14th March. 1915
I kept a hold of that little journal you gave me and don't worry I'll be sure to fill it with all the adventures and exciting stories I'm sure I have in store for me.
We just arrived in France this morning you know and it's so strange Danny, I always thought a different country would be something extraordinary and marvelous.
But it's not really, the people are nice, the girls are pretty and their countryside is pleasant too, just like back home.
It's been really exciting, they taught us how to fight properly and act like soldiers during training, I've made lots of new friends as well as seeing all the lads from the village too.
Francis misses his Mother and sometimes the other boys chastise him for It. I miss our old Mum too but not to the extent as Francis.
I think of you and Mum and Patricia everyday and I only wish you looked old enough to come with me Danny, I'm 18 in April anyway so it wasn't too much of a fib,
most of us from home lied about our age. We're moving into this little town now, I can't pronounce the name and then it's off to the front!
17th March 1915
We've been billeted at a town called Arras, it's been the usual hijinks from our battalion so far. Lots of fun and games and a couple of the lads organized a spot of football this morning.
These "Pals Battalions" were ruddy good ideas, almost all of my god friends from school are right here with me!
Arras has been bombed a fair bit but it's all quiet now, we mainly spend our time in this old café where an old piano is. One of the boys from Manchester is jolly good at playing it.
Some of the sentry's say that Old Fritz hasn't been putting up much of fight recently, their trenches are filled with tired old men and conscripted criminals.
I even heard one of the officers say we might have this whole ordeal over with by the end of summer, that the Kaiser's fun is well and truly over.
I hope not, I don’t feel like I've had any adventures yet Danny, me and the boys bloody well want to give the Hun's what for!
29th March 1915
Been busy the last few days Danny, lots of moving around and goings on here and there. Lots of new boys from back home are here now, Arras is getting very crowded but I don’t mind.
The more, the merrier! I can't see how Fritz can stand up to all these brave lads, he hasn’t got a chance.
We even seen some of the Calvary men today, they looked so gallant on their horses, I sometimes wish I joined the Calvary.
Gordon's uncle always used to let me ride their draught horse remember? I reckon I'd of been bloody good at that you know, like one of King Arthur's knights at the round table.
How thrilling! The head of a charging line of horses, could you imagine what that would be like Danny?
1st April 1915
I've met Canadians today Danny, real Canadians.
Oh they're a jolly bunch they passed through this morning, I believe their heading somewhere up the line, North I think closer to Belgium or into it.
One of them said they were going to a town called "Wipers".
A lot of the places have dreadfully silly names over here Danny it's hard enough trying to write them down never mind their pronunciation.
And big news today, we're going to the trenches in a few days, finally a chance to give the Bosch a fat lip! For King and Country!
2nd April 1915
We found out why we were going to the trenches this afternoon.
It would seem we are to replace the boys who've been fighting there for a while now, us and all the other lads are being sent in to strengthen the line up.
The came into Arras today, the boys from the trenches and they didn’t look quite right. They were all quiet and dirty and didn’t so much as say how do you do.
A lot of them were wounded, all wrapped up in dirty bandages and on crutches. Major Hopkins is moving us out shortly.
7th April 1915
The trenches are disgusting. Their just holes in the ground Danny and there's nothing solid to walk on. The duck board has been sucked up by this gray mud and everything is wet.
And its so very boring, we've done nothing but sentry duty in turns since we've gotten here. Not even so much as a brave charge over the top or German attack to repel.
My adventure thus far has been rather dull if I'm honest, I expected more fun.
12th April 1915
They attacked this morning. Hundreds of them Danny with artillery, my ears are still ringing. It was tremendously scary, I got to fire my rifle but I'm not sure if I hit anything.
They were all just blobs on the horizon. The Vickers seen them away eventually, but it was close. The older lads say this is how the fighting has been.
Just a bloody dreary back and forth,I'm hoping that it will be different though now that we are here, it will be good to get away from this mud.
25th April 1915
I've not slept in sometime, it's harder and harder to find time to write Danny. They shell us almost constantly now.
Well not constantly, but just every now and again, to stop us from sleeping or seemingly just to annoy us.
There was another attack two days ago, they got closer this time, it was dark and they even got right up near to our trenches. It was dreadful. Just truly awful.
That town with the funny name got gassed, the one with the Canadians, those poor buggers.
Sandy Gulliver was killed. He lied about his age too.
28th April 1915
They shelling wont stop, my eyes feel raw and I have to sleep in a rotten hole in the side of the trench. Rats have started appearing now, big and nasty ones the size of cats.
There's this horrid stench in the air now, it’s the Germans up top, the dead ones. They've been lying there for a few days now.
A lot of us are getting sick and a few of the lads have went barmy from the lack of sleep.
It's my birthday today. I wish I was at home, I miss Mum's cooking so much.
2nd May 1915
They have sharpshooters now. The officers reckon that there's quite a few of them. Everytime someone lifts his head over the parapet he gets killed, they’ve been keeping our heads down for days.
My back hurts from bending down wherever I walk.
We lost a few more boys from our lot this morning, poor sods got curious and fancied a look at No Man's Land, I'm getting sick of the sight of blood and of the dead. Its ghastly.
I truly want to be rid of this place, I want to turn and leave. I've heard talk of deserters being shot.
8th May 1915
I shot a man today. Not even a man, a boy, he reminded me of you Danny. They attacked us and shelled at the same time today.
One of those bombs hit the machine gunners near my portion of the trench and Fritz got right in one top of us.
This young German jumped down in front of me and dropped his rifle as he tried to aim it. I shot him in the chest and down he went, more horrible blood everywhere.
It mixes with the grey mud and makes me sick.. Your brothers a murderer Danny, I don’t feel like a soldier now, I'm not proud of being in the army. Mother would be ashamed.
11th May 1915
Anthony Baxter died today, and Thomas and Charles and tall David Williams. Almost half of the old football team from school. The mud is everywhere, it's in my hair, my britches.
It's maddening, just like the whizz-bangs and everything else in this hell hole. We are to attack today, everyman, finally a bit of payback.
I'll be writing from the German trenches tomorrow, we'll show them.
This journal was found in a stretch of No Mans Land in Northern France.