Wednesday July 19, 1916
Well I have not entered anything for Mon or Tues because things are so quiet here. Last night, though, a German scouting aeroplane persisted in scouting over our lines at a great height. Our anti-air-craft guns got after them, and it was a pretty sight to see the fast graceful looking machine flying swiftly from one cloud bank to another. On every side of it bright flashes would flare out followed by puffs of downy looking smoke which would hang in the air for half an hour afterwards. The German machines all got away, though four others in another part of the line were brought down. About 1:30 this morning a German machine, flying low dropped three bombs on our officers' quarters, but none of them went off.
I was picked out for a fatigue party for Dickebush where there is a steady casualty list, but the order was changed. I am now in a bombing party taking a short course.
Life for a man who don't gamble is a bit slow. For it is nothing but pitching pennies, playing Crown and Anchor, Banker Poker, etc. Crown and Anchor is played on a sheet with a square of cloth with spades, diamonds, clubs or hearts marked on each square. Lay a small pile of cards face up on each square and the banker throws the dice which are marked with the four pictures. For every queen, jack, king etc. that corresponds with the dice doubles the money he puts up on his cards. All unclaimed money goes to the banker who is the fellow who runs the game. Banker is played by the banker paying out as many piles of cards (face down) as there are men in the game. Every fellow covers any uncovered bunch of cards with his money and the banker must take the unclaimed pile left. He turns up his pile. Ace is high, king next, etc. For every face card lower than his, he takes in the money. For every one higher than his, he must double the man's money. Tossing pennies is played by putting a stick in the ground and tossing pennies at it. The nearest one takes the pot.
I started reading the bible again daily. The fellows respect me for it. They are a nice bunch of fellows, though so many get drunk every night. But I am out of a lot. If a man don't drink, chew, smoke or gamble, he is out of it all apparently.
Once in a while, we go into a little cottage and get a couple of fried eggs, a cup of coffee, and bread and butter for 8 d. This is very moderate out here. The usual price is one and tuppence. In this little village of Reninhurst near Ypres, where we are stationed, along with the 21st, 24th, and 25th the natives are putting up several new houses. Here is how they way they build them. A simple cottage framework is built of two by fours, the inside divided into one living room and two sleeping rooms. Then the framework is lathed with split branches of trees, then common mud is mixed with chopped straw and plastered inside and out. Then comes the roof of thatch, or tiles laid like this. [Here is a tiny sketch of the cross section of overlapping tiles]. The glass is put in without putty. Common board doors are put in, and the house is done in two or three days. No chimney or chimney pot, just the pipe stick through the roof. Sometimes there is a board floor, sometimes just beaten earth, brick, or flags. No foundation or cellar.