A letter to my dearest

25th October 1915

If this letter is found by another, please see to it that my Elaine receives it…

My dearest Elaine S.,

  I know not if this will reach you but I hope in high heaven that it does. I long for your letters.

  I just wanted you to know that while I am in the grace of His Majesty’s service I do so with high esteem despite what we are up against. Our training was rather quick but given the circumstance we are told it will do. The boys I am with are some of the finest men I have had the fortune to know, save one, but in that I will not divulge into it further.

  For nearly three days now we have had to dig in, my back is not as strong as others, evident as the ache is starting to kick in. Most days we are digging, revetting the sides and standing to, some of the younger lads have picked up the slack, while me and the older boys keep watch. It’s next to impossible when it is dark, but it’s the safest way to get any work done. It fills almost pointless when the rain caused one of the sides to collapse yesterday, so many hours were wasted. Our section is newer, so some of the sappers are still setting up right behind us. Beyond all that and the constant cleaning of my gun, its the boredom of just sitting around while waiting for new orders that’s keeping most of on edge. One of the lads who did have a pack of cards dropped the bloody things in six inch high puddle this morning and ruined them, he’s written home asking for more but it’s likely to be weeks before we see them. I am only left with my thoughts of you and the fun we used to have to keep the dullness away.

  Like my fellows beside me, I have developed bout of trench foot, which I have the most unfortunate luck deal with. It is not as bad as others, but a keen eye and a medic’s touch will see it better. The worst thing is the damn lice, if it’s not the lack of comfort from the cold and wet, its the bloody itching. We have to steam the cloths to help kill the plagues of the little bastards, but they always find a way to antagonise us. It is not so bad during the day while we work, but trying to get any sleep is next to impossible. The echoing sounds of shells and bullets only add to my restlessness, next doors dog barking trifles in comparison. I would do anything just to lie next to you one more time.

  I doubt I will have a further chance to write you again any time soon, as we will be proceeding further to our next objective soon. The outcome will be left to our superiors and our lives in the hand of our creator. I pray every time we have to stand to at the front, if not for myself but my brothers besides me, and for you my precious angel.

  Finally, I want you to know that you are to me the best of women. For that I will be eternally grateful and for the time we have spent together. I long for the day that you and I are reunited. That and your delicious cooking, the thought of it warms my heart so. Thank you for the smokes too, I received them the other day. A much welcomed relief and certainly an improvement from the ambient smells we have to endure. Please send my love to everyone at home for their gifts too, they have brightened my days up no end.

Yours forever,

A. Sgt
Charles D. S.

P.s – I know that it may be too much to ask but could you please look after my mother from time to time. I know she will worry and I cannot bare the thought of her in such a state. We did not leave under the best of circumstances, as you may know, and I regret that I may not get to tell her I am sorry.

Laura Steel © 2014

Something to remember (Shakespearean sonnet)

The match of howling metal shrills and screams,
the march of feet sink, metal clink, ‘cross mud.
Whistles are blown! The order – thousand teams
do charge. Rolling thunder, the deafen thud.

A barrage, into sunken gullied home.
The panic, fear and death, some-things to dread.
Lucky shot? Maybe planned? – it pierced a dome.
A friend – no brother! Cut down in stead.

Years have passed, the fields have become vibrant,
yet we know, why they remain so redden.
One must not forget: something so violent,
now we march, with hearts forever leaden.

As an act of remembrance, we fell our own head.
If only to fame, our beloved dead.

Laura Steel © 2014