Lovely sunny bright day. Three new officers turned up last night, about 10.00 p.m. They look a hefty lot. One was a Sergt. in Irish Guards. Should be good. Two more out before for a few months. It’s quite nice sitting in my shanty, with sun streaming in. It turned out lovely all day till now it has begun to rain. Most fortunate, when we got back we found Gen N_____ [Nugent] here. He was most affable, and quite at his best. Well, we inspected Bulford—ample accommodation for officers and men, and quite compact. A sea of mud, but duck boards down nearly everywhere! Eight huts a company, and eight over for various. Small R. [Recreation] Room; Y.M.C.A. tent 200 yards off. H.Q. Mess in Trois Roi, quite cosy, and my room upstairs, with comfy bed. Lloyd showed us round; he is 2nd in Command 12th R.I.R., and is a son of old Morgan Lloyd, who commanded the Wexford Militia from about ‘83 to 1907, and lived at Camolin. I remember this fellow, a wee fellow about Bob’s age. Came back by Bde and strafed Clarke for not seeing to comfort of Bulford. None of them had been there. Said they must find a football ground; rather a jar, none at present, and no parade ground. The _____ [11th Royal Irish Rifles] found some hidden wire like we did and had to come back. Only had some four casualties, and only one at all bad.
Bulford Camp, and the nearby, smaller Trois Roi Camp, were billets for battalions in divisional reserve. The camps were located about one mile south-west of Neuve Eglise (Nieuwekirke) on what is now the N331.
Such a deluge all the morning. Cold quite all right now. It really is immaterial when food tocks come, whether we are in or not—they are always welcome. Godson is Intelligence Officer, and A1. Expect trenches will be in a bad state. The Hun leaves us alone if we don’t bother them, but we are always harrying him, and he then retaliates a little. Wurtemburghers [sic] opposite us, and stout fellows, I think. Our guns had a strafe about 6.00 p.m. for half an hour, and the Bosche replied with a few heavies over here. Again they had a sudden burst about half an hour ago, which is now dying down. No answer as yet from the Bosche. There is a constant rain daily of two or more to hospital with bronchitis. Our old Sergt. Cook has been invalided. He was an excellent fellow, and I don’t know how to replace him. Colder night and fine.
A foggy damp morning has turned sunny and bright. Our guns had two more half hour bursts at 11.30 p.m. and 12.30 a.m., which disturbed our rest abominably. Relief quick and successful. Quite fine, and moon this tour, I’m glad to say. It makes such a difference. Quite warm tonight. The Elephant very snug, with a good hanging lamp, stove, and tablecloth.
I had to leave off last night to go up to the front line, and was late getting back. Quiet night. Whizz-Bangs coming over occasionally this morning. Fine, warm damp day, but sunny. The roll call for July 1st is not feasible; it really never took place. Coys at 6’s and 7’s, and it was only after a day or two we found out who was missing, then there were people away on courses, transport, etc. The Bosche threw stuff about all over the place today from about 7.00 a.m. till 3.00 p.m. getting a direct hit on the trench, but no casualty. He was very busy with 77mm and 4.2’s. We dosed him back with T.M.’s (and he never gave us one), Hows, etc. Wind got up and raining now.
Fine sunny morning with a wind. Quiet night and morning so far. Fergie’s scheme for Xmas is excellent. I do hope the various committees will agree. Poor old Ensor must have had a bad time, but he’s a marvel to be alive. Young Ensor is doing splendidly. Repington’s article was very fine. Splendid having another lot of socks nearly ready. All three raids last week were duds. It’s very nice hearing what is being said, but I am not worthy of it. I might do so much more for them. I believe the Push will go on all the winter. Push on the fine days and dig on the wet days. A.S.C. [Army Service Corps] rumours of a move S. [south] for us, but it won’t come till we are fitted up.
Quiet night, rain towards morning. Clearing now.
