9th November (1918)

Too bustled yesterday to write.  The whole day and part of the night driving about taking up new lines, finishing up with a long, dreary, wet drive up to a new gun position in pitch darkness.  Off to bed in a loft full of bean stalks.  Did a picquet in the small hours.  Discovered by daylight the nature of the country.  Some particularly horrible remains (a German soldier’s brains had been scattered along a post and wire fence hitting 4 or 5 posts in succession).*  Moved out once more to a village on the banks of the Sambre, comfortably billeted in a house and have made friends with Madame, who gave us coffee and is now stoking up the fire.

We are promising ourselves a treat in the way of a wash and a clean up, our present condition being deplorable.  The horses need it as much as we do.  Have draped wet garments and gear from every vantage point and hung my boots on the side of the stove.  Some of us are shaving, some writing, some telling their adventures around the fire, whilst Madame, Monsieur and their friends have their evening repast in the next room.

* In the early 1960s Lincoln added the text in brackets to his draft typescript, likely meaning this was something he recalled, but had not included in his original diary-like letter to his first wife.

nlnzimage 1-2 013663-G Soldiers Wellinton Regiment sitting eating, Solesmes, 9 Nov 1918

[Image: Soldiers from a Wellington Regiment sit eating a meal out of mess tins in the French town of Solesmes during World War I. They use broken pieces of masonry as seats and tables. Photograph taken 9 November 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013663-G]

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