31 March 1917

We left Belgium  a glorious morning, dry under foot, with brilliant sunshine. The Brigade of four regiments made a gallant show, each headed by its band of pipers, and followed by the transport. We were the first to move off, and so came in for an extra share of greetings from the villagers who turned out to see us pass, as fine a lot of sturdy chaps as you could wish to gaze on, not to mention the gallant chaplain.

Our march for the first day was not a very long one, something about 20 miles, but, as every pace took us further and further from the trenches, the march was a labour of love. At midday a halt was called for dinner, which had been cooking slowly into traveling kitchens which accompanied us, and, in a few minutes, every man was sitting by the roadside, negotiating a big supply of hot meat and potatoes with a substantial chunk of bread. We, poor officers, were left to hunt for ourselves, a hunt which did not promise well at first, as the people in the (cafes) were anything but friendly, and said they had nothing to give us to eat. The reason, I discovered later, was that some British officers that gone away without paying their bill, a not uncommon thing, I am sorry to say. Eventually, with the help of a little palaver and my bad French, our party secured some excellent bread and butter, coffee, and a basket of fresh eggs. On again after an hours rest .

Marching with a heavy rifle and full kit is no joke, hence our pace is slow. I often wonder how the poor men stick it, and stick it they do, most of them at least, till I have seen them drop senseless by the road from sheer exhaustion. As a rule they are left there to follow the as best they can, for is they knew that falling out meant a lift, not many of the regiment would reach their destination on foot. To make matters worse we had to trump along over unpaved roads, which must be an invention of the Old Boy to torture people

At last the town we were bound for came insight and hopes of a good rest were high when word came along we were not to stay in that haven of peace and plenty, but trudge on another three miles. The camel is supposed to be a patient animal, but Tommy can give him points any day. Our lodging was a mutilated country farmhouse, dirty uncomfortable, and the less said about it the better, but everyone was too tired to care much, even though we officers snoring on the floor felt inclined to envy the sardines in their comfortable box.

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