22nd December (1917)

The white incrustation on the trees and roofs has disappeared.  I must tell you of the disaster which happened this morning, to the Villain.  We walk or trot our steeds around a paddock in the great circus or ring, but he of the demi-monde chose to go off in sullen seclusion and parade up and down to a flank.  When first I remarked him in difficulties he was mounted with the ‘ride’ donk pulling in one direction and the ‘lead’ in the other.  In act 2 he came clean over his ‘ride’s’ head in a somersault, appearing to land on his own head and revolve over on his back.  The sudden released ‘lead’ actually sat down on his haunches, like a puppy, with both forelegs held in a supplicating attitude.  He slowly picked himself up, said nothing, and carefully and painfully remounted.

Fritz has woken up sufficiently to lob a few light shells around the countryside behind our lines.  Do you want to know what a Nissen Hut is?  It is one made of curved sheets of iron arched over a floor, dome-wise, with windows of transparent waterproof at each end; very quickly and easily built, and now much in use all over France.  “Heavies”, large guns generally.  “Dinks”, N.Z. Rifle Brigade.  “Toc Emmas”, French mortars.  “Imshi”, get out, clear out.  “Mafeesh”, finish.

Clear frosty sky, guns busy, and Aphrodite low in the West giving the glad eye to Jove high in the East.  I am still in some sense economically disposed and make and burn some amazing candles out of wax that others allow to waste.  You would laugh at our morning ablutions.  We heat up a tin of water and all wash in it, usually scalding ourselves in the process.  I have trained to clean my teeth with one mouthful of water out of my waterbottle; rush outside, with toothbrush in hand duly charged with paste, and distended cheeks, and allow it to dribble out at just the rate to do the job.  Fritz has just been over and blazed at by a dozen barking Archibalds but we take no notice – the gamblers don’t stop.  The gamesters continue to shuffle cards, jingle coin, rustle notes and utter mysterious shibboleths to me quite unintelligible.

eo-0976 Anti-Aircraft Guns

Photograph of Anti-aircraft guns (Archibalds), from the Canadian War Museum collection.

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