Brigadier General W M Withycombe (right), 107th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division, outside the former German town mayor’s house in Metz-en-Couture, 17 October 1917. IWM Q 7244.
Today has arrived an issue of one pair woolen gloves per man, and 50 extra for emergencies. Send along all mitts you have, they will come in useful for emergencies. Concentrate on socks, of which they never have enough. Cakes or bread, if at all feasible, they would love. Am trying to rig up some sort of place as a reading room, but it is so hard to get a place.
Bertie McCalmont has gone to take command of 1st Irish Guards. Withicombe, [sic] K.O.L.I., [sic] has got 107th Brigade.
The place is liquid mud ankle deep, and the country over your ankles. We shall do much damage to crops to-morrow, I fear, with our Field Day.
Lieutenant Colonel G Bull
Bull, who has come to command 12th R.I.R. [The Royal Irish Rifles] (in McC’s place), is a 1st R.I.F. [Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers)] man. We started at 7.15 a.m. this morn and returned at 2.00 p.m., and it never ceased pouring the whole time. It’s still raining, harder than ever. Roads running water. Had a bath to-night. Washing just back; very well done.
Fine, after three days’ rain. I am trying to start a sort of canteen to supply note paper, soap, and little things, but until we are settled it is difficult.
Our report from G.O.C., 48th Div. (Gen. Fanshawe, I think), to whom we are attached while in the trenches, etc., has just come in; rather satisfactory. Among other pleasant things he says—”The 9th R. Ir. Fus. is the best Battalion of the New Army I have seen.” Of course, he may not have seen many, but still it’s pleasant, and will buck up all ranks. 11th and 12th got good reports too. Halahan’s sing song to-morrow night is in a somewhat battered barn, which he calls the Cathedral, as we have Service there.
Socks, and indeed, all articles, are very hard to get out of Ordnance. The battalion wants everything, and cannot get from Ordnance—boots, clothing of all sorts, and necessaries. Socks are always wanted. One can replenish nominally at any time, but as I say, things are hard to get. The evenings are drawing in fast, and getting cold. Feeling very fit and well.
Glad socks for men are on their way. Would like potted meat and cake. Frost and colder. Fine sunny day. Am trying a scheme of sending to Field Force Canteen for things for men. The difficulty is the lack of all change under 5 franc notes.
The Expeditionary Force Canteens were created for service overseas, run by uniformed members of the Army Service Corps, in early 1915 in response to complaints that no official canteen service was available to the men of the BEF.
Parcel came today with 36 pairs of mitts. All the company commanders delighted with them. 168 pairs socks also arrived. Splendid. They are indeed a boon. Lovely cloudless day, with N wind and strong sun; a perfect late autumnal day. Did some revolver practice with Adjt. in p.m., alternate right and left hand.
Padre had a severe day, five Services this a.m. and two in p.m.