WWI: Letters From The Trenches

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October 29, 1914
Dear Mother,
It has been a while since I last wrote to you. Give my regards to father and the twins. I hope everything is going well for the family. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for myself. The last time I wrote to you, we had just arrived in France and everybody was in high spirits. Since then we have moved twice a week in the worst of conditions. We have lost a lot of men since the fighting started 3 weeks ago.

I have been assigned to the front lines in the trenches for a week or so. These trenches are ridges, about 10 feet deep and 5 feet wide that have been dug into the ground and are many kilometers long. They have been built to avoid machine gun fire. Men here have lost all sense of time. It is almost always dark as the clouds from all the bombs have formed an umbrella above us, trapping out all sunlight. I have seen such horrible things in the trenches, that it would give a grown man nightmares. Our people are getting killed and wounded day by day, hour by hour; it's hard to watch this going on. The rampage spread of diseases in the trenches has been another problem. There is no from of sewage system in these trenches, so when it rains, the water settles at the bottom of these trenches. When we are deployed to the trenches we have to eat, sleep and live in the trenches for at least two weeks at a time. One disease which has struck many, is trench foot, which happens because of the dirty water and mud. It causes swelling in the legs, until it reaches a point where many have to get their leg cut off so that the swelling does not move up their leg. My leg started to swell a little bit, but fortunately a new shipment of whale oil reached us before my legs got too bad. Whale oil helps to keep the water from entering the feet. Another problem in the trenches is the rapid growth of lice in our hair and clothing. We cannot sleep as we itch from head to toe during the nights. Also, these lice have caused a serious disease that we call...
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