Letter; 27th December, 1914.

Sunday 27th December: Gorre

Dear Jim,

I received you welcome papers alright. It is very good of you to send them. It is good to get a read and forget about the War for a while but they keep reminding us by dropping a shell just outside the door of our billets.

We are in the thick of it again not far from La Bassee. The weather here is terrible. One day we are up to the waist in mud and water the next it is hard frost.

We were out all day Xmas Day bringing in the wounded. We brought in about 150 and only about 20 of them were wounded, nearly all the others were frost bitten. Some were crying out with the pain, it is terrible to hear them.

We carry the Stretcher on our shoulders here and have done all through the War. It is the only way we can carry it for we have sometimes to carry them 2 or 3 miles. Here we only have to carry them about a mile.

The roads are waist deep in water and mud. If we did not keep moving about our feet would be the same as the troops in the trenches. The difference is they have to stand in it and we have to walk about in it. When we get back to our billets we sometimes get ourselves dried through, sometimes we don’t.

We have started to go out through the day now as it is much safer as the snipers get through our lines in the dark and lie behind our trenches and have a pop at everybody coming up the roads to the trenches. In the day time, they can’t do that as they would be seen. We can be seen where we are going and what we are doing at night. We generally fall into the big shell holes.

Of course, there is more shells come over in the daytime, but as the enemy can’t get there big guns up here owing to the soft ground we have not been getting many shells over here.

In fact, the enemy is very quiet just now.

We were out till 10pm on Xmas Eve but it is a rotten job in the dark. I wish it was all over.

I am writing this in a hurry before I go out. We had 8 of our Ambulance sent to the base yesterday. They could not move. This weather is knocking us all up, but I am just going to stick through though sometimes I feel rotten.

We have been in it from the start and I mean to see it through till the end unless I go under.

You never know your luck but hope for the best. Some days we give up hope, the next we forget all about it. The Terriers are sticking it well though they say they never thought it was like this.

I see by the papers the Germans have been having a go at England. Well, the people of England will have an idea what it is like here for they seem to have got what we have been getting day and night since we came out here. It knocks hell out of your nerves but I don’t think I have any left.

I have not heard any word of Jack Donald, but if he is still alive he is lucky for some of the regiments in our Brigade have not 10 men in them that came out in August with us, though I hope he is still in the land of the living. Of course, a lot are prisoners. I have not seen anything of Jack White either though we have picked up all kinds of regiments black and white on the field.

I hope you will be able to make this letter out as I am using my leg for a writing desk. I have to thank you, Jim, for what you have done for me and mine but hope to thank you personally when I come home. I won’t forget about it. Accept my best thanks at present.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year. Tom was telling me in his last letter you were not keeping well. I hope you are keeping better. I was sorry to hear about Martin Williams and John Kirkpatrick and also Morrow. I received Bob Wyse’s letter and I have written telling him how we have enjoyed ourselves. We had a night out. There were 12 in the billet I was in and we had a good night. Bob Wyse will tell you all about it. I hope Tom received my small parcel and letter. I have not heard from him. I am collecting some good souvenirs here and will send them off when I get the chance to get to a big town.

We have very little time for anything just now but dodging the shells and work. Well, I will now have to finish as I have to go out at 11 and it is about 3 minutes to. So, goodbye for the present. I hope a sniper does not get me.

Jim McFarlane

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