Real life in the trenches of World War I


Lieutenant Hugh Butterworth, 9th Battalion, Rifle Brigade writes home on 10 June 1915.

‘Men look fearsome ruffians in the trenches. The water is bad for shaving, as if you cut yourself you may get a bit poisoned, so they mostly grow beards. 

‘Personally I take a tot out of my water bottle, but I haven’t washed yet today (2.30pm). We’re in for four days and can’t have our boots, putties or equipment off all that time. We’ve had rain, so I’m slopping about in gum-boots fairly covered in mud owing to crawling operations this morning.

‘Shall get a wash before dinner tonight. However, officers don’t get much sleep – about 4 in the 24. Also rifles and ammunition get filthy dirty and have to be continually inspected.

‘I am going out with the captain soon to some spot where we can see the German lines very well. Of course, I have looked at them through periscopes and when flares are shot up at night. Shall probably work off a big mail before I go out, as there’s plenty to talk about, and one can dart into one’s dugout when things are quiet.

‘Best wishes to all. The only thing I object to is censoring my platoon’s letters.

‘My servant has just got one in the head – not badly – which is highly annoying for me.’


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