13th January 1916 Thursday
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Douglas re-joined his unit today where he got a “hearty reception from his mess-mates”.
He remained here in Calonne until the 24th January. Duties were the usual routines, collecting sick men and arranging sick parades and so on.
Able to take advantage of relative peace, Douglas was able to pay a few visits to the nearby town of Merville.
There was the grocer’s shop, Isabelle’s where “Madame Zeppelin had a gracious welcome for all. She was a huge cheery woman.”
She must indeed have been very substantial to earn such a nickname. A Zeppelin airship could be up to 776 ft (236.5 metres) long and 100ft (30.5 metres) wide!
“In the back parlour of the shop was a piano and many a sing-song we had in there. In another shop, an ironmongers, was an exceedingly pretty girl who told me to come back ‘après la guerre’ and buy a perambulator! Who for? Then there was the baker’s shop (Lucy’s), with the tea-room upstairs where we had many a cup of dish watery tea and wonderful cakes.
Air activity was great. We saw many air-fights but the Germans had more aeroplanes than we had.
When in Merville one day we paid a visit to one of the hospital barges on the canal. One of the nurses showed us over it. There were thirty-six beds and all the very seriously wounded are sent down to Calais on those barges. It is a three day trip. Everything was spotlessly clean.”
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