More from the diary

Some more from 3289 Gnr F Hamilton. I think these extracts give a good flavour of his personality – serious, critical, but very perceptive and interested in all the strange and gruelling new experience that was very foreign to his civilian tastes.

Tues Jan 16 We are thankful for YMCA huts and other places of the same nature. At one of these places a “testimony” meeting was being carried on. I used to have a great antipathy to such meetings. Personally I don’t believe in them, but these fellows tonight stated their cases quite well and no doubt they may be beneficial to others. I must confess that in these days I have been thrown back on Jesus Christ.

Sat Feb 10th Some further proof of army organisation on returning to our hayloft to find it filled with infantry and our kit scattered about in all directions. I had hoped that organisation in France was better than at home: but our thoughts disabused.

Sun Feb 11 We went into action tonight about 6.30 & our gun fired 10 rounds. In darkness the flash of gun is blinding – sparks also seen near muzzle – report somewhat deafening. When eyes closed one sees red: and when back is turned upon the gun, with eyes opened, all one sees stands out in clear white: men, trees, anything – a bush near me looked like a tree clad in snow in frosty weather. There is nothing here French, or indicative that we are in France – everything we come across is British and we sometimes make the mistake in talk of calling it England.

Wed Feb 14 The prisoners who came down the line yesterday seemed in good condition. They say that Germans now hold up their hands & say “Peace camarade.” The shelter I use when off duty is 21′ x 8′ x 7’6”: there are stout props up each side & beams support corrugated iron roof with sandbags of earth on top of that: a doorway in middle of each end. There should be bunks but meanwhile we lie on the floor.
Box respirators have been issued to us as being more effective. As the prisoners passed down we shouted greetings to those in charge, and they, or rather one, uttering the sentiments of the rest, replied “This will be a slice of bread less for us per day.”

Sun Feb 25 Working on officers’ dugout. Half holiday: genial atmosphere getting rid of mud from clothes. Church Service: C of E service not suitable for the field – in my opinion. It makes a limp lifeless service.

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