Walter Macken writes to his wife Agnes in Galway

Walter Macken.

Sunday 13th February 1916

 A line to let you know I am still alright. I had a letter from Ivy while I was in the trenches. I will answer it by this post, if I can, it is so good of her to think of writing to me. I thought I might have had a letter from you. I need not tell you how it would have helped to cheer me up, however Agg, I am not vexed at you. I thought you might be waiting to send those photos. I hope that I will have one from you before going in again.

Well Agg, I had my first real dose of trench work. I know it was hard and heard a lot about it but no one realises what it was like until he had a taste of it. I have had mine. The Germans did not give us very much trouble where we were, but the weather I never experienced anything like it. It started to snow one morning at six o’clock and did not leave off for even five minutes until ten o’ clock the next day, then it started to freeze and the next day it came on to snow, this went on for four days at least. The trenches we were in had been lately taken from the enemy, they were in a terrible state, in some places above our knees in mud, but we had rubber boots up to our thighs, we prayed a few times that the Germans might make an attack so that we could warm ourselves, we could not light any fires and it was sure and sudden death to put your head over the parapet, their snipers are certainly splendid shots, we were just beginning to have our own back with our snipers though when we were relieved.

I am sending you some souvenirs I found on a German that I had to bury. I found a illuminated watch, a purse of German notes, a penknife and a wallet with photographs and some letters and a diary. I give up the wallet with the exception of one photo, the chap whom I buried is sitting, I have him marked. I believe the officer and some of the rest are prisoners of war. I want you Agg to keep those things for me. I think if you ask Arthur Clarke, he would frame the photos and notes all in the one frame, the photo in the centre, he would know best, he will do it if you tell him I asked. I will register the watch. I was offered a pound for it but refused, let me know immediately when you get this.

Did John get his leave yet, I have not heard from him for ever so long. I wonder why he does not write, when I was going up to the trenches, I passed within a short distance of the hospital where he is stationed but could not get to see him unfortunately. How is Mrs O’C and all the Racquet People getting on remember me to them. Are the pictures doing well? I wish the war was over and me back home again, however I think it will not last many months longer, some thing will have to break shortly. I think we have the better of the Germans now, but the devils will make a terrible fight of it, I’m afraid before they give up, you should hear our artillery when they start at them, it would do your heart good to see the wire fences and parapets going up in the air. The beggars begin to roar and squeal like rabbits, they get into an awful state. I pity them when our fellows start a general bombardment.

Well Agg, I will conclude, how are the children, I sincerely trust the little darlings are not catching colds. God protect you all and bring me back safe to you. Goodbye, write immediately when you get this.

Your affectionate husband, Walter.    

Remember me to K. Griffin and also Mrs. Byrne.