1 East York’s R Report 4 January 1916

1 East York’s R Report 4 January 1916


This Reconnaissance was made with the object of finding a way into the enemy’s line with a view to a “silent” raid.


1st E. York R.


Report of Reconnaissance in front of trenches 81 – 83.


Monday 31st Jan[Dec] 1916[?15].      Lt Huntriss left trench 83 No M.G. emplacement at 10 p.m. with two Corporals and followed the line of Willows & on reaching the last one proceeded towards the Salient C.23.c.8.7. a ditch was crossed which could easily be jumped and then a dry ditch.  The patrol then passed through a wire fence some distance from the enemy’s trenches & then proceeded directly for the enemy’s trenches about C.23.c.8½.6½.  Here, when lights were sent up, knife rests could be seen in front of enemy’s parapet but no weak point was noticed.  On returning the patrol crossed a sap which appeared to be grown over & disused & knowing this was not the way they came by they re-crossed it & proceeded towards what they thought to be their starting point.  This was found to be a mistake on shots being fired at them which at first was thought to come from trench 84.  This was discovered to be wrong on the TREES in front of LE HALLOTS FARM being noticed.  A left handed direction was taken which brought the party into the L’AVENTURE – FRELINGHIEN RD &then they returned still being fired at.  Even if a weak point had been discovered it would not be a possible to guarantee leaving a party there owing to its great distance from our lines.


Another party consisting of 2Lt Green & Sergt Barnes left trench 81 bay 15 & crossed the stream in front by bridge C.29.a.3½.5½. & proceeded Northwards for about 30X & then S.E. to enemy’s wire about C.29.A.6¼.5¼.  There they discovered what was thought to be a very suitable gap for the enterprise, the wire being badly damaged & very low as far as it was possible to see.  Two sentries were heard talking just to the left & somebody was walking up & down the footboards.  The party then returned.


Another party went out from Trench 82 under L.Cpl Kelly & proceeded to enemy’s wire C.29.A.8.7. but failed to find any suitable place.


Tuesday 1st Jan 1916.  A party went out under Lt Huntriss to confirm the information gained by Lt. Green on the previous night & proceeded by the same route.  The wire was reached & a weak spot noticed.  Many “Crows feet” were parked which were intended to stick in one’s knees.  A gap was found & apparently the same sentry post was noticed but on this occasion the sentries fired into the wire.  This was again thought to be a suitable place.  The position was kept under observation by listening posts of 1 N.C.O. & 5 men until 5 a.m. but no movement was seen.


A party under Lt. Green set out from M.G. emplacement in Trench 83 with a view of reconnoitring the ground about C.23.c.9.4. but owing to the great distance & the dense mist the party lost their bearings & after great difficulty returned. The ground is very unsuitable for night operations owing to the lack of landmarks.


Wed 2nd Jan 1916.  The enemy’s wire was observed through glasses throughout the day & the conclusion arrived at was that the wire about C.29.A.6 ¼.5 ¼. was the weakest.

A party under Lt. Huntriss left trench 81 with a view to making sure of the former & also of penetrating the wire if possible. On getting about 50X from the enemy’s wire it was discovered that [a] wiring parties were working on a frontage of about 150X. At the same time sniping was very brisk about the gap & on to the ground in front.  A covering party in front of wire was suspected & it was hoped to take a prisoner but on closer investigation the firing was found to be coming from the trench.


The party returned about 11 p.m. & a M.G. was turned on the wiring party.


It was then ordered that a party should go an hour later in order to investigate the gap & see if possible whether it had been closed. When the party arrived within about 50X of the enemy’s wire a great deal of sniping took place the bullets hitting the ground in front of the wire.  The party however continued to within what was thought to be 5X of the gap.  The sentry fired into the gap & the *** & a piece of the wire pierced the forehead of Sergt Baines who was slightly wounded.  Not being able to ascertain the nature of the wound the party returned.


In addition the party heard a great deal of movement in this sector & sniping on the ground in front from all sections. Men were running about & a lot of extra talking took place.  The sentry posts were about 4 times as numerous as previously.  The conclusion is that the enemy are suddenly very much alert or else a relief has taken place.


