A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 28 Jul 1916.

Letter to Muriel 28 Jul 1916.




July 28th 1916


My dear Muriel,


At last I have a few minutes to write. We have just left the line after 34 days and nights continuous firing for a rest (?) of 48 hours!  The men are quite tired out and badly need a rest and other necessary things as baths etc, as far as we can get them.


What a thoughtful person you are. Cigarettes wrapped up in waterproof paper to prevent them arriving damp as parcels sometimes do in these delightful parts.  Thank you so very much for your letters and parcels of chocolate, cigarettes, and socks.  You are much kinder than you know.


You don’t seem to have had two letters I have despatched via the Field Post Office. In one I enclosed a German Field Post Card.


The mud, I am glad to say, has disappeared at last and now we are suffering from the dust – no rest for the wicked!


I am so sorry to hear about Mrs. Griffin. I do hope she will be better soon.  It is most trying for the Colonel.


You are, I hope, enjoying your country holiday as much as we are ours. I am at present sitting on the hay for the horses but unfortunately we are not quite outside the range of the guns.


They have just put 2 or 3 nasty black woolly ones over here, but did no damage.


I am sorry you were not able to accept your invitation to Ganarew. Perhaps they may be more likely next time!


It is not nice to discover dead things in one’s abode is it? Even dead birds in a summer house are most trying.  In our Boche dug-out we have been troubled by peculiar scents so we determined to clear that part which was filled with debris from the bombing attack which was supposed to have cleared the place of Huns.  Underneath we discovered two of these gentry – in – well – not a nice condition – so now the place smalls of lime and other disinfectants.


I have not read ‘Ordeal by Battle’.  Is it good?  Ain’t you sick of war news, war stories, war books?  I am – at least of the war – but we still read our week old papers from end to end.


We are having beautiful weather now – just right for the sea-side or Henley or some other such place.  I suppose you are enjoying the same sort of weather.  We dream in our delicious moments of the sea side and nothing to do for months.


I can’t give you any news that the papers have not got. It is getting much too dangerous to say anything at all about events out here now.  They seem to let the newspaper correspondents say a lot and some of it is frightfully exaggerated.  I am not at all looking forward to another winter out here.


In the old days they used to do things properly and go ‘in hibernas’ – into winter quarters and give up fighting which was sensible but we have fallen into barbarous habits. We shall soon be quite prehistoric.


I am so sorry for the French people. Every time we advance it means levelling their villages to the ground.  Artillery bombardments now-a-days is terrific.  Imagine miles of countryside literally covered with shell holes turning the whole place brown and miles and miles of communication and fire trenches all mixed up, owing to the advance.  All the trees and other living things destroyed.  It will be a very long time before they will be able to live as before on the ground we fight over.  In la Boiselle you can’t find the roads, the houses simply don’t exist, and the church is a mound of white rubble.


July 29


I was unable to finish my letter last night, so hope to send it off today. It is a beautiful but very hot day again.  We got up very late I am sorry to say as we sat up very late last night after a big dinner of soup, tinned fish, lobsters, sausage, peaches etc.  English beers for the first time for months too.  We return to our duties tomorrow.  We had an inspection of the horses this morning.  They are looking thin – poor things they have been having a bad time of it lately – so much carrying ammunition.  Later we had some revolver practice.  I was badly off form.  I started well but fell off sadly – my usual procedure at most things I am afraid.


I hope you are all keeping fit & well and enjoying yourselves.


With best wishes (Great idea!)


Yours very sincerely




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