17 September 1916

Just a line or two before going to bed.  We have had a Dinner party and the two guests have only just departed.  Huskinson, the new Mess President managed somehow or other to procure a goose, and we have had a tremendous spread.  I for one shall probably be ill tomorrow.  The menu for a change was in French, a language of which Huskinson is not by any means a scholar.  Pudding de la Chateau did for Castle Pudding, while the poor goose was disguised as oie rotie.  Accents as you can see were flying more or less indiscriminately over every work, and genders did not worry the author very much. Our guests were the great John Burnett and Major Wilson, the latter is at present commanding ours in the absence of Col. Jones on leave.    Poor Jones is in rather a bad way.  His second daughter has suddenly developed infantile paralysis, and of course they cannot live at Uppingham.  As his wife was looking after his house while he was away this has made things very awkward for him, and he has had to go home to find someone to manage the house.  He is of course very upset about it.   Viccars starts for his leave tomorrow and will be away about twelve days in all, ten of which he gets in England, lucky man.   That, of course, is one of the advantages of being on the Staff.  There are still quite a number of officers who have not seen their homes for a year, so my turn cannot come yet I am afraid.   Viccars of course is so pleased with the prospect that he hardly knows what to do with himself until tomorrow.   We have got a curious lot of gentlemen opposite us just at present; some of them want nothing better than to desert and be taken to England, others, on the other hand, seem more or less patriotic.  As soon as the former show any signs of trying to come across to us the more patriotic of their brethren shout at them, with the result that not half so many deserters actually reach our lines as are desirous of so doing.   They all say that everyone in Germany is tired of the war, but that is probably because they know that such a statement causes tremendous pleasure to the high authorities in the Intelligence Department.  I don’t suppose one can really believe much of what a discontented Bosch deserter has to say about conditions in Germany.  The information he gives about troops and billets, and roads and railways is far more trustworthy and useful.  I managed to get to a Celebration this morning at 7.30 AM. in the village recreation room.  The Padre started a bit early with the result that both Huskinson and I were late.  There were only three or us altogether.  Just at present our C.E. padres are not very great men; at least they do not seem to make their presence felt much.  Perhaps they devote all their energies to the battalions and consider that Bde Hq. does not need any parson.   This evening at 5.30pm the General delivered a lecture on advance guards which we all attended.  He knew his subject very well but is not a very fluent lecturer; however I learned a lot which is the great thing.  Now all we have to do is to hope that some day the great thing will happen, and we shall once again need advance guards and rear guards, and all those curious things which one used to practice before the war began.  If we can only go on shoving far enough and hard enough it must have some effect in the end.   You cannot imagine the satisfaction it would give me personally to be able to get on the move and advance even though it was only for a comparatively short distance, while the Bosch retired on to some carefully prearranged line.  We have sat here long enough and want a change.

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