26 December 1917

Just time for a line or two sitting in bed before snuffing the candle.  It is our first night in after the Christmas festivities and the Major and I are back once more in our old dug-out.  There is about a foot of snow outside and many chinks in the door – our only warmth coming from the mess-fire next door.  I am wearing all the clothes I possess including boots and puttees, and have three sandbags on each leg.  One blanket and one’s coat is all that one can bring to trenches so one has to do the best with all sorts of odds and ends.  Our Christmas was a very merry though rather cold one.  Our celebrations were all on the Monday – a day which was more suitable to the trench reliefs than the 25th.  The men fed first – an enormous spread of pork and plum-pudding.  The Sergeants followed, and lastly our own at 7.30 pm.  We sat down 32 in all and I will send you our menu when I can think of it.   I have not got it with me now.  Everyone was in great form and the C.O. was tremendously cheery.   We had an uproarious evening and eventually got to bed in the small hours of Christmas Day.  The day itself we spent very quietly.  Church in the morning, and a slack time in the afternoon.  In my case spent polishing off arrears of work.  In the evening I dined with my old Company D – a sort of family gathering, and early to bed.  On Monday just as we were finishing lunch we had a most unexpected visitor Broomfield – now a Colonel and commanding a battalion of the Manchester Regiment.   He seemed very fit and quite pleased to see us – of course Moore, John and myself were the only ones he remembered. I expect we shall see him again soon, as they are not far away from us.   I have a cold in my head and a ferocious and awe-inspiring cough, but feel very fit withal, so take some of the Doctor’s best pills and laugh at it all.   I dare say leave, if and when it comes, will put me right in no time. I don’t suppose they will let me go very much before the 15th or 16th of next month – possibly not till later.  Bosworth managed to get home for Christmas, and is tremendously happy about it – he will not be back for some days yet.  Meanwhile my Irish Roman Catholic Orderly is officiating for him – the great Sullivan of whom I believe you have heard.  I hope you are all keeping fit and are not unduly worried by raids.

J.D. Hills was home on leave from 6 – 22 January 1918

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