Thursday, 6th June (1918) – Louvencourt

“Your humble” finds himself in another place and in another capacity.  The complaint from which I have been suffering for the past week still continuing, the medical humourist packed me off to a rest-hospital in the next village.  After protracted delays, I found myself here in a large room which appears to have been a school, its walls being still embellished with 2 maps of the world (“Mappemonde”), a long rigmarole in easy French headed “Declaration des droits de l’homme et du Citoyen”, and a chart showing in lurid lines the effect of alcohol on the internal organs, intituled “L’alcool, viola l’ennemi.”

Here I lie with 20 other convalescent-looking soldiers, awaiting the result of a third dose of castor oil and chlorodyne* during the past few days.

* An pain-relieving medicine with a minty taste; active ingredients of opium, cannabis and chloroform.

nlnzimage 1-2 013718-G Field Ambulance at Louvencourt, 22 April 1918

[Image: A general view of a New Zealand Field Ambulance at Louvencourt, France in World War I. Several soldiers are standing around the entrance of the large brick building. A small Red Cross and a Union Jack hang by the door. A group of soldiers is walking past. An ambulance is parked in the background. Photograph taken 22 April 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013718-G]

4th June (1918)

The noise of hundreds of shells bursting heard from two or three miles away, is a most peculiar and sinister one.  It’s rhythm keeps varying; it has a crumbling, chattering, gibbering, crunch, crunch, mumble, mumble, effect, that I can only describe as wicked.  We have orders now to dig in and make our bivvies  bomb-splinter proof.

Went to the mad “quack” today to get some pills; he really is most amusing and sometimes quite witty – whatever you say he contrives to trip you up.

3rd June (1918)

Made myself a fantastic preparation of milk custard for lunch, burning my fingers and capsizing half of the curdled-looking result.  I buy milk from “Joan”; our conversation is always the same – “Bon Jour Madame – du lait?”  “Oui M’sieur” and off she toddles down a flight of steps into the cool bowels of the earth – whilst Darby blinks rheumy-eyed by the fire.  She reappears with a basin, fills a small jug and says “voila”.  I take it, and hand her a quarter sous (2d.) – “Merci Madam” – “Merci M’sieur” – “B’jour”, “B’jour”.

Sunday, 2nd June (1918)

We won the contest and the teams go to the ‘show-grounds’ tomorrow, but I’m not going with them, being a bit off colour.  My indisposition is of a kind that makes it awkward to be on parade.

nlnzimage 1-2 013242-G Army entertainment troupe playing to NZers, Louvencourt, 3 June 1918

[What Lincoln might have missed out the next day, had he visited the ‘show-grounds’, rather than been indisposed by dysentery.  Image: A general view looking over the audience towards the army entertainment troupe the Kiwis and their accompanying orchestra who are playing for New Zealand troops in an evening performance. Photograph taken Louvencourt 3 June 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, Ref: 1/2-013242-G]

31st May (1918)

All madly scrubbing and rubbing up bits of harnesses for Sunday’s inspection, when the smartest battery will be chosen to represent N.Z.F.Z at the coming show.  Dawson has actually cleaned his buttons and is using one as a mirror whilst brushing his hair.  The mules have been on short commons and are beginning to cast indignant and malignant glances behind them and eat more rope.

30th May (1918)

Had to wait an infernal time in the sun for the water troughs, so I lay back on the mad mare’s back and must have gone to sleep, for when some idiot scared her I was rudely awakened by falling with a fearful bump on my nether and in the dust, to the huge delight of the bystanders.

nlnzimage 1-2 013260-G Watering point, Lovencourt, 1 June 1918

[Image: New Zealand horses and troops at a watering point in Louvencourt, France, during World War 1. Shows a row of horses at a drinking trough and a procession of others behind them. Photograph taken 1 June 1918, by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, Ref: 1/2-013260-G]