Letter from Arthur Powell

Scope and Content

Trench warfare is grinding on in this letter to Arthur's parents. It is evident that the reality of this war has finally hit home with Arthur, 'so we just grin a sickly smile and, "Stand To"'. The 'rotten' weather and fighting conditions further pervade the atmosphere of this letter; Arthur describes the conditions as 'miserable'. His unit has spent some time bivouacking outdoors as there has been no place to shelter, army rations have struggled to get through with little fresh water, neither has Arthur been able to write home, and for this he apologises. Happily the unit has now been moved further north, as has his friend Len. Arthur draws a comparison with home, back in his beloved 'Blighty', and to the relative comfort and safety he now finds himself stationed. Arthur has access to food and water, he feels he could never complain again, 'I have that satisfied feeling', something which he had not appreciated before leaving England. Arthur feels he has 'done my bit in reality'. He mentions that he has completed his two years 'good conduct service' 20 months in 'Blighty' and 'four in this rotten old country'. Arthur believes the war will be settled by the 'economic' question and not by fighting; he likens it to a game of draughts, 'just like two good men playing draughts'. Arthur mentions the arrival of the Anzac soldiers, he is in admiration of their physical stature and fighting skills, 'My word there are some fine fellows among them' but they are not strictly disciplined. The Anzacs have voted against conscription and are described by Arthur as 'fed up'. Arthur concludes his letter by reminding his parents to send the food parcels he has asked for and to obtain the saccharine from the chemists at 'Thorps for about 1/6'. He has been unable to write any letters to other family and friends for about 5 to 6 weeks because of the fighting, and promises to write to his 'Grandma' at the first opportunity.

Dated at: France.