Sunday August 27, 1916
We had a dandy sleep last night in a big barn on a big spread of straw. We got up at 4 a.m. I missed my piece of bacon so I just made my breakfast on a spoonful of jam bread and butter and tea. On that we walked 12 miles, O such long weary miles in heavy kit. It has rained heavily both days on the march.
We are now in France and at 4 p.m. we are on the outskirts of Wormhout. We have passed through the town of Steenwoorde, La Cornette, Las Cassel, Zuytpeen and Noordpeele. One knows at once that he is in France though ever so close to the border. The women are easily much more beautiful, better dressed, neater figures, pleasanter looking (not stolid), and far more friendly. It puts one in mind of the warm hearted villages around La Havre at the training camp where we stayed when we first landed in France. And another thing too, and it has already been noticed by many, there is a certain spiritual vigour, the outward sign of an unconquerable soul. That's it. The soul of not only an unconquerable people but a victorious nation is apparent even among the villagers. Then the French people seem more intelligent and alert than the Belgians. The Belgians are more of a German type - heavy, stolid and quick in their own heavy way. A flicker of a look is the only sign of understanding when they are dealing with us. But O France, La Belle France. I don't wonder that the Frenchman loves his 'countree.' The further south we go now the more beautiful the country becomes. All the farm houses are mostly brick or stone with tile or the old fashioned thatched roof. The thatch seems to be made of regular rows of bundled straws over-lapped in rows like rows of shingles. In time this all takes on a lovely subdued green tinge and finally becomes a mass of moss.
There is practically no machinery on French farms as I have seen them, and less on Belgian farms. The grain is reaped by hooking it to one by a wire hook on the end of a handle about the size and length of that on a gaff hook used in fishing. The scythe, grasped in the right hand is an ordinary hand scythe on the same sized handle. As these little bundles are pulled toward on they are cut and laid in neat rows. After this they are put in larger bundles. Then again they are handled for the field hand goes along and with a few whisps ties them top and bottom, and middle. Then again someone goes along and shocks them up about eight heads to a shock. Thus the grain, in reaping, is handled four times. This means that a man on foot covers the whole field four times. How would that work in Canada? All this work besides threshing and bagging the grain is all done in one operation at home with a combination mower, reaper, and thresher machine.