[Editor: A letter from an Australian soldier, during the First World War. Published in The Forbes Advocate, 6 November 1917.]
Letter from Hell
Jim O’Hea on chats.
Once again our friend Jim O’Hea writes us, this time from this address:
Somewhere in Hell,
But fine and well.
Fritz complains that we won’t give him any rest. Poor Fritz! I love him like poison. We’ll give him all the rest he wants, but it’s R.I.P.
Our boys are helping with the French harvest. As I write two of them are helping to unload some hay. One is a hard doer. He is doing more talk than work, being engrossed in giving a French maid the glad eye. He said, “You like Australians, tray boil, Ma’selle?” “No bon,” said she.
Yesterday we had some hunting — catching chats. They are small, but cause a large amount of bother. My mate caught two, and put them on the palm of his hand. One was dark, and the other whitish. We set them off on a race, and I had a franc on the darkie. Neck and neck they went, but in the straight darkie forged ahead, and won by a head. These chats attack in close formation, and suffer heavy casualties, but they don’t seem to mind. The other night I put my singlet out in the cold, and the chats in it coughed all night, and kept half the regiment awake.
The Forbes Advocate (Forbes, NSW), 6 November 1917, p. 3
chat = a louse (World War One slang; lice were a particular problem for soldiers during wartime)
R.I.P. = (Latin) an abbreviation of “requiescat in pace” (or, in the plural, “requiescant in pace”), meaning “rest in peace”; used in funeral notices, on gravestones, and with other items relating to death
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]