Have I mentioned rum to you? I never tasted it to my knowledge until I came out here. We get it served us whenever we’re wet. It’s the one thing which keeps a man alive in the winter—you can sleep when you’re drenched through and never get a cold if you take it.
At night, by a fire, eight feet underground, we sing all the dear old songs. We manage a kind of glee—Clementina, The Long, Long Trail, Three Blind Mice, Long, Long Ago, Rock of Ages. Hymns are quite favourites.
Don’t worry about me; your prayers weave round me a mantle of defence.
Yours with more love than I can write,
October 31st, 1916.
Once more I’m taking the night-firing and so have a chance to write to you. I got letters from you all, and they each deserve answers, but I have so little time to write. We’ve been having beastly weather—drowned out of our little houses below ground, with rivers running through our beds. The mud is once more up to our knees and gets into whatever we eat. The wonder is that we keep healthy—I suppose it’s the open air. My throat never troubles me and I’m free from colds in spite of wet feet. The main disadvantage is that we rarely get a chance to wash or change our clothes. Your ideas of an army with its buttons all shining is quite erroneous; we look like drunk and disorderlies who have spent the night in the gutter—and we have the same instinct for fighting.
In the trenches the other day I heard mother’s Suffolk tongue and had a jolly talk with a chap who shared many of my memories. It was his first trip in and the Huns were shelling badly, but he didn’t seem at all upset.