The Primate, Sir J. Stronge, and Cavan turned up for Parade Service. P. walked round and talked to each officer; did not preach a good sermon; very disappointing. I thought Padre far better; Sir J. came on to lunch; seemed astounded to see how well all the men looked. Luckily beautifully fine up to 2.00 p.m., when cold fog came on. I asked Cavan after Edgar Lambert [sic]. He said he’d tried France but was too old, and had gone to Egypt, I think. Heard from Going. He came out in July, and in August went to Ypres where he had been till a few weeks ago, when they were sent out of the line to near G.H.Q. to rest. Casualties—10 Officers, 275 men. Primate and J.S. stay till next Saturday, when J. returns home, and P. passes on to Pulteney, 16th Division and 107th Brigade for a week, I believe.
Your letter of Friday came today, quite quick! Had a tiring day—Umpire at stupid Field Day. Left here at 8.45 a.m. Got back very wet at 2:30 p.m. and had to go to the pow-wow at 3:30 p.m., which lasted till 5.00 p.m. What was the reason for the Field Day I cannot imagine, as we all had to begin company training today. Blackwood is excellent. ‘Carry on’ life like. Think we shall stay here for a bit. I’m afraid it’s doubtful if we get the Guards. Cavan said yesterday he feared he’s lost them. On the other hand, Smyth says he came over with some G.H.Q. fellow who said they are coming to the XIV Corps. Primate comes to see us in the morning. Another officer, a Captain in A.S.C., [Army Service Corps] posted last night from G.H.Q. They all join about end of month.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.