3rd Jan 1916.  A patrol consisting of Lts Huntress, Green & 2 Corpls & 6 men went out from Bay 30 of trench 82 & proceeded to bridge in willows at & from thence towards the German trenches at ?

The wire was found to be strong & formed of large Knife rests. The patrol then returned & proceeded to work along to the right about 100X & then again to within about 20X of the German wire.  Here again large Knife rests were noticed but a gap was seen between 2 of them which was subsequently found to be *** up.  The patrol was out from 10.30 p.m. to 1.40 a.m.


A strong patrol consisting of 2 N.C.O.s & 10 men went out from trench 81 in search of a white flag with orders to watch it carefully & to attack any party they saw. The flag was not discovered.


Wed 4th Jan 1916.   During the day the German lines were carefully observed through glasses & a position located at — where the knife rests appeared either to cease or to be hidden by a rise in the ground.  The ground behind this appeared to be free from wire except some trip wires on the parapet.  Some distance behind the German front line could clearly be seen a large earthwork which is supposed to be a M.G. emplacement & which commands the front of the German parapet.


It was decided to investigate this position & at the same time to search the willows for a German Listening post.


The patrol consisted of Lt. Huntress, 2 N.C.O.s & 2men & supported in rear about 20X by Lt Green, 1 N.C.O. & 6 men.  The party left trench 82 bay 30 at 10.30 p.m. & proceeded to bridge at —- & thence to 6 ft along the whole line of willows but no listening post was discovered.  They then worked towards the German lines at —– & a working party was heard putting out wire.


Lt Huntriss’ party crawled as near as possible without detection, followed by support at 20X distance.  Both parties could hear the working party talking & one man was thought to be working towards the party with a coil of wire & it was hoped that he would get close enough to the patrol to be captured.  As this did not occur Lt. Huntriss sent to supports for 3 men & decided to approach near enough to rush the party.  When three men arrived delay was caused through one of our men coughing & he had to be sent back & replaced.  When this was done the word was given to go forward but they rather suddenly seeing three men walk along the wire from the left from the working & the whole disappeared over their parapet.


Suspicions that the party would be relieved & also that the party of 3 might be a listening post relieving, the patrol waited about ½ hour on hearing or seeing nothing returned.


The patrol was out from 10.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. The patrol had some difficulty in getting back & although carefully warned the 15th D.L.I fired on them.


A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.



16 ? October 1917


My darling,


Twenty minutes ago I returned to my shanty, where I am living alone again. – Since I wrote to you last I have left Headquarters and have been away down south to the town or rather what was a town, and I have just returned; to find a lovely pile of correspondence – two dear letters from you and some delightful sweets – and the book.  Thank you so much dearest – but you must stop you are sending much too much in the way of letters and parcels – you know you spoil me dreadfully.


I have an idea that to-day must be the 16th.  I am not sure, and I have no one to ask.  Everybody was in bed when I got back.  I had dinner in a place beginning with a D and then came back in a car with 2 R.N.A.S. fellows.  Some of those fellows can drive – especially after a good dinner.


It is blowing hard and raining again. I should like to know how many days in the year it rained.


A noise has worried me at times here. It is very faint and far away, but seems to get into my head.  At first I did not know whether it was only in my head or not.  It sounds like rubbing a wet finger on a tumbler only much shorter in length.  It is a bell buoy some distance away. Eureka! But it is very monotonous.


Did not ‘No Man’s Land’ come out in some magazine. I have been looking through its pages and I am sure I have read ‘The Man Traps’ and ‘Morphia’ somewhere else.  Did you read it all?  It is extraordinarily clever I think.  Thank you for allowing me to keep the ‘Student in Arms’ for a time.  I want to lend it to one or two fellows.  You had better buy yourself a new copy and put it on my book bill.  I hope you are keeping an account of the books you are sending me, because if you don’t I shall feel bound to send them back in good condition which I cannot always guarantee.


Why are you so afraid of my laughing at you? Why should you think that I looked annoyed at something or another.  I can’t think what puts all these things into your head.  It must be my fault for I must have given you a very wrong impression.  I am very sorry and I must try and mend my ways.  Perhaps I shall learn in time.


