Saturday, January 31, 2015

Grantham 29th April 1917

My Dear Father,
Here I am settled down at the Machine Gun Base after five days kit leave which I spent getting fitted out in London. While there I drew on Bob through his London agents for £20 this together with £5 I drew when on leave in November last makes £25 in all and I will be glad if you will ascertain from him what expenses were incurred in the transaction and square the matter up. I will mention this in my next letter in case this one goes astray.
For the last two months that I was in Flanders we were up in Belgium territory in the vicinity of Ploegsteert and Neuve Eglise. While at the last place were making big preparations for a push* and it is more than probable that the N.Z. Division will go over the top there before long. From Neuve Eglise we came on a three days march to a little place called Quelmes near St. Omer, where we were to do ten days training to make us fit for the trip over the top. The morning after our arrival at Quelmes three of us were ordered to report at St. Omer prior to entraining for Bouglow and Blighty.
Since coming from the Somme I have been shifted round a good many sectors Amentiers, Lorentic, Fleurbaix, Bois Grenier, Ploegsteert (Plugstreet), Neuve Eglise, and at all of them we had a fairly good time as things go in the line.
Things are going well in France at present and it is to be hoped that this year will see the end of the war. I for one am full up of the whole business.
Well Goodbye for the present. Best Regards to all.
Your affectionate son, Rawei

*I think he is referring to the Battle of Messines here.

There is a photo of Neuve Eglise here.

Really interesting website about the WWI archaeology of "Plugstreet" here.

The book "With the Machine Gunners in France and Palestine" is available in digitized form here. It describes the movements of the machine gunners and their roles in the various battles, and is quite useful for matching the contents of these letters with the course of the war.]

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