Finding out about life in the trenches

Stars of the Week: Imran  & Ellah

Today Year 6 have been finding about about what life was like in the World War 1 trenches.  They used a range of primary sources such as poems, letters, photographs and artefacts.

Write a short (200 word) diary entry about getting up one morning in the trenches.  What would you see as you awoke?  What would you hear and smell? How would you feel?

 

 

21 thoughts on “Finding out about life in the trenches

  • 19/09/2018 at 3:09 pm
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    Dear Diary
    I woke up to the sound of gunshots and shouting on the battlefield you have no idea how hard it is to get some sleep in the middle of a war which no one knows how long it’s going on for. My bed is the opposite of comfy the bed its self is the vile floor my pillow is skulls from people who have died from the hellish war. Most peoples backs are bent double and they aren’t even trying to bend they’re backs it was from when they were actually trying to bend they’re backs. Everyone is knock kneed and looking like a hag its not nice here though mainly everyone is bloodshed and has marks and scars all over they’re body you have to be really audacious to go to war everyone was excited to go to war including me because someone said that “it will be fun and even if we do die it’s an honour to die for your country plus IF we win which we will we will get lots of dough and luxury with the best food and best beds and best cloths so that’s why im joining who’s with me” I wish I never said me when he asked that question I should have just stayed quiet I should have known it was all lies then I heard a voice from the other corner of the trench he said it will all be over by Christmas but will it?

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  • 19/09/2018 at 3:11 pm
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    Dear Diary,
    Today I woke up to the usual sound I have been waking up to for quite a long time now. As I stretched my body as usual, I accidentally hit my head on my pillow. Well when I say pillow, I mean a rock. I don’t know how I didn’t get concussion. I might be a bit of a hypochondriac.
    Our trench was being invaded. I could see my team fighting through the hellish war. I wish I could receive a letter saying I could return home.
    “What are you doing and get out of bed! You’re here to fight!” my leader would say to me every morning. I would grab my gun and then start to fight.
    When I realised how close we were to the other trench, I nearly fainted at the sight. Any closer they would be a meter in front of us. I ducked and aimed my gun at a Nazi solider. I was so petrified. Some of my team were so foolhardy and audacious.
    The air was filled with smoke and bombs. Grenades were being thrown. The sound of choking and bombs just filled me with disgust.
    Bang! A Nazi soldier had thrown a gas bomb to kill us. We were immediately ushered to go past the beds into where the gas marks were stored. But one of our weakest soldiers had a limp in his step so he couldn’t run. I could see him choking on the floor, gasping for air. To no avail, he still wasn’t able to breath.
    Soon I see him lying on the floor, still as a statue and as dead as an average fly you would kill in your kitchen. If I wasn’t careful, that potentially could be me. Please Lord let me survive until the war ends.
    From Lewis.

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  • 19/09/2018 at 3:36 pm
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    Dear diary,
    “Gas! Gas! Quick boys!”
    I had a heart attack. I frantically grabbed my weighty helmet and stood there, scratching my weary eyes as the other soldiers took a glance of my bags underneath my eye as they wondered who would be the smartest to go ‘no man’s land’. Kidnap one of the Frits-also known as the Germans-and to come back alive.
    Unfortunately for us, the Germans knew exactly what they were doing which gives them an advantage to give us now choice but to surrender. The was filled thick with bombs, grenades and trench mortars.
    Suddenly we all knew they were close by. Probably 20 yards away I thought to myself. I felt someone is going to throw a bomb just like in my dreams. Shivers went up my spine and my hand shook awkwardly. Until…
    “Attack!” and just when you think you are living in a nightmare. You’re not. Unexpectedly someone fired a bomb.at the corner of my eye I saw Andrew. He was sleeping! He started to chock then he was suffering in deep pain.
    When will this hellish behaviour end?
    Glennis

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  • 19/09/2018 at 3:46 pm
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    Dear Diary,
    Today I woke up to another grenade, it was the loudest one I’ve heard since coming to the trench. Then I went to meet up with Ben to go to the general to get our orders for the day. This mission is going to be dangerous because we are only going to be 20 yards away from the Frits so it will be easy for us to get bombs on their side but it will also be easy for them… I hope I’m okay after this mission because I have to get home safe for my wife and kids.
    Bang! Pop! The sounds of gunshots on the battle field filled my head I didn’t know what to do I was scared and I couldn’t breathe it was almost like SOMONE THREW A GAS GRENADE I had to put my helmet on fast! Luckily I got it quick and i was safe thank god.

