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.

3 thoughts on “Sunday, 23rd (February 1919)”

  1. The descriptions now are focussing not on the opera but, for a change, on daily events in the soldiers’ lives. Here are engaging tales told with such wry humour and succinct detail that we could hardly ask for more. The war is over, but he reminds us of the ironically parlous state of the country where the war was fought (in the west) and leaves us with memories of the evidently flourishing and very sophisicated culture of those now defeated (in the east).
    This man can write!


  2. “A scramble of yelling, tea-spilling Tommies” …
    – now there’s a turn of phrase.

    And for good measure:
    “Our progress is mainly stoppages”
    The train … “ought to be oiled”.
    His craft knows no limits!


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