8 November 1916

The weather still continues to be absolutely appalling: it does not actually rain unceasingly all day, but there are comparatively frequent showers of terrific intensity.   Fortunately we are situated on a hill & the water can get away, but even here things are very flooded.   All the underground draining arrangements are overflowing down the streets & the consequent odour is by no means pleasing.

Yesterday morning I went into a neighbouring village to see the Senior Chaplain & arrange about some sports which he is organizing for the Division.  There is to be a Football Competition, a Boxing Tournament, & a Cross Country team. The first two are more or less straightforward, the latter is more complicated.  A course is selected, say 3 miles & a definite time say 25 minutes.  Each unit runs by itself & there is no racing.   The unit wins which has the biggest percentage of men finishing in the time.  The percentage is taken from the number to finish & the total number in the unit.  A battalion therefore ought to have a couple of hundred starters.   We are training already very strenuously: all Bgde H.Q. Officers except the General are going to run.  If the present weather continues the “Going” across country will be very bad indeed.  In order to equalize matters everyone is to run in Service boots – what we shall do over plough I don’t know: those who manage to finish will be pretty exhausted I expect.

The village I went to is not half a bad place.  It used to be one of the important towns in the neighbourhood & owns an Abbey Church – quite the most beautiful Church we have seen in France yet. I happened to meet Bonnassieux in the street outside & he conducted me round. It is all Gothic built on one plain. The West front is very fine & there are one or two things inside that are very good. There is no very intricate carving, & the interior looks bare on the whole – but by comparison with other Churches we have seen it is very pleasing.

There are some curious little panels carved in alabaster which are said to have come from the Midland Counties of England. Unlike a great number of the local Churches, there are less gaudy tints & cheap candlesticks. The only mural decoration are a few oils, some of them by famous men.   The whole thing is well worth seeing.  Today I have been riding round all the morning & busied myself with oddments during the afternoon.   After tea Cannon & I went for a 3 1/2 mile run which we accomplished – along the road – in about 26 minutes – not so bad for a start. I expect to be horribly stiff tomorrow.


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