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  • 19/09/2018 at 4:16 pm
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    Dear Diary,

    I awoke to the blaring sound of sirens going off, bombs being dropped and grenades landing nearby. As I stood up, I had the most terrible pain in my neck.
    My bed was on the side of one of the trenches, atop all the mud, dust and water. My pillow was a rock and my duvet – well, I didn’t have one. As I reached for my helmet, there was a particularly loud crash that came from over on No-Man’s-Land. I reached up to fasten the buttons on the back of my coat when I felt something cold and gloopy. I withdrew my hand and it was absolutely covered in mud.
    A rat scurried past.
    I put my helmet on my head – it was very uncomfortable – and hurried off. Remembering to bend over so as not to be seen by the Germans; we were only twenty yards away, I grabbed my sniper.
    Some of the men had to patrol the trenches, but I had to stay on guard by the gap in the wall of sandbags.
    I was barely allowed to blink.
    We didn’t have lunch as the Germans were dropping grenades all around.
    By the end of the day, I was so famished that I stuffed down my dinner, even though I had no idea what it was and it tasted like glue.
    At around 8pm, there was a sudden gas attack, and everyone scrabbled around to get their masks. I turned my head as a young man next to me reached for his mask but didn’t get it. He dropped to the floor and started writhing, his eyes bulging. There were thirty of us in that trench at the beginning of the day, and by the end there were twenty-one.
    When it was finally time for bed, my fatigue was so great that my rock-pillow felt like the softest feather pillow.

    From
    Joe

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  • 19/09/2018 at 5:39 pm
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    Dear diary,
    Today has been a long day. When I woke up (I was awoken by the sound off gun shots, bombs and even grenades) I was greeted by dead bodies and a two metre trench about 6 miles long, ‘oh yeah I forgot I was at war with the Germans’. I really missed my family, my mother Maud, my father Jerry and my two little brothers. We had lunch which was wet bread and soup
    which was 95 % water with a little bit eughh I don’t want to remember it. After lunch I was trying to write a letter my family whilst closely observing a dead rat then people started going up to me and singing Feliz Navidad. My best friend Carlos bought me to feet and with a big smile on his face handed me a box. ‘Merry Christmas, I got you a gift’. I eagerly opened the box and to my surprise there was a whole RAISIN in it. ‘Thank you, it is the b est present I have got in years’. After all I have lived in this trench for three and a half years now.
    The rest of the day was us fighting the Germans. And also Carlos died after having to go to ‘no mans land’

    From Oliver

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  • 19/09/2018 at 6:48 pm
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    Dear Diary,
    The Fritz launched another gas attack, well, luckily me and Charlie where farthest away from the source of the gas – but our mate Bill wasn’t so lucky – he was in full range of it. It was terrible.
    I still can’t believe, back in England I mean, we were actually praising the thought of war, now though, I’m hating every moment of it. One day you have a group of ten men, then nine and there might be a pause of two or three days, but then the Fritz launch a random gas attack, so we lose two men.
    So, before you know it, it’s only you and three others out there, crawling across ‘No Man’s Land’, then dropping bombs in the Fritz’ trenches.
    I’m still sleeping in the hole-in-in-the-wall, it’s so uncomfortable, I mean would you like a rock as a pillow and a paper-like rag as your blanket? Underneath me is some rotten planks of wood – better than wet sloppy mud though.
    Yesterday I got a letter from mum. She asked how me and Charlie where doing. She said Tom’s 9th birthday was fine, but not the same without us. Little Betsy is OK though, mum has just been able to get her to understand how to put one leg in front of another.
    More and more young men are starting to leave for the army, I hope they only finish their training once the war has finished, there are some fine men in our village.
    From James.

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  • 19/09/2018 at 7:27 pm
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    Dear diary,
    Today was an awful day, it was when one of the biggest explosions happened. Then there was a gas attack. The gas could kill people in seconds. We heard someone shout “Gas! Gas!” And we desperately pulled our masks on and hoped none would get in. The air was a funny yellow colour.
    Out in ‘no man’s land’ there are no trees or birds but there is barbed wire and you could definitely get killed if you get caught on it. The ground is sludge and mud with giant puddles of dirty water. It is a horrible place here. Us soldiers wore big army helmets that are very heavy. We slept in trenches and we had a blanket with a rock for a pillow. We had to keep our rifles near us all the time.
    During the night our big guns were firing. Then the officer blew his whistle and we all got ready. It all went silent. Everyone got their rifles and got ready to get out of the trench. We are heading out into ‘no man’s land’. Will I survive? I will write later if I do…
    By John, aged sixteen and a half

