Private Lionel Martin, Grenadier Guards

It is with very much pleasure that I write these few lines to you, hoping you are quite well, as I am pleased to say I am the same. We have been having some lovely weather here just lately, it’s been very hot, but has now changed to cold and wet. I am in the trenches now, after having about three weeks rest, and have been through some of the hottest firing I have been into. The Germans are entrenched on a ridge, from which they can see all that goes on in our lines in the daytime, and they can also observe from stationary balloons. During this time we have been in reserve or Company has had to carry other Companies’ rations to them to the front line as well as carrying trench boards and wire to the Engineers. This job is dangerous, as on a moonlight night the Germans can see us and put machine guns on to us, and we have some work cut out to miss the bullets. On Sunday night I was on a ration party and we had to into the open – something like going across the Common – in single file when Fritz saw us, and I had the warmest time of my life out here –he played hell with us, several machine guns being put in us, some bullets hitting the ground where we lay, and others going through the air. Well, we had to lay there several minutes, and in that time two men were severely wounded in the legs whilst lying down, and to get to the front line we had to crawl the best we could a distance of 200 yards. I had a sack of bread and two petrol tins of water and rifle, and the fear of being hit any moment. Well, we reached the line all right without any more casualties, but like the others trembling all over. On Wednesday night we were on Engineers Fatigue and carrying boards and were caught the same way on a road, some bullets hitting the road and glancing off two of our men, one being hit twice in the leg, and the other man in the joint of the right arm, this being his first time in the trenches. We were shelled as well by whiz-bangs, these shell are small, but can’t be heard coming, they give you no time to get out of the way, as they burst before you hear the report of the gun. That night we had trench mortars set on us, but we can see them coming, they come like a spark in the air and give you no time to get out of the way.