Got back out of the trenches to this place from where we went in. Relief was not finished to 7.00 p.m., when Pratt, Adjutant and I were the last to leave. Walked to the village M_____ M_____. [Mailly-Maillet] Dined with Smyth, who gave us a splendid repast, and then walked on here arriving at 10.00 p.m. Fergie had been at work and got three rooms—a splendid billet, due to the goodness of the Gunners here. I am in a beautifully furnished room, with carpet! Such luxury after dugout. An easy day today, as the men are cleaning and bathing preparatory to move tomorrow, when we go back same way, and billets, we came here from to our old R_____. [ Ribeaucourt] Stay there a day or two to collect our things, and then on again, but where we don’t know. Each night in the trenches we had a Gunner officer with us, who fed with us and had a dug-out of his own. I can’t think why he was here. Two very nice subs [subalterns] came, and yesterday the Captain (Bittleton [sic]) arrived, about three hours before we left.

Captain C M Johnston

Captain C M Johnston

We got out of the trenches with no casualties. I am so pleased. One or two narrow shaves. A shell near C. Johnston, and rifle sight shot off, and a bayonet hit with a bullet. The 1st R.I.F. [Royal Irish Fusiliers] on our left had a man killed, and some wounded in the three days they were in. The 18th on our left [sic, right] had some casualties. The 9th R.I.R. [Royal Irish Rifles] had three men badly hit at a working party the night before we left. ‘Downs’ had four and 12th R.I.R. three, I think. I hear the new XIII Corps is to consist of 7th, 30th, 32nd and 36th Divisions, and is to concentrate near Abbeville. Fergie had a long talk with Hull, the Brigadier. In recounting it to me “Brigadier said ‘You’re a well-officered Battalion. Your Colonel is a nut, and a Brazil nut to boot.’ ” You should have heard Fergie rolling it out. Am writing in R.A. [Royal Artillery] mess, which is comfy.

The men were splendid the whole week. Never a complaint, tho’ very uncomfortable and in some cases worse. We had one case of frost bite. The sentries in sap-heads were standing over their ankles in cold slush, for two hours at a time with no means of keeping their feet dry. Lutton did excellently with the telephone arrangements; never a hitch; everything working smoothly and quickly, tho’ the lines wanted constant watching for breakages, due to trenches falling in. Young Anson is A_D_C_ [Aide-de-Camp] to Lambton.

I think I told you about the march. Men did splendidly, and all came in with Battalion. You know Adjt. has had a lot to do with efficiency of Battalion. Most of the C.O.’s are equally good or bad, but few have decent Adjts.; and Adjutant is excellent. Afraid C. Shillington was killed.

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