12th and 13th (September 1917)

R. and I sallied forth and found a new and delightful cross-country track through meadow-lands and a great alley-way of trees, over numerous stiles and finally through part of what appeared to be a gentleman’s estate.  We are given quite a lot of “Gas Drill” now and the smell of disinfectants on the masks hangs about our hair and clothes for hours.  Today when we all had the helmets on some goat discovered that, by pinching the exhaling valve and blowing through it, he could make a weird bleating noise, whereupon all the others took it up in various keys – imagine yourself with your head in a vile-smelling bag of damp flannelette with a tin tube in your mouth peering out through glass goggles at a roomful of monstrosities emitting uncanny wheezes.  However, the Box Respirator is almost more forbidding in appearance – making it appear that the wearer is devouring a portion of his own “innards”.  Some of the fellows at times say amusing things.  Today one chap who has an extraordinary cognomen informed us that Sergt. Bland had “got him properly snouted”, because, quoth he, “He has got my monicker off pat, and whenever anyone gets hold of my monicker they like to use it because it sounds funny”.  “Monicker” means name, or signature, but whence it is derived I can’t make out unless from Monogram.  The returned men have a smattering of Tommy French.  They keep in little cliques and treat us new chums with aloofness and condescension.

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