Such a bitter cold day, glass falling, and beginning now to rain. However, we’ve had three fine days running. Today managed to get three companies at useful training—musketry—one company firing with gas helmets on—somewhat dangerous to the inhabitants. One company building sandbag parapets. One company bombing. The whole of ‘C’ [Company] ordered away to a wood, about 5 miles off, to cut wood. I shall be awfully sorry to lose Shillington. He has done good work in ‘D’ [Company] (but I dare not face the responsibility of keeping him out here any longer). The Reserve Battalion are 520 strong now; they move to Newtownards today, and one officer and 50 men to Armagh. Colonel FitzGerald says the 1st Battalion speak highly of us. Yes, the people are quite friendly and nice here, and the Maire [mayor] most helpful. Haven’t seen Madame Notary since, but she is coming on Sunday.
‘Do’ Shillington (the father of Second Lieutenant Tom Shillington) had been Officer Commanding ‘D’ Company since its formation. Although not particularly old at 42, the conditions in France began to tell on his health. He was sent to hospital sick on 18 December and was evacuated to England two weeks later. He returned to the Battalion in the latter part of 1916 but fell ill again and finally returned to Ireland in February 1917.