18th February 1917 (Sunday)

For the first week the new recruits were left almost entirely to the tender mercies of the NCOs - we were simply 'squads', but for Church Parade, as units of the entire 3rd Reserve Battalion we were allotted to the various companies.  On parade the officers foregathered to inspect and sum up the new intake bequeathed to them for good or ill.  That was fair enough since the responsibility of producing an effective part of the war machine rested largely on their shoulders.  Every officer appeared to have his own pet dog on parade.  Dogs of all sizes and every known breed, from poodles to dalmatians sat and stared disdainfully at the rookies and one could almost read their thoughts!  Each dog wore a silver collar engraved with the rank of 'rifleman' and his name.  Whatever their breed, and in spite of their lowly rank, that canine motley were utter snobs.  Any member of the battalion not wearing a Sam Browne(1) was eyed with contempt and fraternisation with the rank and file was obviously against orders.  Stupidly perhaps, some of the men regarded their presence as an insult to the dignity of 'Rifleman'.  Nevertheless, those canine soldiers deserved full marks for their obedience and bearing on parade.  However, in the matter of status the RSM's Sam Browne had them foxed.

St Matthews, Redhill held a special morning service for the QWR, and at its conclusion by 9:50am the battalion was dismissed for the day.  So ended the first week of army life.  If training for the battlefield was to be compressed into the short period forecast by Sergeant Kaye one could only conclude that the Staff were unduly complaisant about the potentialities of the new intake or that the demand for cannon fodder in the raw was of paramount importance.  With only five weeks to go we were not optimistic!

Original diary entry

(1) A Sam Browne is a military leather belt - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Browne_belt