Arthur is finally settled in new billets at Burbure after a slow and freezing evening journey from Boulogne to Lillers, changing trains at Berguette in the middle of the night. The returning officers found welcome shelter in offices, sentry boxes and various cafes along the way. Now Arthur is feeling more human after a wash and shave, and a hair cut in Lillers – with a great batch of Dollie’s letters to answer.
Arthur to Dollie
Flanders, Saturday 6.40pm
…You see I have arrived at last, safe & sound DG. We had dinner last night at the Louvre, Boulogne at 6 then over to the station. We found that the 47th Division were supposed to go via Havre. However we could get to Lillers by changing at Berguette.
We left at 7.30 & after a slow & comfortless journey reached Berguette about half-past one. There we got out. Our connection left at 3.30. It was a wonderful moon light night but bitterly cold & freezing hard. We took refuge in a corner of the RTO’s office which was fairly warm & there slept on the floor. I was very thankful that I had lugged my old blanket along with me.
The train came in punctually at 3.30. There was only one station before Lillers – Ham, where we were in February. We reached Lillers at 4. Here we could find no accommodation beyond that of a sentry’s shelter. Here then, dear, we sat before a brazier till 6. It was cold.
The one café opened. In we went & sat before the fire there drinking hot coffee. At 7.30 the café reserved for officers opened: so we migrated there & had brekker. The next difficulty was to find Burbure – where the Battalion is – and once found, to get there. However by about 9.30 we managed to get hold of a car and were out here in a few minutes for it is less than 2 miles out.
I reported to the CO dear, and then came over & had a wash & a shave. After lunch Wilcox & I went round the men’s billets. Then walked into Lillers, had a haircut there & tea. So back again in the crisp dark. That little lover has been my day; what of yours?
This place is fairly high up set oblong shape on an open muddy place. We’ve a fairly decent mess room, with a room for me leading off. Quite fairly comfortable. Apparently the new Brigade the 142nd are not popular with us. They certainly don’t look up to much & are very stingy as regards leave & very supercilious in other things. They’ll soon tame down. Tomorrow we are being reviewed by the Divisional General. The battalion was inspected the other day by the new Brigadier, and again by French.
I am very fit, dear, to-night, but very sleepy. I’ve got a great batch of your letters to read again & answer. God bless you little one. I’m going to say au revoir, dear …