Dear FatherI have moved again since I last wrote. My platoon has been restationed to Belgium. I received your last letter on the 31st of July and I am writing this on the 3rd of August 1917. I read your letter while being transported towards Passchendaele, near Ypres in Belgium. I am now writing this letter in a makeshift foxhole with a poncho covering me so the rain does not spoil the paper. Writing paper is hard to come by these days, and in the mud and never ending rain the paper is often wrecked. When we arrived to reinforce the Allied troops already stationed here they were under heavy artillery fire and had not yet finished their trenches. Artillery is the most terrible thing. You hear a distant crack of a cannon firing and then a few moments later the shell hits. There is almost no warning and there is no way to tell where the shell will hit. As soon as you hear the sound of the cannon firing everybody scrambles to get back into the trench, or into some sort of cover, out of the way of the white hot pieces of metal flying in all directions.
Yesterday I was walking back to the supply depot, which involved walking over a line of duckboards covering the mud. After the endless artillery and rain the entire battlefield is one entire quagmire of mud and walking through it is especially dangerous as the craters from artillery are filled with mud and cannot be distinguished from the ordinary land. Anyway, I was walking back from the supply depot with over 40 kilograms of supplies when my friend Jack slipped over the duckboard and into the mud. Except he just kept on sinking and then I realised he had fallen into a crater. I scrambled to try and rescue him but by the time I reached him he had drowned. He was unable to come back up for air with the weight of the supplies and his ordinary pack.
Recently the British headquarters have come up with a new invention, the tank. The tanks they are using are called the Mark IV tank and look like huge metal beasts. They have machine guns connected to them and are covered in metal to make them invulnerable to the enemy fire, however they are hopeless in the mud of Passchendaele. I recently saw a tank attempting to cross a trench and it failed miserably. It got bogged down in the slippery mud on the slope of the trench and the crew had to get out and attempt to push it up. Eventually they asked for our help and we hauled it out. The tank would be a fearsome foe to face for the Germans, like a metal dragon breathing fire however they are very slow and cumbersome.
Hopefully soon I will be coming off the frontline and going into a local town for some rest. I will write again when I am taken off the line. Please keep writing as receiving your letters and reading them while I am in the trenches keeps me going.