My Dearest Darling Gel,
I hope this finds you and the little ones well. This is the first chance I have ‘ad to write to you since I got the base ‘ospital at XXXX. Now you must not worry, I am fine apart from a few knocks here and there. On the bright side, when I get home if every we find ourselves short of a few bob, all we need to do is open up my left leg and we’ll have enough scrap iron to keep us in Egg and Chips for a week. Stupid really, I got caught by an ‘un mortar, we call this one a flying pig on account of the size of the bloody things and they make a noise like judgement day so if you add all that together with me an old sweat an all I had no business getting in the bastard things way.
Anyway, I’d not long told off a couple of the new draft to pull stag and us NCO’s were settling in for a rounds of the old Crown & Anchor which you know I love, but our new temporary gentleman Mr. XXX hates like poison him being educated welsh Methodist and he stalks about like Jack the bleedin’ ripper trying to catch up us to no good. So as I’m saying a few of the lads, you know Jack XXX’x wife Florence and a couple of other lads are chucking the pills about and I’m keeping watch out for Mr. XXX on the corner of the trench when we ‘ears it. “That’s a Jack Johnson” says XXX, “No no no, that’s an ‘Issing Jenny” says another so I’m listening and then just as I says “No lads that a flying pig” the big bastard lands in the trench and goes off like a drunk parson at a wedding where the bride is six months gone. So my ears are ringing the parapet is all stoved in, I’m covered in claret and gore, of the four lads playing three are just gone, well there are little bits of ’em all over the shop but nothing you’d recognise as an ‘uman being and Jack is buried in mud from the blast and as I comes around with all this gore on me I start checking myself to see if I’ve still got both me pins and me wedding tackle and come to a fast conclusion that some of the blood is me but most of it is two of the lads that stood up just in front of me as the things landed. They sorted of shielded me you see. I takes all this in a short time and then see’s Jack buried so all you can see is one arm and his tin lid so I throws meself down and start digging with me hands, as I uncover his face his sucks in a huge mouthful of air and smiles at me, shock you see, and then as I drags him out I see he’s gone one leg off just above the knee and the other just below, well almost off. It’s hanging on by a stringy bit of meat and the red’s just pumping out of him the poor bastard. I sit down on the smashed up boards and have him in my lap and I’m thinking I cant send him home to Florence like this and I’m going to let him bleed out. He’s in such a state he don’t know his legs are off and he’s talking to me quite rational like and I’m stroking his head and telling him everything’s alright and he’s just taking a bang to head as his life drains away into the mud then two of the battalion stretcher bearers come tearing round the corner and start to work on him so they tourniquet his legs and bang him on a stretcher and get him off to Mr. XXX the doctor. Of course he’s still awake and it ain’t long before the shock wears off and he starts screaming, another couple of bearers come around and pick me up and we get put into the Batt first aid post, where we get looked at, they puts a cardboard ticket on my tunic and they sends us both down to the Casualty Clearing station a little way back. I won’t bore you with the journey to the CCS but it was a horrible, not the lads faults but it was horrible and Jack is there with me and he’s crying and shouting and screaming and then after what felt like hours we get bumped down at the CCS, Jack hands me his watch and his wedding ring and a letter for Florence, as he knows what sticky fingered bastards these RAMC orderlies can be, and then pale as a sheet he gets carted off to the surgeon. I didn’t see him again but I was told he’d gone west after all that. I do have his watch and ring for Florence though and will send them back presently with a letter for his Flo’. I will tell her it was quick and he felt no pain, you must say the same if you see her by the way. If she knew what he’d gone through she’d never sleep again so mums the word my darling.
I’m hoping I’ll get sent back to dear old England for convalescence but we’ll have to see and once I know what is happening I’ll write again. As I say in the meanwhile, I’m well, bit bashed up but nothing dangerous, I’m in a comfortable bed with clean sheets and I’m being looked after although the matron here is one of those misty eyed stuck up bints who if you ain’t a young officer with a head full of poems and books she don’t want to know. Still she makes sure I get me beef tea and me fags so it could be worse.
Now remember nothing to Florence, love to the children and as always my darling love to you. I will write soon.
Your loving husband, Daniel.