Xmas dinner last night very good. Turkey and plum pudding, and Fergie produced a bottle of port, and proposed the C.O.s health. I think a Vegetable Fund would be great value, if you can start it without too much trouble. The men do not get enough vegetables, and are always clamouring for potatoes, more than the meagre ration. Sir A. Murray will be a loss at home. He will do well where ever he is. I don’t think Robertson is so well liked out here, but of course very capable. Madame the Notary arrived for her Sunday Inspection; rather thin-lipped and complaining, but we soothe her and she has gone away smiling. What infernal rot, putting things about me in ‘News-Letter’. I do hate that sort of thing. Another 15 cases of comforts arrived today. We’re just in to send for them. Owing to a scarcity of fuel we don’t have a fire till dinner time, and the weather is mild, it isn’t a bit cold. Fergie thinks of everything. He sent both the Maire [mayor] and the Curé [parish priest] a plum pudding, and cake from the officers, with best wishes for Xmas and New Year!
On two occasions just before Christmas 1915, Lieutenant Colonel Blacker was mentioned in the Belfast Newsletter. The first was an excerpt from a letter that he wrote in November to Major E J Richardson of Poplar Vale in Monaghan, which was published on 20 December:
‘We have just returned from another ‘go’ in the trenches, where we took over a thousand yards of first-line trench as a battalion. The men worked wee and were keen as mustard. The weather was not too bad, but the trenches were suffering from the previous spate and were letting-in in many places. We had two stiff marches on our way up—one of 17 miles in a snowstorm but the men stuck it well.’
The second comment was in the letter home from a sergeant of the Battalion, published on 23 December, who wrote of shellfire on the village where the Battalion was billeted. The piece was titled ‘Colonel Blacker’s Fortunate Escape‘ and recorded that:
‘…another shell burst in our commanding officer’s quarters, but, as good luck had it, the C.O. (Lieutenant Colonel Blacker) was out with his men in the trenches.’
It is noteworthy that in his letters to his wife (see 15 November and 17 November) Lieutenant Colonel Blacker discussed the period in the trenches, the long marches and the weather in some detail but he did not mention the second incident; which may have been the reason for his ire.