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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Transcript of a Letter from Second Lieutenant Gamble, 20 November 1915

Please remember that all transcripts show what is written on the page; spelling and grammatical mistakes are not corrected.

(D/DLI 7/238/1)

...know exactly what time he feeds. He's too methodical in
of things.


November 20th, 1915.

Did I give you the latest parody on "Little Grey
Home in the West". I don't think so. However, here it is -
it's not original, but it has hit the tone absolutely, and is 
popular here - 
"There's a shallow wet trench near Houplines
'Tis the wettest there ever has been,
There are bullets that fly,
There are shells in the sky,
And it smells like a German "has been".

My dug-out's a haven of rest
Though it's only a tumble-down nest,
But with "Johnson's" around
I must keep underground
Till the golden sun sinks in the West".

It's a fairly mild attempt at our last spell in the 

The water in the front line was everywhere a foot

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or more deep; it was intensely cold; the hail came across with 
such force, that it seemed to be mixed with bullets, and I'm sure 
many men must have thought they were shot by hail-stones. The 
harder we pumped, the deeper the water seemed to become. If we 
had left it undisturbed, we should have been frozen in, and 
Bosche was rather active with his artillery. 
We discussed various ways of using or abusing the 
liquid devil. One bright idea was to cut a trench through from 
our line to theirs, make it fairly deep, run in the water, and 
torpedo them!!!
Another, to make a number of fires in buckets, and 
hang them up in our dug-outs, which of course were half-full of 
water. After a time surely the water would boil and we could 
get hot baths!!
Boat and swimming races were dismissed as frivolous, 
but the idea of skating about the support trenches was seriously 
There were great rejoicings when we were relieved 
yesterday morning at dawn, although we had quite an exciting 
time getting out. 
You see we usually empty about half-a-dozen 
communication trenches along the line, but on this occasion, 
only one was really safe from drowning casualties. It was an 
extremely tedious business getting a Battalion out by one route, 
and we could not get started until after the appointed time, 
owing to the relieving people meeting with similar difficulties.