Friday (28th February 1919)

Good sleep in a big bed with a nice little fire beside it.  Plenty of “good words” enframed on the walls.  They are arranged so as to take you by surprise.  You go into a little recess to have a wash, and are confronted with “He sees you”.  After a huge breakfast and a chat with mine host and hostess, I tramped back to M’s haunt.

Parts of the Moor reminded me of the gum-country in New Zealand, but it is not so dreary as that.  It is inhabited by fine little shaggy ponies, with very fat tummies.

Monday, 24th (February 1919)

Just left Bailleul, passing Armentiers before dawn, and we are back in the grim old battle areas.

Have said goodbye to Germany and Belgium, and will soon be making my bow to La Belle France.  It but remains to kiss the hand of old England and then – no boat can leave too soon for that most distant of her Dominions which, with all its rawness, for me spells “HOME”.  Like Ulysses, “I have grown old in travel”, at least older, and have no more years to waste a-wandering.

1 a.m. (Soldier’s Club, Russell Square)

Our passes have been extended a week, so we get 21 days instead of 14.

Sunday, 23rd (February 1919)

We are in the neighbourhood of Charleroi.  Hideous mining districts stretch away in all directions, all dotted with the minor Ngaruahoes I spoke of before.  Our progress is mostly stoppages.

Tea is made in the last wagon of the train of about 30 carriages, and amusing incidents occur when the train unexpectedly starts off, and there is a scramble of yelling tea-spilling Tommies back to their carriages; which, breathlessly attained, the train promptly stops for another half hour.  Evidence of the late war in the form of blown up bridges and wrecked stations and rolling stock are accumulating.

8.30 p.m.  At Tournai.  The train occasionally moves slowly and painfully for as much as 5 miles, then stops for anything up to 2½ hours.  It ought to be oiled.

Saturday, Dom Station: Coln (22 February 1919)

Been on the go since 8.30 a.m., and have at last (4 p.m.) returned to starting point.  The army is still working like machinery.  Eventually we marched forth under our packs, each grasping a loaf of bread, and a packet of biscuits dealt out by those tireless Trojans, the Y.M.C.A.  Good-bye Cologne!

Before morning we should be out of methodical and orderly Germany.  She will, I am afraid, recover more quickly than any other country seriously involved, because her people will work.

nlnzimage 1-2 013772-G NZ soldiers outside YMCA, Dec 1918

[Image: A large group of New Zealand soldiers shown mingling on the cobblestones outside the NZ YMCA in Ehrenfeld, a suburb of Cologne in Germany. YMCA notices appear on the window of a building with the German words ‘Restauration u. Schenkwirtschaft’ on it. ‘NZ YMCA’ is also written on the wall. Photograph taken after the end of World War I, probably December 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders.