Left London at 6:15 AM, arrived Calais 4 PM. Marched 7 miles to rest camp. Had a few beers at night. Our raid in the 20th Dec. was the best one yet on this front.
Fell in at 6:15 AM. Had bully
(bully is canned beef)
and bread for breakfast. Train left at 8 AM, arrived Anbigny midnight. Started to walk to Etrum at 1 AM, arrived at 4 AM, after sleeping about an hour on a haystack.
Cleaned up in the AM and wrote 10 letters. Visited the "Bucket of Blood" in afternoon. Gin seemed to be the ruling passion. Went to bed early, had no sleep for two nights. Am getting over my leave.
Got up early, did nothing in the AM, busy in afternoon. Am invited to a little game tonight at the first. (First Officer's club?) Result to be promulgated later. Game proved disasterous, 4 Aces by Hullingsworth was the stumbling block. Very dry game. Got a prisoner today. Rumours of moving. Rusty requests that his 5 Aces receive special mention.
Nothing startling happened today yet. (11 pm)The prisoner we got said we would win the war this year sure and that's what I hope. Intercepted a "stand to" message of Fritzes (Fritzes=Germans) just now and the air is full of excited expectations. Have cut out cigarette smoking. Am climbing on and off the water wagon daily these days.
Nothing much doing. Game at night when I again lost a few shekels. Cockrill grabbed off all the bacon. Getting paid today which is one redeeming feature. Just heard Ethel's uncle was killed in Edmonton.
Was a little more fortunate last night at the "Bucket of Blood", 8 franks. Rose was stunned. Captain Chirers returned from leave last night. Heard from Fred Whitmore.
Fairly busy today. Pretty windy, quite a lot of rain. Had my picture taken on Jumbo. (You can see this photo on the Spracklin Page.) Played the gramaphone tonight. Went to bed a 11PM. Haven't smoked a cigarette for 3 days.
Not much doing today. Picked off 15 franks at the "Bucket of Blood". On duty practically all day. Rained nearly all day. Porki kicked through with 3 franks. Money market improving. No cigarettes for 4 days.
Still nothing doing. Gas on the 4th Div. tonight. (John was a Quartermaster Sergeant responsible for gas supply... a "gas sergeant". I don't know what "Gas on the 4th Div." means but would guess it means that they were either going to get or receive gas supplies from/to the 4th Canadian Division.)
Jim Kant was over tonight. Went to Lena Ashwell's "Firing Line" concert party which was rotten. Attended a "spirited" prayer meeting at the "Bucket of Blood" with indifferent financial results. On duty all night.
Manton went on leave today. Last night at the "Bucket of Blood" proved disasterous. The 1st (Division?) pull out tomorrow. Have sure had a swell time in Etrum and hate to leave.
Well the 1st pulled out today and the Quarter (master) was out of luck for a bum's retreat. 0's today on gas. Pretty busy day. Black Watch have arrived to relieve the 1st. Don't know yet where we are going. No cigarettes for quite a while and I am now living the simple life. Rained again.
Wind no good, gas postponed. Working on Defense Scheme today. Playing the gramaphone tonight. No mail from Canada for 13 days.
Pretty busy day. Black Watch taking over half our line tonight. Still no wind for gas. Porki has invited me out Muskrat hunting. I only got 6 franks so unless he has lots of change, we won't get many... Porki's desk midnight... many beers. Frenchman sang a little song with underware accompaniment. Captured one muskrat, I had to resort to Rouge De Vin and grenedene which proved just an acceptable substitute. Heard a song to the credit of Ateemiorrore. Nick purchased bottle of champagne. Parti bought beer, as is the custom of his nation. Started a dud and I got one in the eye. Finis dud toot suite. To bed at Staffe on tonight.
Just heard my pay is all Jake. Must buy some champagne on it. Have to go up the line tomorrow, though, which doesn't make me any too hilarious. Rode over to Ecoiuer today to get
a new gas helmet. My thousand dollar steed had a hard time keeping on his feet. 4" of snow today. Reminds me of my native land. Rumors of a 21 day tour in the line, so must hurry and capture a few muskrats ere I go. Captured the muskrats although to get the last one we had to call a muster of the finances of the entire assembly. Way is drunk, as is the entire staff. Nick is sober, I regret to say. The last night in Etrum is sure one grand celebration. I share Sgt. MESS's disgusted opinion of the Bde (brigade?) staff. Porky absolutly spifficated, Quarter said present.
Moved today from Etrum to St. Elo mid the usual chaos. My kit was left up the hill. No eats in site, just got a hand out from the 7th Bde kitchen. Moved up the line at night for the gas. Are staying here until it is pulled off.
Living in dugout with Jimmie. Dandy place and good eats. Old Bill Hepburn and Bill Conneff are here, at Madafascar near Anzin. Damn near froze yesterday but Old Bill got a fire going and we had rum punch at night. Went to bed at 12 PM at peace with the world.
Today has been a most miserable day. I feel like I am on a homestead. Was outside and not a sign of life for miles. Just a barren waste covered with snow. Looks like we are in for a long spell. Rhigiter says they are pretty miserable at Mont St. Eloy.
Was up the Bethune Rd. last with Lou and ran across an emplacement darn near in the support lines. We were sure surprised. It's a dandy night. About 4 inches of snow. Brought home a couple of bottles of beer for the boys. Quarter came up tonight and balled me out for being so
generous with the "Dutch Courage". However, he brought up a quart of undertakers delight. So we will sleep off a little punch ere we slumber.
Have received no Canadian mail for 10 days. Ethyl and Gladys. About to partake of oyster
steamers, first since enlisting. Bill has been sick all day.
Practically nothing doing, weather very clear and cold. Tanks at ECURIE frozen and water is
scarce for the time.
Went up the line today with Lou. Went over the entire Batt'n (battalion) front. Seen Wally and Red Young. They were glad to get the rum. Still no mail. No gas wind yet, wind has been NE steady now for 2 weeks. Weather very cold.
Very quiet day. Everything is frozen up. Still no gas wind.
Jimmie went down tonight and Johnnie came up. Had a dandy fire tonight and Bill played some favorites on a mouth organ.
Up early this AM. ----- done at 8:3O AM. Water in the bucket is frozen. Studying plans for the Big Attack. If we can't make it this year it looks like we never will. Corps HQ burnt last night.
Very cold again today. Bill got sore because I made some remarks about the fire. I have been puzzling all day over a red cross puzzle; it is a dandy. Still no mail.
Still very cold and snow, although very clear.
BM went on leave today, and our mutual friend WHC has arrived. I have accumulated 10 gray hairs already. How long, O Lord--how long? Commenced to reorganize the BEF already. Big shell dropped just outside our HQ today. Killed 6. Some SRO on its way up