MONDAY, JANUARY 31st

Went with Smyth to Div H.Q. The muddle was due to some bad staff work between VII Corps and 3rd Army. We shall move Wednesday or Thursday I think.

Don’t want any more kit. Am sending a parcel of towels and socks home. Looks like a frost. Am bringing in ‘A’ Company this p.m. Bad Zep [Zeppelin] raid on Paris. Rivy was in A____s [Amiens] yesterday, and said there was one about, and they had to douse all motor lights. Am writing Seton. He’s lucky not to be in Persian Gulf. I fear both these Forces are in a bad way. Am getting a wristlet identity disc. I can’t think why you are so keen on them. Berry and the Padre walked to Div. School this p.m. All they have done so far is recruits drill! They are as sick as dogs. It will make them appreciate the Battalion. It is ridiculous to keep them fooling there while the Battalion goes short of officers in the trenches. Of course, they can’t find good instructors.

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SUNDAY, JANUARY 30th

Only time for a hurried scrap as we are off tomorrow, and I don’t know where. Went over to say farewell to Cavan who is a dear, and the orders were just in that we move on February 7th. I returned here for lunch, and about 3:30 p.m. orders came in for us to move tomorrow, about 8 miles. Then where, I don’t know. Such a business getting ready; heaps of stuff to be left behind; waggons, ammunition, &c., to be packed. ‘A’ Company, 8 miles away, to be told. Billets to be paid. Claims to be settled &c. Fergie, of course, splendid. Parties to be left behind to take care of stores; parties to be sent on to arrange for billeting, countless returns due tomorrow must be sent off at once. On the move Orderly Room work ceases. Rations to be arranged for everyone, those going and those staying; thick fog all day, cold and raw.

French have got some trenches at a village further south. Will write when I can, so as to be ready to post if I get an opportunity. There is still leakage at the Admiralty, I hear. A long thing came in about extreme discretion in writing home.

Sunday Night

A little more information came through. We go by our old route to village, but in two marches, then to some place on Wednesday, and into trench line on Thursday. I imagine where we were before. We and 13th [Royal Irish Rifles] go in; 11th and 12th [Royal Irish Rifles] in Reserve.

Am leaving lots of Q.M. [Quartermaster] stores here, and some of my own kit. Am sorry to leave this place, as we are very cosy here, with our two rooms. We’ve had two months slacking. I fancy our turn for the trenches will not come very often. Where we shall go when out, I don’t know. Anyway, a life of movement I expect for some time. It must have been a very sudden change of Orders, as C_____ [Cavan] didn’t know when he bid us farewell at noon.

It’s a very ‘Kushie’ part of the line, and after all it’s what we are here for, and the men are delighted to be going. They are sick of this fooling about. Messages and conundrums of all sorts arriving every minute.

11:14 p.m.

Opened this to say orders have just come in cancelling move. Weird people! Of course it’s quite on the cards we’re ordered to move again.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 29th

Had quite a pleasant dinner last night. Sat between the Primate and Russell; latter very interesting about Germany. He’s a son of Lord Odo Russell, who was Ambassador in Berlin after ’70; he was born in Berlin and spent the first eight years of his life there. He says October year for the end of the war, but of course, knows no more than any of us. We are to go over to Brigade H.Q. (C.O.’s I mean) and say farewell to Cavan. He’s a dear little man. I’m awfully sorry we lose him. One of the new officers joined today—Wood—private in H.A.C. [Honourable Artillery Company] Came out in January, 1915, and was in trenches till October. Should be a useful sort. Wears glasses, and was secretary to newspaper editor in London before war. He was just here for lunch and I pushed him on to Ensor, and ‘A’ Coy. Think he’ll do all right.

Great footer match with Downs this p.m. Last game a draw. Fergie has been coaching the team all week. Result—1-0 in our favour. Enormous concourse attended, including all officers of both battalions. Much excitement. I gather 10 days will be the earliest date of our move to the line. February 7 has been mentioned, but I don’t think any date is exactly fixed. Primate went to Pulteney today, and then home.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 28th

Waiting at the Field Day I had a long chat with Cavan. We leave XIV Corps and join another, I don’t know number (XVII) with 46th Division and 56th, I think. Cavan and Guards and two other Divisions (6th and 20th) form XIV Corps and go north of Ypres.

Anderson (T.W.’s brother) to command our Corps. Nice fellow. We do go into the line in about 10 days, February 7th they say, from here, relieving the 4th Division who come out for a rest. The actual Field Day was dull. The Primate and J.S. there. A story of a shrapnel somewhere near the P_____ [Primate] expect they’ll make the most of it. I dine there tonight—a nuisance. G.S.O.3 is the bottlewasher and doer of odd jobs, junior of Div. Staff. From Sunday I command the Brigade, and during the move S wants me to come and live with him at H.Q. I don’t particularly want to, but may find I can’t do it from here. Remember when we are in the line all posts become upset. I hear no more Field Days, thank goodness! We are only taking over one Brigade Front. One Brigade will be resting always, so we shall get a good deal more resting as usually its one in, one out.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 27th

Smyth came in for a ‘Bukh’ this evening. He says there is quite a chance of the Division, 109th and 108th Brigade going into the line next week, to relieve 4th Division. It was to be decided last night. The Ordnance Officer thinks it probable. On the other hand they have let Griffiths go away on ten days’ leave today. Savage goes on Sunday. Bob Maxwell is back. I believe these Field Days are the General’s way of testing C.O.s. When every commanding officer has been out in command of a side they will cease. I shall do Umpire and let ‘At.’ command the eight companies. Rivy full of pessimistic views from G.H.Q. if we don’t beat them this autumn the war will go on for years. France cannot last beyond the summer. Our casualties at Loos four times the Huns. We are using a second room here as ante room and find it very cosy. Berry is acting Mess President, and ordered toast with great glee!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26th

I managed to capture Bull’s convoy by rather a fluke. Didn’t attempt to strafe me, though he was in an evil mood, and refused to let the men go home, but kept them out for an hour while he laid down the law to officers on tactics. Still any amount of comforts, as we managed to bring everything here. Sand bags we shan’t want till we go up into the line. ‘At’ handled the Battalion capitally. I was in command of the side. I believe these blessed days are coming off thrice weekly!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 25th

There doesn’t appear to be coal available in the country. No one has it. Primate came this a.m. Fine and sunny. Stayed 2½ hours, walking round and seeing men. Fergie presented him with a gas helmet as a souvenir. About 12:45 p.m. scheme for tomorrow’s Field Day came in—in which I am opposed to Bull, he having a convoy, and I to attack it. I had at once to ride out and see the ground, and have my orders in Brigade office by 4.00 p.m. Rather a rush. Berry’s name has been sent in for D.A.D.M.S. so if sanctioned we shall lose him. Last night sanction came for general leave. Pratt and Stronge and two privates go tomorrow, then no one to February 16, when 20 all ranks go, and then none again till March 11. It will take some time to get through the Battalion at the rate of 40 a month. These Field Days every other day, amid other distractions, are an awful nuisance. They don’t teach us anything that will be useful to us in the warfare we shall be doing. Seal pattern old Aldershot Field Days they are. What we want to learn is the attack of trenches, and all the details to be attended to. Repington’s article the other day I thought was excellent. He said he firmly believed the war would be decided on the West [sic] Front, and that it would be trench warfare to the end, and the massing of cavalry to dash through the gaps was rot.