Heavy strafe yesterday afternoon by our artillery and T.M.’s. Still the same kind of weather, foggy, decidedly thick today and a little more frost. Mac sick today. We had 46 admitted to hospital last month against 70, 80 and 90 of other three Battalions. We get nine leaves (men) every five days this month.
Clearer this a.m., but frost and cold. A successful little enterprise early this a.m. Party of 12 and two officers, after an enemy’s wiring party had been located by a patrol, went out, got within 40 yards, opened fire with Lewis Gun, bombs, etc., and outed all except one, returning without casualties. The party of the enemy were wiring behind their own front wire and consequently no wounded prisoner could be brought in. Ricardo and Bull now got Brigades. I am glad. I’m the only one of the Old Guard left now. Our show early this morning was quite good.
Fine, but frost seems going. Quiet night.
Lieutenant Colonel Blacker then proceeded on a long period of leave. He would not return to the Battalion until 5 January 1917, and then only briefly because he took command of 108th Brigade until 23 February in the absence of Brigadier General Griffiths. His letters will resume on 5 January.
Throughout December, artillery duels continued, as did routine work on the trenches and breastworks. Patrols were out on most nights and the majority were uneventful, but on occasion contact was made with the enemy. Generally, the routine for the rest of the month was unchanged, with training interspersed with work parties, the occasional visit to Bailleul, leave for a lucky few and relatively uneventful periods in the line. The weather got steadily worse as snow fell and the trenches flooded. Coupled with the damage caused by the intermittent shelling, there was continuous and much needed work required to keep the trenches and fortifications in an acceptable state of repair. A number of casualties were suffered as a consequence of the irregular shell and mortar fire. At the end of the month the Battalion moved into Divisional Reserve and relocated to Bulford Camp.
Not everyone left the Battalion due to wounds or sickness. Private Henry Waring was born in Belfast on 21 June 1900. He enlisted, aged 15, in January 1916 and was one of the reinforcements who had joined the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers in France in July 1916. In October 1916 his mother requested his return and he was ordered home.