Volume 1: Letters written on active service, A-L, 1914-1919 - Page 96
a few francs by posing before the lens. Should they be satisfactory you will doubtless see a print later on.
It being somewhat warm after our long walk, we indulged in a glass or two of good English beer to commemorate my birthday and in order that the boys at "home" should also drink my health, I smuggled a couple of bottles of champagne into the forbidden area, which we consumed at lunch. (Champagne can be bought here at 5 or 6 francs a bottle and it has some sparkle in it too.)
This afternoon our aeroplanes attacked the German Observation balloons, with the result that one was destroyed and others damaged. We had the unique experience, some few days back of seeing one of our own Observation balloons adrift, going higher and higher in the air each minute and travelling towards the German lines. The two observers we could see quite plainly, they having jumped from their precarious position, gradually getting closer to Mother Earth under the support of parachutes. I have not heard exactly where they landed but rumours point to the fact that they had no option but to land somewhere beyond our parapets. I understand that there is to be more "strafe" between our and probably the enemy artillery to-night, which means that I entered the Anniversary of my birth under heavy fusilade of guns and will also bid farewell to the day with shells tearing and shrieking over my head. It is to be hoped that my next will be under more pleasant circumstances.
June 26th. As long as I am spared on this Earth, I shall never forget the sight and uproar that presented itself to me last evening. It is beyond me to describe as there is nothing to compare, except as mentioned over and over again, "Hell on Earth". All our guns were belching forth huge shells, and each time they fired one would see a terrific flash in the darkness as large as the "New Year's Eve" bonfire. Imagine say 50 to 60 guns along our front speaking every few seconds continuously for one hour. Then again, as the shells landed in and around the German trenches, the explosion causes a similar flash of liquid flame, lighting up the vicinity, and giving one the opinion that it would be utterly impossible for any living being to survive the ordeal. This, together with the enemy bombardment livened things up a bit, I can assure you. When all is said and done, I understand that the casualty list all round is not so very heavy. When all was quiet again we turned in and this morning one would hardly realise that such a commotion took place last night.
Not having had a mail to answer for the past four weeks, I have written the above to show that I am still hale and hearty, with the hope that this will find you and all my friends the same.
(Cpl) Thos. A. H. Breaden.