To My Dearest Elsie,
I know this is my 5th letter in 3 days but I need to tell the truth. I joined the army for adventure and the chance to see new places but instead I am living in a mud hole, freezing under constant fear of death. You may laugh and say that I am but whingeing and that I am probably the only scared man here but it's not true. All 5,000 of us are terrified of what may come if we so much as lift our heads into the view of the enemy.
Every day I have spent in this trench, we have had shells fired at us. The noise is horrific and the despair in the eyes of many a soldier is evident as another comes over. If and when the shelling stops, many drink or smoke to try relax but you can tell that a few are on the brink of breaking down. Some men have shot themselves in the arm or leg just to have an injury serious enough to get them out of the trenches but not bad enough to kill them.
Apart from the threat of having your head blown off, the Germans are now trying to gas us to death. These gas attacks are few and far between but when one is launched the new recruits drop like flies mainly because they do not know anything. One called Jenkins lost his gas mask and when the Germans launched a chlorine gas shell, well, that was it for him really. The vile stuff burns your lungs out. The newbies can do nothing but choke up their burnt out lungs. The other gas they use is mustard gas which is truly evil. It blisters the skin, blinding men who then roll around in agony, clutching their red raw flesh. Forgive me if I am scaring you but I need to talk about this.
Our daily food is bully beef. When you first start the army and you are eating this you think it's bland but edible. After 3 months of bully beef and little else, you wonder whether you would actually feel better hungry or with a tin of bully beef inside you. Everyone is given some rum to start the day off which is rather uplifting for most of us. Smoking is allowed in the daytime which...
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