We welcome General Haig and then get ready to travel
We have been in the trenches again and find that our headquarters – not so grand as it sounds, merely a hole deeper, built off the main trench – had been shelled Our two days was spent quietly digging and building a new on and defending our patch. It was very quiet. I don’t think either side really has the stomach for it. the shelling continues, but very little else. Then back for two days rest. we have been moved a small distance `north to Allouagne, not very far, but we are now attached to the 44th Brigade. Danny says we shall be off soon. I have been reading about our new Commander in Chief , General Haig, in the Sunday Post. We were all sorry to see General French replaced. He really cared about his soldiers.
But General Haig seems to be made of the right stuff. He is a Scotsman from Fife and his family have fought with for Scotland for generations. The Post says that his ancestors fought with Wallace and at Flodden. The general himself fought with distinction in Sudan and Africa. The whole battalion seems to have renewed enthusiasm and energy. There is a feeling that we shall soon be out of these muddy trenches and on the road to Berlin at last.
New year was celebrated in the reserve trench, the hour struck out on an old can. No Music, no celebration. Just quiet good wishes to our friends and brothers.
Two days later we received the order to prepare to move. not back to the trenches, but way back to undergo more training. I must say this is a very good thing. Although we are now up to full strength, many of our new comrades are completely raw and I for one am heartily sick of seeing them killed and wounded because they are so inexperienced. So, unlike our usual repositioning, this time we have packed up everything the 4th Battalion can lay claim to – tents, chests, the cooking utensils, most of the medical statin and tons of stores – ammunition, food and equipment. A few days later were boarded trains at Lillers, just north of Bethune and headed west. The train consisted of cattle trucks with canvas over the top to protect us from the weather. Whilst it was dry, it was terribly cold as we rattled through the countryside. There was a genuine sense of excitement, especially when we realised that we were heading away from the front. After a long train journey and a night march, we arrived at a town called Rainneville which is just north of Amiens.
We were allowed the morning to recover and rest and then, whilst on parade, we were told that we now attached t the 51st Highland Division under the command of General Harper. Our Brigade consists of the 4th and 5th Battalions Black Watch, the 4th Seaforths and the 4th Camerons. So we are one big happy family!
Whilst we are happy to be away from the fighting for little while and living in countryside that shows no sign of the ravages of war, It is very cold and not infrequently wet. of curse we are completely used to this weather and withstand it. However I cannot help but be envious of the 2nd Battalion who recently arrived in Mesopotamia and are now positioned in Basra. I studied a map which appeared in the Sunday Post and can only try to imagine what it must be like to work and fight in such heat. Father always said it was unbearable, but as I stood sentry duty with the cold wind whipping about my legs, I decided I could withstand the hot sun and the dust. After our withdrawal from Turkey, I thought that we would focus our efforts in France – hence General Haig’s appointment – but perhaps our general has another purpose in mind for us.