31 March 1916 – Fr Doyle’s first night in the trenches

I had rather an amusing experience the first night I spent in the trenches. On arriving here I found two officers in the dugout which was intended for me; but as they were leaving next day I did not care to evict them. After some search I came across an unoccupied glorified rabbit hole – any port in a storm. It was not too inviting, looking rather damp; but I got a trench board which made a capital foundation for a bed, and spread my sleeping bag over it. Let me say here that I do not recommend a trench board for a bed. It is simply a kind of ladder with flat steps which is laid at the bottom of the trench; but being very narrow it requires great skill to prevent yourself from rolling off during the night. In addition, the sharp edges of the steps have a trick of cutting into your back and ribs making you feel in the morning as if you had been at Donnybrook fair the night before. In spite of it all I slept soundly till I was awakened by feeling a huge rat sitting on my chest. The rats round here beat anything I’ve ever seen. If I told you they were as big as sheep you would scarcely believe me, so let me say a lamb; in any case this fellow was a whopper. But as I gradually woke more fully I felt his weight and could dimly see the black outline. Before I quite realized what was happening a warm soft tongue began to lick my face, and I recognized my old friend- the dog.

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