19 July 1916 Portion of letter. A.A. Laporte Payne
In hand as we can. Our mess is in a Boche dug out. On the top in the trench is a sort of summer house with one side open, trellis work and ivy growing over it in the correct style.
We have our meals there. On the walls are coloured illustrations of typical German art one sees in magazines.
The dug out is very large and deep and consists of passages – three or four entrances (I have not explored them all) rooms with sleeping bunks in them, kitchens, and cupboards. They had all passages boarded and rooms zinc lined and papered. Electric light too!
I have been to Contalmaison – at least what remains of it which is not much. I enclose a Boche Field Post Card I picked up. There are plenty of opportunities for collecting what Tommy calls ‘souvenirs’ but no time or room in which to carry them.
I should not mind a clean helmet if I could find one; but such are difficult to get hold of after our first line have gone across and I certainly am not going to buy one.
I am so sorry to hear that the Finchley Flower Show was spoiled by the wet. I remember well the event two years ago. I wish we were out of war and in peace time again as in those days. It seems very far off now.
The men are now turning in for the night – or rather as they sleep in the open & so shall we tomorrow as we have to move out of our precious captured dug-outs.
Next morning July 20th 1916. It has turned out a beautiful morning – just right for a holiday by the sea! The Boche is making a horrid noise with his morning hate. I suppose he is counter-attacking somewhere or doing something equally annoying.
How are you all keeping? Is Mrs Cross rheumatism better?
You will I hope forgive this letter. There is neither opportunity nor materials for proper letter writing. I hope you get my last note – also in pencil. I believe several of my notes have gone astray.
There seems to be no time for meals or sleep now. We are either shifting our position, or digging in, or blazing away as hard as we can. “Somme life”.
Kindest regards to Mrs Cross.
Yours very sincerely