Norman – Dad: 19 Dec 1917

Somewhere in France
19th December 1917
Dear Dad,
It is only a few days since I wrote to Gorrie but a change has come over the landscape since then.  Snow started to fall on Sunday mid day and continued throughout the day and night and we awoke on Monday morning to find everything covered in a layer of snow two or three inches deep.  It is all very well for the poets to wax enthusiastic about the pure white snow, but the snow that drives under the tent flap, sticks to everybody’s boots and is trodden freely into the tent and treads up into a soft slush along the roadway is altogether, to my mind, a different sort of customer to deal with.

Monday night was very cold and on Tuesday morning everything was frozen hard.  The sandy soil damped by the snow froze solid and has remained so ever since as hard as concrete and as slippery as glass.  We found the water pipes frozen up in the morning, our boots stiff as boards and other similar things too numerous (no, I didn’t say humourous) to mention.  We are still a long way from the firing line and have, as yet, no idea of when we will be moving up although I don’t think its likely that we will be kept here much longer.  We have been here now just a fortnight.

I am writing this in the Y.M.C.A. hut.  Everywhere we go we find these comfortable little places and I can tell you that it is “some” good to drop in on a cold night and find a bright warm fire and something hot to eat and drink.  Everywhere we go we find their places the same.  It is impossible to speak too highly of the work they are doing to make the men’s live as comfortable as possible.  Neil is sitting beside me playing chess with a cobber of his so we are feeling cheerful generally.  Tell Roy not to be in too much of a hurry in choosing his profession.  Ask him to wait until our return and we might be able to give him some sound advice on the subject.  We had a letter from Vic yesterday.  He is still in “Blighty” and is getting a weeks holiday for Christmas.  Both Neil and I posted copies of the ship’s magazine so if they have not been received so if they have not been received they must have been sunk or gone astray somehow.  Next Tuesday is Christmas day and I expect we will spend it under circumstances very much different from any previous one but I hope that the next will be spent in New Zealand although present indications seem to point to there being some doubt about it.  Still, one never knows and the experiences of the war have been that it is always the unexpected that happens and we may all be home long before then.  Let us hope so.

Remember us to all at home.  We look to them to provide a good big plum pudding  when we do arrive back.  There is some hot pudding being served at the Y.M.C.A. counter soon so we will have to be ready with our mess tins.

Au revoir till next time