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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Letter Home (Bee) - 31st December, 1916

15th Battery, RFA

31st December, 1916

Dear Mother and Father,

This is New Year's Eve and tomorrow our rest ends. We start on the Wallaby again and have about a three-day trek.

Christmas Day passed off rather quietly, but the men did themselves very well, a little too well in some cases, but the officers want to be a little more blind on these occasions. It is not much of a day, from the officers' point of view, as, after you have visited the whole of the subsection dinner and drunk all the usual healths, you begin to find a little goes a long way. The Sergeants' Mess was most amusing. The Wheeler, whose trade is a wheelwright - commonly known to the Tommies as Spoky - was really on his best form. It was rather a sad day in our billet. The old lady who owned it died - of heart failure, I think. She was about 60 odd and used to work night and day and had asthma. We had a communion service here on Sunday and I thought of you all at home. On the same morning, we took a lot of battery horses and NCOs out for a run over the point-to-point course, to try them, but found the going so heavy it was practically impossible. On Tuesday, we ran a lot of our brigade events off. We drew the same battery in everything - Walford's lot - and they beat us at everything that morning. In the afternoon, we played them at football. Soccer is the game they play. The feeling between the two batteries was very high. These two teams had played each other before and tied, after playing another hour. Well, this day we won, and the excitement was intense. There is still another match to play. Our time is pretty well taken up. In the evening, we had a lecture on horse management by a veterinary major. He was very careful and did not commit himself. Wednesday, we had our brigade sports. It was simply a perfect day. Walford had bad luck as he was sent off on a course beforehand. The officers' jumping was our chief excitement, which I am glad to say I managed to win. In fact our battery did rather well, as at the time there were only three officers here and we all got a place. Our men's team won the section jumping hands down . The star turn was the best turned out gun team and drivers. It was a wonderful show of what can be done. I never thought they could make such a splendid show under the conditions. After a very severe test the 48th turnout won. It was a very good show and we came an easy second and don't think we did so badly as a battery.

Thursday, the RA sports were on. There was such a heavy frost last night that most of the events had to be postponed. The most amusing turn was the mules race, bareback. They all started away like racehorses, but 30 yards was all most of the mules intended going. Six of them stopped dead and turned round, which, naturally, stopped all argument. The first two did the course without a hitch and galloped like horses all the way. There were lots of events like tug-of-war, wrestling on horseback, boat race, consisting of eight men walking a bar straddle leg and walking backwards, VC race, relay and foot races. The divisional ammunition however came off best in most of these events. Tonight I heard from our brigade major that it was impossible to get Jack into this division.

Friday, the Corps and divisional general came round and inspected us. Saturday, we were beaten in the final football match by the 48th. They beat us rather badly. Today, Sunday, we had the rest of the events of the RA sports. The ground was very heavy. There were 12 starters, with very good horses, and there were 13 fences. My horse got away from himself after the first three fences and knocked himself out. Anyway, at the sixth fence, horse and I came to grief. Up till then we were running fourth. When I got mounted again, they were all three fences ahead of me. At the finish, I came in fourth so, on the whole, I had a good ride. There was an ex-jockey riding who came in second.

Had no mail this week. With very much love,
from your loving son,

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