30 January 1917

Archive Ref: IE IJA /J2/83_Letter to his Father._ (116) (2/2)

B.E. Force

30/1/17.

Dearest Father,

I have nothing of great interest to report this month, except the sleet, which, like you at home we are enjoying in this severe weather. For the first three weeks, we have had the most intense cold I have ever experienced, snow and hard continuous frost both day and night. Hear the natives say they never remember the like and I can quite believe them. As a rule, there is nothing like a good walk in frost, but the wind is so penetrating + cutting that unless obliged to do so no one is keen about going out.

To give you an idea of our present atmospheric conditions before I have finished dressing, not a very long process, the water in which I had washed is frozen again. One has to be very careful too, of one’s feet, keeping them well rubbed with whales oil,  if not you would soon find yourself unable to walk with half a dozen, frozen toes and in for a very unpleasant time. A dugout is not the warmest of spots at just at the present, but even if I felt inclined to

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growl I would be ashamed to do so seeing what the poor men have to suffer in the trenches. My life is a paradise compared to theirs, though I hope sincerely that the real “Happy Land” will be a trifle manner when we get. There have been several deaths due to exposure, But speaking for myself I find the cold invigorating and seems to suit me in every way.

Appetite? Hush! Not a word. In strict confidence, very poor but the barometer is rising. A little story which I read some time ago has helped me along not a little during those hard days. The B. Curẽ d’Ars had been visiting an invalid who had been bed ridden for years “Father” I really have very little to bear. I don’t feel now my suffering of yesterday and our Lord has not yet sent me those of to-morrow so that my pains are really only for a moment. That lad was a philosopher but  he never lived  in a trench I bet!!!!!

This morning a change has taken place, the wind has shifted around and if I mistake not a thaw is not far away. Then we shall have the real fun—slush +melt floods in all the trenches and the parapet tumbling in after the prolonged frost. Everything loving and kind to everyone your own dear self especially. I am ever so sorry to hear of Frank’s illness, but glad to hear he is on the mend. Feed him up on “Bully Beef” there’s nothing better.

As ever dearest Father

Your loving Willie.