FRIDAY, MARCH 31st

Have fixed up leave all right, and leave here mid-day Sunday. Must leave London Wednesday, April 12. Leave begins April 3, Monday. Hope to pick up Bill.

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THURSDAY, MARCH 30th

Such a snow storm yesterday, and hard frost to follow, but lovely sunny warm day today; snow gone. Bosche ‘plane came over this morning about 9.00 a.m. Left us alone, but dropped bombs on three villages near.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29th

Had a Battalion Parade, band, etc., and march past in a.m., and am going to M_____ [Mesnil] now to see ‘A’ and ‘B’. Very cold wind today and threatening snow. Have been inspecting the town, or village, today with a large suite, consisting of Pratt, Cather, Fergie, Berry and C_____, who is Town Commandant. Owing to many troops just staying the night and passing on, many of the billets are filthy, and much cleaning up has to be done outside our own area; roads cleaned up and repaired, etc. We are eight in H.Q. mess now, quite a cheery party.

Went over to see ‘A’ and ‘B’. today at M­­­­_____ [Mesnil]. They’re fairly comfortably fixed up in cellars and are on working parties every night. Saw Gen. about leave. He was in favour of my going at once. Got caught in a bad snow storm on our way back, and the ground is again covered with snow; very disappointing. A letter from Queen Alexandra’s Sec’y., Streatfield [sic], saying the Queen was sending some comforts to the Battalion, and she wished the acknowledgement of them sent direct to her.

TUESDAY, MARCH 28th

‘A’ and ‘B’ Coy just gone. I sent by post today the roll of men, with addresses, etc. H.Q. mess will be full again. All sorts of rumours about contemplated moves and pushes, today for the first time for many weeks, but a big forward movement is meant, I believe. We had eight officers of 11th E. Yorks and two Coys here last night, none of which I pay much heed to. Big business moving Fergie’s stores, he leaves nothing behind; even the bricks for the fireplace to heat the water for the baths he has brought. As I have often said, it’s very tickling to one’s vanity to hear the nice things that are said of one, but I realize more and more how much I have left undone, and how much I ought to do; it is imperative to be always up and doing.

MONDAY, MARCH 27th

Plans again changed for the better. Two Coys, ‘C’ and ‘D’, stay here. Two Coys go to M­­­_____ [Mesnil] tomorrow. Fergie’s transport come here. Rain in night, drizzling snow. Thanks for parcel of gifts. You’ve done splendidly. Padre is sending your list and letter of thanks to each of the local newspapers, which he thinks will be appreciated, showing they have been received. Very peaceful here, haven’t heard a gun since we came in. Great rest! Cinema again tonight for the men. Am trying to get men bathed. Two Coys of the incoming Div. stay here tonight on their way into the line, but where I cannot think, as the place is packed.

SUNDAY, MARCH 26th

A cold sleety morning has turned finer and warmer. I had a bit of cold, so stayed in bed. It’s nothing much, and I’m feeling much better. Smyth came over here this a.m. We move on Tuesday. We go to M_____ [Mesnil] three Coys and one Coy about a mile this side—no place for transport or stores. Two battalions will be in M_____ [Mesnil], which will be a fearful squash, the other battalion being one of 109th, resting from the line. 107th goes back to P_____ [Puchevillers] to construct a railway. After a fortnight we all change round—we to the line, 109th back, and 107th in support. That’s the present idea but doubtless it will be changed again many times. I daresay it will be all right, we always fall on our feet. Had a pleasant dinner with Gunners. We got the Div. cinema show over for the men. Two performances 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., and again Monday. We had the King’s Review. Very good! The white pony looked very well. The Battalion was in excellent line. The show lasted 1¼ hours. I have a comfy bed. The sun is coming out, so trust this is winter’s last effort. This goes in R.A. bag [the Royal Artillery mail bag].

The Inspection of 36th (Ulster) Division by King George V

The Inspection of 36th (Ulster) Division by King George V


Footnote

On 29 March a readjustment of areas of responsibility would take place with the introduction of 31st Division into the line. 36th (Ulster) Division was allocated a shorter, two-battalion frontage astride the River Ancre holding the line Hamel-Thiepval, with the other two battalions of the forward brigade in reserve. This arrangement would last until the attack on 1 July.

SATURDAY, MARCH 25th

[Hedauville]

Snow fell up to about 5.00 p.m. yesterday and made trenches vile. Fine for relief, luckily. Today, fine but very cold, and no coal so far. Leave stopped again. The French counter attacks were very costly in life. Redmond’s shamrock has never come. Nothing more about the move, but if it comes off we shan’t go far. The gas helmets are absolute protection, and we each have two. Draft of 28 came from Base yesterday, making us up to 991. Many of them (21) those who had gone away sick. Some useful ones amongst them. I dine with R.A. [Royal Artillery] tonight. The relief didn’t begin till 7:40 p.m., and was completed at 8:45, and we got away at 9.00 p.m. Had some tea with Fergie and got here at 10:45. Berry, Shill, and I walked out together and rode on here. We’ve got the Div. cinema here tonight. I hope to see King’s Review of Ulster Div. Am promoting Hughes Sgt.