No doubt you will be surprised to hear I have been wounded in the back, but I am going on nicely. I should never have been alive to tell the tale if it hadn’t been for the parcel you sent me in the wooden box. We were going in the trenches to relieve another battalion when all of a sudden a shell from the Germans burst within a short distance of us. I was hit in the back by a piece. I had got the wooden box tied to my back and it was smashed to pieces and all the contents. The tin with the Oxo cubes was bent all shapes. I have only the parcel to thank for my life. I happened on a St Neots boy this afternoon at the Dressing Station, his name is Bill Gilbert. He was sick but I am glad to say was not wounded. I am quite happy and well looked after and in a few weeks will be fit again.
Thank you very much for the “Advertiser” and letter, which I received safely. No doubt you saw in the papers about the charge of our regiment on Oct 14th. Well, that is not all. We were in the big advance last week. In the mist I got lost but I got where I had orders to go. We advanced nearly a mile deep, and took a lot of prisoners. I got several myself and it was great sport poking them out of dug-outs with our bayonets. Lance-corp Day, who was in the St Neots Post Office, was killed in the attack by a sniper who happened to get left behind in the mist. Tell his people he won’t snipe again, a pal of mine blew half his head off first shot. Day was shot through the heart and suffered no pain. We only had about 63 casualties, so we did pretty well. I saw Frank Riseley after he was hit, but I didn’t think he would be sent to England. I also saw Alix Childerley, but I never spoke to him, so I didn’t know it was him until I passed him. It was pretty rough when he got hit I can tell you. We are now out on rest, after being in the thick of the fighting on the Somme for three months without getting a rest. I think there is a chance of getting home again before long, as we have all been promised leave. I am A1. Don’t forget Christmas puddings.
Now for a few lines to let you know I am still well, under the present weather conditions, and our houses are shell holes now, and the other night we got flooded out with 18 inches of water, everything wet through and no dry ones to put on, but still we keep on smiling. The ground we are on is all like ploughed land and mud and water. One has to be very careful walking about here at night, or else you would soon get a good bath, as the shell holes are nearly full of water, which is 8 and 10 feet deep. I have been busy today, it has been my wash day. The usual shirt, socks and towel, water from shell holes, muddy, but it has to do. I went out the other day to go and find my brother, and I had a great surprise to meet Tom Sharman, he looks well. only covered in mud the same as myself. I had a good chat with him, his Division is now with ours. We have been in action for 17 weeks, and only 2 days’ rest, but we have the honour of being in action the longest here of any Division, which is a lot to say, and we have been mentioned for our grand work. I am real proud of being in a Division like that, but no doubt I shall be able to give you a good lecture when I do come home, which no doubt will be very interesting, as I can tell you since July 4th I have seen some sights and towns – well I may say heaps of bricks where towns and villages have been – but still we keep going. The Bosche don’t like us artillery boys, we are hot stuff. The prisoners often want to know if we have gone mad, which is very interesting to us, as we like to know we annoy him as much as we ever can. Aeroplanes have been very active lately. Well, I expect we must rest content to have another Christmas dinner out here. George is not far from here. I have seen young Judd, of the Beds., but they were the digging party. Give my love to Mrs — , and Family, and kindly remember me to all friends and the Choir – well, what you have left of it, I expect you haven’t many. What has Jon Bass gone in? Well I really must close. Oh, I forget to tell you I have been promoted to full Bombardier, which makes eight shilling a week more money to me. I am still showing them what we can do if only we try. Well I have a parade at 9 pm to fall the boys in for a run which they like.
Just a few lines hoping St Neots is looking quite as well as it was before I left on August 8th 1914. I am sorry to say we have had a lot of wet weather last month. I am glad to say the troops have had quite a fine time in the trenches at Christmas time. The Germans came out of their trenches and called out to the Bedford’s to go one at a time half way, and they would come half way, so we stopped firing at them and went half way across to them and had smokes together with them, so they asked us if we would have a game of football with them. We had not got a ball with us, or I think we should have had a game with them.
St Neots Museum
The Old Court
8 New Street
St Neots PE19 1AE
Opening and admission
We’re open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm.
Free entry to the museum for local residents. Non-residents: Adults £3, seniors £2 and children £1.
Fees apply for some events.