Letter Home from Billets

Tuesday, 26 January, 1915 - Wednesday, 26 January, 1916

The universal expectation that the war would end sooner rather than later was reflected in a letter written to his wife on 26 January 1915, by the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles. His battalion was out of the line in billets.

It has turned very cold here now, and we cannot get a fire in this place. You see, the inhabitants are coming back, and we do not like to steal their wood, for it would cause unpleasantness, whilst we have great difficulty in getting any coal, so we are between the devil and the deep sea! ... I wonder if it is about to settle in for cold weather in these parts. If so, we shall have attacks across the frozen ground. Whilst it was wet the Germans could not very well get at us without giving plenty of notice, but now they will be able to work their way quietly across the hard earth. However, it cuts in another way, for they are not too well clothed and they will feel this severe weather terribly. It is horrible always to have to hope that many Germans will be killed. On the whole, it is more charitable to pray, I think, that the heart of the German nation may be turned to the right course. I fancy that the people are a sober, steady race, but they have been led astray by their warlike leaders. ... I have just received a telephone message that the Germans did attack, and were repulsed, losing heavily. They left 3 officers and 300 men dead on one road alone from our fire. Hope our losses are light.