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Royal Garrison Artillery

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1914/15 entries

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26 December


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35th Heavy Battery R.G.A. (aged 27 at time of writing)


TUESDAY DECEMBER 22nd

A cold raw day. We had orders to rejoin our own division and started to move out of position at 9 a.m. The usual trouble of getting the guns and wagons through the soft ground on to roads. Marched back same route as we came, via Bailleul - Metern to Fletre. Found our old billet occupied by field artillery and went into a small farm a little further off.

Not very comfortable as we only had the kitchens to occupy and there was a large family of dirty kids. Beastly wet and unpleasant afternoon. As we expected to move again next day, we left the guns on bundles of brushwood on the side of the road, all the fields being in a dreadful state. This was not very satisfactory as we kept having to turn out to haul motor lorries out which skidded into the ditch trying to avoid the guns.

Day's march: 12 miles


WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 23rd - THURSDAY DECEMBER 24th

Still in billets just outside Fletre.

We moved the guns off the side of the main road and up a side road. Nothing much to note. Everybody seemed in a particularly bad temper, kept in stables till it was dark.

A large number of parcels and letters have arrived - 3 mails in one day - which help to cheer things up a bit. If my section are not sick on Christmas Day it will not be my fault. I have been sent amongst other things, 2 large boxes of chocolate, 3 tins of bullseyes and a large box of home made peppermint creams. 500 lbs of plum pudding are also due tomorrow. If you see in the papers that the "Allies have advance" on Boxing Day, you will know it is a worse lie than usual.


FRIDAY DECEMBER 25th

Very cold and frost but foggy. All ordinary work until dinner time - men had some beer each and a good whack of pudding from the Daily Mail fund. In the afternoon we had a football match against the 36th Edge R. F.A. and were beaten 3-0. Crane, Carter and I played for the battery and thoroughly enjoyed it, though I sat down rather heavily once or twice.

Our own dinner was not the essence of cheerfulness, but we did not have a bad meal under the circumstances as the interpreter had managed to produce half a doz. Bottles of fizz and some whisky and liqueurs. We three - Crane, Carter and self - had a further more enthusiastic celebration after the others had retired to their billet in the next house, and next night the Major wanted to know where all the whiskey had gone (couldn't think..)


SATURDAY DECEMBER 26th

We had to get moving very early - stables at 4.30 a.m.. It was very frosty and difficult work doing up frozen harness in the dark. Roads a bit slippery at the start, but better later on. We got clear by 7.15 a.m. and the morning turned out very bright and sunny. We had a good march and one got a good glow on walking.

About midday we got to Lecouture and began to take over from 114 Heavy Battery (4.7 guns). Major Loring was in command, whom I have known all my service and one of the captains was also in Hong Kong with me, so we had a good buck together. By dark they had cleared off and we had got our guns in position.

Our division was taking over the Meerut Indian Division - the natives having got stone cold. Their feet and legs have suffered tremendously in the cold and they could only do about 2 miles a day when they came out of the trenches.

We took up quite a good position and very convenient as regards billets, the guns being in an orchard on side of the road and the men and officers in two adjoining farms just opposite, right section in one, and left section in the other.
March route via Strazeele - Berquim - Merville - Lestrem - Lecouture.

Day's march: 16 miles


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