Still more and more work, and to add to our troubles and worries another C.O. They suddenly posted one Col. Wood to Command the Btn and as he is senior to Currin the latter has had to go and has gone on leave today. He may come and call. I am heartily sick of this changing about. It is not fair on Currin, it is still less fair for the Battalion, which cannot possibly be expected to remain thoroughly efficient if the head is being for ever changed. Incidentally my work is doubled, and for a time a new C.O. is bound to be dependent on his Adjutant. Col Currin was in many ways quite unlike any C.O. I have ever seem – but never can there be found a man with a smaller regard for danger, one more cheerful in the worst circumstances, and a kinder hearted C.O. At first sight he appeared somewhat wild to us but we soon learnt that he would back us up in everything, and knew that we could never be in too tight a corner for him to be there with us. I for one am very sorry that he has had to go.
I am still alive after our run last night, and moreover I have done another tonight. We managed to do about 1 and 1/2 miles along a road up and down a hill in 9 minutes which wasn’t so bad. My knee was of course bandaged but stood it very well and will I think be all the better for some really hard exercise without any jerks or twists. We have suddenly gone back to frosts, starting yesterday evening, and today was in consequence bright and, when out of the wind, warm. Tonight it is freezing hard and if it holds out as long as the moon we may get another spell of fine days without any rain. One unfortunate has happened, the mare is not so well as she should be. I fancy she has an unsound digestion. I am really too heavy for her, and with one thing and another she if quite out of sorts. I shall have to give her a rest for a week or so. We are in the midst of a great deal of football and games of all sorts which go on every afternoon; the morning of course is devoted to very strenuous training. Our running is done in the darkness – we are so shy. The C.O. runs extraordinarily well in spite of his 46 years. The Padre came back from leave today, and Major Burnett will be back in a day or two. Then H.Q. will be complete again for at least two months, since none of us can possibly be due for leave again much before them.
I believe it is now more than a week since I wrote except for the scrap end just to shew that I was still alive. We did a big move last Friday and Saturday which meant “up early and later to bed”. The weather was disgusting and the roads consequently abominably heavy – so that by the time we reached billets, some of the men had gone just about as far as they could. On the second day we had to do a tactical scheme as well which did not tend to improve matters. However nobody perished from overwork, and we eventually “fetched up” in the two villages which we now occupy – miles from the war – in fact we cannot even hear it when the wind is the right way. We have got quite a comfortable billet though some of the men are none too well off – the houses in this part of the world are somewhat tumble-down and antique. Personally I sleep over the mess and am very well placed. My Orderly Room is not bad, thought we all wish the inhabitants were not quite so fond of stewing sauer-kraut – I shall never want to see a cabbage again – certainly not smell one. We spend all our time training, shooting, bombing, bayonet fighting and getting fit with games and goodness knows what. I am going to try a little running again and see how my knee will stand it. I expect a little real hard exercise will do me no end of good and clear this beasty cold away. Many thanks to all and each one of you for your birthday letters – Dad’s came today – the others all hit the right day exactly. It is very good of so many of you to write such long screeds – at present it is absolutely impossible for me to dream of answering them all. Many thanks also for the Chevalier Album. Eight or ten of us attended a Requiem Mass today in the little village church – for the soldiers fallen in the war. I told the Cure beforehand that we did not know how to behave and what to do, so he said it would be all right if we stood all the time – which we did. The incense smelt very nice but gave out after five minutes, and no amount of coaxing on the part of the grubby acolyte (who retired and sat on the vestry floor and blew into the censer in full view of everybody) could persuade it to give forth its accustomed fumes. The service lasted and hour and consisted very largely of a droned and half shouted duologue between the Priest and the Clerk (?) The sermon was short and good, and they had rather a good Litany in French at the end, to a tune that I know quite well but cannot place. Everything else was of course in Latin. The disconcerting part of the proceedings was the number of offertories: I thought there might possibly be one, and so took along a small note which I put in the first plate – all well and good. Imagine however my consternation when I saw the plate coming round again about half an hour later. I searched high and low for a small coin – but could find only two pieces of paper. One was a 50 franc note – the other a matinée ticket for Zig Zag at the London Hippodrome !! Neither seemed quite suitable. However it turned out that the second collection was by way of being a sort of pour boir for the bell-ringer – who — the brute – had worked no doubt very hard – he had certainly started early and woken me up at a most horrible hour. I must say I cannot possibly imagine how anybody with a single spark of imagination, humour or initiative could be content with a form of worship such as the one carried on in this church. The congregation takes practically no part – none at all in the singing and responses. The grubby acolytes, the shoddy gaudy decoration, the cheaply painted images – all seem so hopelessly uncared for and out of place. The Church itself was built by the Spaniards in 1680 odd and could be made to look really beautiful. It is small but quite a good shape with a very a handsome chancel and apse. I cannot remember whether or no I told you about the “Drums”. I think I must have done because at the time when I last wrote they were uppermost in my mind. We have got them going really well now – 4 side drums – 8 bugles and a big drum. They are very good and put up a splendid show every evening at “retreat” – 4.0.pm when the whole village turns out to see them play, and march up, and turn the horses into the ditches etc. We had a very amusing evening two nights ago. I set a compass march for all the Subalterns, arranging for each pair to arrive at the same rendez-vous – though starting of course at different places and marching on different bearings. Two parties fetched up all right – in very good time but some of them got hopelessly lost and we had to go over the country blowing a bugle to get them back again.
My wretched cold still drags on, and thought my cough has almost entirely gone I am living in that most disagreeable and uncomfortable state when one can taste nothing, and smell nothing. I have written to Partington and told the Editor of the “Green Tiger” to send a copy to 16 Somerset Street each month, and in that way you will get a copy very much sooner than you would if you waited for me to send it from here. Great excitement has been caused here by the reappearance of the Drums i.e. the Btn bugle band. It has been defunct for nearly three years it has always been my ambition to resurrect it and now at last it has become possible to do so. They performed in public today for the first time, and made a jolly good show. At their present rate of progress they will be doing wonders in a week. All the players are fully trained so there is no fear of our having to put up with a great deal of horrible squalling and squawking at all hours of the day. We had a tremendous amount of banging and bumping all over the place a few nights ago, and the air seemed very thick with aeroplanes of all kinds and nationalities. The extraordinary part of the show is that although large numbers of people went to look at the damage, nobody seemed to be able to find any. I suppose none was done, it is often the case.
I hope you have not been unduly disturbed by the recent air-attacks, and that none of the bombs fell in the neighbourhood of Somerset Street. I see that the last attempt was driven off before the enemy could read the outskirts of London, so that is much more satisfactory. The moon will not last very much longer now and once she has departed I expect you will have peace. Incidentally I should not be surprised if our present spell of dry weather also went with the moon. We are having frosts every night, and, until today, have had bright fine days. Today is cold and far from bright. My cough has more or less disappeared, and my sore throat gone, leaving me with my voice once more returned to its normal condition. However I still have a heavy cold in my head. Once I have got rid of that I shall be all right. Another day or two should see it through. Work is very strenuous and with my Sergeant and my Assistant Adjutant away a good deal has to be done with our own fair hands. We have just received a large reinforcement – are in the throes of inoculation, and musketry courses and in fact I shall be quite glad when we get back to the ordinary restful routine of trench warfare. I had a very nice little dinner last night with Brookes’ Company. Cole is back from leave and they are always a merry party – others are sometimes inclined to be gloomy but never D.