10th July (1918)

Out grazing graminivores or herbivores.  Plenty of tanks to be seen in these parts – all shapes, sizes and sexes.  There’s a slump in balloons just now in this sector: as we were finishing lunch a crackle of machine guns brought us out to view one broken adrift and gaily ascending into the cloudy sky.  A few moments later I saw in the distance the unmistakable column of smoke where another had been fired.

The canteen is much in evidence today.  Big keg of (rather watery) English beer – cigars (of a kind) – sweetened condensed milk (fermenting) – biscuits and golden syrup.  Have already spent a small fortune.  The cigars were a failure – if you smoke them they become hostile.

I have about a dozen letters to write.  What shall I do about it?  If I plead as excuse the exhausting nature of this magnum opus, this history of the war by one who went there – “they’ll never believe me” – (Drat that gramophone!)

Now, you might suggest, this evening is the time to make a start, cold and showery and uninviting – but did not I promise myself to take my washing and find a blanchisseuse on the first evening of the kind (Damn that gramophone.)

A bombardier has just been in to see if I could guide a party up to that forward gun position tonight – oh, no my dear sir, me no compree.

Found my blanchisseuse.  Met old army acquaintance and imbibed two leaky cigarette tins of vin blanc and so the evening has passed and letters remain unwritten.

IWM (Q 9819) Infantry practicing with tanks, Sautricourt, 12 July 1918

[Image: Infantry practising an attack behind a smoke screen and a tank. Photograph taken at Sautricourt, 12 July 1918. IWM (Q 9819)]

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