On our way back to Ramscapelle we had the bad luck to slip off the “bloomin’ pavee” while passing an ammunition wagon; a thing I had been dreading all along. I got out on the foot board and stepped, in the panic of the moment, into the mud. I thought I was never going to “touch bottom.” I did finally, and the mud was well above my knees. The passing soldiers were greatly amused and pulled me to shore, and then, stepping into the slough with a grand indifference, soon got the car up again. The evening was drawing in, and the land all round had been flooded. As the sun set, the most glorious lights appeared, casting purple shadows over the water: It seemed hard to believe we were so near the trenches, but there on the road were the men filing silently along on their way to enter them as soon as dusk fell. They had large packs of straw on their backs which we learnt was to ensure their having a dry place to sit in; and when I saw the trenches later on I was not surprised at the precaution.
Mysterious “Star-lights” presently made their appearance over the German trenches, gleamed for a moment, and then went out leaving the landscape very dark and drear. We hurried on back to Ramscapelle, sentries popping up at intervals to enquire our business. Floods stretched on either side of the road as far as the eye could see. We were obliged to crawl at a snail’s pace as it grew darker. Of course no lights of any sort were allowed, and the lines of soldiers passing along silently to their posts in the trenches seemed unending; we were glad when we drew up once again at the Headquarters in Ramscapelle.
Major R. hastened out and told us that his own men who had been in the trenches for four days were just coming out for a rest, and he wished we could spare some of our woollies for them. We of course gladly assented, so he lined them up in the street littered with debris in front of the Headquarters. We each had a sack of things and started at different ends of the line, giving every man a pair of socks, a muffler or scarf, whichever he most wanted. In nearly every case it was socks; and how glad and grateful they were to get them! It struck me as rather funny when I noticed cards in the half-light affixed to the latter, texts (sometimes appropriate, but more often not) and verses of poetry. I thought of the kind hands that had knitted them in far away England and wondered if the knitters had ever imagined their things would be given out like this, to rows of mud-stained men standing amid shell-riddled houses on a dark and muddy road, their words of thanks half-drowned in the thunder of war.