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Christmas Day 1915: WW1 letter - Life in the Gallipoli Trenches
Frostbite, Scarce Water and Christmas Billies
In this letter written from 'Sarpi' a rest camp (pictured), on the Greek Island of Lemnos, my great grandfather describes his recent experiences fighting at Gallipoli. The weather had grown terribly cold as he had predicted in his previous letter and the soldiers endured snow, lack of water and the squalid reality of life in the trenches.
Christmas Day 1915
My Dear Mother,
As perhaps you know by now, we have left Gallipoli. We were back there for a while and it was very cold, snow lay on the ground for about a week and there were plenty of cases of frostbite. I believe one man died of the cold, but they say that the Australians stood it better than the Pommies.
My battalion was in a very good position and we only had a few casualties. Water was very scarce in spite of the snow, we had hardly enough to drink. I had one shave and washed my face and hands and so went dry for a day, that was my only wash in the six weeks we were there.
I was appointed a sharpshooter and given a patent telescopic rifle and so was able to get a few scalps but [xxxxx] kept pretty quiet.
We received the long looked for Christmas billies the day before yesterday, also a Christmas pudding, swallow and angels. The billies were mostly put up very well. I got rather a good one, this pad I am writing on was in it.
I received two of your letters one dated October 4th and the other October 26th but no parcels except my birthday one, up to date.
We went for a march to a place called Therma yesterday, where there are hot mineral springs and we all had a good bath. It was badly needed, it cost us a shilling each, but was worth ten times the money, one fellow said, "I bet there's a lot of Gallipoli soil in there now". He was about right, I know I got rid of a lot.
I am very disappointed that I did not have any films for my camera. I could have taken some good photos, a mate of mine in Cairo sent me some but I never got them.
I wish you would not worry about me, you can depend that while you are getting my money, I am still alive. I have a feeling that I will get through this business alright.
I am very sorry to hear you have been ill, I hope Brisbane will brace you up again. When I get out of this business, I think I will try to settle down and get a home for you in the country where you will always be well.
Well I must now conclude, so trusting you get this safely with best love to all at home.
I remain your loving son,
Note: The Thermal Springs that my great grandfather visited are now a tourist attraction in the Greek Islands. Read more about them here.
For easier navigation I have listed each letter in chronological order:
- Rediscovering my great grandfather, Reginald Trevor: Letters home from World War 1
- 3rd Dec 1916: WW1 Letter: Life in Perham Downs camp - England
- 18th April 1917: WW1 Letter: Stretcher bearers, ships and shell shock
- 14th Oct 1917: WW1 letter: The tedium of 'home service' in England
- 22 Oct 1917: Wounded in the Battle of Pozières - the Somme: WW1 Letter home
For background information about Reginald Trevor, please click here.