World War 1 Letter From the Front

Gunner Bert Cox

October 21st, 1917

My dear Herbert and Hellen,

It is the hardest thing around here for one to get time even to write a letter hence the delay in not having written before to thanks the 3 --- for the delicious box of chocolates received from Norman last week. It’s needless to say how we appreciate American candy as the stuff in England and over here is “No bon” (Everything here is either No bon or tres bon.) I do wish you were here Hellen to speel this language off for me. But with their broken English and my bad French I usually make them understand especially if there are any eats to be had.

We moved our wagon lines XXXX XXX to a nice little village. The stables are right between the residences . We are billeted around 12 of us are together in one room at our home and is the best one we’ve struck yet. A good floor and good roof, so hope we stay there all winter. Two women and 4 children love there. But the great attraction for this place is that one can buy a grand meal of eggs (any number, no scarcity) and French fried potatoes, cleanly cooked before your eyes , and real coffee, with lots of sugar. It seems quite funny, as sugar is just like gold dust in England. This meal costs about 2 Francs, 50 centimes = 50 cents in real money. I slide about 2 of these down every day that I’m back at the lines.

I’m Brigade Orderly this week so am not with the guns but at Brigade Headquarters: I had my 1st experience this morning with German prisoners. XXX (They) came across 2 Germans out in the field next to this place XXX (& they) took them prisoners of course and they told us they were prisoners of the Somme captured by the French and were trying to get back to their own lines. We took them in our (the Orderlies) shack where they smoked our cigarettes and we had quite a pleasant conversation of broken languages. Then they took them off, heaven knows where they are now, but one could see that they were awfully sorry to leave us.

We’ve certainly been awfully lucky since we’ve been here. I think the < Battery has been shelled more heavily than any other in the division and we’ve only had one casualty and not a gun touched but yet several gun-pits have been smashed and the ground around just ploughed up. We got our rum ration tonight and although it is terrible tasting stuff I always try to put it down as a medicine as it is the pure alcohol. Each man in the infantry front lines gets 2 tablespoons per day to keep his nerves in tact.

The meals in France and especially at the guns are 50 to 75 % better than in Witley. We get all tin stuff here and usually lots of it of course there’re some days when the ration wagon can’t get up on account of the road been shelled and then we only get ½ slice of thin bread per meal. My sub section also runs a mess fund and we buy extras from the canteens such as condensed milk, jam and pickles etc.

One of the fellows whom I went around with in Wpg (Winnipeg) was killed in April on _____. He has a cross over his grave and was recommended for XXXXXXXXXX honors for the act which he must have known was certain death.

Write me soon again and with lots of love for Horace and Selves,

From your affct brother


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