We move off on Monday to new quarters, an advance party going tomorrow to a camp about 8 miles out of Aldershot.
Spent the whole afternoon mooching about in a damp gun pit. Others keep on smiling – I keep on smoking, having just finished a pipe I have a home made cigarette, after which I indulge in a bought cigarette, which ended, it is usually time for another pipe; unless perchance a meal or a parade intervenes. Like Mark Twain I do not smoke at meals.
The new O. C. Colonel Standish is a martinet. He has extended the drill hours up to 5 p.m. so that one has no time for a rest and clean up before tea. If he could hear the names he is called he would turn green. R. and I went roaming in the gloaming. I did a sketch and he made an amazing attempt on a piece of writing paper. After that we strolled down a lane not previously explored and had a half pint at the “Rose Inn”.
It seems bad management not training us all in driving if we have to be drivers in France. Most gunners don’t know the first thing about it – to stick on a horse is a minor detail for as the instructor says, “when you have fallen off heavily once or twice you take care not to do it again”.
There is a restriction on the hours of drinking, but when she opens at 6.30 we are just the boys for a pint and a snack of anything that’s going. R’s appetite is almost as large as his feet, which are elevens. A girl in the Parlour is strumming familiar old airs – little boy is talking to R. in broad Lancashire, calling him thee. We had a blow out of bread and jam and finished up with, what do you think? Pickled beetroot and carrot.
In a short lecture by a returned officer, he thought that in some sectors the Hun artillery was quite as effective as ours, but not on the average of the whole front.
3rd Anniversary of outbreak of war and no sign of it ending. The 25th are back from leave. Many have been to Scotland and speak of it in glowing terms, the people there seem to be most patriotic and have given them a good time.
R. spent the last night of his leave in a poor man’s cottage in Kilmarnock. He couldn’t find any accommodation, and this working man invited him to spend the night. His account of it: a supper of tinned salmon – Dad – Mother and the soldier at the table, the children on the floor, feeding out of father’s hand. Their home, one room. There were two beds, Dad, soldier and little girl of about 10 in one; mother and the rest of the family in the other. They wouldn’t hear of him paying anything. The scotch of the mother was so broad, that he couldn’t understand it at all. No conveniences. Water from tap in yard 3 stories down.
Returned after a ramble of about 8 hours with R. I did two sketches whilst he talked and slept. A queer-looking golden haired and golden toothed girl came along and talked to us. After awhile her (golden) aunt turned up and a chap who appeared to be running the farm. They were by no means typical farmers, and we couldn’t place them. They said something about having been professionals before the war, apparently Music-hall artists. At about 7 we arrived at Tandle Hill Tavern – with the fat landlady, who produced pints of beer, meat-pies, bread and jam and black currant tarts. A very old building near the camp bears date 1668 – and the name – Chadderton Fold.
[Sketch by Lincoln Lee titled ‘Home of Golden Girl, Naylor Cottage, Thornham’.]
New Zealanders here are known as diggers. Whether it has originated from the Kauri gum industry or not I can’t say. I am now in a new hut under a N.C.O. who was in charge of the hut I was in at Featherston and there are actually with me 4 other of the men in old hut 177. Last night had repetition of the two signallers’ boozeroo, but this time one of them (the funniest) was far too drunk to even attempt to be humourous and had to be undressed and put to bed like a bag of potatoes.
Building gun pit this morning and took part in an expedition of depredation on a neighbouring quarry with a party of old soldiers. Two of them held the quarry-men in conversation whilst the rest of us walked off with some large pieces of timber to support the roof of the gun-pit. These returned men are interesting on the war when you get them going. They say that we have more ammunition than the Germans now and are killing them quicker than they us, but that none of these big pushes could possibly lead to final victory. Owing to the state of all roads and difficulties of very kind it is quite impossible to follow up any initial success, the attackers being too exhausted in men and material to be able to carry it further than a mile or two. They say the Hun machine gunners are wonderfully game and fire to the last with one hand up pretending to surrender, and the other on the lever of the gun. These chaps are unanimous that it will simply be a process of wearing them out.
At Rochdale I heard a young girl, daughter of a Labour M.P., addressing the crowd. She spoke well and with great fervour, denouncing (inter alia) the working of children in their disgusting factories, they being the capitalists. I could agree with her.