11th Nov., 1918. 28th June, 1919.
For the first few days after the signing of the Armistice we remained in Sains, the outpost line was maintained, roads to the East were reconnoitred, and everything was made ready for a resumption of hostilities. But it was soon obvious that the Germans had no more fight in them, and our only interest was in whether or no we should form part of the Army of Occupation. It was known that the 4th Army was going to Germany, and some of us hoped to go with it, but it was not to be, and we were transferred to the 3rd Army, XIIIth. Corps. When we went, General Rawlinson, genuinely sorry to lose us from his Army, expressed his appreciation of our services during the past three months, in a farewell letter, copies of which were given to all ranks. Soon after our transfer, we moved to the Landrecies area, and went into billets in the dirty little town of Bousies.
Our duties were now threefold—to clean up France, to get demobilised, and to amuse ourselves in our spare time. Cleaning up was a gigantic and not very pleasant task, for it meant filling up shell holes, collecting empty bully-beef tins, and generally becoming scavengers. Demobilisation, though more congenial, was at first inclined to be slow, and it was with considerable annoyance that we saw among the first to go, young men who had joined us since the Armistice, because they were “pivotal.” Coal-miners were soon called for, and under this heading we lost many of our oldest and best soldiers, so that by Christmas the Battalion was no longer the same. To amuse us, various sports meetings were arranged—all rather hampered by the weather, though we managed to gain much credit in football and running, while the Divisional Rugby football side won the Corps Championship. In these games we were lucky to have the assistance of a new Padre, the Rev. H.P. Walton, who came to take the place of Padre Buck. Concert parties became more numerous, and, in addition to the “Whizzbangs,” who worked very hard, the Brigade had a show of their own, known as the “138’s.”
While at Bousies we marched one Sunday to Landrecies, where H.M. the King paid a visit. It was an informal affair, no guard of honour and no lining the road, and none of us will ever forget the scene. The King of England followed by his officers, all on foot, walking down the little street of the old French town, while both pavements were packed with soldiers and French civilians, who cheered, shouted, sang and rushed into the road to gain a nearer view of His Majesty.