Yeah I got to read a bunch of letters an uncle received in WWII. He lost his arm in a hunting accident when his unit were in Darwin on the eve of shipping over to New Guinea. The letters were from the guys that went on over. Horrid tales.
Likewise my father passed on the lurid tales he managed to catch when my grandfather was drinking with his war buddies. He was a sniper in Gallipoli with the Australian light horse before joining the RFC. The logic was that a cavalry soldier should have the right sort of balance for flying, apparently. I suspect he heard of the shit in the trenches and opted to fly instead. He claimed it was the uniform, as the air force was new and exciting and an air force officer was a guaranteed chick puller.
He claimed that as the RFC was a new beast the English wanted their pilots in the newspapers as aces and so as an Australian he was mostly given non-combat ops like flying the fucked up planes back to the UK for a refit and shipping the new ones over to France. This changed when the Australians were given some limited independence over their Air Corp.
His tales of Gallipoli are the most harrowing. The one that sticks in my mind, aside from the day his cousin had his head blown off, was his treatment of the breakfast runners. Hidden away watching the enemy lines, it was some poor bastard’s job to run his brekkie and ammo up each day. Now as a sniper he had the choice to expose his position by aiding the runner with some covering fire. And obviously there was greater imperative on seeing his food and ammo arrive safely. When they arrived he would flip the lid on his pannikin and if there was no bacon say “no bacon, that means no covering fire on the way back. You won’t forget that tomorrow now will you?” Apparently he lost a few chaps to Turkish snipers this way. He was one very hard bastard. Mind you he always said the WWI years were the best of his life, aside from Gallipoli, so that uniform must have saw him many a good time in between ferrying planes from London to Paris.