As the darkness came on I proceeded towards the trenches, and when it had become sufficiently dark I entered the old farm by the reserve trench and crossed the yard to enter the field which led to the first of our trenches. At St. Yvon it was pretty airy work, going the rounds at night, but this was a jolly sight more so. The country was far more open, and although the Boches couldn’t see us, yet they kept up an incessant sniping demonstration. Picking up my sergeant at Number 1 trench, he and I started on our tour.
We made a long and exhaustive examination that night, both of the existing machine-gun emplacements and of the entire ground, with a view to changing our positions. It was a long time before I finally left the trenches and started off across the desolate expanse to the Douve farm, and I was dead beat when I arrived there. On getting into the big room I found the Colonel, who had just come in. “Where’s that right-hand gun of yours, Bairnsfather?” he asked. “Down on the right of Number 2 trench, sir,” I answered; “just by the two willows near the sap which runs out towards Number 1.” “It’s not much of a place for it,” he said; “where we ought to have it is to the right of the sap, so that it enfilades the whole front of that trench.” “When do you want it moved, sir?” I asked. “Well, it ought to be done at once; it’s no good where it is.”
That fixed it. I knew what he wanted; so I started out again, back over the mile and a half to alter the gun. It was a weary job; but I would have gone on going back and altering the whole lot for our Colonel, who was the best line in commanding officers I ever struck. Every one had the most perfect confidence in him. He was the most shell, bullet, and bomb defying person I have ever seen. When I got back for the second time that night I was quite ready to roll up in the straw, and be lulled off to sleep by the cracking rifle fire outside.
VISIONS OF LEAVE—DICK TURPIN—LEAVE!
Our first time in the Douve trenches was mainly uneventful, but we all decided it was not as pleasant as St. Yvon. For my part, it was fifty per cent. worse than St. Yvon; but I was now buoyed up by a new light in the sky, which made the first time in more tolerable than it might otherwise have been. It was getting near my turn for leave! I had been looking forward to this for a long time, but there were many who had to take their turn in front of me, so I had dismissed the case for a bit. Recently, however, the powers that be had been sending more than one officer away at a time; consequently my turn was rapidly approaching. We came away back to billets in the usual way after our first dose of the Douve, and all wallowed off to our various billeting quarters. I was hot and strong on the leave idea now. It was really getting close and I felt disposed to find everything couleur de rose. Even the manure heap