Tuesday, 7 January 2014

'We are having real winter weather now'

French troops man a listening post on the Western Front, winter 1917 

Continued from previous post...
Christmas celebrations were soon forgotten when the weather turned bad on the Western Front in January 1917. It wasn't long before growling guns, frozen slush, and freezing 5.30am starts became the main talking points in this Canadian officer's letters home:

'We are having real winter weather now, colder than anything we experienced last year. There has been quite a depth of snow lying for the past ten days and the ground is frozen hard. The temperature could not have been much above zero this morning which is very cold for this country. Fortunately we are not in the trenches but in billets in a village behind the lines. It is none too comfortable in billets but I hate to think of what it must be like in the trenches.

'The day the snow started we marched ten miles in a thick storm. A very hard wind was blowing and the storm at times looked almost like a blizzard. The roads are now covered with ice and frozen slush. This mess makes very bad going for hosrses.

'I have sick parade now at 6.30am and this means getting up at 5.30am. My washing is frozen in the room every morning. I used to think that Canada was a cold coutnry. Our men are sleeping in barns without fires. The most of them are keeping in very good health in spite of the severity of the weather.

'The guns are growling away every night and day but we are just now pretty well out of the area of shelling. The shells should detonate well on the frozen ground.'