Friday, 8 March 2013

'Our worst enemies at present are lice'

Trench life: not much to smile about
Vermin were part of everyday life on the Western Front, and so too were unspeakable tiredness and death. However, the following letter extracts show that although by 1916 these things were still worthy of comment, they were hardly a cause for concern. The letters were written by Manchester 'Pal' Private Stanley Goodhead, whose correspondence will feature in several chapters of my book.

'It is good to be alive, in fact I am very much alive, so much so that I dare not take my clothes off when in billets for fear of them walking away. I am sorry our worst enemies at present are lice which thrive on nearly every one of us.

'It is not our fault but the conditions under which we live make it impossible to be clean, for a bath is a luxury which we hope to have when we get back to England.

'We have just been relieved out of the trenches after being in occupation for 12 days and it will take more than livestock to keep me awake tonight for I am nearly dead for want of undisturbed rest.

'There is very little news to tell you this time except that the Allimans have been busy again and made a hole in our numbers which I expect will be replaced by more draft men in a day or so.'


'One of our lads after receiving his bread call last night humg it up on a beam so as to dodge the rats but they came in droves and made a raid on it and all that is left is the outside so we are sharing ours with him. When I was in bed last night quite a number walked over my head and body.'

No comments:

Post a Comment