What a long bike ride you had with Evelyn. I wish I could have been there too.  You must be having much better weather than we are to get a bike ride nowadays.


Mrs Cross does not seem to be at all well lately – what with headaches and neuralgia – please give her my love & tell her she must get better forthwith. I am very sorry for her.


You are keeping quite fit and well – all spots gone – I hope. How is Mr Cross? – still carrying on at the station.


I remember hearing Jane Harrison – Fellow of Newnham, lecture at Cambridge and I have read some of her articles – she had a fight once with Gordon Selwyn – fellow of Corpus and now Warden of Radley – a literary fight I mean – and the blows were in pamphlet form.  Don’t believe all you read in Jane Harrison by a long way.


In your next letter you might give me Manning’s initials (the Rector of High Barnet) if you don’t mind.


Maude does not seem to want to return home again. It looks as if she never would get away.


If I could rely on you to send me the bill and if it were not troubling you too much I should ask you to send me out the Times Literary Supplement and the Bookman (monthly I think). If you do please let me know how much it is with the copies or else I shall return them unread.  If you should see any good articles in the Nineteenth Century, the Hibbert Journal, or the Quest when you are looking at a bookstall I should be glad of any such.  See how I rely on you and how much I am worrying you!  As the winter comes on and the evenings are long and dreary I must have something to read, and novels usually are too much for me.


Have you another photo of yourself – the one I like best – to keep for me when I return – your photos are getting so dirty here but they will do for active service – everything gets filthy in no time.


I read the Political Article in Blackwoods this month and thought it was very good. Do you read the magazine every month?


I must dry up now or I shall be asking you to do something else and you will be so annoyed with me.


So glad to hear that Betsy is not being choked with smoke any more.


Much love to you my darling,

& many kisses

Ever your

Arch; Divl.

F. Smith letter 31 May 1917

May 31st 17

Dear Father

I thought I would send you a few lines as I have plenty of time to spare at present. There is not very much news to tell you, but no doubt you are always pleased to hear from me.
First of all I am wondering what the news is; did you send last week’s Pictorial as I have not heard from you lately?
We are still in the same camp, & I don’t mind how much longer we stay here; there are no inhabitants living near so we do not get to hear much what is going on I expect you know more than we do.
I am going to ask you if you would mind sending me some money as I am broke at present. I could manage alright if we were paid regularly, but sometimes it goes over a week & as there are several canteens here & I am very fond of chocolate, biscuits, &c that accounts for the milk in the cocoanut; so if you would not mind sending me a 10/- note it will come through quite safe if it is registered it will be very welcome for emergencies.
How is Wood Green looking I suppose everything in the garden is coming on lovely? Are the streets lit up as of old I suppose you often go to the Empire &c?
Do you ever see anything of young Ramsey I have not written to him for a long time now.
Well I think I must finish now.
Hoping you are all enjoying the best of health glad to say I am tres bien

With much love from
Your devoted

Alf Smith post card 12 May 1917




To T. Smith Esq., 24 Palmerston Rd., Bowes Park London N 22 England.  Postmarked Field Post Office 68. 13 MY 17

I am quite well

I have received your ****

Letter follows at first opportunity


Signature only. A. Smith

Date May 12th 17

F Hammond letter 23 Jan 1915

Dear Mar & Pa
Just a line to let you know I received your Pars letter yesterday. Sorry to hear Mars not so well but hope she will be OK again ere you get this. I am practically free from my cold now just a little hanging on me. The weather is very wintry at present the ground being covered about 6 inches in snow and well frozen. We had a practice at football yesterday morning. Just the right thing for warming one’s blood up. Must congratulate Gladys on her smart performance and hope she will keep it up. Had a letter from Will the other day he seems to be up to the eyes in work. I also had a little letter from Geo saying he had been over on Leave. Believe he’s going rather strong over at Southport? I got the enclosure in your letter am wondering whether it is really worth bothering about seeing that I have left it so long and don’t think the war will last so very long now. Anyhow if you think I should you might mention it again in your next correspondence. Will doesn’t seems to forget Miss S. he mentioned her in his letter to me. It reminds me of the fellow who read his character at Blackpool. You’ll have to be very determined with this young man. Well I think this is about all this time just gogging along quietly. Just do what you think fit about the war Loan business.
Luv Fred.

