Bob Maxwell just come in. Been out all day. Rode to 9th in a.m., lunched, and walked back with Shill. Roads like iron, splendid for walking. There are still 100 who have been out all the time, and not been home. Its perishing cold tonight, and my diminutive French stove has gone out. John Keane turned up for dinner in great form, and we had a good bukh.
Hard frost last night and bitter N.E. wind today. Wore chamois waistcoat for the first time.
Fergie’s dinner went off splendidly. We sat down 43, of whom about six were guests. Bde. Staff, Berry, 1st Bn., man in R.F.C. here, etc. Quite a good dinner, at 7 francs a head, in a private room at a café. Mess Sergt. and waiters assisted. Toasts—“The King,” “President French Republic,” “Our Guests,” proposed by me, responded to by Col. Clarke [sic]; “The Battalion,” proposed by Col. Clarke [sic], responded to by Fergie; “The C.O.” proposed by Berry, in a charming speech, and drunk with musical honours. Of course far too flattering. A few songs and finally “Auld Lang Syne,” “Marseillaise,” and National Anthem. We dispersed at 11.00 p.m. We got a ‘bus to bring them in and take them back. Snow still covers the land, and the outlook is very wintry, but a thaw is on and everything is very slushy. The glass has been steadily rising for two days, so I hope no more snow. A man is to be tried for disclosing his whereabouts; got a French girl to address the envelope, stamp it and post it in the civil post office.
The dinner was held in the Hotel du Canon d’Or in Bailleul (later destroyed by shell fire) on the evening of 18 January and the guests were: Major G F Cavendish-Clarke, Staff Captain, 108th Brigade, Lieutenant R T Campbell and Lieutenant E A Godson, who were attached to the staff of 108th Brigade (from 12th Royal Irish Rifles and 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers respectively); Brey Lazart, the 108th Brigade staff interpreter; Captain J G E FitzGerald MC who had left the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers in January 1916 to join the Machine Gun Corps; Captain W S S Berry RAMC, the Battalion Medical Officer; and Lieutenant J Butler MC, an officer of the 1st Battalion attached to the Royal Flying Corps.
(This list should replace that found in ‘Blacker’s Boys’, Chapter 4, p 106.)
Been out all day. Left by car at 9.00 a.m., and returned 5.00 p.m. Attended a gas demonstration, about 25 miles off. Rather interesting. Lecture in morning, and show in afternoon. It appears that we have inflicted a good deal more loss on the Bosche by gas than is generally known. Still it’s a dirty game. Please send 500 more socks at once. Goodwin, who commands 12th [Royal Irish Rifles], came with us today; cheery nice fellow. Snow all day.
Padre has settled to stay with the Battalion and feels sure he can manage it; that’s a great blessing. A horrible day; snow has never ceased falling since early morn, and, of course, is lying pretty thick. I couldn’t ride, so have been studying defence scheme, pamphlets, etc.
Reverend Hallahan had been appointed Senior Divisional Chaplain on 28 November 1916, which should have resulted in him moving to Divisional Headquarters. He managed to remain with the Battalion, however, until March 1917 when he left to attend a course of instruction at the Chaplains’ School, after which he finally relocated to Divisional Headquarters.
Spent morning with 9th, and lunched with them. They are all very happy and comfortable. Most interesting lecture this p.m. by Chief of Staff of the Army on Staff Duties. Simply splendid; only wish more staff officers had attended. Do you see Repington wants 60 more Divisions? Have sent out for envelopes; I always forget I’m living in town.
Rode over to see 11th and 13th [Royal Irish Rifles]. Fine day, but roads very slippery. Attended a lecture by Lushington on ‘Barrage,’ very interesting. Brought him in to tea afterwards and had a gunner talk. H.Q. mess has dwindled to six. Shall go and see 9th tomorrow morning, and very likely stay to lunch. Hope to see Shill. and Padre.
A foggy day, cold and raw, after a frost; roads not passable till mid-day. Went out to see 9th in p.m., just back. Seem quite comfortable. Padre away taking services. The Gosford cigarettes did come, and were acknowledged. I will write a note. Went round the cemetery with Duke in the morning; over 4,000 graves—British. Saw Lyness’s and Crymble’s, also Corbally’s, Capt R.F.A. Duke goes on leave tomorrow, am sorry. Young Allen of 12th came in to dinner last night; he is Bde. Grenade Officer; a very nice boy and capable. He got an M.C.
Such a downpour. Wretched for the four Battalions who are changing areas. I went out about a couple of miles and saw all four pass. I thought the 9th looked far the best. Yes, Repington’s article on the work of the Q.M.G.’s Dept. will be illuminating to the ordinary public, I’m sure. He is, of course, an extremely able fellow. Saw Padre today, on the march. Such a treasure, stumping along with the men in the rain. Ricardo has taken Shuter’s place as Brig’r. to 109th; simply splendid. I’m so glad. It has now turned to heavy snow!
Went up in a car this morning to see some men of ours, and the 13th, and met Peacock and Shuter. P. had been down to see Ricardo and found him very optimistic. Had seen his Corps Commander, who had been with Haig previous day. Internal conditions of Germany very grave, actual starvation in some country parts very near. All out here seem sanguine the war will end this year. Such a poisonous day; skelping showers and very cold. Comyn came with us, so we had a covered car, which was pleasant. Looked in on 9th, saw Fergie and young Shill, both blooming. Do hope it may be fine for the shift tomorrow. Allen is anxious to go to instruct at Cadet School. Names have been called for. Shall probably let him go. Church Army are putting up a hut at R.L. [Red Lodge], which will be a boon. Peacock, who took over our Bn. H.Q. in the line, said a Bosche shell got our cookhouse and smashed it up, and their Xmas turkey was blown to smithereens. No one hurt.