2 December 1915

LaCoutre

I was very much less stiff this morning than I expected, albeit I was not able to move as freely as I usually can. This being the case I donned my new & flaming puttees & decided to pass the morning at rest in a comfortable armchair in the office, answering telephone calls, making maps, reading novels & generally wasting time as slackly as I could.  However the weather proved so tempting & the armchair & novels so boring that I finally got up, limped along as far as the 5th Headquarters, taking with me some pork-pies that had come for the Colonel.  As we happened to be fairly well stocked for food at present he thought it best to make a present of them to his former mess, & they of course were only too glad to get them.  My puttees were, of course, the admiration of all who beheld them, & I bore myself with my habitual sang-froid in spite of the numerous & curious spectators who did not hesitate to show their appreciation – in fact there was almost a scene.  I have not yet tried the patent fasteners, I am rather afraid of their tearing the top of the puttees, which are made of a rather soft stuff, which I don’t think would stand it.  After lunch I decided to try a short ride on the newly-clipped black mare & as the Colonel was going to ride round the horse lines & QM store this seemed to be a good opportunity.  My only difficulty was getting on & off, once up things went fairly comfortably though my right thigh gave a little trouble all the time.  The result was however as good as could be desired as I was much less stiff at the end of it, & by tomorrow I hope to be quite au fait again.  We met several friends during the ride, Lyttleton of the Gunners & his C.O. – Shaw the “vet” who is a very decent & jovial fellow — Burnett the transport Officer Always known as “John” & nothing else – and Moore who has just come out again.  He was our mining officer once & then had to go back with a twisted ancle.  He has been in England for some time, so long that he admitted he was thoroughly tired of doing nothing, & is quite glad to get back.  He has now been made Divisional Drainage Officer, to see to the drainage of the whole of this area & work out a scheme for getting rid of water.  The problem – of course – is where to take it to: there are three ways open – out, behind our lines, into the next Division’s lines, or into the German lines.  As he is a mining engineer & knows all about this sort of thing we have great hopes that he will succeed in the best & most useful method.  I am writing this to the tune of various military marches which our band is trying hard to hammer out, somewhere in the inky blackness of a very dark night indeed.  Someone hit on the brilliant idea of helping the reliefs along by playing tunes to them en route.  The band was therefore ordered to stand at the corner of the road near here & play for an hour or so while the btn moved off by platoons to the trenches.  It was not until after they had started that the Staff Captain realized that all the reliefs were going by quite another road, & would not come within a mile of the music. However it is still playing on nobly, helped out with three hurricane lanterns, playing to a few odd cyclists & a chance waggon or two that happen to go along the road.  There is still trouble over the billeting, some medical people, about whom I believe I said a few evil things a few days ago, finding they could get nothing out of the Division have appealed to the Corps, who now direct that they may be reinstated.  Now there will be a row, & in the end we shall probably loose.  It is an absolute scandal that the infantry who have the worst time in this game, & bear the brunt of the work, when they do come out for a short rest, have to fit in where they can – the officers often sleeping six in a small kitchen, while the most junior A.S.C. Subaltern or R.A.M.C. Sergeant – the former spending his time rolling round in a car – both get beds & good billets to themselves.  If this army had a grain of sense it would have every young officer out of the A.S.C. make them fight, & put some war worn & older men in their places.  Ah well its no good grousing.

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2 thoughts on “2 December 1915

  1. In this letter 2 Dec our good captain has really proved that he is becoming more and more removed from the real life in the trenches . Wasting time as slackly as he can sat in a comfy armchair reading , and then boasting about the quantity of food . Then the comments about billeting and sending the young and junior officers to go and fight and let the old uns do the office work. Good idea but i somehow feel our captain will not be one of them. If any thing his letters show me that he is one of those officers that get others a bad name in the eyes of those men at the sharp end .

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    1. Hello, thanks again for your comment it’s good to get the public’s views on the letters as it’s rare to have such an honest, unedited account of the lives of these men as Captain Hills letters give us.

      It’s also worth remembering that he is only 20 years old at this point so he’s really just a young man himself.

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