from Diary number one - page 2
7.30 am my guard is over and as usual I feel rather done up, my post was over the horse lines, but to speak truly I took very little interest in the welfare of the beasts. Despatched my letters on the 7 am parade. Paraded as ordered at the orderly room at 9.55 am and was awarded 8 days C.B and one days pay Royal Warrant. I appealed against this and requested a court martial, and was paraded before the commanding officer, who upheld the decision of the colonel and would not allow my demand for a court martial. This procedure is of course quite contrary to military law and the C. O therefore guilty of a serious breach of justice. It is on account of nothing more than this sort of thing that my poor country is likely to be ruined at least so far as the army is concerned, and during the war has led up directly to the brutal death of many British soldiers. It is not improbable that all this may bring in its train a frightful reckoning. Should this day presently appear above the blackened horizon, then I trust that God will be with and aid the soldiers. My name is up on the notice board for the 62nd division and time of departure 7 am tomorrow, at 1.30 drew my full marching order kit and spent the afternoon in putting it together. Wrote to Mrs Kendrick in the evening and enclosed a card to little Derrick. Made down my kip and got into it early as felt I wanted a good rest.
Breakfast at 6.30 am. Paraded at 7 am and moved off shortly afterwards in full marching order to the station. The train was very late in starting and we were kept waiting until after midday. There are four of us going up to the 62nd division and we have been provided with six days rations. It is miserable wet weather so that taking all things into consideration, the journey ahead is going to be somewhat interesting. Arrived at Etapoles about 4 pm, where we are to stay in no 9 rest camp until further orders. Had tea in the canteen and afterwards my chum and me, went into the town and spent a really pleasant evening in a cafe in the company of French, Canadians, New-Zealanders and Tommies, songs were the order of the day and the gramophone played its part in dispelling morbid thoughts. Discipline has been relaxed to a remarkable degree in all infantry base depots and for very good reason, I think that the signal depot at Abbeville is the only exception to the usual order of things, which is probably due to there being so few men at present in the depot, and the well known docility of post office sappers, may have something to do with it.
Slept soundly our breakfast was hardly eatable, porridge all lumps and cold, tea ditto and the ham merely huge chunks of fat. I suppose like everywhere else, the only people who do well in the army so far as grub is concerned are the officers, Sgt. Majors and Sergeant, who of course have the pick of everything. I know that this is true, as have done fatigues in cookhouses, and have had the job of picking out the best for the different messes, and poor Tommy has to be grateful with what is left, after his “betters” have had their pick. Well here we are at the beginning of a New Year, it would be interesting to know what is hidden beneath its mantle of many folds, within each one is held the destiny of all and the world looks on anxiously to see the things, which are to be unfolded from this day to the coming of its successor. My friend and me walked out into the town at about 11 am. Answering the guard on the bridge in the affirmative, whether we had passes. Of course we have “passes” just as much so as officers and we do not intend to tolerate any more childish restrictions. There have been already quite a number of disturbances last night in no 6 rest camp, the guard-room was attacked and other damage done, because the R.S.M had had arrested an Australian for having dirty books. In the evening the men, who are very touchy at present, demanded the key to the guardroom, broke into it and released the prisoner. While the other went to seek the RSM round the camp and among other places at the WAACS dancing room. Luckily for him, he was not to be found. Paid a visit to the old church, which from the outside looks almost in the last stages of decay. Many too of its stained glass windows have been smashed as a result of German bombs, as also a large number of houses in its vicinity have been totally wrecked by the same cause. Inside the church, the aspect is quite changed, and instead of dilapidation one is confronted with a host of interesting objects. I don't think that I have ever seen a place of worship anywhere, so densely crowded with church furniture, it is simply packed right up to the by these objects, which appertain to the Roman Catholic ritual. After dinner went with my chum to Paris-Plage by train. This seaside place is quite modern and architecturally typically French, although it is only in course of completion. Walked along the entire length of the promenade, which is broad and uniquely paved. Had a cup of tea etc in a WAACS club just behind “L’hospital Temporaire” at the extreme end of the prom. They have a really nice and comfortable club, with grun etc at moderate prices. On the door is note stating “This club is open to WAACS and their friends”. Had a look around the town, bought a number of postcards of local views and sent them home. Returned to Etaples about 5 pm. Had tea in the Salvation Army hut and spent the rest of the evening in the same cafe as yesterday.
Paraded in full marching order this morning, but have still to hang on here. Spent morning writing, after dinner walked into the town and round by the docks where is moored a number of fishing smacks. This old fishing place is in a horribly dirty condition and together with the debris of fallen houses presents quite a morbid spectacle. Had a look round the cemetery, which is densely packed with tombs and little chapels after the French style. Bought a souvenir match box, embossed with the arms of the Somme as a new present for the old dad. Returned to camp for tea and afterwards spent evening in the same way and at the same place as before. At 9 pm when we returned to billet the rain was teeming down. Since I returned to France the weather has been most unfavourable.