Letter from the Trenches

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
*Not a short story*
A letter we had to write in class from a soldier's perspective of how the trenches were during the First World War.

Submitted: November 22, 2016

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Submitted: November 22, 2016

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November 30th, 1917

Mrs. Monika Koch
28th Ladenburger Street
Heidelberg, Germany

 

My dear Mother,

Thank you for your letter about how my daughter Emma is doing, it brought warmth to my heart as well as many memories. I am feeling as well as I can be in these conditions although I must admit that living in these trenches is a difficult thing to get used to. I have joined the battlefield eight days ago, barely giving me time to do anything other than mobilizing, which is why I could not send you any letter and I apologize, it must have made you worried. I am currently in Cambrai and the weather is unsurprisingly worsening. A few days ago, my superiors have put me in the front line of the trenches and the changes are drastic. I have been given my own rifle and it makes me realize that the danger is much more real compared to what we were told. This is the very first battle where the enemy is using tanks as one of their primary weapons and their sheer size is intimidating.

Since the start of my arrival in the front line, I have been ankle deep in mud and the smell of unwashed or dead bodies, waste (holes dug in the ground are the only option to relieve ourselves), rats and other gruesome things is acrid and it is near impossible to get used to. Not long ago, I saw a brown rat that was the size of a cat! The number of corpses is becoming higher than we can count and some of us have given up on giving fallen soldiers proper burials, although their courage will always be remembered in our hearts. On another note, it is rumored that a soldier, who had been fighting since the start of the war, shot himself, wounding himself severely enough to go home. I think it is because he has finally seen too much for his own well-being.

Diseases like Typhoid and other illnesses - some whom we had not even known about beforehand - are becoming a problem and we have each been assigned a partner to make sure we took care of each other’s feet to not suffer from Trench Foot, a horrid infection. Louse are becoming a difficulty as well and it has become a way of passing time to search for them in our beds and clothes and squeeze them in between our fingers until their repulsive bodies crack. Thankfully, I have not been affected with anything serious and I hope this luck will continue a while longer.

We have started to tell each other stories about our lives outside of the war and without saying it aloud, we all know it is to keep our spirits from breaking. I will confess that I did not anticipate war having an impact on everyone, myself included, at such a rapid pace. We get very few hours of sleep and when we do, we are forbidden from removing our clothes and shoes in case an emergency arises. For our pride and respect, we are constantly expected to look presentable, even in this environment or face the consequences. I do sincerely hope that this battle ends quickly, no matter who wins. The constant threat of being killed in so many ways can drive any man out of their minds.

Unfortunately, I cannot tell you more or this will never reach you and I may have said too much already. I hope this finds you well and in good health.

 

Your loving son who misses you dearly,

Hans

 

 



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