3rd December 1915
A detailed account of the recent twelve and a half mile route march undertaken by the entire Division; the bedding was late arriving and fresh orders weren’t forthcoming until 3.30am the next morning; however the Divisional Commander was complimentary about the standard of marching! Arthur has been “pottering about” with the machine guns; the rains move in – thankfully after the divisional exercise was over; a sad little story of a supposed spy.
A letter from brother Dick in Gallipoli has taken almost a month to reach Arthur; reports of the disastrous flooding at Suvla Bay (26th November) have apparently yet to reach him in the trenches.
Arthur to Dollie:
Billets, Friday 8.30am
This is just a short note to wish you Good Morning – to send you all my love & a huge kiss. I’m writing a long letter about our trek & in answer to your dear letters – but I haven’t finished it yet & don’t want to miss the post…
… We wound our way down the ridge, across a branch railway, into the outskirts of a little village. Here we halted & here the remainder of the Brigade were billeted for that night. Our billeting area was in the next village to the West. Jones & 3 or 4 men had gone on ahead from Norrent to fix things up & they had nearly finished as we got in. We soon settled down & had a meal. The arrangements as to our baggage were rotten – to put it politely & rations weren’t in until after 8. The valises & blankets about 9.20 – an hour later. No orders were forthcoming for the next day and HQ were waiting up till 3.30am for them.
I had been given a room in the school house – a bed very clean & nice. But I chose to sleep in our mess room in my valise, in case orders turned up for a sudden move. Lloyd did the same and it was just as well for next morning orders came at 7.30 for a move at 8.10. We had a bit of a rush to get things packed &c a very hasty shave & a soldiers breakfast – standing.
The morning was cold & threatening, but luck was with us & instead of rain the sky cleared & the sun shone gloriously. We marched back another way. It was half past one before we were in & I reckon we covered about 12 ½ miles. We passed both the Divisional General & the Corps Commander on the way & were complimented on our marching! We had a late lunch when we got in & afterwards I’m afraid I slept till tea. After tea some Company matters to attend to & after dinner an early bed.
To-day dear has been a beast of a day; very very wet. I was up early this morning COs orders at 9: Company business most of the morning. I also started to teach some of my Subs the machine gun. This afternoon I’ve been pottering about with the machine gun & then tea which we just finished. Lloyd is off on leave to-morrow – Lucky chap. I wish I was coming home with him. Davis has gone again, sick: & Bateman, one of my subs is down at an ambulance near here, also sick – neurasthenia, if you please. I expect he’ll be evacuated too. I wonder how they manage it! The CO is very affable & has asked after you. Sammy has also asked after you, twice – and Beresford. Sammy is still loafing round HQ, doing nothing.
The French people reported a supposed spy the other day. We went out after him – found he was a deserter from the Loyal North Lancs – quite young, poor chap. He’s been living in a copse near here for about two months. Ben, my old war horse, is in quite good form. I had a letter from Dick yesterday – dated about November 5th. He is quite cheery & says things are very quiet out there. But that living isn’t exactly comfortable.
I also had a note from Bailey. He was in a hospital at Kensington; suffering chiefly from sciatica & frozen feet. He seemed keen on getting back to us out here – also wanted 100 francs he said the Mess owed him. So we’ve sent him a cheque.
All the battalions in this Division appear to have bands of some sort – either bugle or drum & fife. It sounds so strange to hear them, as we do sometime on the march. It seems years since we left such luxuries behind…