6.00 p.m. Heavy showers in a.m., and the river has risen some feet. Place looked in about 12.30 p.m. Present idea at G.H.Q. is we are to be made up about 900 per Battalion, and stay here for the winter, two Bdes holding the line, and one in rest well back. That will be all right; also says 109th coming back on our right, at which I am delighted. Shill, Padre and I inspected our proposed new H.Q. Quite good, but too far back, and not quite ready yet. O. [General Nugent] pressed me to go and stay Saturday—Monday.
10.00 p.m. The Bosche was rather busy this morning from about 9.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. with his 4.2’s. He got one direct hit on our main communication trench, and damaged it badly, exposing it so we could not repair it by daylight. Relief gangs on it at night.
The Thornton Trench Coat
Quiet night, and clear. Raining heavily this morning. River very high. Such rain all day! The stream has again risen and we are nearly isolated. About four feet of water in every trench. Duck boards floating about, and movement about anywhere, either to front line or back, is hazardous. Hooper just come in with the rations and has been up to his waist. If it continues raining as it is now I wonder what the morning will bring forth. A quiet day, thank goodness. What must it be like on the Somme! New Thornton coat and long gum boots kept me quite dry in spite of rain and flood.
9.30 p.m. Stopped raining, thank goodness, but the floods are bad. The small pond outside has grown into a lake and all the duck boards are afloat. The trenches are four feet deep in water. However, if it only doesn’t rain I fancy it will go down, but a pleasant prospect for the winter. We have pumps going to keep the water out of the Elephant, which is below level of pond.
Mid-day. Such a night! Flooded out at 3.00 a.m. Now 3½ feet of water in the Elephant. Am hanging on here for a bit, but must retire on new H.Q. tonight or tomorrow. Was up at 3.00 a.m. and just got my kit packed and out in time. Am still unshaved and unwashed.
A lovely day and the floods gone down, but such a mess. Large parties baling Elephant and tidying up. All the trench boards in the trenches afloat, and trenches impossible. Padre and I stayed here last night with a few H.Q. people, and move back this p.m., after we have got things a little ship-shape. Of course, the Bosche has seen men working, and has begun putting Whizz-Bangs over, which stops work.
3.00 p.m. Just moved to new H.Q. ready to hand over tonight. We really cleaned up the place wonderfully, and you could hardly tell there has been a flood; fires lit in Elephant, where there was 8½ feet of water at 9.30 a.m. Front line; really wonderful.
We got back here all right last night, and completed the tour without a casualty again, which was providential. Another lovely day, which is such a blessing the day after we come out. Saw Campbell, the Moyallon [House] groom, today. He is in Transport of 16th [Royal Irish Rifles]. Handed over to Savage at new Bn. H.Q., which is about half a mile further back. Safe, but not comfy at present. Hope they’ll do something to it. It’s a concrete casing inside a brick barn, with concrete pillars down the middle, rather ecclesiastical and cold. It’s divided into three—one dormitory, one living room, and one small bunk at the end for C.O. A 40 minute walk from the front line, which is [word removed]. Slept well last night in a comfy bed; quite a nice room. I have the Padre next door, and the others in the huts, about 200 yards off.
Slater from Armagh, Sergt-Major of ‘B’ Coy., has just got his commission; been with us all the time, and a very good fellow. Vennard takes his place as Sergt-Major. Three more names gone in, Espie and Campbell among them.
7.00 p.m. Lovely day, and the men dried, cleaned and refitted. Rode out for an hour on Betsy Jane, who has been clipped and looks very smart. Went to Transport and back by Neuve Eglise. We are on N.E. [Neuve Eglise]—Bailleul Road, about a mile from former. Pratt came over in the afternoon; very cheery—full of bukh. Bowen, Commanding Y.C.V.’s [14th Royal Irish Rifles] has gone home sick. Hooper and I were really rather clever though roused at 3.00 a.m. in the dark and with only 15 men to pack up; everything was brought out, and I lost nothing, not even pipe cleaner, which was hanging up on the wall. Wednesday was a horrid day. Couldn’t shave or wash till evening, and then was too tired. We were quite cut off for some time by daylight—I mean except movement over the lid.