24th March 1916 Friday
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As March wore on the weather maintained the relentless cold. If it wasn’t bad enough to suffer the onslaught of artillery and machine gun fire, to endure it in the freezing and damp conditions in the trenches must have seemed like hell on earth.
“On March 24th we were relieved in the early afternoon. It was cold and snowed all day. We trecked back to Les Choques via Gorre – a ten mile march and very wearisome for our trench weary men. We didn’t arrive at our destination until 6pm. I found my billet and medical inspection room in a filthy condition. I slept in a small room off the latter.”
Life at home in Edinburgh was not so straightforward at this time and they suffered plenty of inconvenience as the war began to impinge on domestic life.
Douglas continued with a quote from a letter without saying whom it was from. It was probably from his mother or sister, but gives an insight to the war at home.
“A letter arrived from home about this time.
‘ We are plunged in gross darkness at night – all lights required to be shaded- neglect of this means a penalty of £100, so as I can’t afford to pay this sum I am keeping my windows carefully shaded’.”
The shadow of fear cast over the threat of being fined £100 for showing some light seems to be at the forefront of the letter writer. It would have been an enormous sum to have to be fined for transgressing the blackout. Typically there are records of people being fined as little as 2/6d or as much as £2 or a little more. There were protests from people who felt they were treated unfairly by an overzealous warden or policeman. Not for two hundred and fifty years had civilians been exposed to war on the home front and not since the Normans arrived had they been attacked by a foreign enemy at home.
Continuing, he immediately returns to matters at the Western Front.
“Whilst out of the line I gave lectures to the stretcher-bearers on first aid &c., medically inspected the battalion and attended to the sick and sanitary arrangements. I also had walks to Mesplaux and spent many happy hours with the 130th Field Ambulance there. Also to Bethune about two miles off, where I did shopping and visited the pictures and dined at the Lion d’Or. It was all such a pleasant relief to trench life.”
The next post follows on 31st March.
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