Monday August 28, 1916
Last night after a 12 mile march in pouring rain alternated with hot sunshine we arrived in billets in another barn.
It is astonishing how quickly, at the appointed time our Divisional billeting party can place 32,000 men at the end of a day. And just ahead of us is the 1st Division, another 32,000 men. They are billeted. One can only guess what a great lot of organization and work it means to supply and keep hosts like this going and this is a only a small part of our forces too. We are in the 2nd Can Div. And we left behind the 3rd and recently for med 4th Can Divs.
We were pretty tired when we arrived. But the captain of B Co., Captain McVitty, supplied two glasses of beer to every man. This means in our platoon of nearly 50 men all of about 4 men, including myself. After a rather nice supper of mulligan (stew) we washed our feet, changed socks, played cards for a while and went to sleep.
Up at 4 a.m. We had breakfast and moved off. Here again good organization was apparent. As if by magic the whole 64,000 men were all together and on the march in the half hour.
One thing I forgot to mention that at the billets in the farm houses the thrifty farmer's wives make good money by selling light meals to the soldiers, a cup of tea or coffee, two fried eggs, one big bread and butter sandwich for 1 franc (20 cents).
We passed through the villages of Neder. Just before we came to the city waterworks. It is a small affair but very prettily kept. This part of the country is practically unspoiled by war, and O what a relief it is to gaze on houses and landscape untouched by the Hun's shells.
We left behind the pretty waterworks with its solitary sentry, past two exquisitely beautiful French chateaus, each surrounded by gardens large grounds and the whole embraced by a graceful lagoon on which ducks and swans sailed around with stately mien. The chateaus set rather back in this beautiful setting were always a dazzling white and were surrounded by broad balconies with low carved stone balustrades, broken here and there by a wide sweep of steps.
We passed from these beauties made by the hand of man out to a high rise of ground to gaze down on either side of the road to wide plains on either hand dotted with bright little villages easily marked out by their white washed walls and red tiled roofs, the more imposing towns and cities, with here and there long steaks of white smoke marking the paths of railway trains. It was a very impressive picture. Its very peacefulness and beauty was so restful after the close contact with shell-torn ground and ruined villages.
This part of France is given almost wholly to the sugar-beet, then comes the hop, last of all the grains and green stuffs. We passed near the De Laa canal, a narrow little strip of water, but later just before coming into [?], we passed over the much travelled Calais-St. Omar canal. It makes on think of the quiet English canals.
We came through this town and about four miles out the other side to our present billets, another barn where we are to stay for about 10 days. We hear that we are to be issued with the Le Enfield rifle and payed, two very welcome pieces of news. We have come to regard the Ross as an unnecessarily clumsy and heavy rifle. The Le Enfield, short as it is, with its longer bayonet is away lighter and about three inches longer.