Letters from James Joseph Makin to his family, 1915-1916, Part 8 of 12

Conflict:
First World War, 1914–18
Part of Quest:
Subject:
  • Letters
Status:
Awaiting approval
Accession number:
RCDIG0001425
Difficulty:
3

Page 1 / 9

A Company 21s Battalion A.1. F. France 1/6/16 Dear Mother & Father As you see by the address I have joined my battalion at last. It present we are billeted behind the lines as Reserves and are to go mys the Frenches shordly Several of my makes came my. The same company so I am feeling quite at home and not out of place, as I thought. I should for some time He have been doing fatigue work in reserve trenches, building dugonts &c rising at 2s. and rejurning about 1130 m. She work so a change from 10 weeks in the haming camp although it is by no means easy. have not got any letters since I last wrote. There was a mail in here last night, but I suppose mine have been returned to my reiforcements When you write, address my letters as above: No. Name A Compan 21rd Battalion 1ORI 001
I have had a few more letters from He tells me you have received some of my letters from Egypt - as well as the diary. I was glad to hear I have They came to hand alright sent some more to Les in London. He will probably post it to you. He has been through a machme g conroe ind a grenade conrol once he returned to duty. In his lase letter o he had not heard 76/16 myding definise about coming across. 8 is 10 weeks since your last letter so I am looking forward to them shorty. I have not much to tell you this time, and the censorship, from all accounts, so more snc thar before. Iell Bnley and Gerko E have no time to write to them this tome Iim soubbling this oo a Lurry to carch the mail Your offectionate son 196
Dr Cillet Bmn an 20. B D. Soewhere in France. Im A 25/6/16 Dearest Mother & Father, Your letters of 18/4/16 and 2/5/16 to hand The former about 8 days ago and the latter just a while ago. I sold you in my last letter that I was on A Company, 21st Battalion, but in case it went astray I am mentioning it again. I am back in billets again behind the lines after 12 days in the Frenches, and believe me, it is fine to be here again for a spell You know we went into the Frenches on thit- Sunday night, the I1, and in that short time since your little fim. has come to feel like a veseran; at any rate, a friedman But neversheless we are still known as the New men, my make and I, and we must pocker our indignation when we are regarded as mere raw recruip by those who were lucky enough to be on Gallifooli Calthough many did not see a Tark). Will we are by no means downhearted, because, both being by and shong, we can soon Drove our salt and if necessary demonstrate that all remforcement are not mugs (despite our looks ME 0014
2 We were rather unfortunate in sinking four or five days bad weather. You know what charches are after plensy of rain, mud stush stome, oozy and jucy Then again, length has it disadvembage at tines; for instance, when one has to make hes way ito a dugont through a holl less than 2ft & 3ft with several. mches of sisky mud on the doorstep, and without crawling all over your mate, if he happens to be i first. Also, when he has so keep his head below a paraper 5ft nothing for a 2hr made for a man But I would not lose an wch streech. of my t feet, because the longer one is in the army the more frond he becomes of being the possessor of height and physique. I wonder if you ever think of me as the long, pail boy dused to be. I your head, you do, get it right out because the French air and outdoor life has made me quite rugged, and the sterm haming has hardened me feel quite equal to the rigar so that And more than this of a soldier's life. I am quite satisfied that I should never have been anything of a man uless I tasted hardship and mingled with men. This I have done, and 8 You some back, when think that
3 I will see that you did not make a mstake in letting me come, as you Im Melbourne today Were nobly did. groove I am afraid in the same old away and die at the I should ine to be in the thought of being mable glorions, micertam, yet middle of this best of lives. poor old I 9 Do you ever Shonk suffering with sore feet, fatigue hunger Must, disconfort, fright, fear, &c &c&c. As I said before- get it right out Io your head, for he rs happy if he is, and when the foil of a long day so oer he rests just as comfortably on a hard floor and enjoys it as much as you in your soft beds, and his thoughts of home and are not the troubled, anocions beauty of a mother for her lucky thoughts I often think of you worrying sons: for our safety and werfore, and know too well that yours is she hardest burden But the watching, praying waiting. should anything happen to me, consol thought that Yourself with the mys Enything better, and could not wish. would not wish myself any where but I am at present where 1OR
