subject. Wardill ought to see that the wheel bearings are greased, as I never did it, as I couldn’t see how to, & she will run hot & melt the bearings if left alone. When she returns, Wardill ought to go over her carefully & grease & oil every hole he finds. I don’t know why the lamps should fail except for lack of oil & if Wardill lets you go out without oil you will get fined & he ought to be strafed.
I see the Daily Express (Tuesday’s issue) has a good deal to say about New Anzac on Sea & implies that it is a swindle. It asks for the names of all people who have got a plot of land there & it might be worth while to send yours up, so that if there is anything wrong you would know about it. Apparently you are to be charged £3.3.0 for Solicitors fees for the Conveyance & one man offered his plot for 3d & couldn’t find a buyer.
We are now back in camp, having been relieved last night. & go back again to the same trenches in a few days. I am not sorry to get out, but there is nothing to do back here, as everything & place is a sea of mud & we can only go on repairing our fort, which is a dull proceeding. I was up all the night before last as we thought there might be something on for the Kaisers birthday, but it was quite quiet. We had a little bomb show on our own & blew them out of their position in a mine crater which they hold. but these things are of no real value as don’t do really much damage with a bomb. We found a position to swipe down the length of one of their trenches, which is an ideal spot & our man loosed off about 50 rounds every time with a target in the shape of a fat Hun, so we must have annoyed them considerable.
We have been having some fun with the Division lately as they have been showing themselves rather incompetent lately so the C. O. has just brought them to their knees on one point & I had the A. P. M. on toast while the C. O. was away & our Transport Officer drove the G. O. C. into a ditch last night (unbeknown of course) so I should say that we must be rather popular at the moment. But at times these brass hats are rather trying. The G. O. C. was wandering round our trenches last night, so they took him out over some awful country to look on an isolated post we had got & rather humbled him. I am rather glad he is coming round, as he sees exactly the conditions under which things have to be done.
This fairly frightened the staff colonel who was with the G. O. C. The old man was awfully worried when they drove him into the ditch & sent out one of the Brigade staff to control the traffic. as if it was possible to control any traffic with a lot of very unhandy mules in the limbers. A pitch dark night & a road cut to bits with shells & to cram all 2 or 3 feet of mud on either side.
I have sent a blue carbon copy of this letter to Odd.
Love to all
Peirs is clearly growing more frustrated of his time in the trenches. The weather and the water table mean that when he describes a ‘sea of mud’ he means trenches that are full of water and men tirelessly working reinforcing their trench walls, which are likely to collapse, from water or from enemy shells. Hence why they spend so much time repairing their muddy walls and building them back up again. His ‘little fort’ was made through hundreds of hours or dull, dirty, wet work.
You will also notice that Peirs is somewhat conflicted towards his senior officers. He has been complaining for months about ‘brass hats’ or general officers who interfere with the work that he and his men are doing. But he also wants those officers to know what conditions are like, not necessarily so that they can do something about it, but more likely so that they will understand the toll living in such conditions has on the men. Rest, clean uniforms, hot food – these are things that can potentially be arranged by such a visit, or at the least, a bit of sympathy for the tasks commanders ask their men to perform.
I would not read into Peirs’s complaints any sense of demoralization on his part. As we have seen in previous letters, he is frank with his family, and has a fairly low tolerance for officialdom. Complaining about the conditions of the front is a way to make his family aware of the situation as honestly as he can while also informing them that he is holding up and that their parcels make a real difference on his quality of life.