Nine of our gunners as well as all our drivers are going straight over to France. The sky is never free from smoke and there is an acrid smell in the air which seems to be bad for the throat. Yesterday we heard a distant explosion and from today’s paper see there was a munitions disaster a few miles away at Ashton Under Lyne. The beer here is very light and the supply much restricted. It was jolly getting all your letters. This is a small camp for N.Z. Artillery, and well appointed. Life in these towns has to my mind reached the limit of hopelessness. What will please you most is that I am happy in this camp, dismal as its situation; so if things progress in the same ratio, I shall in the firing line have reached a sort of apotheosis of hilarity. Have just had some fried eggs with W. at canteen (this is a true personal touch) and watched the sun setting over the smoke stacks (touch of nature). Tobacco is unfortunately dear here and proportionately horrible.
[Note – images below sourced from Oldham Historical Research Group]