"[...] Without endangering the defense of the country, I am going to tell you what has been our mission since the 9th May 1915.
I will take advantage of some permittence-holder on departure to, take care and post my letter: I hope he will succeed in this duty.
Firts of all, I have to tell you that I am currently at full rest: general reserve of the Great Head Quarters (General Joffre). Somewhere between Creil and Beauvais, 40 kms from Paris, I am safe. In the middle of a magnificent countryside, with pleasant inhabitants, we are taken care and coddled just as we deserve.
I just had left Angèle on the 5th May; then, on the 9th and on the 10th of this month, we had to give a vigorous battle on Loos, in order to create a diversion to allow the Moroccan Division ("Division Marocaine"), the XXth Corps, and the light infantry to break through the line, on the front: Souchez, Notre Dame de Lorette, Neuville St Vaast, Chélus, etc... Over the whole sector, the fight led us to a full success: in front of our first class troops, the Germans had a lot to suffer.
But what was happening, on the South? A slacking progress, followed by a slacking attack by a group of units coming from the South of France: well, these troops did not succeed in achieving their goals.
To tell you everything I have seen and born, would be impossible: my pen would not be eloquent enough to describe all of this. Our brutal attack actually pinned down the Germans. From the very words of the prisoners that we had eventually made (prisoners that we had failed to kill: in fact, we had the order to "clear the Boches [sic] trenches") this attack had given them a very hard strike.
After both these fighting days, I staid in the 2nd line reserve, then in the 3rd line reserve. Directed towards Neux-les-Mines, I could restore my Company, which had lost 99 men and 2 officers, and I proceeded quickly to Liévin, Cité des Cornailles. New battle, attack on the "Ouvrages Blancs" [namely: "White Works"] (a German entrenchment), nearby Angres, etc, etc... then on the 16 June, new great battle on the front Souchez-Neuville St Vaast, facing the "Bois de la Folie" [namely: "Folie Wood" or "Madness Wood"], 2kms North-West of the wood. What was the actual objective of this, new battle? I have been told that we were in charge to stress the Germans and to force them to strenghten their lines, in order to allow the Russians to retreat in good order from their front Premysl, Limberg, etc... Our endeavor fully succeeded. 11 German Divisions had to reinforce our front, and the Russians could operate their move in good order though under the strong push of Mackensen.
On the 27th,28th, and 29th of June, new important battle. This is my turn: leading my whole Company for a bayonet charge on the "5 Chemins" [namely: the "5 roads"], in front of the Folie Wood, I am stopped by the web of barbed wires, that had staid hidden and were quietly waiting for us in the lucerns, the oats, etc... My attack was blocked by a running fire coming from the machine guns and from the musketry; the barrage fire from the heavy gunnery of the Germans forbids our reserves to come closer and to support us. So, I stop, and under the bullets and the falling shells, I succeed in getting us entrenched, in order to get ready, when the night comes, to resist safely to any German counter-attack. Our losses: 1 Warrant Officer, 34 men, a few dead; because of the trenches, the legs of my men had been mowed down. As I am concerned, I got everything on me, but no serious wound. In fact the blood did not show, ...but how much bruised I was!
Anyhow, I had not come off yet. On the 1st an 2nd July, As I was in reserve for the 1st line, I found myself under a formidable gunnery firing: 6 "big blacks" of 210mm, and 18 shells of 77 surrounded my shelter, breaking everything, shaking the whole trench, and suffocating me; I was considered as dead; none of my men dared to get me up, but after a while, I could get out of my little corner, and promptly, I ran straightforward to the Colonel and to the Major, and reported that it was nothing more than feeling sick, with some bile vomiting, etc... No later than the very evening, I revenged myself, firing some explosive shells from our trench gun: I showed them that we were still standing. In any case, what my Regiment had been doing was the same work as our fellows from the 17th and the 18th Divisions.
On the 3rd of July, we were posted to the reserves of the 10th Army, nearby St Pol (Fruges) [...].
[...] The staff and the Company were reinforced on the very day before the Bastille Day (14th of July). The British have come, then taken the sector North of Arras, and my Army Corps was posted to the reserves of the Grand Head Quarters, under the 2nd Army. I am going to quit General d'Urbal to get Maunoury, I guess. Nothing sure. Angèle left me on the 14th July, in the morning, not before we had both made an appointment to meet in Châteauroux, for a 6 days (including travels) short leave. Since then, we have been changing many times our manoeuvres, and this is not less than nine full days, now, that I have been knocking about the world on Coco [Bel Oeil] [...].
[Letter dated on the 26th July 1915, from Liencourt]