Dec 5th 1914
Dear Ben I got your parcel last night of mitts and Balaclava caps for the men. Thanks most awfully for them my dear, they are most acceptable and the fellows I gave em too are fearfully pleased. You see government issue them with a Balaclava cap each, but they lose them or tear them or something so one can always – or nearly always find a use for one or two of them. And the men seem to like those knitted wristlets too. I think I only wrote to you 2 days ago so you can imagine I have’nt much more to say.
We have got a lovely underground room, about as big as the Delaford dining room [their childhood home], only not so high of course. It is floored with doors from the ruined houses all round, & roofed in the same way, with earth and turf on the top. We have bagged chairs tables & crockery from the houses too (this is not looting, but quite fair, as the houses are mostly flat on the ground and you have to grovel about among ruins to find anything; and stray bullets keep on zipping about & hitting the walls with an awful smack, a most evil sound) so we are awful cosy; it is our mess, where the C.O & I live, also the officer of the company in support. We have a little charcoal fire, & cook our bacon & potatoes over it. All the other officers of course live in the trenches, but change about, & get their turn here.
It’s raining today, which makes the trenches in a beastly mess, feet deep in mud, & it’s awful walking about in them. You see the C.O [Drake-Brockman] & I make periodical tours of the trenches & have a general look round. They are at the present moment letting us have some “Black Marias” for some unknown reason, as their Maria battery is supposed to have gone away & they certainly have’nt been shelling us like they used to. 3 shrapnel also burst right over this dugout just now, but did no damage as we were safe inside. They know troops are here of course, & I fancy just give us a shell or so occasionally for luck.
I like this pencil I’m using, it’s called the “Eagle copying ink Pencil, No 1522”, it’s a short one, with a tin cover thing, do you think you couId manage to send me one a week, in an envelope as they are infernally useful. This is rather a good card you have sent, there’s such lots of room on it. I see accounts in the papers of officers getting 96 hours leave to England, so don’t be surprised if I turn up one day, only for goodness’ sake get some mufti [ie non-uniform clothes] ready for me, & a hot bath. Our guns are firing at the Maria battery now, & she’s stopped thank goodness, as you never quite know where she’s going to fall. Must end up now & get this censored. Thanks again & tons of love Ted
Then a postscript around the margin:
I think we are in for another whack of cold weather, as there’s a bitter wind today, & rain, which will turn to snow soon I expect. Hurry up my new khaki as this drill stuff is awful
Good news, a man in the 1st Batt has got the V.C the King gave it him yesterday
I think Fred Lumb will get something too
Am getting the weekly times regular, please thank Mother it’s awful interesting always
The 1st Battalion …. was awarded one Victoria Cross to Naik Darwan Sing Negi, who led round each traverse. Captains Lumb and Lane each received the Military Cross for their gallantry in this action, and several men got other decorations.