FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18th

We got the relief over without mishap, and it was completed by 9.00 p.m. A very clear moonlight night; slight frost, and drizzling today. The trenches are shocking, and the 12th must have had had an awful week, and worked very hard to keep them up at all. Some are collapsed altogether, and new ones will have to be dug tonight. I went all round them this morning; from 5:45 a.m. till 8.00 a.m. it took me to get round. They are exposed in many places, owing to falling in, and of course in some places knee deep in slush, and crumbling away. It’s disheartening work; as fast as you clean up one place you hear and see other parts falling in. There’s such a lot to be done. We might have another cake. It was a quiet night as far as we were concerned, but there was a terrific bombardment further north from about 1.00 a.m. till 4.00 a.m., and again about 5.00 a.m. Don’t know what it meant. I came in after lunch yesterday to talk over things with Bull. The long communication trench was in awful condition, in places up to and over the knees in gluey clay. Colds are prevalent. I have escaped so far, thank goodness. I have brought in far less kit this time—blanket, sleeping bag, both coats, washing kit and puttee stockings. Coming in at night one can come in overland, not in the trench, which is a boon, but the ground slopes toward the Hun trenches, and is bad if they should fire on the chance of there being a relief on. Of course, they can see nothing. Both sides have a habit of turning M.G. [machine guns] on to the road and village at night, which is disconcerting.

10.00 p.m.—Such a wild, wet day it has turned out. The trenches are roaring rivers, and everyone wet through. The two men wounded in the line are both doing well. The two in M_____ [Mesnil] (the wounded one has since died) were hit by a 5.9 shell which landed in the yard by the cookers. No fault of theirs, poor fellows. One wounded in leg by a sniper today; not bad. These trenches are quite good except one bit, but of course this weather bursts any sort of trench. Owing to wet we were unable to dig our new trench tonight, and worked on main communication, which is falling in. The men are splendid, never a complaint, and always cheerful.

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