Daily Archives: June 20, 2016

20 June 1916

The weather has so far not come up to scratch as much as we expected. It is true that the sun is at the moment shining but it is still most unpleasantly cold and about midday it actually rained. I think we shall have fine weather tomorrow but it is absolutely impossible to make any forecast. Yesterday the air was by no means hot but most terribly oppressive. Ashford and I got so tired walking round trenches in the morning that we lay down and went to sleep within a few yards of the public highway – a most undignified proceeding, and one calculated to raise looks of mirth on the part of the private soldier – of sympathy on the part of the fellow officer – and of surprised indignation on the part of the prim and proper staff. None of the latter were fortunately there to see, so we are not likely to be Court Martialled for conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman. The night before last I spent wandering round trenches – seeing what little I could see, and hearing what there was to hear. In fact I looked so long at the inky blackness that in the end all our barbed wire stakes became prowling Germans, and every glittering dew-tipped blade of grass a ’Orrible ‘Un Bayonet. It is really very wonderful that we don’t get more false alarms than we do: towards morning a wretched sentry must see a very large number of things which do not exist. With hearing it is different. If one gets out of the trench and listens – the more one listens the less one hears – and there is a lot to hear as a rule. If the wind is right and the Bosch not too far away one can hear him talk in his trench – hear his transport come up and go away – hear almost anything in fact. I expect he does exactly the same with us and knows to a minute the time of all our movements. I have been shifted from my place – menial has already come to lay dinner so I must continue as best I can with a high chair at the sideboard. We are rather a large party at dinner these days with always an extra Intelligence Officer either coming on or going off duty – and an odd bomb officer or two staying with us – not to mention a few dozen casual specialists who are always careering about the neighbourhood and generally expect to be fed. Have you seen in any of the papers a description in one of the sailor’s letters of a wonderful shell which got entangled in the rigging, and having spun three times round the foremast dropped harmlessly into the sea. I used to have great respect for the veracity of the Sister Service but after that I don’t know what to think. I am sure no one in the army would possibly invent such an atrocious story. The curious part is that the Spectator of all journals seems to believe it – at all events it prints it in all good faith and without any comment as to its’ extraordinary unlikelihood. It is turning out a lovely evening and I shall certainly wander up to the trenches as soon after dinner as I can conveniently get away. If it were not quite so cold it would be very nice indeed up there at nights – one can always drop in for half an hour’s or so’s rest with someone that one knows – and the night has one great advantage – there are never any strafing Corps or Army Staff wandering about by night and one is more or less free to go where one likes.