Cover On Active Service FPO D? Ja 17. To E. Hammond, 9 Countess St. Stockport. Passed Field Censor 2812 Cachet Biro 23.11.17

Letter has been folded into four. Outside front quarter has been overwritten later. Shown in text in Bold

H.E. WITTY Dec 16

H.E. WITTY Dec 16


  1. Section



1st December 1916.  Friday.  The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.


2nd December 1916.  Saturday.  The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.


3rd December 1916.  Sunday.  The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.


4th December 1916.  Monday.  The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.


5th December 1916.  Tuesday.  The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.


6th December 1916.  Wednesday.  The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.


7th December 1916.  Thursday.  Off duty.  Nothing doing as usual.  Weather very little changed.  Marked improvement in rations. No Mail.


8th December 1916.  Friday.  On duty with A.A.  Langstone leaves for home duty tomorrow.  Very quiet day again.  No MAIL.  Coal ration from BAZENTIN.  Did Ford’s & Keywood’s correspondence.


9th December 1916.  Saturday.  Off duty.  Arrival of men from Eng. Had a lot to say.  Spent the time in bed.  Had a warm time with it.  Good mail.  Letters R., Ma, home (also pcl), May, Wally Taylor, Scott (also papers) and Hilda.  Ans with pcs.  Sent £2 to R. and 10/- home.


10th December 1916.  Sunday.  On duty with A.A.  Drizzling day.  Observation and visibility still very poor.  7 O.R. and Mr Tribe to go on leave morning of 12th.  NO MAIL.  Ans Yesterday’s Mail except R.s (to be sent later).  Very quiet day in all ways.


11th December 1916.  Monday.  Off duty.  Nice clear day – Much activity in the air.  Two HUN Planes brought down.  Leave postponed until 13th owing to congestion at HAVRE.  Bosches throws plenty of scrap iron over – NO MAIL.


12th December 1916.  Tuesday.  On duty again with A.A.  Candling returns ”Wonders of Blighty”.  Letters R. and Badge Pcl (Mrs. Harpson).  ANS.  Also wrote Frank re 1917 diary – Heavy rain with snow.  Prep of forward position.  Bottomley here yesterday.


13th December 1916.  Wednesday.  Off duty – in bed most of the day.  Fitted up a toaster on the Primus.  Wet day again – Very cold. NO MAIL.  Payne returns – missed the boat.


14th December 1916.  Thursday.  Nothing doing today.  Weather still continues cold and wet.  Dug-out very damp.  Cold a little better today.  Warned for O.P. tomorrow.  Hope it clears up.  Letters G. and Gilbert (to be answered 16th ).  Razor returned from LEEDS.  Continuous shelling of MAMETZ WOOD.


15th December 1916.  Friday.  At O.P. with Mr. Campbell.  Fine day, cold, with intermittent fog and rain.  Dug-out ‘a foot’ under water.  Some place.  A sudden rift in fog revealed a German train to left of LOUPART WOOD.  Disappeared before we could get the guns on to it.  Saw occasional Huns on Bapaume Road.  High Wood and vicinity of O.P. shelled with 5.9.  letter from R.  (ans by P.C.)


16th December 1916.  Saturday.  On duty with Shippen.  Still cold rainy and thick.  Very little activity.  Letter from Douglas and P.C. from Gilbert.  Frost to be made A.J.  Tate to return to gun.  Recommendation for B.S.M. (home Service) required.


17th December 1916.  Sunday.  Off duty.  Very little doing.  Four men to go on leave on 20th.  still cold and muggy.  Spent a good part of the day in bed.  Letters Mother, Frank and N.T.  answered 19th.


18th December 1916.  Monday.  Nothing doing.  “Western Water Carrier”.  12 petrol tins  ¾ of a mile. Phew!!  No rain but very thick.  Fritz throws his customary scrap iron into the wood.  Letters Doris and Kathie.  Papers (home).  Ans tomorrow.  Issue of Whale Oil for Frost Feet.  Sergt. Major’s inspection.


