2 March 1916

Yesterday we moved in here, & here we still are.  It is a modest sized town, too large to be called a village, but not by any means the largest town we have been in.  The billets are rather a tight fit, & I occupy a back room over a news-vendors establishment.  This is the first time that we have ever been billeted in a town & it is rather nice in a way for a change.  The country is distinctly more comfortable, but it is of course very convenient having the shops.  We had originally fixed up the mess in an empty house where our officers are, but when the General came he refused point blank to live there.  So we had to search about, & eventually hit on this place which is a comfortable enough room but has no kitchen.  We have managed to rig up our stove in the stable, & are getting along alright.  It seems rather funny in the evenings after dinner instead of walking to one’s billet across a sloppy field or down some muddy lane, one just strolls down the pavement. There are of course no lights in either streets or shops, but we are not near enough to the front line to feel the effect of the Bosch activities.  We are all in here now & it is quite nice not having to walk several miles to see one of the battalions.  How long we shall be here I do not know but I should think that it would not be very long before we are on the move again.  We have lost all our snow now, a fine sunny day yesterday melted the last that remained.  Today has not been quite so satisfactory.  It has been raining a little & tonight it looks as if we might even have some more snow.  There is one rather interesting relic at this place – a fairly large “Citadelle”.  It consists chiefly of some enormous bucked up banks, with a moat & gates & a bridge.  By no means an easy thing to take when there were no high explosive shells flying about.  It is now being used as a hospital, while the moat with its high banks on either side provides us with a very safe rifle range.  Have you heard the latest submarine story it is really rather good, so in case you have not I will tell it you.  A large convoy of troop ships was crossing the Mediterranean when one of them sighted a periscope.  All immediately turned right handed so as to bring their stern guns to bear on the enemy & at the same time present as small a target as possible for torpedoes.  The two cruisers who were escorting the convoy opened a heavy fire as did the troopers, while the troops in the latter made good practice with both rifles & machine gun fire.  After five minutes heavy firing the periscope still showed no signs of disappearing, & as by this time the submarine ought to have been sunk, one of the cruisers lowered a boat & rowed to the spot.  It was then discovered that the periscope was in reality the hoof of a dead mule.  The brute must have died on some transport, & been buried at sea.  Though why he should choose to float with one leg stiff & sticking straight out of the water, is a question that takes more answering, than any one of us can give.      There is no leave going just at present, and as Andrew returns on April 14th I shall not hurry about asking for it until well on towards the end of the month.  Even though the old Bosch is not actually making things lively for us, it is not very nice for the French to see our people going on leave while they are fighting for all they are worth at Verdun.  It seems strange that we should have to wait for papers from England to learn how things are going on at a town not so very many hundreds of miles away.  Tomorrow night the General & Bde Major are having dinner with the G.O.C. so we are thinking of having a very recherché little meal here on our own.  There is still a bottle of phizz to be drunk that has been hanging about for some time & as one bottle is hardly enough for six, tomorrow would be a good opportunity for reducing our mess-baggage by one bottle-extra dry.

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