A Letter from the Front

British and German Fortitude

A Banbury gentleman has sent us a letter from a friend serving in the 2nd Wilts Regiment at the front which describes life in the trenches. He says that in the trench they were occupying they were rapidly being flooded out. Already the front trench was six feet deep in water, the rear trench likewise and they were between the two floods and at any minute the dams might burst and they would be flooded out too. In many places the water rises from the ground and fills their trench to the depth of a foot or so, so that one has to wade through it when walking along the trench. The men off duty contrive to sleep huddled against the damp walls with their feet in the water. In spite, however, of these trying conditions they keep cheerful and rarely seem in the dumps. Their cheery nature, he says, rarely seems to desert them.

The German plight is just as bad and when a shell strikes the enemy’s trench they see the water splash up. He proceeds:- “ The Germans have not got the fortitude of our troops. Two nights ago 200 of them came up to some trenches and wanted to give themselves up, but their own officers drove them back with revolvers and for some strange reason our men did not fire. Can you imagine British troops surrendering because of the hardships they have to endure? I can’t. We hear rumours that if the war is not over in a few weeks many German regiments are going to give themselves up – evidently the enemy are getting very demoralised.

No doubt you hear we talked to them on Christmas and Boxing Day and then they said they wanted to get back home again – and so do we all – but we’ll see the job through first.”

The writer gives and account of the desolation caused to the country by the war. He says:- “ I have seen ruined villages with not a house or a farm left standing; dead cattle dotting the fields everywhere: little mounds with tiny rough crosses on the marking soldiers’ graves; a hundred or more soldiers buried in one common grave. I have seen a woman wring her hands and burst into tears as she passes the remains of her farm – and then go back to a tiny hovel to tend six children, while her husband fights for his country. Truly war is a horrible thing and one must see its awful ravages to realise fully how terrible modern warfare is.” The writer says he is writing in his “dug-out” huddled up on a box, the rain coming in through he roof and through the floor, and shells and bullets whistling above.

Banbury Guardian January 1915

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