19th December 1916.  Tuesday.  On duty with Shippen – Very cold & frosty with snow.  Great improvement on the fog.  Fritz shells our neighbourhood with H.V 4.2.  pretty near the Amn Dump.  NO MAIL.  Coal hunting a speciality at BAZENTIN.


20th December 1916.  Wednesday.  Off duty.  Lovely sunny frosty day.  Saw about 50 planes up.  Fritz very busy with H.V.  LX in action C.B.  letters R. and Mr. Taylor.  P.C home.  Ans.  Knight and Cable return former very despondent.  Blighty ideas had adversely affected his morale.


21st December 1916.  Thursday.  Off duty.  Much rain and increase of mud.  Heavy shelling of the vicinity about 7.30 p.m.  “Knights’ Scare”.  Nothing doing otherwise.  NO MAIL.  “Coal raiding again”.  Gill returns.


22nd December 1916.  Friday.  On duty with Shippen.  Very clear day – but fickle weather.  Guns and planes very active.  Letters R. (Christmas Card), Taylor, ”Times”.  P.C. from Frank.  Letter from Scott.  ANS.  (R. with P.C.).


23rd December 1916.  Saturday.  Off duty.  Very little doing.  Procedure as usual.  Letters N.T., Mr. Woodthorpe (with Photo), Gilbert and papers home Ans with pcs.  Letters to be answered on Xmas day.  Shelling in Mametz Wood.

24th December 1916.  Sunday.  Walked up to Bazentin Canteen for grub.  Nothing doing.  Also coke picking.  Weather warm with a little sun.  NO MAIL.  Intermittent shelling.


25th December 1916.  Christmas Day. Monday.  Fine clear day.  Very high wind.  Splendid for observation.  On duty with Shippen.  Splendid feed for dinner.  Quite a “Christmassy air”.  Major’s neat speech in round of dug-outs.  No armistice.  Bosches shell High Wood heavily.  Papers Ma and “Times”.  Ans previous mail.


26th December 1916.  Boxing Day. Tuesday.  Shell fell in our vicinity last night.  Chiefly “duds”.  Off duty.  In bed as usual.  Very little doing. NO MAIL.  Wet and misty.


27th December 1916.  Wednesday.  Scouting for grub at the Canteens.  Very fine just like a warm summer day.  Mud chronic.  NO MAIL.  Three leaves come in.  ready for moving forward..  sent Renie’s letter off.


28th December 1916.  Thursday.  Cold clear frosty day.  Fritz drops 12” shells (firing from Achiet) near us.  Narrow shave for Calley and myself.  Shell very Flying Corps.   Good mail.  Letters R., Ma, Mother, Marshals C.C.C., Cards Mag and Mum.  Books from N.T.  Ans (30th).  Wrote Carter and C.C.C. re Gardening notes.  Shippen goes to”Signalling School”.


29th December 1916.  Friday.  At O.P. with Mr. Tribe.  Heard wonderful stories of ’The New England’ and “a sub’s experiences in London” most amusing.  Very dull and wet in morning but cleared in afternoon.  Saw numerous parties of Germans walking up the slopes and on the ’High Road’.  Also two officers on horseback.  Unable to fire on them owing to lines”DIS”.  NO MAIL.  Many shells (5.9) in the vicinity of O.P.  Awful sights now visible in High Wood neighbourhood the recent heavy rains having revealed the shapeless bodies and skeletons beneath the surface.  Erection of a great Cross in memory of 1st DIV officers and men.


30th December 1916.  Saturday.  On duty with Gill.  Very warm day but dull.  Nothing doing.  Had a bath while on night duty.  Letters (& pcl) from R., Home, Mrs. Hampson, Pc from Frank, (AW) & Gilbert.  Answered all correspondence.


