Letter from George Lines – back in Armentières

This was written from my Grandfather to my Grandmother, some time during the First World War. The letters are undated, but I hope to be able to work out a sequence, and some approximate dates. Note that this is a transcription, and some bits are a guess, and some bits of interest only to the family are omitted.

   Here we are again in Armentières, billeted in a more or less empty house (there is a caretaker) and I have a bedroom to myself ! It is quite a luxury after the loft - but the mice are still with me. However neither the mice nor artillery disturb my slumbers nowadays. This is a fairly large town and has about 30,000 inhabs in peace time, but only about 6000 have remained behind, as it has been heavily shelled in the past, and there is scarcely a building without some damage to it. The Boches send an occasional "hate" into the town, but chiefly shell Houplines the eastern suburb.
	At present I am working with my section on some breastworks about 800 yards behind our front line and work from 8am to 5pm. Of course some of the work will have to be done at night because it is rather more exposed, but I have not been out yet. I have some canvas screens to put out at night when I've been told where to put them. I expect it will be rather exciting. I believe if they hear anyone working & they usually can - especially the knocking in of pickets, - they may shoot a magnesium light into the air, and then of course one lies doggo until all is dark again.
       This part of the front is pretty quiet. There is always some sniping going on, also from time to time the rattle of machine guns, and the gunners on both sides keep up a certain about of hate just to show there's no ill feeling I suppose. We are working in front of some guns & the noise fairly makes one jump when not prepared for it. Of course the Boche know where we are working , but shell it, no doubt out of consideration, when we are not there. This morning I found a lovely shell hole in a ????, and several lovely little souvenirs and shrapnel shot had peppered the trench. It is usually so misty and damp this time of year that it is impossible to see the enemy lines for the (earlier ??) part of the day but as soon as it clears the 'planes come out & we very often see a fight in the air, but so far as I can see it all looks pretty safe up there and usually ends in a draw.
      It is awfully pretty to see the little white puffs of the shrapnel bursting near the aeroplane especially against a blue sky.
	You would be surprised to see the civilians still living & working quite near the line and little children & women seem to take no more notice of the noise of guns or shells than they would of a fly.
	I do hope all this tarramadiddle hasn't over bored you, but there's absolutely nothing else to write about. I'm now going to my valise bed and will try & dream of the good old times.

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