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  • 20/09/2018 at 6:16 pm
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    Dear Mr. Hunter,

    We need your help because we the soldiers in the dark and damp trench it rains and rains and rain and you get the point we soldiers get foot trench. We need your help because our feet are starting to rip, it also getting so dry and we got a local barber to come cut my beard but then he stepped on no mans land then he got killed. We have to fight the Germans they are fighting fiercely. They throw gas everyone turns around runs and quickly wear there their gas mask. The gas masks looked old and dusty. They had bags of sand to take the rain away that up on the roof of there beds, we sleep on the soil because we mad our beds out of soils but we brought we blankets to, we used our blankets to cover the soil.

    I think that the fight is going to take a couple of years like 3 or 4 years because they wouldn’t budge so we had to wait for 3 years, we slept in the cold and it would rain everyday. So I had to go on my bed my bed is so ruff and ragged so we have to dig more trenches because there was not enough space.

    Yours truly, Miss Smith

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  • 20/09/2018 at 7:17 pm
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    Dear Diary,

    Today will not go down as my best day in history. Probably the worst, though.
    We lost Teddy today.
    You see, we were patrolling the trenches- looking for any Nazi Suicide Bombers- when all hell broke loose.
    A grenade landed at my feet. Luckily, I managed to kick it away. See, we were very close to the German Lines. Maybe, twenty feet away. Anyway, that’s not important.
    We all immediately looked over the side of the trenches, a bone digging into my ribs. Rookie mistake. I should’ve known one of us was going to get killed. A sniper was obviously on the look out where we were patrolling. He probably saw the bullet coming as it sped into his forehead.
    You may be asking “Why didn’t his helmet save him.” Well, we didn’t really trust the helmet. It was to bulky and uncomfortable that it got in our field of view; along with it not exactly always doing it’s job. Well, enough said about Teddy.
    My day just couldn’t any worse. Yeah right! I was put on weapon cleaning duty. With Toby Askerfeild! He’s so annoying. Where did he get his surname. Best names of the 20th century? He just talks all the time.
    Anyway, enough said about my day.
    From,
    Jasper.

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  • 21/09/2018 at 7:36 am
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    Dear Diary,
    woke to the sound of machine guns.
    I saw the fiery, orange blaze hit a pile of sand bags a few meters away from me. It caused me to get shocked, so I instantly shot straight up like an arrow, my face was covered in greasy, wet mud as I jumped up, that was a great start to the morning.

    The smell of the bombs wafted through the air, I began to feel light- headed. I reached for my helmet and a scent of the sweat reminded me of how much I used to work on the farm (oh how I dearly missed my cows)
    living here in the trenches is so hard and life threatening!

    When I heard that war was declared I was so nervous
    That I would let down the soldiers, but then after a day or two I thought it will be fun, so I joined.
    Unfortunately, when I worked out the reality I was devastated, Will I ever see my family and cows again?

    It was said that war would be over by Christmas, but right now we are in March. How ridiculous!
    Every single minute I would be scared -stiff because the Germans could let out gas bombs at any time, I do not want to save my country because I probably would not live! The Germans have potential, there weapons are unstoppable.

    Forever I will believe and will try my best to be the soldier I was meant to be
    From Harold

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  • 21/09/2018 at 11:20 am
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    Dear diary,

    It has been a tough day. I walked in the damp mud, with water going up to my ankle, I have a trench foot.

    The sleeping conditions are terrible my pillow is a hard rock. The barbers here are amazing and it’s completely free.

    The food is horrible we eat from tins and it’s so cold.the good thing is that in the morning at 06:00am we get a nice cup of English tea.

    I would love to come home it’s not the best here.I wish I was at home. How’s things at home.

    The gas bombs are extremely dangerous! I’m so lucky I haven’t got hit.
    From teddy

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  • 23/09/2018 at 8:42 am
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    Dear Diary,
    Today I woke to the sound of machine guns.
    I saw the fiery, orange blaze hit a pile of sand bags a few meters away from me. It caused me to get shocked, so I instantly shot straight up like an arrow, my face was covered in greasy, wet mud as I jumped up, that was a great start to the morning.

