Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Cheerful Barton Soldier

Battlefield at Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée 

Sunday 22nd August 1915

A remarkably cheerful letter has been received from a Barton soldier [1] serving at the Front. Our correspondent is clearly approaching the war in a mood of calm optimism, and paints a remarkably bucolic picture of life near the front line:

“As usual I am O.K. and enjoying life immensely, though of course one would like to have a run home more often, and would like to feel that others were not worrying. Worry? Well of course one cannot say there is no danger, but though I have been through fairly heavy shell fire while visiting the Salient some time ago, still I have never felt like being pipped, to use common parlance, and others who have done likewise have all returned safely.

Last evening we returned from a reserve bivouac, where for nearly a week we have been in “dug outs”, and now are back at our rest camp, with orders to be ready to move at any moment – hence we have not had clothes or boots off for a week, and cannot say when we may be able to enjoy that luxury … The sang froid of the few remaining inhabitants is extraordinary – women and children were going about their farm work as usual at the surrounding farms, one of which, close by, I had occasion to visit for butter, and found women and children churning, tending cattle, and acting just as if shells might never have been within a hundred miles. Would that Zeppelin scaremongers at home might be able to look at things in the same calm manner.”

Source: Monthly Magazine for the parishes of Barton-le-Cley, Clophill, Flitton and Greenfield, Gravenhurst, Silsoe, Westoning, September 1915 [P21/30/17]

 [1] No name or means of identification is given. 

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