Family History


I would love to hear from you about this - please e-mail me, Susan Martin - martis1@hotmail.co.uk Sergeant Packham gives a gripping account of trench life for the 2nd Battalion about this time. He explains that on sentry one could either stand or sit at the fire-step and watch the whole of no-man’s land. All had to take their turn, during the day two hours on, four off, at night two hours on, two off. There was ‘stand to’ at dusk and dawn, and varied trench duties followed; rations to be collected from HQ, water parties, wiring parties for front-line (the barbed wire and stakes were heavy to carry he recalls), mines were being laid so sand-bag duties (removing the soil dug up by the mine laying). ‘I will always remember my first night on the fire step doing my turn of sentry duty. After staring at the barbed-wire stakes for a while they appeared to play all kinds of tricks and at times I could swear there were Germans advancing toward me’. So much has been written about life in the trenches. Here a few things which have helped to give me an idea of what Robert experienced. Greek key design was the most common form of trench with traversing bays and bomb stops. Usually one got out of it using a wooden ladder but there could be sorties steps and stairs. If on a reverse slope the fire box might be dug forward. Many trenches had forward saps used as listening posts. Manning saps was universally hated. Latrines were essential. They were generally situated down a short sap running through the parados. It was a unit’s pride to keep them in good order. A Sanitary corporal was posted in each company. Trench latrine buckets emptied in nearby shell holes, contents covered with earth and chloride of lime thrown into deep latrines with light sprinkling fine soil. Deep drop latrines were topped by a pole. If no proper mortar dug outs had been made weapons were fired from short saps and infantrymen not welcoming a weapon which attracted retaliation sometimes sought to make them uninhabitable by using them as latrines. Billets out of trench were arranged by French liaison officers attached to each unit with British billeting officers. Daylight standard was to march in fours on to trenches and the platoons were more widely spaced when in range of guns. At daybreak and dusk the whole trench would stand-to. When daylight and dangerous half-light was past it was stand down and clean rifles with no more than half being done anyone time. Rifle inspection would be carried out. Being a rations carrier was not a popular job as it was a very dangerous. Sometime would probably be spent filling sandbags etc. In reserve lot of time spent on fatigues. Front line usually had one sentry per platoon. At night he could stand with head and shoulders above parapet. Sentries worked in pairs at night in two hour stints. Sleeping at your post was a capital offence, but executions were only carried out twice, both being in Mesopotamia. Different methods were employed to stay awake, including holding the bayonet under the chin. Empty sandbags had a variety of uses; to take the shine off helmets, wear as a shawl, keep food in, use as a bandage etc., and sadly to hold the effects of the dead. Mud, blood and bullets by Edward Rowbotham (who came from Bloxwich where I live) wrote they were ordered repeatedly when moving forward in attack not to stop and help anyone injured or you will be shot yourself, by your own side. Instead remember where they were and tell them stretcher bearers would be following. As far as sleep went he said he got used to sleeping anywhere anytime, even standing up. On the subject of going forward it is worth noting at this time that it is claimed some unpopular officers were shot by their own men when moving forward on an attack. Robert would have regularly endured the ‘daily hate ‘on a quiet day when a few shells were fired at each other. At this time early morning army orders re executions would be read. The Australians when they arrived and learnt of this kicked up a fuss. 3080 death sentences were passed 346 executions were carried out, all but 57 for offences only under military law. Neither did the Australians like the Field Punishment 1, for which 60210 were carried out (some men more than once) and sometimes released the men. Robert’s punishment sheet has been lost so we don’t know if he committed any crimes or misdemeanours. Raiding parties as well as to capture a German and hopefully useful information were also used to keep up the men’s aggressive spirit. There were always lots of volunteers but married men with families and those recently within bayonet reach of boche ruled out. Usually consisted of five and a junior officer; a man to cut the wire, a bayonet, a grenade thrower another bayonet and the last man with new mills bombs. But there was another view – “out in front they just don’t believe that the results justify the casualties but they must obey orders”. There was the problem of friendly fire when returning. In enemy trenches men often exchanged rifles and bayonets for coshes, bludgeons, knives. 