Letter From a Soldier in the First World War Dearest Mother,
I hope this letter reaches you as many others who have sent letters
have not had their letters reach their intended destination, I also
apologise for not writing to you sooner, although finding time to
write is becoming increasingly more difficult as we push towards the
German front line. Every day we are bombarded by shells and a good man
comes to the end of his life, whether it be from the shells or a
snipers shot to the head, they rarely miss, but neither do we.
The conditions that we have to endure in the trenches are unbearable.
At the foot is a six-inch river of mud that must be stood in all day,
this results in a disease called "Trench foot" that many soldiers have
contracted. This is the swelling up of the foot, senses are lost and
it puffs up so much a bayonet could be stuck in a trench foot without
pain. Perhaps the most sickening part of the trench though, is the
build up of human bodies, flung on top the trench in order to provide
a basic blockade, occasionally a body falls back down and must be
hoisted back up. It is disgraceful to think what has been done to
these men who joined the war to fight valiantly for their country and
are repaid by being used as a primitive defence.
The trenches are designed in such a way that if shots are fired down
it, they will not travel all the way down killing many men this
results in a zigzag pattern. Breaking up the lines of trenches are
dugouts that are used to stay in when we are being shelled, or as
simple shelter for injured men. Higher ranking officials also stay in
these dugouts when we are being heavily bombarded or attacked. It
seems the higher ranked an officer is the more cowardly he becomes,
any respect I have had for my seniors has now gone as they proceed to
send us in on suicide marches.
Death is commonplace here on occasions when a soldier puts down his
guard for a second and stands in the trench, German snipers shoot him
down, although we would gladly return the favour and shoot down enemy
soldiers. When we attempt to gain ground, hundreds of men are lost
with every rampage, shot down seamlessly by enemy fire hailing from a
machine gun. Sometimes we are forced to retreat at the expense of a
few hundred lives. And for what? A few yards of meaningless ground. If
we do successfully take an enemy trench, many more lives are taken
from both sides. Those who have surrendered are mercilessly shot down
without a second thought. There are no rules in war, you either kill
or get killed.
In the early hours of yesterday, a good friend of mine decided that he
could face the war no longer after hours of...