The New Year arrived with Lieutenant Colonel Blacker still in Ireland. The Battalion was at Bulford Camp and New Year’s Day began with a church service and, at 1.00 p.m., a delayed Christmas lunch. The fare was superb with turkey, goose, boiled ham, roast beef, vegetables, plum pudding, and fruit and nuts. As was tradition, the platoon officers carved. The warrant officers and sergeants dined at 7.00 p.m.

The Distinguished Service Order

The Distinguished Service Order

Also on 1 January it was formally announced that Lieutenant Colonel Blackers performance in command throughout 1916 had been rewarded with the Distinguished Service Order. Major (now Lieutenant Colonel) Pratt also received the D.S.O. for his service as Second-in-Command. On 4 January in the London Gazette the Battalion received five mentions in despatches: Lieutenant Colonel Blacker and Lieutenant Colonel Pratt (both a pre-requisite for the award of the D.S.O); the Padre, Chaplain to the Forces 4th Class F J Halahan; the younger of the Ensors and Officer Commanding ‘B’ Company, Captain E N Ensor; 13994 Sergeant J Barbour; and 17796 Sergeant J Murphy—the latter for his gallantry serving with 108th Trench Mortar Battery.

All of January would be spent out of the line at Buford Camp and later in billets at Meteren, mostly engaged in training but some work parties were also provided.

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