It is oney permitted to refer to Frenches and trench life in an abstract form ae one must not mention places, actions or muts, but must confine himself to a description of the life generally, Thus you will understand how difficult it is to write an interesting letter, for I know you are longing to know just all about what we are doing over here smewhere in France. It would be idle words to try to assure You that the life is all milk and honey. and that there are no trials or dangers, but what kind of a war would it be wishout them 2 I can see my dear little mother in pensive mood with shamed magnation thinking of Germans as some, terrible sor of devils against whom ou forr imhamed Anmation ae ill-marched. But be assured it is not the case. Some of us were in the trenches 1 days without seeing a Himn, although on the watch for them from 3 am upl 10 pm. at night. Most of uo almost prayed they would show some fight, or by to prove This undoubted superorid? Ne; they are far too shrewd jist about here, and live on fear and trembling of our nocturnal visits ME 30142
They do not get at all their own way with their "almignty "arkelery, and, believe me, they do get some hurry up at timer (which is pretty often). French people in the neighbourhood (for there are still some civilians who do not think of leaving say, Bushalia bon; plenty bombard No donbt "Drity expresses himself likewise but I am sure he would substitute quite a different adjective for bow Perce can translate. This word I. For goodness sake! don't think we are constancly under a rain of shells clouds of asphyserating gas, liguid fire (or all other frightfulness I. Most of the and time it is quiet and peaceful, we are endertained in watching air- duels, and acroplanes manocuvring like great wajestie Lawks. There are times when skylarks are songing blithely over Ro Mans Land, and the war seem as fou disband as at does to you people in far Snshalia. At please don't worry; but try and be as cheerful as the Fluch women who with husbands and sone shafing 1OR1 0014
6 The Boches, and with homes desolated by shells and pillage, continue on cheerfully and hopefully, praying Monsieur le bon Diew to bring rictory to o France and their dear ones safe back. These people have suffered all, and we Mr Bushalia Comparatively not at all. And now for news i General. First about Les. Afy last letter rs 3/6/16, and no doubt later ones are at the other camp and will shortly come along. He was still at Weymouth their. I got his photo Calone, also one taken with Dr. Gibson, who write regularly to me and keeps me smiling. He is some character and a fine letter writer. I must put forward my best efforts when I answer his letters but I admit I cannot counter his wit. It is rare. He assures me a good time when I get to England I was very glad my diary came to Land from Egypst, as well as some letters and the silk. I had befter luck than I expected. I shall ask you to please look after the diary and see that no leaves are mislaid. The 10R
most effective way as not to let it leave the house. If you would like ayone to read it, they can do so at our place quite easily, I think. I have sent the rest of it (nto till early in Inne)h I am waiting to Les at Weymouth. hear if he got it safely. If he did, he should be able so send it along to you I was impossible to write on safely. a pad in the Frenches so I have kept it in the pocket book you gave me, and it may be possible to tanscribe it later on Re the silk, I am afraid I am a poor hand at brying such stiff, and still worse at knowing what is suitable to send my one, mt what can you expect from a professional "Senpusher. Had I been a softgoods man I should have been able to do better I had a letter from Harry (315/16 telling me he was fogging along and I am slad not much else tartling. more is doing well. She is a dear little got her thoto last mail. RidC I think I told you previously I for Guly and Suhes photos, didnt I Well I must dose as this is setting bulky Best love fom Your affectionate Sm Iim ME 1014

