We have two letters that Pte Coultas wrote to his wife in June 1915, which describe his life in the trenches.“I am still in tip top condition although at the present time I could do with a good long sleep and then a good feed and a hot bath.We have fireworks every night and I can assure you there are no dummies – they are all crackers – and the more you keep your head down the longer you are likely to live.In the pubWe look over the top sometimes to see what is going on and as soon as we do one or two bullets come past our head and we bob down and thank God they have missed.Last weekend we were in a pub when the Germans started shelling the place. The sale of beer was stopped and the people in charge ran all over the house but they did not forget to take the till with them.
We get plenty of amusement out here one way or another and also some excitement. The other day a comrade and I were sent to try and find a sniper who had been bothering our chaps but the enemy started shelling and as it was getting a bit hot we came in again.On our return pieces of shell, shrapnel and bullets kept dropping around us too near to be pleasant.I have heard it said in England that the Germans are bad shots but don’t believe it. I do not mind rifle or even shell fire but I do detest the trench mortars as they make a noise like the crack of doom and it is doom for anyone who is unlucky enough to be in the way.A fortnight later he wrote that although he had been in the trenches five weeks he had not yet seen a German, but he was very aware they were there.“In the day time the Germans keep their heads down and so do the English for it does not pay to be too inquisitive.
At night, however, we are compelled to take greater risks as it is necessary for us to keep a sharp look out.’He described how the men entertained themselves with impromptu concerts, taking great delight in teasing the Germans.Operatic to rag-timeThe music ranged from operatic to rag-time. A great favourite was ‘Has anyone seen a German band?’“Our instruments consisted of drums, three combs, a mouth organ and a tin biscuit box and those who had nothing to play furnished the vocal parts and they did let it go, especially the German band song.The Huns must have heard us for they sent dozens of shots over but they were all wasted. They had not the slightest effect on our entertainment, which went on until nearly nine o’clock in the morning.”