1915-16 incursions into enemy lines became more common. Most common were very small nightly patrols of one officer or NCO and a couple of other men attempting to get close to German wire to try and hear German activity ( much like playing Indians in some of their childhood games). Stronger patrols (or demonstrations) were to briefly enter German lines to collect information and capture a prisoner, for identification and hopefully more information. It usually consisted of one officer and 12-20 men and provide good training for officers especially subalterns but casualties were frequent. Large artillery supported raids comprised two to three officers, 80-100 men, and were in essence small battles. Soldiers blackened faces and carried diabolical weapons such as nailed wooden clubs, maces, knives, bombs. (‘Two minor demonstrations, by Michael Durey, WFA Stand To, no 91) A German to Robert would have been a Fritz, Jack, Jerry or alleyman, his officers would have used the term boche. Attitudes towards the enemy varied greatly depending on circumstances, whether prisoners would be taken or killed could depend on for example whether a friend had just been killed or the attitude of one’s commander over prisoners. A difference was often drawn between Prussians, who were detested, and other Germans. Looting of dead bodies was common on both sides. Many soldiers came home with German army memorabilia. Great coats and socks were also taken and reused. Truces were arranged ad hoc to bury the dead. Our men felt a strong obligation to bury comrades if at all possible. Those buried behind lines were wrapped in blanket or hessian and usually buried at night. Stories of German atrocities abounded in the press since the start of the war. Many of the serving soldiers would have read about them, but how many witnessed them? A Captain Ross wrote on 14 October with regard to the behaviour of the Germans ‘I have not come across many atrocities. They do seem to have done a great deal of malicious damage in deserted houses, and of course some are very nasty things, but what can you expect when you are dealing with a low class in a hostile country. We have had to put down looting on a minor scale, even in our own army who are so well treated, and in a friendly country, The Cure was shot, I could not find out on what grounds. A French cavalry officer was shot while on patrol, by some civilians on bicycles, presumably spies…the Germans are terribly callous about their own wounded [his unit then marched to unoccupied Bailleul] we make a triumphal march through the town and hear the Bavarians had been very drunk, and before retiring broke windows, and did 20 atrocities’. Nurse Appleby in her diary – p133 – ‘he told me the same stories of the German cruelties as many others have done…old bearded men pinned to their own doors on lances and swords, babies lying about naked and maimed…women with their hands and arms cut off”. Attitude towards local civilians was mixed, certainly sympathy for the plight of many but at the same time they were aware that some of them could be Herman spies. Nurse Edith Appleton tells two stories she has been told about German snipers bothering men billeted on farms – one turned out to be the farmer himself, the other a German hidden by the farmer Different jobs abounded; horses, wagons had to be looked after (usually organised by NCO), shoeing smith, veterinary sergeant, administrative sergeant, clerks, storemen, cooks, signallers. Usually these were in comparative places of safety with huts and dug outs. I have no idea whether Robert resumed his former army life as a cook. Robert might possibly have been a sniper. They were used in forward trenches but also in forward attacks, usually on their own on flanks as they were very valuable men, useful in villages etc. using houses as well as the trenches The men got to know the enemy’s weapons very well. As well as the coal boxes there were the whizz bangs German 77mm (18 pounds). These were unlikely to hurt off the ground if 20-30 feet away. Decent overhead cover kept out the 4ft 2in shell but 5 ft. 9ins ones from a medium gun even landing 100 yards away could wreck defences. And then there were the ‘moaning minnies’, the minenwerfer mortars To Minnie (Ypers Times p116) Ah Minnie! How our feelings change For now I hear your voice with dread And hasten to get out range Ere you me on the landscape spread The men of course were familiar