28th December (1917)

Last night Fritz made things pretty merry with bombing planes, and has been over again today reconnoitring, the clear weather with all buildings etc. standing sharply out of the sunlit snow being probably ideal for aerial photography.  Our ‘archibalds’ filled the sky with little artificial clouds and some of the shell cases fell whistling down in unpleasant proximity.  The main object of their fire seems to be to keep the enemy at a great altitude and minimise the value of his information.  One of our shrapnel shells burst into a lovely smoke-ring which hung about in the sky for about a minute.  I have seen the same thing much closer from the mouth of a big cannon.

6.30. p.m.  It has grown ‘wonderous cold’ and we are debating whether to sacrifice the length of duckboard, used as a boot-scraper and threshold to our tent, for additional firing.  However, a good feed, supplemented by a tin of sausage from the canteen followed by rum issue heated up with a hunk of butterscotch in lieu of sugar, have put a better complexion on matters, and the duckboard motion has been lost for the time being.

The rising and setting of the sun over the snow-covered country is attended with a certain sad, almost tragic beauty.

nlnzimage 1-2 013024-G

[Image: Snow covered battlefields near Hooge, Belgium. Photograph taken on 1 January 1918, by Henry Armytage Sanders.  National Library of New Zealand, Ref. 1/2-013024-G]

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