31st December 1916.  Sunday.  Off duty. NO MAIL.  Warm but foggy.  Repairing telephone dug-out side of which collapsed last night. Had a good bath.  End of 1916, a year of triumphs and failures!  Where will the new year lead us?  Surely to Victory.  Instinct seems to tell me that this is our last Winter Campaign.  Will Christmas 1917 find me at home?  I feel deeply grateful that I have been spared through this year and have endured successfully the exposures, dangers and hardships active service entails.  Here’s to a quick ending and a speedy re-union with my beloved wife.  Written in my dug-out BAZENTIN.

Summary of Year’s Mail

Letters Pcls  Pcs  Papers  R.      Home

472    64    37        67   109      99.




On back cover of diary: – Mrs. Hampson, Groveside, Westhoughton, Bolton.


Pte. H. G. Witty 37735 33rd I.B.D. 3rd West Yorks.  A.P.O. Section 17 B.E.F.



  1. W. Taylor, 153863 B Section No 4 Motor Amb Convoy B.E.F.


Private Arthur R. Witty, 33613, Block 29/B, 27th Company, 19th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Gefangenenlager Dulmen i. W. GERMANY  Prisoner of War.


War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Dec 1916

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne




Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda




DECEMBER 2, 1916.

I have just finished two days and nights in the trenches. It was not pleasant as it was so cold.  I went out to tea yesterday with the Sappers.  We had ration bread, jam and tea, and a very stale cake; but company was good.  I had dinner with some Australians.  Tonight I go to dinner with another battery, and I take some very particular records with me.  It is Saturday night again.  I have a record of the “Happy Day.”


December 5, 1916.


The German aeroplanes did not worry you I am glad to hear. I hope they will leave you alone now for you have had quite enough where you are.

The crisis in government circles, whatever that means, is amusing reading. I hope good will come of it.  Certainly I wish they would kick out Asquith, and I should much like to see Carson and Balfour given the whole job of running the show with Jellicoe and Robertson, now that Kitchener has gone.

The weather has been very cold here, and much too misty for good observation. The Boche is still here.  However the time is galloping along to next spring, when we hope to do the Hun in this time if we have any men to do it.  Leaders as well as fighting troops.

We are trying to arrange something for the men at Christmas, but it is difficult to know what to do. We shall probably be having some strafe ordered by the “Brass Hats”, who will sit with their feet on the dinner table in their chateaux, and say afterwards, “Oh! Good show”, or more probably “Oh! Dashed bad show, the troops are inefficient.”


(This letter had the red label attached to it on arrival containing the words “Examined by Base Censor.)


DECEMBER 5, 1916.

Two miserable mailless days were followed by the arrival of a large bag.

A gas alarm tonight, but there was nothing in it.

I get the Times a day late for 30 centimes.





We played bridge, and lost hopelessly. We have had two gas alarms tonight but nothing came of it.



December 8, 1916.


We had a large mail tonight.

The battery is still in the same place and fairly busy. It is cold and wet today.  I have been away all day at Ordnance with a gun which needs repairing.

I am glad to see that Asquith has gone. I hope there will be an alteration now, but I do not trust Lloyd George.  I sincerely hope Carson will be one of the “three”.  We cannot do without him.  He is an honest man.

The men are getting away on leave pretty rapidly now I am glad to say.


DECEMBER 8, 1916.

Friday night.

The greater the hell the greater the heaven! What a good there must be coming for some of us.  I have been reading William J. Locke’s “Beloved Vagabond” I don’t know why.  For lack of something else better to do I suppose.

The weather is beastly. The mud is simply appalling.  The Pave is bad enough, but they are infinitely better than the unmetalled roads.


DECEMBER 11, 1916.

We have been busy the last two days. The Boche has been much more active.  It is still very cold and wet.  I am sorry to hear about poor Gordon Nicholls.


DECEMBER 14, 1916.

At the present time I am attached to another battery, as its battery commander is away; but I expect to return to my own unit tomorrow.