with our own weaponry. Big guns like 8 and 12ins were used against heavy gun positions. To cut barbed wire shrapnel had to burst 3 – 4 feet above it and very difficult to get it just right. Guns – the 18 pounder would be 6525 yards behind the line, 4-5 howitzer 17,300 yards behind, when in action for much of war two miles behind line, 19.2 howitzers were tractor drawn five miles behind. Field batteries consisted of six guns in 32 sections each commanded by a subaltern. Rifles came to be supplanted by grenades, at first jam jars with gun cotton nails or similar ignited by length of safety fuse. There were three main types grenades; percussion, ignition and mechanical. The problem with the percussion was when the thrower hit the rear of the trench with the arm after removing the pin. The mechanical mills grenade was the best known. Rifle grenades were developed, the mills grenade modified for the rifle. During the day time could be spent making jam tin bombs, cutting barbed wire into lengths of 8ft and wiring ends together to make circle. Six of these were used to make ball known as a gooseberry. At night it would be thrown onto our own barbed wire, very effective as cut by shrapnel the wire would be even more entangled. No shaving was possible in the trenches so most men had beards in the front line. There was hopefully a bath once a week. The smell as also something to get used to, a combination of mildew, rotting vegetation and decomposing corpses, men and animals. In the trenches feet were a great problem as days were spent standing in mud and water. January 1915 an official programme for foot care was issued, wipe boots inside and out with whale oil, regularly wash feet in cold water, dry them and put on dry socks. During the summer flies often became intolerable. Lice ‘a most potent menace to the health and comfort of the troops’ - everyone had them. A battery of homemade devices came along to augment the inadequate steam disinfector. Also greater bathing facilities helped but it was not until early 1918 was the link between lice and trench fever firmly established and only then special pits de-lousing cloths recommended. Lighted cigarettes running down seams were an attempt to kill them but even delousing clothes didn’t kill the eggs in the seams. Scabies – sufferers shorn of bodily hair and scrubbed twice daily with a strong solution of Lysol (largely carbolic acid) administered with hard nail brushes. Bodily lice ‘a most potent menace to the health and comfort of the troops’ – battery of homemade devices to augment the inadequate steam disinfector. Also greater bathing facilities helped. And the rats should not be forgotten .’On my table in the evening they will form “Battalion mass” They will open tins of bully with their teeth And should a cake be sent to me by some friends at home alas! They will extricate it from its cardboard sheath Have you seen one should a rival chance to spoil his love affair Bring a bomb Mills hand and place it underneath the portion of the trench where that said rival had his lair and then he’ll pull the pin out with his teeth’ I’VE A LITTLE HOME IN THE TRENCH Where the rain storms continually drench there’s a sky overhead Clay and mud for a bed And a stone that we use for a bench Bully beef and hard biscuits we chew It seems year since we tasted a stew Shells crackle and scare Yet the place can compare With my little wee home in the trench Our friends in the trench o’er the way Seem to know that we have come here to stay They shout and they shout But they can’t get us out Though there’s no dirty trick they won’t play They rushed a few nights ago But they found the Sherwoods and so. Some departed quite sore Others left nevermore Near my wee little we home in the trench So hurrah for the mud and the clay Which leads to Der Tag – that’s the day When we enter Berlin That city of sin And make that fat Berliner pay As we lay down with Belgians and French Yes, we’ll think of the cold slush and stench There’ll be shed then I fear Redder stuff than a tear For my little we home in the trench’ In and out of the front line there were fatigues. Being in reserve or in rest was often harder work than being in the front line. Fatigues might also help with the mines. This could mean a hundred men strung out and sandbags handed man to man especially hard for those at beginning and end. Carrying stakes and barbed wire was difficult especially in a narrow trench. The best way to carry wire was to have a stick through centre of the roll and carry it on the shoulder. Working parties were sent out to mend barbed wire Jack Duggan 1/7th Northumberland Fusiliers ‘we had wooden posts with pointed ends and a big wooden hammer. The posts had to be driven into the ground. Fellows used to