WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28th

Dully misty day again and very quiet, so far. Went over and had tea with Bob [Maxwell] yesterday. An old Marine called Poe attached to us for four days. A man wounded yesterday evening and another today, both Englishmen. Not serious. Arm broken and flesh wound. Looked very like rain this a.m., but has kept off. Great thing being dull. The Bosche ‘planes don’t come over and observe working parties, and their artillery is quiet. Fergie went off yesterday. Young Shill. doing splendidly. Mayes, the new Chaplain, has gone sick. Not been long out here before getting sick.

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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27th

Here I am in the line again. We got in safely, by day, thank Goodness, and had a quiet night. 12th [Royal Irish Rifles] had a very quiet tour. Weather dull and inclined to rain. Fergie has got 14 days leave and went off this morning jubilant. Quite a good Bn. H.Q., I think the best we have struck so far. We have put in elephants; there was nothing before to protect one. Had a long trek all round the line this morning—pretty bad in parts, but considering frost and thaw not so bad as I had expected. Bob Maxwell and G.B. looked in yesterday evening. I really have been curiously lucky this winter. Last night was the first night I have spent in the line since Dec. 2nd!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26th

Lovely sunny spring day. All kit packed for the line, so writing under difficulties. Capital news from the South.


Footnote

Lieutenant Colonel Blacker’s ‘good news’ was German withdrawal from the Ancre. Unknown at the time was the siting, extent, depth and length of the Hindenburg Line, all of which meant a stronger position than those vacated, and held with fewer troops.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25th

Foggy early, but now sunny and spring-like, the first day approaching spring weather we have had. Haven’t quite picked up the Battalion life after my long absence. Henahan was only wounded slightly in the head, and remained at duty. Allen was also grazed in the head and remained at duty. Ensor returned today from Army School. Good match yesterday; they beat us five goals to four. Padre gave us a splendid sermon on ‘Temptation’ this morning. Who should look in this evening but Charles Hope. Now a Major in 16th Div. Arty. [See 13 November Letter.] Full of chat, says he is paying £700 a year in death duties for eight years. Askwith, who was Brig-Gen., is now Lieut. Col. again, as they abolished his billet with Cavalry Corps; at present home on sick leave. It’s been a peaceful day, but looks like rain. There have been a good many raids and counter raids on this front, with varying success. Ll. G. made a splendid speech.


Footnote

The speech referred to by Lieutenant Colonel Blacker was given by Prime Minister Lloyd George in Parliament on 23 February. It dealt with the shortage of food and other imports vital to the war effort, and the measures required to alleviate the problem. See Hansard.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24th

Dull today, but no fog. The latest craze is planting waste places in vicinity of huts and camps with vegetables. With these constant moves I consider the lack of continuity will militate against success, at an important moment in the life of the potato or cabbage. Units will be changing, and die, I fear. I am going to try half an acre at the Transport, under the care and supervision of Stronge.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23rd

Foggy and wet like November. General arrived last night; he was hung up at Folkestone; no boats running. It was a Regt. in the 16th Div. that got so mauled last week (young Harden’s) and whose wounded were brought in. We go in on Monday. The 9th have won the General’s Silver Bugle, so everyone is greatly bucked. The 13th were running us close, but were beaten at football yesterday. We are playing R.A. this afternoon, and 8th R.I.R. tomorrow. Our Bde. H.Q. in the line have been greatly strengthened and good elephants put in. Allen and Henahan were both grazed with shell last tour, but never went off duty. Quite slight.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22nd

Came back to the Battalion just before dinner, having cleared up every paper, and left nothing ‘pending’ in Bde. Office. This morning Duke ‘phoned to say the General never returned last night after all, and is not yet back, so I had to go up this morning and spend a long time clearing papers up, etc., again. We have had none of your lovely February days—foggy and wet again today. Am stuck for another Gen. Court Martial tomorrow. Quite a nice billet here, and I have quite a comfy room.