Friday, 7th June (1918)

No reveille and breakfast in bed!  This will “do” me.  Having my little Shelly with me I have just re-read “that radiant fantasy The Witch of Atlas.”

They have put me on a milk diet which I’ve contrived to augment by a slice of bread and butter.  After tea strolled around to J’s quarters and spent about an hour with him.  Some subterranean tunnels have one of their openings near by.  J took me down a flight of steps about 100 ft. and we walked a little distance along them lighting our way with candles.  They have apparently existed for hundreds of years and have bewildering ramifications all over (or rather under) the village and have lately been explored for military purposes.  No one seems to know what they were made for, unless for refugees in time of invasion.

Thursday, 6th June (1918) – Louvencourt

“Your humble” finds himself in another place and in another capacity.  The complaint from which I have been suffering for the past week still continuing, the medical humourist packed me off to a rest-hospital in the next village.  After protracted delays, I found myself here in a large room which appears to have been a school, its walls being still embellished with 2 maps of the world (“Mappemonde”), a long rigmarole in easy French headed “Declaration des droits de l’homme et du Citoyen”, and a chart showing in lurid lines the effect of alcohol on the internal organs, intituled “L’alcool, viola l’ennemi.”

Here I lie with 20 other convalescent-looking soldiers, awaiting the result of a third dose of castor oil and chlorodyne* during the past few days.

* An pain-relieving medicine with a minty taste; active ingredients of opium, cannabis and chloroform.

nlnzimage 1-2 013718-G Field Ambulance at Louvencourt, 22 April 1918

[Image: A general view of a New Zealand Field Ambulance at Louvencourt, France in World War I. Several soldiers are standing around the entrance of the large brick building. A small Red Cross and a Union Jack hang by the door. A group of soldiers is walking past. An ambulance is parked in the background. Photograph taken 22 April 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013718-G]

4th June (1918)

The noise of hundreds of shells bursting heard from two or three miles away, is a most peculiar and sinister one.  It’s rhythm keeps varying; it has a crumbling, chattering, gibbering, crunch, crunch, mumble, mumble, effect, that I can only describe as wicked.  We have orders now to dig in and make our bivvies  bomb-splinter proof.

Went to the mad “quack” today to get some pills; he really is most amusing and sometimes quite witty – whatever you say he contrives to trip you up.

3rd June (1918)

Made myself a fantastic preparation of milk custard for lunch, burning my fingers and capsizing half of the curdled-looking result.  I buy milk from “Joan”; our conversation is always the same – “Bon Jour Madame – du lait?”  “Oui M’sieur” and off she toddles down a flight of steps into the cool bowels of the earth – whilst Darby blinks rheumy-eyed by the fire.  She reappears with a basin, fills a small jug and says “voila”.  I take it, and hand her a quarter sous (2d.) – “Merci Madam” – “Merci M’sieur” – “B’jour”, “B’jour”.

Sunday, 2nd June (1918)

We won the contest and the teams go to the ‘show-grounds’ tomorrow, but I’m not going with them, being a bit off colour.  My indisposition is of a kind that makes it awkward to be on parade.

nlnzimage 1-2 013242-G Army entertainment troupe playing to NZers, Louvencourt, 3 June 1918

[What Lincoln might have missed out the next day, had he visited the ‘show-grounds’, rather than been indisposed by dysentery.  Image: A general view looking over the audience towards the army entertainment troupe the Kiwis and their accompanying orchestra who are playing for New Zealand troops in an evening performance. Photograph taken Louvencourt 3 June 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, Ref: 1/2-013242-G]