George Lines Letter – Rats and Shells

Here is another letter, written by my Grandfather, George Lines, from the trenches during World War One.

Dear Mummie/
How like you to write me that jolly letter from Bath station after seeing Mouse off. Not a moment wasted ! Wish I could say the same of my miserable existence.
It arrived too on my birthday and helped to soften the sting of advancing years ! I celebrated the occasion in the old dugout, where we have been doing another spell, but are shortly going back for a good rest, or rather change.
My batman Jenning is apparently an artist on the melodeon having dug one up from somewhere & is now making our cave resound with all the latest. It sounds quite cheery after the trench chillness, disturbed only by the gnawing and squealing of rats, some of which must be huge, judging from the crunching of their teeth on the wooden frames.
Wouldn't old Taff be in his element ? I'm re-reading the "Blue Bird" which dear old Mouse sent me from Bournemouth and think the portrayal of Tylo the dog is delightful. If Taff could only speak, I'm sure he'd like that.
...
I gave one of Mouse's pairs of mittens away to a Tommy the other day & like a silly ass chose to do so at a corner (known as Dead Male Corner) which has an evil reputation for being shelled. I thought the recipient might as well write & thank Mouse for them so took out my note-book to write down the address and had scarcely started when bang, bang, bang, bang - 4 shells (what we call whizz-bangs because of their high velocity) burst about 30 yards behind. You may guess we hared off pretty quickly. That's what I call luck, but of course it happens so often that I've no longer any doubt that I owe it all to your lucky heather and my other treasures and your kind thoughts. Anyhow I hope the chap writes to Mouse to thank her. I haven't given Graces?? pair yet, but will give her address as well.
...
I'll now stamp about to restore the circulation in my feet.
	Heaps of love & heaps and heaps to Mouse when you write
		Chief.

This was probably written shortly in late January, or early February 1918,  as my Grandfathers birthday was January 28th, and as he has a batman he was presumably an acting Captain, which I don’t think he was in 1917. I have not been able to find all his promotion dates for his official war record.
I am not sure who Grace was, except that she too was knitting mittens for soldiers at the front.
 
 

One thought on “George Lines Letter – Rats and Shells”

  1. Another great insight. Also much enjoyed the stuff on Little Cucknells and your mother’s reminiscences of 1939 – she could really write! [Jennifer also kept a diary covering that period, I think.]

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