I inspected the Battery (position and guns) that covers us in the line, yesterday p.m. They are coming on well and delight in being up here instead of being messed about behind. Montefiore commands this one. 141 men have been sent out to me from Newtownards, only 59 of these have arrived; the remainder frozen on to at the Base, beside numerous N.C.O.s and men (17) who have been evacuated sick, and when discharged from hospital the Base has collared them. Left here at 9:30 a.m., returned at 7:30 p.m. Examined all parts of work done and doing; arranged for taking over another bit tomorrow, and discussed various projects with Brig [i.e. GOC 108th Brigade]. The Huns put some heavy stuff over about 4.00 p.m., but we had no one touched. Six men had just come out of a small dug-out after tea, when a 5.9 landed on it and demolished it. Now weather is taking up trench boots are not necessary. So heavy wear of the socks is reduced. Yes, take Princess Mary’s Boxes to wives of men killed. The French seem to have collared the Bosches; it must have been a bad blow to them. I’m leaving Cather out of the line to wrestle with office work here, and taking on young Shillington to act as Adjt. in the line. I fear we shall move from this bit of line in about a fortnight—horrid nuisance. Padre came in with me this morning and spent a happy day with the men. He’s simply grand and loves the life. The trenches are indeed different from when we were in last, but a great amount of work still to be done, clearing up approach trenches. With these constant changes there seems to be no continuity, and each lot goes in digs new trenches, so the place is a maze of disused ones. Must be puzzling to the Huns.
Although the gift boxes were originally to be sent to ‘every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front’, the Princess Mary Gift Fund, established by voluntary subscription, allowed wider distribution to all of those in uniform at Christmas 1914 and to the families of casualties suffered in 1914. Distribution was not complete until 1920. For more information see: Princess Mary Gift Fund 1914 Box and Contents.