WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16th

Such an awful day, the worst I have seen since we came out. Blowing a hurricane and raining in torrents. The trenches are fearful, and no one can work on them while it lasts. As fast as you clear them more falls in. Quiet day here so far in the shell line. We go in tomorrow evening and come out 23rd. What it must be like there today I cannot imagine. The trenches here that we look after are impossible. They’ve now brought out a new scheme of leave. 10 go from each battalion every four days, so that the whole scheme has to be worked out anew. Luckily one hasn’t much else to do today. No letters in at all today. They seem only now to come every 2nd day.

'The Communication Trench'. Bruce Bairnsfather, Fragments From France

‘The Communication Trench’. Bruce Bairnsfather, Fragments From France

9.00 p.m.—Such a wild day. Bull telephones the trenches are all falling in and are knee deep in water, and they are pumping day and night. I’m not looking forward to the next six days, with the weather conditions as they are and trenches crumbling away. The Downs had had 21 casualties. We have had five casualties. Bull wants me to go down early and go round the line with him, which means I shall have to go down communications trench instead of going on top after dark, and the trench is over 1½ miles long and over knees in slush and water. The dump where rations and stores are brought by our Transport are two miles from the line, and everything has to be carried in by hand from there, and now they say this dump is in the next Div. area, and we can only use it by courtesy, and between stated hours, which adds to the irksomeness. Great efforts to prevent frost bite, every man has to rub whale oil into his feet for half an hour for two days previous to going into the line, and for an hour on the day they go in. Quite necessary, I’m sure, in the present conditions. A draft of 50 men has arrived at the Base. I don’t know when it will materialise here. All quiet here today. Our Heavies fired a little, but we got no shells back here. Various colds, expect there will be more before the six days are up. Had my hair cut close today. Now going to rub in anti-frost bite grease.

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