3rd May 1916

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3rd May 1916

After Arthur has had an 18 mile journey to reconnoitre their bit of line, the Companies have left billets and are now on the march; they are temporarily halted a few miles back from their final destination –   preventing the German observation balloons from detecting them in daylight; Arthur is writing this letter laid out flat, concealed in the woods, so apologises for its brevity; tomorrow they move forward to occupy the trenches – on his sister Laura’s wedding day.

Arthur to Dollie

On the March, Wednes aft: 4.50

… I’m awfully sorry I was unable to write a letter to you yesterday. We four Company Commanders, Edouard, myself, Wilcox & Christmas (who is in command of “C” Coy while Evie is away at the Army School), & Ainsworth, the Lewis Gun officer, went up to have a look at our bit of line. We had to report at Bde HQ at 8: that meant getting up at 6, breakfast at a quarter to 7. At HQ we picked up a motor-bus. We had about 18 miles to go to reach the line.

The weather was fine, except for a storm in the middle of the afternoon, but it was very hot. We were a long time getting to our destination – a village 2 or 3 miles behind the line – for a lot of the road were closed to heavy traffic, and we didn’t arrive until close on half-past 12. From there we walked, dear. Our bit of line runs just in front of a little village. The Huns, except for a salient of theirs on our left, are some way away on the further side of a little valley or dip. The place DV except for a minenwerfer – that we shall have to lay out – seems pretty quiet. All that there is to be feared is a raid.

We started back at 6 & weren’t in until 10.30. This morning we were up at 4 again & marched at 7. We marched for nearly 4 hours then halted for lunch in a jolly little wood. And here we are still, dear; for the day is so fine that the Huns may observe us from a balloon if we go on further now. So we shall not march till 7.

We halt to-night a few miles behind the line & go in to-morrow, the day of Laura’s marriage! Well, little one, that briefly is the news. I’m writing this lying on my tummy in the wood. It’s rather uncomfortable – so I shall end now, dear & continue a bit when we get in to-night – about 10, I expect.