31st January: Beuvry
Just a few lines to let you know how I am getting along. I hope you received my last letter from Gorre as I sent it home with one of the wounded same as I will this one. But the other letter I sent you came through the Officer so I could not say anything about where we were or what we were doing as I can do in letters sent home with the wounded.
We left Gorre and went back to Bethune (about 3 miles) for a rest but we only had four days.
I was slightly wounded the last day at Gorre but I’m alright again. We came up to this place on the 15th it is only about 3 miles from Bethune and about 2 miles from the last place we were in Gorre- but nearer La Bassée. It is only 3 miles from La Bassée and on the La Bassée Road.
Things were just normal for a few days, not a shell coming near our Hospital but we had an Advance dressing Station about 500 yards behind the trenches in a place called Quiney.
We have new Motor Ambulances attached to our Ambulance and they are very handy; we can get the sick and wounded away in no time. The drivers felt a bit shaky the first time they went up to the trenches but they do not think anything about it now.
I have got a job on one of the cars and have to look after the wounded while they are in the cars. The cars which are attached to a Field Ambulance are the only ones that have to go near the trenches.
As I was saying things were just normal for a few days but on the 25th -two days before Willie’s birthday-the enemy made an attempt to breakthrough. They managed to drive the Coldstreams back for about 500 yards, by force of numbers, but the Black Watch who were lying in reserve beside our Hospital, went off at the double and as soon as they reached the trenches drove the Germans back though they lost very heavily doing so. The Guards also lost a few men but the Germans lost a terrible number.
They also dropped a few shells around our Hospital but did not hit it though the shells killed a few of the troops that had come up from Bethune. That same day all our reserves were in the reserve trenches, for it was a heavy attack, but we beat them back with heavy losses.
Our Motors were ordered out and we had a hard day and night’s work and a very risky one at that for the attack lasted all day and well into the night. The shells and bullets were sweeping the roads and we had to rush the cars through at high speed. Only one car was knocked out of action, a shell blowing a hole in the petrol tank. We had to take another car up and tow the disabled one back.
We brought in 492 British wounded (mostly Black Watch) and a few Germans. One of the London Scottish was telling me, one time I was up at the Communication trench with our Motor, that he had never seen Ambulances so near the Firing Line. I told him he was “blethering”, but they are very nice chaps and helped us all they could as we had a few of their wounded.
We have regained all the trenches we lost and things were quiet on Willie’s birthday. We are being relieved by the 2nd Division, all the 1st Division are going back for a rest and hope to get a few days leave home, though I am not building up any hopes. I would like home for a few days.
Excuse this short and badly written letter as we are leaving here in a few hours and I want to send it home with one of the wounded before we go back for a rest. Hope to be home in a week or two and tell you some more. We are going back to a place called Lillers about 12 miles from here.
I may say that La Bassée is still in German hands and the position up here is a very hard one for our troops to hold.
Will write you a long letter as soon as I can.
From your old pal
Tell all the Boys I was asking for them.