19th December 1915

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19th December 1915

Arthur explains to Dollie the trauma of their recent re-assignment to the 23rd Londons; they are now at the front, instead of further back, in the support trenches: Arthur has command of a pretty big front – “about 4-500 yards including part of the Hohenzollern Redout & Little Willie”; conditions have been pretty quiet so far – they have shot one sniper, & the Germans dropped a bomb on to one of their machine gunners; with luck they hope to be out by Wednesday or Thursday, in time for Christmas.

Arthur to Dollie

In a dug-out, Sunday aft. 2.30pm

I’ve lots of news for you, dear, & beastly news too…. About a week or ten days ago the CO despairing of ever getting a draft, wrote in to the War Office, suggesting that the Battalion was at its minimum strength. Lewis, the Brigadier, realising this too, forwarded the letter in the usual way. But when it reached the Division, they were seized with a fear that they might lose us & like an angry child, did two things. One they most unjustifiably refused to send on the letter and quickly sought to put into action something that might thwart any more. At a moment’s notice, while performing the ordinary routine of the brigade, a message was sent through that a company was to be formed out of our few numbers; HQ & the transport were to go back to form a Divisional School!

I was summoned back to HQ yesterday morning from Vermelles. The CO told me the news. I was to have the company, with Wilcox, Lloyd, Brady, Lewis & Ochs. We were to be attached to the 23rd Londons, who were coming up to-morrow (that is, to-day).

The CO is mad with anger & in a dangerous mood. He has taken steps at home to make things unhappy for the people responsible. It’s a damned shame & all feel it from the CO downwards. Feeling is very bitter, too bitter for words. Meanwhile dear I am in command of what’s left of the 3rd pro tem. Poor old 3rd s. It’s hard, dear, awfully hard after all these years. Please God it is only temporary & someone will have to pay! Till then we must just endure.

Wilcox, who [had] a slight touch of the flu, made no attempt to get well & has gone in. Lloyd won’t be back till Tuesday. So Abbott & Henri are up with me in their places. Brady joins me either to-day or to-morrow.

I was very busy last night for a lot of reorganising had to be done. This morning we were up at 3, paraded at 5 & got up here about 7.30. It was a beautiful morning. I’ve a pretty big front – about 4-500 yards including part of the Hohenzollern Redoubt & Little Willie. Today DG pretty quiet so far. We have shot one sniper, & they’ve dropped a bomb on to a machine gunner of ours.

We go out on Wednesday or Thursday DV. So we’ll have Christmas out, please God. Well dear, I think that’s about all the news. We’re all feeling very blue, so write & buck me up – as you can always.