Weekending 12th December 2015

 A new colonel, the Battalion back to full strength

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I am now spending more time with the officers, fetching and carrying for them. It keeps me out of the trenches and the digging. in one way I am quite pleased, there hasn’t been much action in the last few weeks,  and so there hasn’t been more than the usual trickle of casualties  – three or four dead and a dozen wounded every day. Obviously it is the new boys who tend to forget where they are. some of them can’t resist taking a quick look over the top, or standing straight, just to stretch their backs. They don’t remember that the Hun are just waiting for this to happen, even though many of them have been out at night flushing their snipers out of the local shell holes. I spend a lot of time moving up and down the trenches, taking notes to and fro, and then sometime taking the rum rations to the sergeants to disperse to the platoons.

I was in the front trench the other evening, when I came across an orderly helping two soldiers to the medical station. One was a German hobbling on a makeshift crutch, his left foot a bloody mess. The other, with one arm bound to his chest, but still holding his rifle was a lad from the 5th battalion. The orderly told me that they had shot each other at exactly the same time just beyond the wire and the German was here because ‘Johnny’ had had his friends with him. Only minutes afterwards here they were now best of friends, helping each other back to the reserve trench.

As the days go, I am going further afield. I do hope that I shall get to the 1st battalion soon and  see George.

So the news this week is that we have a new colonel. His name is  Colonel Sceales and he has come over from the Argylls. Of course, he replaces Colonel Walker, who was killed during the Loos offensive. Nobody knows anything about him, not even Danny, who usually acts as our oracle for all things. I must say that the news has raised morale in the battalion. I think we were a little worried that the 4th’s days may be numbered and we would be reduced to fetching and carrying for the others. A new colonel means that we shall be an independent fighting unit again. We now have three companies fit for service, and more soldiers are expected soon to rebuild the fourth.

From a Loophole in a Black Watch trench

When I was searching through my kit the other day, behind the lines, I found my camera and after a moment’s hesitation, thought I would take it with me and see if I could take some photographs when i am on my travels through the trenches. I know that it is frowned upon by the officers, though I know that some of them have taken pictures in the past. My first task afterwards was to take a message up the line to the officer in charge of some sepoys. Whilst he was deliberating with a couple of lieutenants, I slipped out along the trench and shared the firing step with the sepoy on guard duty. I had already loaded the film and set the aperture and the shutter speed, to my best estimate. I then pointed it out and pressed the shutter.  Just in time, I had closed the camera and placed it in my tunic pocket before the captain came out with his reply. I am rather pleased with the result. I shall try to take more as I go. Perhaps I shall find a job with the Courier after the war!

I saw this picture in the paper and i made me think of Chrissy. She was so excited to be working in the munitions factory, but now she has tired of it. She told me in her last letter that it bores her and she feels she is not doing enough for the war. She is wondering if she can become a nurse. She spend her Saturday afternoons in Dundee station, giving blankets and soup to soldiers who have returned from the front and is determined to aid the sick and wounded. Whilst i am very proud of her, I do not want her to come out here. Worrying about George is enough for me.

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