January 9th, 1917

Dear Mum,

Just a few lines to show you I am not dead yet. I have 10 days leave to England & have still 7 to go. I am going to stop in London for the rest of it. It is A.1. here especially after what we've had this last 3 months. We've been on the Somme for nearly 3 months & you couldn't imagine a worse place to be in. There is mud & slush 3 feet deep everywhere & all the shell holes are full of water & the ground is all shell holes. I  would much sooner have the shells than the cold & muck. when you go into the trenches you walk right out in the open & over the top into our own trenches which are about 100 yds. from the Germans. Of course this has to be done in the middle of the night or you would soon be settled. They daren't dig communication trenches as they would only be blown to blazes. The trenches are just shell holes connected up & there is about 3 feet of mud & water in them & the least little bit of rain they keep falling in, & it's always raining. We've had several falls of snow & there is always a frost & such beauties of frosts too. The worst thing we have is trench feet (frozen feet) our chaps go away to the hospital by the hundreds every day. A person is liable to lose his feet through it. I am not anxious to get it. Our lot are out for a spell for a month, now they call it a rest but you get the inside drilled out of you & long marches with the pack up. A lot of the people of the North of France are half Belgians which puts them in about the same class as our Aboriginals. I can't stand the sight of the Belgians the crying creeping spying animals, they can't be trusted as far as you can kick your hat & then you see such a lot of pitiful tales in the papers about the heroic Belgians. I wouldn't care if the Germans were to keep the Belgians as they aren't worth wasting time over. The French are much better but the people in England are miles ahead of them. It's grand over here for a holiday. I haven't heard anything from Pat & I don't think there is any hope for him. I have been to several of the sights of London including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, House of Lords, St Pauls etc. They are fine pieces of work & well worth seeing. I will write another letter before I leave England. Hoping everybody is well.

I remain your aff son,