I’ve got 2 long letters from you to answer, and no news for you I’m afraid. Thanks awfully for your letters, they were most interesting and enjoyable. My, they do know how to work you hard at the hospital, you certainly are doing your little bit.
I have got an absolute first class cold and cough, a touch of flu I think, everyone seems to have got it. I feel rather a worm, & have been gargling Condy’s & sucking potass lozenges, but not much result. However by tomorrow I expect I’ll be as right as rain, though I should like to go to bed more than anything else.
We go into the trenches tomorrow & I expect that’ll cure me all right. Could you send me a bottle of Somebody’s “lightning” Cough cure, Veno I think it’s called, someone said it was very good; or any cold mixture.
My dear the hair stuff has rolled up & I have been using it regularly & I trust with good results, but of course it’s too early to gauge yet. I expect I’ll be writing for another bottle soon.
I have been to church today “in the school opposite the 44th Heavy Battery” as the notice was published in orders. And by Jove it was opposite the 44th Heavy Battery with a vengeance!! They were only 50 yards off, and had found a suitable target just as church began- The noise was awful; and the whole thing was a curious mixture, church going on & quite close by the big guns killing & maiming the wretched enemy; so contrary somehow to the Church’s instructions regarding one’s enemy’s.
The hymns we had were Lead Kindly light, Son of my Soul, & abide with me. No organ or piano, just about ½ doz officers and 30 Tommies, so the singing was a trifle awkward at times, & broke down completely in Lead Kindly light, despite a valiant effort by Major Mac – sitting next to me – to switch em on to the right note again. I could only utter a hoarse croak! The guns were particularly noisy during this hymn and the result was something as follows, a quaint mixture of humour and pathos that made one want to cry and laugh at the same time:
Lead Kindly-Bang!- amid the’encircling gloom
Bang! – thou me on;
The night is dark and I am Bang! – from home
Lead thou me on.
Bang! Bang! The garish day, in spite of fears
Pride ruled my Bang! – Remember not Bangbangbangbang!
The last four being from a French battery of .75’s close by here, which, like all French batteries, always fires salvoes of 4 guns in rapid succession. I assure you my dear Jane the above is no exaggeration of the scene, and it was really very impressive in a way, and likely to stick in one’s memory for longer than many an exciting moment in the trenches.
They haven’t shelled us today thank goodness, except for one whispering Willie which fell the far end of the village & exploded harmlessly. The heavy firing round La Bassée still goes on, & we had a goodish success there last night I believe; today again there has been very heavy artillery fire there.
Right about the scarf, better give it to Jim as I have one all right. Chubbie sent me a pair of mittens & a letter; I also heard from Mary, & have answered her letter. Cake most welcomed, & stodged by my brother officers in no time. So long & give us a line sometime.
Lots of love from Ted.
Send out a packet of envelopes like this one will you please, thin foreign ones
The original of this letter is in the Archive of the the Imperial War Museum: Private Papers of Lieutenant Colonel E R P Berryman DSO – http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1030021700