    The smell of the bombs wafted through the air, I began to feel light- headed. I reached for my helmet and a scent of the sweat reminded me of how much I used to work on the farm (oh how I dearly missed my cows)
    living here in the trenches is so hard and life threatening!

    When I heard that war was declared I was so nervous
    That I would let down the soldiers, but then after a day or two I thought it will be fun, so I joined.
    Unfortunately, when I worked out the reality I was devastated, Will I ever see my family and cows again?

    It was said that war would be over by Christmas, but right now we are in March. How ridiculous!
    Every single minute I would be scared -stiff because the Germans could let out gas bombs at any time, I do not want to save my country because I probably would not live! The Germans have potential, there weapons are unstoppable.

    Forever I will believe and will try my best to be the soldier I was meant to be
    From Harold

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  • 23/09/2018 at 3:25 pm
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    Dear Diary,
    Guess what my diary entry is about…you guessed it. War.
    We had to walk back and forth not to mention we also had to bend down for hours to make sure we don’t get shot.
    But clearly one of our soldiers did not get the message. He stood up and stretched saying that his back hurt so much and he needed this.
    The next thing you know he is lying on the floor, DEAD.
    We had to carry him back to camp and we buried him in the trenches. It still stinks
    We had to go back on duty afterwards, Captains orders. We did that for an hour or two and then we got a break. Some of my friends got trenches foot. I am so lucky I didn’t they say it hurts a lot; hopefully, they don’t die from it because we are losing a lot of soldiers because of this.
    I laid on my bed and wrote a letter to my wife so she knew I was safe I miss my wife and children so much, I don’t know how long this war is going to on for but I hope it ends soon.
    Then guess what.
    A gas bomb exploded. I put my letter down and put on my gas mask and soldiers on duty were running back trying to get on their gas masks. I stared in horror as men started to collapse.
    I felt so bad but there was nothing I can do they are already dead.
    An hour later, I took off my gas mask as the air was now clear. Dead men were all around my bed and I didn’t want to step on them so I stepped around them.
    I had to bury my best friend and others I didn’t even know.
    Today has been the worst day ever.
    Noel,

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  • 24/09/2018 at 7:49 am
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    Dear diary,
    Life in the trenches has been awful.There has been a severe amount of gas attacks and my best friend ,Mark has been injured and we are all fearing his life. Right now he is laying next to me, screaming in agony, in these muddy conditions. You really wouldn’t want to be here. These conditions are as awful as the sewers. It’s freezing and we have to eat out of these buckets which has the worst scent in the world. Also, we have to wear these helmets which give you a painful headache. It’s impossible to run in these pieces of junk. Especially in no mans land were the bravest go and the smartest leave. That was were Mark got the gas attack but then Jake carried him back heroically in his arms.
    That’s all I’ve got . How are things back at home? I hope they’re great and I hope you’re having a wonderful time.
    From Thomas

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  • 24/09/2018 at 6:04 pm
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    Dear Diary,
    Today I woke up to another grenade, it was the loudest one I’ve heard since coming to the trench. Then I went to meet up with Ben to go to the general to get our orders for the day. This mission is going to be dangerous because we are only going to be 20 yards away from the Frits so it will be easy for us to get bombs on their side but it will also be easy for them… I hope I’m okay after this mission because I have to get home safe for my wife and kids.
    Bang! Pop! The sounds of gunshots on the battle field filled my head I didn’t know what to do I was scared and I couldn’t breathe it was almost like SOMONE THREW A GAS GRENADE I had to put my helmet on fast! Luckily, I got it quick and i was safe … Thank god.
    As we were under the building hiding we were thinking of ways to shoot the Germans without peaking. I figured how I could do it so I told the other soldiers how and the way was to get a long sniper so when you are aiming you can still be hidden from getting shot it was the perfect plan to win, boy I can’t wait for this war to end. I really mis my wife and kids and I know I will soon go back to them… I’m hoping.
    From Malikyle.

