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Date: December 1915

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the traces once in a while, but they are on the whole wonderfully cheerful and brave and they don’t have much fun you know, so we like to do for them handsomely when we have an excuse.

We are out now and in splendid billets, fine airy huts with a couple of little oil drum stoves in each, and plenty of room for all to spread themselves a bit. The officers are in a nearby farm house and have the use of two rooms, one for a kitchen and one for a living and sleeping room. We managed to pinch a few bundles of clover hay, and have it under cur sleeping bags, and altogether feel so pleased and comfortable that we have decided to give a dinner to-morrow for the Company, so to-day we were off bright and early for the Engineers’ camp and managed to borrow enough lumber to rig up a long table and benches in one of the huts, then on to Bailleul in the mess gig where we purchased a whole flock of food and decorations- The cook got a special quarter of beef and there is an issue of plum pudding, so the troops will have some spread. The officers are going to have a little dinner of their own and have bagged two or three pigeons, so we shall invite the C.0. and a couple of others to assist us in the orgy- Then just when the troops are at the proper pitch of appreciation we shall march over in stately procession with the batmen carrying the briming dixies of rum punch, pass along the lines and give each man his bowl of New Year’s joy - we expect the C.0. to be much impressed. Perhaps we shall be able to get the band and stage a real show. How does it sound for war times, eh!

Well let me give you the other side of the picture. A very sleepy officer sitting in a dugout in the front line at the ghastly hour of 4.00 A.M. with two empty boxes which once contained food sent to him by some one in England, now gaping up at him with a look of vacant astonishment - very very vacant I might say, absolutely overcome by the speed with which the former officer on duty (one George) had demolished their contents. Nothing to eat!! so the officer smokes the hours away. A message comes in from Headquarters - "Certain movements, etc. special vigilance, etc. etc. - so the officer goes out and wanders up and down the trench until that gets monotonous and the German gink opposite stops hammering on that nail. He leans up against a dugout and star gazes and dreams of a dear little girl at home until he falls sound asleep and tumbles head first into a puddle, and gets his mouth, nose and ears full of mud; where upon he damns the war and the Germans and all their movements, goes inside and tries to resuscitate the dying ember of a fire to dry his wet tunic, and so comes the dawn, stand to, and rum - Praise God. That afternoon a fresh faced youth with a guileless air brings up a neat little toy gun, sets it up in an empty piece of trench beside ours, and proceeds to toss sixty pound pills into the German trench where they went off with a bang that amused him very much. Fritz got tired of seeing his trenches going heavenward and brought his big gun into play. Now that would have been all right if he had known exactly the section of the trench mortar where Johnny had his little gun. I hadn’t the faintest interest in his fate at all. Unfortunately, however, Fritz was doubtful so he started in to heave six inch shells all around our trenches. It was quite thrilling for a while, but I was intensely annoyed, because every time one came travelling over like a big express train I had to flop in the mud and I had just managed to get my coat dry. Then as I lay there once with one side of my face as close to the earth as possible, a great blob of mud dropped out of the sky and effectually messed up the other side of it which was very unpleasant. Then I suddenly discovered that George had become unusually chummy with the troops and was passing cigarettes around down the trench a piece. As I happened to remember that they were my cigarettes he had in his pocket, I was very much disturbed for fear there wouldn't be any left, and was tremendously glad to be able to rescue them. Then we

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