Jan 1, 1916

Dear Miss Griffis;-

What do you think of this stationary! Isn’t it pretty fine to come from the firing line? I feel quite civilized writing on this paper instead of using a leaf out of my field message book. Please accept my warmest thanks for the very kind manner in which you remembered me at Christmas. Your parcel came to hand during our last tour in the trenches two days before New Years and was opened up amid all the scenes and sounds of war. It would take up too much space for me to make special mention of all the many nice and useful articles in the box but I must congratulate you in your selection for one at the front. You will be pleased to know that the tin of sabadilla powder is not required – yet –. The metal mirror is a fine idea; I have serious thoughts of carrying it in my breast pocket as it might save me a trip to hospital.

You will I am sure excuse my delay in acknowledging the receipt of your Christmas gifts. I had intended writing you while we were in the trenches but things were rather lively during our last tour in and I was kept fairly busy. We are now out in divisional reserve having a little rest but will be going back to the trenches in a day or so. To night we are having a regimental dinner for the officers. We are having it in a convent located close to our billets. This will be the first time for all our officers to dine together since we came from England. This convent, or hospice as they call it here, is about the only clean place I have seen in Flanders. We get baths there when we are out of the trenches.

The last day of the old year was a pretty lively one in the trenches. Our guns, both heavy and field, began straafeing Fritz in the morning and kept it up until dark. Fritz got quite nasty about it and came back strong with everything he had, Jack Johnsons, field artillery, torpedoes, bombs, and all the rest of it. The concussion from one of the heavy shells put out the candles in my dugout. Strangely enough we did not sustain a single casualty. The German shooting was very wild, I think they were annoyed. I have reason to believe that our artillery did better work.

A few officers came into my dugout New Years Eve and we sat up to watch the old year out and the new in. It was the strangest watch night service in which I had ever taken part. At midnight a blast of artillery fire from all our batteries announced the birth of 1916. Let us hope that we may have a great victory before the new year has aged much.

The only casualty I had to attend New Years day was a small bird that had been knocked out of a tree by the concussion of a shell explosion.

Try to write more frequently if you can find the time; I am always so pleased to hear from you.

Sincerely yours

Harold W McGill


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