Letter from the trenches.
Extracts from this essay...
17th January 1917 Dearest Mother, I hope this letter reaches you as many others who have sent letters have not had their letters reach their intended destination and have met a short end. 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 aforementioned 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. Perhaps the most sickening part of the trench though, is the build up of human bodies, readily 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.
A single German soldier approached the canisters and released the Gas, before retreating. With the wind against us, it wasn¡¦t long before the Gas would reach us. A call came for us to strap on our gas masks and retreat. Although for some, it was far too late. Men began to wheeze and cough under the influence of the deadly gas, the masks seem to have little effect for some. Eyes would bulge from their sockets in a devilish way. It was as if they were overcome by evil. A truly horrendous site, after an hour or so the wind changed direction and we could continue our path, with the walking wounded. Those who could not see dumbly walked on, tagging with the solder ahead of them. Those who were dead were simply left behind, there was no time for burial, only for retribution. The bitterness I am feeling is unlike me, I no longer know my own true character, just urges to kill and maim the people who have sieged my compatriots. Although this bitterness is not just of the enemy, but also of my own country, whom I chose to fight for.
In extreme cases, being court-martialled is an option for the people in charge. I doubt if I can read another letter of such sincerity to you again, because of these restrictions. Although I will be waiting for a reply with great anticipation. Hopefully I will still be alive to read it, if not, all hope is not lost, death may be my only chance of escape. New orders are thought to be coming in any day, with the command to advance and go ¡¥over the top,¡¦ with any luck I¡¦ll have made it, although few others will have in comparison to the great numbers being sent out. More men are arriving every day, younger and younger by the minute, I wouldn't doubt that we are running out of suitable candidates to die for their country. Perhaps soon the elderly will be asked. I hope the brutal honesty of my letter has not been too shocking for you, if I make it through a couple more weeks, I will be able to return home and see you all once again. That's the only thing that has been in my mind since the first day I joined this war. Send my love to the rest of the family.
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