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  • 24/09/2018 at 7:47 pm
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    Dear diary,
    I woke up to another bomb, clearly the Germans had tried to blow us up, again! As if nothing had happened I grabbed my helmet and trudged to the main trench to hear my morning orders from the General. Just like yesterday I was instructed to deliver ammo to all the French and English snipers.
    I was just finishing in the French trench when I saw Luis, a friend of mine from the French allies. I finished of my deliveries and caught up with him and asked if he wanted to come to lunch with me in the English trench. So we walked to the main trench to collect our rations of “lunch”, if you can even call it that! Then Luis and I went to the General to receive our afternoon orders. My orders were to extend the trench westwards, Luis on the other hand got one of the most dangerous orders on the force: sneak across No-Mans-Land and plant a bomb in the German trench.so far no men had returned from No-Mans-Land alive…
    As me and Luis said our farewells to each other, and then he left. With a team of seven behind him he led them out into the unknown. He and his team still have not returned. And I am constantly lying in wait of his return…

    Henry

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  • 24/09/2018 at 7:49 pm
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    Dear diary,
    ‘Hurry up, Bill, get up!’ cried John, ‘there’s a gas attack’ when he said those words I quickly got my gas mask and as fast as lightening I put it on. One second later the bomb dropped. Nooooooooooo! I screamed as I watched my best friend die by the most horrible thing to die with… mustard gas.

    Soon after that I heard gun shots firing above my head BANG one of them hit my helmet. Now there was a big dent in the front of my helmet. Because after that I don’t want to be killed like my friend. The problem with crouching down with a big heavy helmet on is that you could get stuck like that and then you would be stuck like that looking at blood and mud mixed together for your whole life!

    The worst was sleeping. You had to sleep on dirt with a hard stone as a pillow and the only things that stopped 100 kilos from falling on you where sand bags and a slim peace of metal. If you kicked one down whilst you were asleep that would be the end of you!

    the second worst thing was ‘no mans land’ it was the piece of land that was in between the German trenches and ours. Sometimes people would go out there and try to steel some of the Germans. Most times they didn’t come back but really rarely they came back alive.
    From Bill.

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  • 25/09/2018 at 3:51 pm
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    Dear diary,
    It has been a tough day. I walked in the damp mud, with water going up to my ankle. The weather has been very rainy, and the clouds are blocking all the sun light, there’s been only a glimpse of sun light, I have a trench foot.
    The sleeping conditions are terrible, my pillow is a hard rock. The barbers here are amazing and it’s completely free. The cost of stuff ant to bad because the conditions aren’t to good.
    The food is horrible we eat from tins and it’s so cold. The food is cold beans or cold soup. The good thing is that in the morning at 06:00am we get a nice hot cup of English tea.
    I would love to come home it’s not the best here. I wish I was at home. How’s things at home?

    The people here are so friendly they helped me with the word search I could never do! They even ironed my clothes. If they weren’t here I would be lost. They are my best friends.

    The good things though are that there are sand sacs so when it rains it sucks up some of the water and when the Germans shot it absorbs the bullet and it protected us a lot.

    From Teddy

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  • 25/09/2018 at 4:11 pm
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    Dear diary,
    It has been a tough day. I walked in the damp mud, with water going up to my ankle. The weather has been very rainy, and the clouds are blocking all the sunlight. There’s been only a glimpse of sunlight, I have trench foot.
    The sleeping conditions are terrible, my pillow is a hard rock. The barbers here are amazing and it’s completely free. The cost of stuff isn’t too bad because the conditions aren’t too good.
    The food is horrible, we eat from tins and it’s so cold. The food is cold beans or cold soup. The good thing is that in the morning at 06:00am we get a nice hot cup of English tea.
    The people here are so friendly, they helped me with the word search I could never do! They even ironed my clothes. If they weren’t here I would be lost. They are my best friends.
    The good things though, are that there are sand sacks so when it rains they suck up some of the water, and when the Germans shoot they absorb the bullets and protect us a lot.
    I would love to go home. I wonder how things are at home.
    From Teddy

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  • 25/09/2018 at 8:00 pm
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    Dear diary, I woke up to the sound of gunshots raging in the background and bombs dropping. I have been in this trench for five months now and i am tired of eating canned beans all day. Life in the trench is terrible. I’ve got trench foot and my feet are blistered all over. You really wouldn’t want to be here. We have to walk back and fourth non- stop all day long.Not to mention the sun blazing down on us, it’s so hot that i am dripping with sweat and mud. I hope everything back at home doing alright, i really do miss my two sons.

    Worst of all is sleeping. I can hardly ever get sleep. We all have to sleep in muddy water and all ways there are dead body dropping onto me and laying all around me. I have a plan to win but it will take me running into ‘no mans land’ and maybe getting killed but i would be happy that i thought for the honer of my brave country. Hardly anyone who goes into ‘ no mans land’ comes back alive but I hope I do. I hope that you and our two little boys are staying safe and out of trouble.
    from Bilbo Jenkins

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