3rd August 1917

The heavy rain, which had poured continuously for the past week, continued with rarely a break.  The frequent lectures were no substitute for the active training of men soon to face the bitter fighting in the Salient.  Toughening up measures were called for and at 8:20am with full packs and equipment we took to the road.  The only protection from the drenching rain was the ‘ground-sheet’ slung across each man’s shoulders and for mile after mile we trekked in misery – our mood in complete harmony with the weather.  When marching ‘at ease’ the old, cheerful, bawdy army songs of the recent past were heard no longer.  If we sang at all it was invariably to the haunting strains of “There’s a long, long trail a-winding into the land of my dreams”.  Hardly a tune suitable for the rifle step of 140 to the minute but we rarely achieved that pace in Flanders.  The Battalion arrived back at 12:30pm soaked to the skin and completely demoralised.

Billet policemen were appointed for the night – an unusual refinement so far as B Company was concerned.  Each man performed his allotted stint for two hours on and four hours off along a defined stretch of road near the billet.  I took my position at 11:30pm by which time the rest of the Platoon were blissfully enjoying their slumbers.  I had long since learned the art of sleeping whilst in the upright position and this occasion was no exception.  I woke with some feelings of guilt but, after standing perfectly still for some moments, I turned as nonchalantly as possible and paced the beat.  B Company were in safe hands once again!

Sick. Wet.
Parade 8:20am.
Route march until 12:30pm.
Colonel Shoolbred's farewell address.
Billet policeman 11:30pm-1:30am.
2 hours on - 4 hours off.

Original diary entry
Original journal notes

"On August 3rd, Lieut.-Colonel Shoolbred paraded the Battalion for the last time as its commanding officer. He had been an officer in the Regiment since 1888, and had succeeded Lieut.-Colonel C.A. Gordon Clark in the command in February, 1911."
Excerpt from "The War History of the 1st Battalion Queen's Westminster Rifles 1914-1918" [ISBN 1-84342-610-2]