Letters from the front – Private Daniel Partse (letter 2)

Hallo my darlin’ Gel,

It is your old Daniel writin’ to you again from a quiet little funk ‘ole having got back from a raid. Now what we calls a raid out ‘ere is more correctly called a raidin’ party you can ‘ave any number of guests go to this party from just a few to twenty or sometimes even more. Now these ‘ere parties are very select affairs and just like the parties in the posh ‘ouses you can’t just have any old Tom, Dick or Harry turn up. Oh no. What happens is some silly bugger up at Division says to himself “I say I say the old XXXXshires in XXX sector ‘ave ‘ad it too quiet lately let’s send a few of the men over to see what intelligence (they mean information my dear, and generally I have found this kind of stunt to be the least intelligent thing I have ever done. Why they continues to call it intelligence is well beyond my wit) can be got from the Bosche. Then he says call Colonel XXX of the XXXXshires and have some of ‘is chaps pop over to the neighbours and see what brewin’ dontchaknow” and eventually it come down the chain of command until it lands on me. On the larger parties an officer will go out with the lads, but usually it is just a few of us led by a Non commissioned officer like your ‘andsome old man. So in small measure these parties guest lists are bang up affairs which only the proper trench fighting types get invited to. Like you’re handsome ol’ Daniel.

When we goes out we use burnt cork on our faces so as to blend into the night, like the blackface mistrels at the Gaiety hall which you so enjoy, though we don’t juggle and sing…oh no. We often wear balaclavas or soft caps rather than that bloody tin hip bath on our ‘eads. Which you know I don’t like on account of it being so unsoldierly in appearance and Colonel XXX agrees with me but the brass hats will have their way, sorry my love I shall continue. Depending on what we’re after we’ll carry anything from little knives, to bloody great lumps of metal on our entrenching tool handles to kibosh the Bosche nice and quietly see. Then when we’ve seen what we want we either tries to steal away all quiet like, a bit like those old Boojer Kommandos I used to write about in the last lot. Or we has a bomber start slinging his bombs about a little way further down sausage alley and we hot foot back as fast as we can to our lines. It’s ‘ot and bloody work and the best of it is the rum we get before we go and the run we get when we gets back.

So this raidin’ party tonight starts out well, 8 of us stealing over the parapet and crawlin’ like the old Thugs from the books young Albert likes so much we carefully cuts through old fritzes wire and look for a quiet spot and a lonely sentry millin’ about. This lot are Saxons so there’s normally a fat old gefreiter drunk and paunchy on black bread and sausage puffing on those bloody great pipes of theirs we drops down kibosh and resistance on the double, stick a paw over old fritzes north and south and wave one of the knives about so he’s savvy as to not making a cheep. Then we try to get the old bastard back to our line and that intelligence wallah I mentioned earlier will grill him proper for anything he knows. That’s the plan but this one starts flapping and falls over into a great lump of smashed up wire that the ‘un has tied meat cans and suchlike to. Does he make a noise? He roars about swearing and shouting in his heathen ‘unnish rattling the wire and the meat cans like a mayors day parade. Of course by now we’re laughing and trying to drag him out of the mess as the sausage guns open up and the flares head into the sky. SO we eventually drags him out and he’s in bloodied rages by now and he crying like a babe, we stop laughing at him when young XXX stood next to me keels over splashing our ‘un friend with claret and we go like blazes back home. Blow me 15 yards out and the ‘un goes down and he ain’t getting up again. With all that ‘ot metal flying about we keep going like billy-o until we fall our own parapet blown like lancers ‘orses. We’re lying there laughing, which is a curious thing about getting wind up or if you’ve just had a close shave, but you often do…funny old thing, but the officer aint. He can see the fire is too heavy to go back over and drag this fritz back and so he sets up a grappling hook and a good length of rope and announces we’re ‘going fishing’. So we then spends the next hour and an ‘alf slinging this ‘ook into no mans trying to land a bit fat ‘un. Of course when we get the bugger we’re all pullin’ and puffin’ and heavin’ and when he finally gets close enough to reach up and pull in you realise that the fishin’ was always going to be hard as the fat bugger as ‘ad his guts open up and his tripes have got caught on everything, he’s garlanded like a bloody Christmas tree! We did laugh, even the officer, he said if we ever do this again we’ll need a bigger boat! But the bad news is, whatever in the name of the man above this fritz been eating we don’t know but he stinks to ‘igh heaven and we’ve just been told we have to go out again and bring back a live one…Oh well. My love to you as always and my darling little ones, tell young Albert I have got this dead ‘uns soft cap and it’s even got some genuine ‘un blood on it! He’ll love that the blood thirsty little brute.

Your lovin’ ‘usband, Daniel.

Somewhere in France.

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