 

A Company,

21st Battalion,

A.I.F. France 
11/6/16

Dear Mother & Father,

 As you see by the address I have
joined my battalion at last. At present
we are billeted behind the lines as Reserves,
and are to go into the trenches shortly.
 Several of my mates came into the
same company, so I am feeling quite
at home, and not out of place, as I

thought I should for some time.

 We have been doing fatigue work in
reserve trenches, building dugouts &e.,
rising at 3 am. and returning about
11.30 am. The work is a change
from 10 weeks in the training camp
although it is by no means easy.

 I have not got any letters since
I last wrote. There was a mail in here
last night, but I suppose mine have been
returned to my reinforcements,

 When you write, address my letters
as above :- No.  Name

A Company

21st Battalion A.I.F. France

 

 

 

I have had a few more letters from
L[[?]]. He tells me you have received
some of my letters from Egypt - as well
as the diary. I was glad to hear
they came to hand alright. I have
sent some more to Les in London.
He will probably post it to you.
 He has been through a machine-
gun course and a grenade course
since he returned to duty. In his
last letter (2/6/16), he had not heard
anything definite about coming across.

 It is 10 weeks since your last letter
so I am looking forward to them

shortly.

I have not much to tell you

this time, and the censorship, from

all accounts, is more strict than

before. Tell Ruby and Gertie I

have no time to write to them this time.

I am scribbling this in a hurry to

catch the mail.

Your affectionate son,

Jim.

 

In Billets,

Somewhere in France

25/6/16

[*P.S I am

writing to Ruby and 
Perce this mail also.
Jim.*]

 

Dearest Mother & Father,
 Your letters of 18/4/16 and 2/5/16 to hand,
the former about 8 days ago and the latter
just a while ago.
 I told you in my last letter that I
was in A Company, 21st Battalion, but in case 
it went astray I am mentioning it again.
I am back in billets again behind the lines
after 12 days in the trenches, and "believe
me", it is fine to be here again for a spell.

You know we went into the trenches on 
Whitsunday night, the 11th, and in that short 
time since, your little Jim has come to
feel like a veteran; at any rate, a tired man.

But nevertheless we are still known as the
"new men", my mate and I, and we must
pocket our indignation when we are regarded
as mere raw recruits by those who were lucky 

enough to be on Gallipoli (although many
did not see a Turk). Still we are by no
means downhearted, because, both being big
and strong, we can soon "prove our salt",
and if necessary demonstrate that all
reinforcements are not "mugs" (despite our looks).

 

 


2

 We were rather unfortunate in striking four
or five days bad weather. You know what 
trenches are after plenty of rain,- mud, 
slush, slime,- oozy and juicy.
 Then again, length has its disadvantages
at times; for instance, when one has to
make his way into a dugout through a
hole less than 2ft x 3ft, with several
inches of sticky mud on the doorstep, and
without crawling all over your mate, if
he happens to be in first. Also, when
he has to keep his head below a parapet
made for a man "5ft nothing" for a 2 hr.
stretch. But I would not lose and inch
of my 6 feet, because the longer one is in
the army the more proud he becomes of
being the possessor of height and physique.
 I wonder if you ever think of me
as the long, frail boy I used to be. If

you do, get it right out of your head,
because the French air and outdoor
life has made me quite rugged, and
the stern training has hardened me
so that I feel quite equal to the rigors
of a soldier's life. And more than this,
I am quite satisfied that I should 
never have been anything of a man
unless I tasted hardship and mingled
with men. This I have done, and I 
think that, when I come back, you

 

 

 

3

will see that you did not make a
mistake in letting me come, as you
nobly did. Were I in Melbourne today
in the same old groove I am afraid
I should "pine away and die" at the
thought of being unable to be in the 
middle of this glorious, uncertain, yet
best of lives.
 Do you ever think of "poor old Jim"
suffering with sore feet, fatigue, hunger,

thirst, discomfort, fright, fear &c &c &c?
As I said before,- "get it right out of your
head", for he is happy if he is, and
"when the toil of a long day is over" he
rests just as comfortably on a hard floor
and enjoys it as much as you in your
soft beds, and his thoughts of "home and
beauty" are not the troubled, anxious
thoughts of a mother for her lucky
sons. I often think of you worrying
for our safety and welfare, and know
too well that yours is the hardest burden,
- the watching, praying, waiting. But
should anything happen to me, consol
yourself with the thought that I
could not wish myself anything better, and
would not wish myself anywhere but
where I am at present.

 

 

 

4

 It is only permitted to refer to trenches
and trench life in an "abstract" form,
i.e. one must not mention places, actions,
or units, but must confine himself to a
description of the life generally. Thus you
will understand how difficult it is to
write an interesting letter, for I know you
are longing to know just all about what
we are doing over here "somewhere in France".

 It would be idle words to try to assure
you that the life is "all milk and honey",
and that there are no trials or dangers, but 

what kind of a war would it be without
them? I can see my dear little mother
in pensive mood with strained imagination
thinking of Germans as some terrible sort
of devils against whom our "poor untrained
Australians" are ill-matched. But be
assured it is not the case. Some of us

were in the trenches 12 days without
seeing a Hun, although on the watch 
for them from 3 am. until 10 pm. at
night. Most of us almost prayed they
would show some fight, or try to prove
this "undoubted superiority". No; they are
far too shrewd just about here, and live
in "fear and trembling" of our nocturnal visits.

 

 

 

 5
 They do not get it all their own way
with their "almighty" artillery, and, believe
me, they do get some "hurry up" at times,
(which is pretty often). French people
in the neighbourhood (for there are still
some civilians who do not think of leaving),
say, "Australia 'bon'; plenty 'bombard'."

No doubt "Fritz" expresses himself likewise,
but I am sure he would substitute quite
a different adjective for the "bon" (Perce can
translate this word).
 For goodness sake! don't think we
are constantly under a rain of shells,
clouds of asphyxiating gas, liquid fire,
(or all other "frightfulness"). Most of the
time it is quiet and peaceful, and
we are entertained in watching air-duels,
and aeroplanes manoeuvring like
great majestic hawks. There are times
when skylarks are singing blithely
over No Mans Land, and the war seems
as far distant as it does to you people
in far Australia.
 So please don't worry, but try and
be as cheerful as the French women,
who, with husbands and sons "strafing"

 

 

 

 6

 

the Boches, and with homes desolated
by shells and pillage, continue on
cheerfully and hopefully, praying
"Monsieur le bon Dieu" to bring victory to
"La France" and their dear ones safe back.
These people have suffered all, and we
in Australia comparatively not at all.

 And now for news in general. First
about Les. My last letter is 2/6/16, and
no noubt later ones are at the other camp,
and will shortly come along. He was still
at Weymouth then. I got his photo, (alone),
also one taken with Dr. Gibson, who writes 
regularly to me and keeps me smiling.
He is "some character" and a fine
letter writer. I must put forward my
best efforts when I answer his letters,
but I admit I cannot "counter" his wit.
It is rare. He assures me a good time

when I get to England.
 I was very glad my diary came
to hand from Egypt, as well as some 

letters and the silk. I had better 
luck than I expected. I shall ask
you to please look after the diary and
see that no leaves are mislaid. The

 

 

 

7

 

most effective way is not to let it leave 

the house. If you would like anyone 

to read it, they can do so at our
place quite easily I think. I have sent
the rest of it (up till early in June) to
Les at Weymouth. I am waiting to
hear if he got it safely. If he did, he
should be able to send it along to you
safely. It was impossible to write on
a pad in the trenches, so I have kept
it in the pocket book you gave me, and
it may be possible to transcribe it later on.
 Re the silk, I am afraid I am
a poor hand at buying such stuff, and
still worse at knowing what is suitable
to send anyone, but what can you expect
from a professional "penpusher". Had I
been a softgoods man I should
have been able to do better.

 I had a letter from Harry (8/5/16)
telling me he was jogging along and
not much else startling. I am glad 
Lenore is doing well. She is a dear little 
kid. I got her photo last mail.
I think I told you previously I got Ruby's
and Gertie's photos, didn't I?

 Well I must close as this is getting bulky.
Best love from your affectionate son, Jim.

 





 

Last edited by:
Kimberley Hayes Kimberley Hayes
Last edited on:

Last updated: