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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Diary Entry - 1st February, 1917

 Walford: Thursday. During the next morning it being a sunny morning and still freezing, we had lots of visitors to see the damage. At eleven thirty a.m. someone rang up and said I could go on leave the same evening, if I went down to RA picked up Bee's and my own warrant and caught the train from Acheux at ten p.m. It did not take me long to decide and at one p.m., having had lunch, I set off via the Rentre[?] way on a duck board track, thence along the road to Usna Hill, managing a lift on a lorry from La Boisselle. Having got the warrants from RA and walking back to the road, I met Buxton and Crozier, the former pretending to be very pleased to see me and shaking me by the hand. Thence on through Albert to the 15th Battery wagon lines. Buxton and Crozier again passed me in a car and waved to me, but did not think of giving me a lift. Well, Bee was fairly sore with a boil on his leg, and we arranged that he would come over to our Nissan Hut and dine there and then we would go on in the Mess cart. The drive in the Mess cart to Acheux proved to be very amusing - at least very tiring, as our old horse would not or could not trot and we beat him along with my walking stick. Eventually we got so tired of walking and rather thought we should miss the train so we walked the last quarter mile.

Bee: I have got a rotten boil on my thigh, which has been giving me a bad time. It is so hard to keep a bandage on. I went walking with the Sergeant Major, scouring the country for a new line. I personally want to stay where we are and risk the shells, as we have such a good standing – an old road and water very close by, which has been a great factor to our horses. We have also got most of our stables up and, if we moved, it would mean pulling down everything. This frost is killing an awful lot of horses. We have had two horses frozen to death, a thing I never heard of before -when a horse [illegible] at night his [illegible] gets frozen and that is the end of it. The canal which runs close by has frozen over and the water has to go somewhere and is running over the top of the bank. The lake close by has risen 10 feet and flooded out the 16th battery wagon line. At present, there are tents and huts sticking up out of the ice. Walford came down from the guns about three p.m. and said we were both going on leave tonight, which was a pleasant surprise. It was a case of bustling round to get ready. A damn cold night. We left the 48th wagon line at eight p.m. in their Mess cart for Acheux - about nine miles. The old horse did not believe in trotting and we had to work hard with a stick to get him to move at all in fact we broke a walking stick over him and finished up by walking the last mile. Got a seat in the train which moved out at ten thirty p.m. It was worse than awfully cold as the carriage was minus two windows. They told us that leave trains had stopped running lately as they could not [illegible] out the [illegible] on the engines. Even tonight they have braziers alight on top of them. We got out of this train at Canas and walked a mile to another station, which got the circulation going, but when we got there they told us that the train had not started from St Pool and it would be eight a.m. before it got here. So we went in search of a fire, it now being only midnight. Found an ASC book house and crowded round a small brazier -  even there we found it hard to keep warm. Found an estaminet which gave us coffee and an omelette at seven a.m. - better than nothing. It is hard to believe that last week three men were frozen to death while waiting for the trains. There being no place for the men to go, they have started building a rest camp, which is badly needed.

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