(To Dini) – Kemmel
My platoon, no 14, is in a large barn, & three of us Mould, Vincent & I are in the farmhouse to which it is attached. Our only occupations during the hours of daylight are patience & chess. The latter I play with Mould whom I have, so far, managed to beat – not a very good player therefore as you might imagine. As soon as it is dark our work begins. The regimental transport can bring the food up as far as the Trench HQRS. That is to say about a mile & a half behind our line of trenches. As soon as it is dark enough the reserve company assembles at the cross roads & then sets off in parties along a gigantic communication trench – boarded & drained -twisting and tortuous. Up this we struggle heavily laden with sacks of bread or biscuits, meat of sorts, wither “bully “or “Machonichie”, tea, sugar, candles & occasionally tobacco & cigarettes. Here & there one comes across a shell hole, & the first man at once says “mind the hole” or “hole on the right”. The first few avoid it, then someone aimlessly says ”Mind the hole” & not seeing it falls smack in with a splash. This is repeated about three times down the line to the accompaniment of much chaff “Hello Bill there’s a hole there” is a favourite remark to some luckless wretch who is almost up to his neck in a Jack Johnson hole. As soon as the first journey is over we come back for the heavy stuff, ammunition, barbed wire, sheets of corrugated iron & floor boards. There are not nice to carry, especially on a dark night along a winding trench. The men however treat the whole thing as a huge joke. The usual question as soon as we reach the trenches is “Got any bread?” Sometimes there are only biscuits, large square hard doggy – ships biscuits which the men hate. By the way, Machonochie, in case you don’t know it , is a meat & vegetable ration, a fairly large tin which you hot up & then open; it contains large pieces of meat & potato, beans, carrots, onions & gravy, quite a good dish but rather rich, & too much is apt to give one indigestion.