3 May 1915


Just a line or two at the end of our four days rest, tonight we for our four days picnic.  The “rest” is getting more & more curious.  This time we had to “stand to” the whole of one night & poor old D Company was digging trenches the whole of the next, so that the men are beginning to talk of the four days “in” as the rest, & the four days in billets, as hard labour.  My platoon keeps very cheerful & are very good humoured overall. I am going with my platoon this time as there is really nothing to do now with the telephones.  I have got them all into very good working order, & have laid spare line everywhere.  As a matter of fact, I shall be jolly glad to get back to command men instead of a few miles of wire & a dozen buzzing instruments.  We have all been served out with what the men call “Aspirators” so the Hun can do his worst.  I don’t think people in England have the slightest idea of the effects of the gas, which, so far, in the papers is merely called asphyxiating.  It inflames the wind-pipe & causes a heavy discharge of fluid into the lungs, which become entirely stopped up.  For 24 hours men have to go through all the agony of the first stages of drowning.  In the hospitals they either fail to recover, or if they do they are left with acute bronchial pneumonia.  The Doctors are simply overworked, with artificial respirations, & trying to make these poor fellows violently sick, which is their only hope.  One old Colonel of doctors who has been through Ashanti, Zulus, everything says he has never seen anything to compare with the brutality of this.  There can be no question of an early peace now, & if ever we do get a look in there or anywhere else there will be absolutely no stopping our people, I shall give them a graphic description of gas results before we start.  However we are well protected now, & gasses even if they come which I think improbable, will have no effect on us.  I have had some jolly rides, & one or two really great gallops across country, – the old nag goes along at quite a good pace at times in spite of the fact that it has to spend some of its time pulling the medical cart along.

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