"kloofs'? were dug out in a potato field, and the soil was very soft, while the weather was extremely wet, with an occasional fall of snow. Still, we could generally manage to procure the materials for a good dinner despite the snipers, as there were leeks, cabbages, turnips, and pumpkins, besides the potatoes, and a rabbit or a chicken could usually be had after a stern chase. One coy. was taken to the other side of the river to assist another brigade, and they got it rather hot, having over 50 casualties. The most of us were still wearing the shirts we left England in, and you can imagine what they were like – we used to say “What could you expect on the banks of the river Lys?” So it was arranged that we should go to a town in the rear to get a bath, one or two platoons at a time. Our turn to go was one morning after the Germans had been shelling the town all night, and had set a chemical work on fire. Some of the buildings were wrecked, others had to be propped up to keep them from falling, and the poor people were hurrying away with such belongings as they could carry. We had our bath cold. That was bad enough, but the enemy commenced throwing shells just after we arrived, and although none struck the building, one could not bathe with comfort with them cracking round about. I have since heard that the mayor of this town was shot as a spy. We were relieved from that position by the Scottish Rifles, and were not sorry, as everything we had was wet through and covered with clay. We then spent two days in getting a hot bath and a change of underclothing ere moving off again to take up a position on the other side of the river which had been occupied by the French. Our routine since then has been four days in the trenches and four days out. We spent Christmas in the trenches, and had the unique experience of holding friendly intercourse with the enemy half way between the lines. We get shelled now and again, and our artillery shells the Germans: they snipe at us and we snipe at them, and we are rather confident that our artillery has the best of the argument. Of course, we don't get off scot free, generally some poor chap “copping out,” and not the least dangerous is the going into and coming out of the trenches along a road that is every now and again swept by maxim fire. We have had three Territorial regiments in the trenches with us, getting them used to it. I will now close, hoping this may prove interesting reading.        A. ARNOT.
< Back

Introduction

Obituary >