Yesterday one of the best fellows I know, Cheadle by name, who is in a Trench Mortar Battery, called in to see me on his way up to the front line. He seemed very cheery about his job.  Then I went to our O.P., and a short while after on orderly came for me and said that an officer who was badly wounded wanted to see me in the Dressing Station.  I hurried there at once, and found the poor fellow on a stretcher badly knocked about.  I do hope he pulls through alright.  All the best fellows seem to go.  It is at times like these that one realises what the war means.  A friend killed or smashed up close by makes it a personal matter, which cannot be ignored.  At other times, when strangers or those to whom one is indifferent go down it does not make such an impression.  Then we do not take so much notice, and perhaps it is just as well that we don’t, it would be too exhausting.  The dead one can ignore if it is a stranger.  The wounded are generally so quickly carried away that those who remain do not come into contact with the results shell or rifle fire unless actually called to the Dressing Station.  He is the third officer who has been with me in the battery who have gone down.  Two were killed, and now he is wounded.  They were three of the best fellows we ever had in the Brigade.

It does not seem at all like Christmas out here. Such incidents make one rather sad, and to wonder if all the best are bound to be killed.  Why are not the rotters taken?  I suppose because they all look after themselves so well.



DECEMBER 16, 1916.

So my last letter was censored at the Base, but nothing was cut out. Christmas letters and parcels are arriving.

At present I am a semi-invalid, having been inoculated with anti-typhoid injection. My arm is very stiff.

They have turned on the gramophone again, and are playing rag-times, such old ones too. I hope the men break them at their Christmas concert.  We are giving them pork, Christmas pudding and beer.


DECEMBER 22, 1916.

Trench philosophy. There are only two requisites for the  “good life”, heart and health.  The only other condition that may help is independence.

The weather has been very bad here lately. It has been blowing and raining hard.  Colonial troops do not like it at all, and neither do we from England for that matter.

The air is full of peace now. It would be the height of folly and wickedness to listen to the Hun in the present state of the war.  No one wishes the war to be over more than I do, but I could not stick that.  Peace talk usually comes from those at home, who should be safe enough; but I suppose they are anxious for their money bags.  I have a vague recollection of hearing something about where your treasure is there is your heart also.

I shall spend Christmas night in the trenches as it is my turn for that duty. However it might be worse.  The Somme or even Ypres.

The gramophone is blaring out, “Happy Day”, “Oh! For a night in Bohemia”.  Why Bohemia? Blighty would be good enough.  At any rate as a change from the muddy plains of Flanders.

Some one has said that Victoria is the Gate of Heaven.  But it all depends on which way one approaches it.




So many thanks for the puddings, walnuts, dates, fruits and other excellent things, which all arrived in good condition. Last night I had a large mail, seven letters and three parcels.  It is all very good of everybody.

We have had some snow, but today is wet and windy, so unlike the conventional Christmas.

This is Christmas Day it is my turn for the O.P. during the afternoon and evening, so I am having a comparatively easy morning in charge of the gun-line. As we were up most of last night we are not as fresh as we might be.

What do you think of our Division’s Christmas cards? They were designed by a man in our Ammunition Column, and will serve as a reminder of the events of this year.



DECEMBER 25, 1916.

I had a large mail last night, three parcels and seven letters. They made it feel a little more like Christmas time.  It is a horrid wet and windy day, not fine and cold as it should be.  I am for the Observation Post this afternoon, and the trenches tonight.  We were up most of last night so we feel a bit off colour this morning, and our tempers are not of the best.  You will be in church now I suppose.  There will be no church for us.  We are becoming heathen.  There was a most amusing chaplain in the trenches last night.  He was helping the doctor attend to the wounded.  Nevertheless he was extraordinarily cheerful, and most refreshing.  He has not been out here more than a few days, but he has tumbled to it very quickly.

Our turkeys have not arrived yet. I expect they will walk here when they do.  Though the  A.S.C. gentry at the base have eaten them for us.  They are sometimes so obliging.

I must close have an early lunch and go to the O.P.


DECEMBER 28, 1916.

We had a merry Christmas. Eatables were received from various homes.  We received three large turkeys, a brace of pheasants, a ”Cheshire cheese” lark pie, six plum puddings and sundry other things.  The cake I kept until Christmas Day, when it was opened, and I found some holly.  How thoughtful of you.

The weather has not been too good. Today has been frosty but not fine.  The O.P. is not interesting in this thick weather.  I am keeping horribly healthy.  I should like a short time as an invalid somewhere else as long as I did not feel too ill.