Here we are, in the firing line, billeted in a very dilapidated village, about 500 yards from the Huns. We got in a good bit after dark, and it was difficult to find the way about, and settle down into the various tumbledown houses allotted to us. Every company split up, half in trenches, and half in reserve, in a village. Adjutant and I in kitchen on ground floor. No food procurable last night, so I had a F. & M. [Fortnum and Mason] consommé—delicious. Walked round one company’s trench. It took two hours. Back at midnight to sleep fitfully. This a.m. went round with Brigadier Nicholson. Was in Hampshires. A three hours’ walk at top speed through a maze of trenches.
Halahan is splendid, and is now living with us, Munro goes to Dardenelles. I think we just escaped Balkans. They put 200 large shells into this village the day before we came in; no casualties to speak of. None yesterday or today. They hammered on part of this trench line two days ago; 400 high explosive shells; only three casualties, owing ot the line being held lightly in front. Some of the 107th Brigade (Belfast regiments) got shelled whilst bathing, and had 15 wounded. Firing (somewhat desultory) rifle—goes on always. If place is bombarded we retire to cellars. We are all very fit and cheery. McClintock (late Berks) commands one of these Brigades; he is now in reserve, resting. We have captured a table and three chairs. Last night coming in we had to move 150 yards between platoons, and a like distance between vehicles. A guide met each company and took it off. This place is a ruin, the church battered to pieces, and shell holes in most houses. Not an inhabitant in the place. I met Munro attached to ‘I’ Battery, after Staff College, in 1890. Yesterday before leaving I addressed a few words to the men, and Halahan held a 10 minute service. Very nicely done.
The trenches here are most comfortable, brick floors and officer’s dug-outs, with shelves, mirrors and beds; far more comfortable than billets. We have made our billet much better today. It is a one-storied house, with four rooms. Padre, Fergie, and Pratt in one room, Adjt. and I in another, which we use an ante-room, and a mess room and kitchen. We have rigged up a door and window and got the fireplace in order, so tonight are very cosy. A great outbreak of rifle and machine gun fire lasted from 4.30 to 6.00 p.m. and has now died away. A good cellar to this house. Plenty of derelict houses from which to take wood, doors, etc. but not a pane of glass in the place.