4106 20th Battalion 2nd Division

C/o- APO Section AIFBEF France

Dear Mother,

It is nearly 10 days since I last wrote on July 12th and I hope you have not missed your weekly letter but on account of the great scarcity of news I find it a bit difficult to write anything at all now anything that is of news value is not allowed to pass the censors.  I have just finished doing my bit of 24 hours quarter guard and I think I will remember it for two reasons.  First because it was very wet at night and I got wet feet and sadly because it was the first time I was issued with ball ammunition which however I had no occasion to use.  When we do a 24 hour guard we get the rest of the morning off and consequently I have a few hours to spare which I am using to write a few letters to my friends and relatives.  I am getting nearer and nearer to the front now and have already been warned to stand-by twice but I was not included in either draft for some reason or other.  I was not disappointed though as it would have meant parting with Bert Allen and Harold (who is my pal again) you know and I don’t want to go into the firing line with strangers if I can help it when I can be with friends whom I have known for years.   I expect I will get a bushel or two when we go to the battalion as I have had no letters except from England for about a month.  I suppose that can’t be helped I think you mentioned in one or two of your letters that you did not get a ticket from me from that Portmanteau of mine.  Well I’m sorry I forgot to … because I gave the thing away to some fellow the week before I left Sydney.  I couldn’t get down to the railway station to leave it there.  Im sorry I caused you any unnecessary trouble over the thing.  I thought last week Harold and Bert and I got leave and went into an adjoining village.  We had quite a good time although it was only for a few hours, sampled some Spanish wine and French beer and had some steak and eggs at a café and then had a peek at a local cathedral.  This church was very old and was built in the hear 1100AD and is patched up all over the place with stones set in the walls dated as far back as 1700AD and inside them is a picture of Christ walking on the sea which is about 12ft square.  The inside of the church is dark and gloomy and smells musty.  Some day I will tell you the name of the place and drop you a picture of it.  I suppose you know that I am about to have an natal day and will be 24.  I expect to celebrate in the firing line and suppose I will get plenty of presents from kind & generous friends that I have come across.  A lot of wounded men from the big offensive are kicking about these parts and also some German wounded who seem to get treated pretty well considering who they are.  Some of the Tommies are very young and boyish but they can talk from experience of more war and bayonet charges and gas attacks like most old men and can tell one about how their company got out of such a place etc. as some of them were only 16 or 17.  Well I will have to close this family epistle now as there is nothing much to say except the weather is much better and warmer than when we first arrived.

I am enclosing a little affair worth about 2 florens.  They are made by hand by peasant girls so they say.  You can give it to whoever you would like.

With love from Walter

22 July 1916 France.