wrap sandbags around the head of the hammer to deaden the sound…even with the sandbags, the sound of that hammer could stretch out in the quiet night. You would hear the sniper’s bullet come winging across or machine gun. You only got a couple of blows or so to drive it in and then you had to duck down. Then when the machine-gun bullets had passed by, you had another few strokes. Before the summer 1915 was over this task was made much easier. From then onwards the men had a 3ft twisted bar with a loop at one end and at the other end it was sharpened. All they had to do was to put a piece of stick in the loop at the top and turn it into the ground. And the barbed wire now came in a compressed coil making the entanglements a much easier job. 60lb trench mortars were heavy to carry, called toffee apples He would have regularly endured the ‘daily hate ‘on a quiet day when a few shells were fired at each other’. At this time during the early morning army orders about executions would be read. The Australians when they arrived and learnt of this kicked up a fuss, and the practice was discontinued. 3080 death sentences were passed during the war, 346 executions were carried out all but 57 for offences only under military law. Neither did the Australians like the Field Punishment 1, for which 60210 were carried out (some men more than once) and sometimes released the men. A Captain Rose reported on food 2nd October 1914. ‘food is one of the principal pleasures of life during the war. We are doing very well now. This is the menu for the day which doesn’t vary very much. Breakfast – bacon, bread, jam. Tea with condensed milk, and sugar. A small piece of bacon as all but bread is strictly limited. Lunch – bully beef in some form, potatoes, bread, cheese, tea. Tea: bread, a very small piece of butter, jam, tea. Dinner – stew, bully (latterly fresh meat) with vegetables, stewed apples or pears, cheese, tea (sometimes rum). Sometimes there are added luxuries like pate de fois gras or walnuts. Drink at dinner, red wine or water, but this is now finished. A private wrote ‘some of the junior officers do not appear to be very bright at this time and always seemed to have had too much drink at night’ For the men in the trenches food came in dixies or preferably hay boxes to it keep warm. Front line men should have received 4193 calories daily, men in the rear less. Cookers were transported with battalions. Each Battalion had four cooks, two in the transport line cooking e.g. stews and two up line, making tea and serving. Bully beef was used in stews etc. and later came tinned meat and vegetable maconochie. Tinned meat was easy to transport and store with a never ending supply coming from South America. However it was eaten as last alternative being salt and fatty and difficult to eat from the tin when cold with a limited supply of drinking water. When mixed as stew e.g. maconochie and heated it was acceptable. Fray Bentos was well regarded WH Davies bully not. ‘There’s a poem in a biscuit, there’s a poem in our tea. In fact the blooming rations make a book of poetry. But to have the gift to find it and to understand it fully one must learn to look for Khayyam in a blooming tin of bully’ (Ypers Times p273) Sometimes there was porridge always known as burghu [burgoo] another name picked up in India. Bread rations varied, usually three or four to a loaf. Tea of course was the usual drink but often unpalatable made with chlorinate water or water boiled in petrol cans which sometimes had not been cleaned before. Condensed milk was used in tea. Jam was usually plum & apple. Biscuits were dipped in bacon fat or in water to make them swell and soften. For emergency conditions there were iron rations, a tin of bully beef and hard biscuits. It was an offence to eat iron rations apart from an emergency and men were inspected regularly for their iron rations. The daily ration was more than battalions wanted but cutting the head count would mean reduction in other food stuffs. Food could also be supplemented by what could be foraged locally. Walter Harold Fairbanks ‘You would be surprised what good dinners the boys make. We can only move out of the trenches at dark, and then we get clean straw, water etc. for the next day. We got chickens at the last place we were at, nearly every day. The lads get them and kill them in a tick.’ Rum was close to the soldiers’ hearts. Army rum was much stronger than usual rum and men died of drinking too much. The ration was 1/16th pint daily. When one teetotal army commander decided to finish the rum ration in his command the outcry went to the very top of the army and the ration was restored. Men were often given two tots before going over the top. Another source of food was of course the food parcels from home. The contents were pooled between officers and men alike, all tinned food, chocolate and Oxo cubes were particularly welcomed. Home parcels also contained clothing, newspapers and other reading material, cigarettes and many other items. As well as parcels from family and local charities the Queen Alexandria field force fund parcels were very popular containing a towel, mittens, writing tablet, laces, muffler, sleeping helmet, soap, h/chief, matches, toilet paper. I would imagine Robert smoked like the majority of soldiers. It has been said the British army marched less on its stomach than a haze of smoke. Woodbines, Gold Flake, Black Cats were the brand he men craved for, if not available they had to put up with one of the war brands, Glory Boys, Ruby Queens, White Cloud, made from poor green tobacco. The price of fags 1916 by Michael Senior (Stand To!) Jan 2007 no 78 p30-32) reveals that men were having to pay more for cigarettes in France, sold at BEF canteens, mark up of 45% and this in the end by October 1916 went right up to Haig and the Army council. The same applied to other goods – chocolate, tinned fruit and milk. Cigarettes were begged, borrowed, stolen, used for barter and even acted as currency.This is a poem written by a British corporal, Jack Turner, and widely circulated by cards advertising MRAD Turkish cigarettes. This is just the first verse but gives he tone When the cold is making ice-cream of the marrow if your bones. When you’re shaking like a jelly and your feet are dead as stones, When your clothes and boots and blankets, and your rifle and your kit, Are soaked from Hell to Breakfast, and the dugout where you sit Is leaking like a basket, and upon a muddy floor The water lies in filthy pools, six inches deep or more: Tho’ life seems cold and mis’rable and all the world I swear, You’ll always get thro’ somehow if you’ve got a cigarette However some thought that addiction to cigarettes could be a problem if supplies run out. Robert might have bought a cigarette-making machine from Henry Albert Knight of Tunbridge Wells. This was Henry’s bestselling invention, so popular with men in the trenches that the post office refused to deliver so many letters so he had to go and collect them, pushing them in his daughter’s pushchair, she then having to walk. One of the songs Robert must have sung was Tipperary The Irish regiment the Connaught Rangers were witnessed singing the song as they marched through Boulogne on 13 August 1914 by the Daily Mail correspondent George Curnock, who reported the event in that newspaper on 18 August 1914. The song was then picked up by other army units. In November 1914 it was recorded by the well-known tenor John McCormack which helped contribute to its worldwide popularity. Up to mighty London Came an Irishman one day. As the streets are paved with gold Sure, everyone was gay, Singing songs of Piccadilly Strand and Leicester Square Till Paddy got excited, Then he shouted to them there: It's a long way to Tipperary, It's a long way to go. It's a long way to Tipperary To the sweetest girl I know! Goodbye, Piccadilly, Farewell, Leicester Square! It's a long long way to Tipperary, But my heart's right there. (repeat) Paddy wrote a letter To his Irish Molly-O, Saying, "Should you not receive it, Write and let me know!" "If I make mistakes in spelling, Molly, dear," said he, "Remember, it's the pen that's bad, Don't lay the blame on me! It's a long way to Tipperary, It's a long way to go. It's a long way to Tipperary To the sweetest girl I know! Goodbye, Piccadilly, Farewell, Leicester Square! It's a long long way to Tipperary, But my heart's right there. Molly wrote a neat reply To Irish Paddy-O, Saying "Mike Maloney Wants to marry me, and so Leave the Strand and Piccadilly Or you'll be to blame, For love has fairly drove me silly: Hoping you're the same!" It's a long way to Tipperary, It's a long way to go. It's a long way to Tipperary To the sweetest girl I know! Goodbye, Piccadilly, Farewell, Leicester Square! It's a long long way to Tipperary, But my heart's right there. However Robert probably sung it but with other words like “it’s the wrong way to tickle Mary” which had the chorus That's the wrong way to tickle Mary, That's the wrong way to kiss. Don't you know that over here, lad They like it best like this. Hooray pour Les Français Farewell Angleterre We didn't know how to tickle Mary, But we learnt how over there. Similarly there were endless versions Mademoiselle from Armentieres. Marching songs were not patriotic but popular, mawkish or sentimental We’re here because (to Auld lang Syne) We’re here because We’re her because We’re here because we’re here (Sung with gusto as at times they didn’t know where they were) John Brown’s baby (Air John Brown’s baby) John Brown’s baby got a pimple on his ……shush (repeated 2 more times) The poor kid can’t sit down (pre-war parody) Barney I took my girl for a ramble, a ramble A down a shady Lane She caught her foot in a bramble, a bramble And – over – she came Soldier’s variant Oh sergeant. Oh, sergeant Oh bring back my rations to me The moon shines bright The moon shines bright on Charlie Chaplin His boots a cracking for want to blacking And his khaki trousers they want mending Before we send him to the Dardanelles Humour helped men endure!!! Many of the men like Robert had spent years in India and they would have used a smattering of Indian terms; wallah for person so a shit-wallah was in a sanitary corp, khush described anything pleasant (cushy), blighty also had Indian origins, as well as meaning England it could refer to anything pleasant or good. The old contemptibles didn’t like newcomers using their pronunciations of local places like Wipers for Ypres, Moocow farm or Muchy farm for Mouquet Farm and pronouncing the end T on Albert. Nick names abounded, for example sergeants were sarn’t rather than sarge and lance corporals lance jacks. During rest periods music hall style concerts were popular, the men themselves dressed in drag. At these flag waving patriotism was not popular. Cinemas also drew the men. However church parades were generally detested. The average private’s soldier’s religion formed as a child, in 1888 three quarters of all children attended Sunday school and many like Robert would have attended a Church aided school. The Church of England didn’t help matters when it discouraged its chaplains from being in the front line. This contrasted with the Roman Catholic priests who went to give extreme unction to the dying. Pay was often delayed as the pay officer designated to get it could be killed with pay roll. When it did arrive it was given out on pay parades. There were stoppages, for missing kit, allotments of pay to be sent home etc. The result was that many were very often short of money. Cigarettes were frequently used for barter. 1 franc was worth just under 1s. In an estimet the men could enjoy egg & chips, white wine or beer (notoriously watered down). Some were existing cafes others sprung up farmhouse kitchens or back of shops. Only officers were allowed spirits. Gambling was forbidden but games like crown and anchor were played. Just behind the lines were YMCA canteens often one man canteens frequently run by clergymen. YMCA over 10,000 facilities, by September1916 a hut for every two or three miles of the front, half from donations half from sales plus 7000 000 from government for educational classes. These didn’t like making a profit but the government said things had to be sold as in official canteens (which weren’t generally liked) After Battle of Messines (admittedly after Robert was in the area) it worked in the area just taken – Times July 1917 ‘the YMCA works where the danger is greatest – at the Battle of Messines out workers met the wounded coming out of action at the advanced dressing stations and served them there – under fire – with hot and cold drinks, biscuits, chocolate and cigarettes. There was also free writing paper – over 1000 million sheets distributed. In comparison the official Expeditionary Forces Canteen – run by private contractors but taken over by Army 1917 were seen as soulless and used as a large resort. Sexual urges not a problem in front line, and behind lines hot food, good sleep and bath came first. However the preoccupation with sex was reflected in the general conversation among the front line troops, especially the infantry, who were mostly working men in whom regular sexual activity was regarded as a requirement of good health, it also showed in the bawdy jokes, rhymes and songs of which there was a never-ending supply. Hymn tunes were used for singing ribald verses. Authorities recognised an outlet was need, especially for married men At first there were attempts to create official brothels (blue light officers, red light ORs) in which the women were inspected etc. but public opinion lead to their closures. These would have only been in the towns. In villages middle aged women and their daughters were sometimes available. And with this life how would the private feel? In 1918 private Reg Kiernan ‘but its fear. fear, fear all the time when we are not doing anything and who can describe fear? He is with you, by your side, round you, over you, in your mind and your body, even when you sleep’. One way of counteracting this feeling was cocaine. Possibly supplied by the Dutch cocaine factory Amstel River Amsterdam. Harrods sold ‘Forced march’ for a while, ‘containing the combined active principles of kola nut and coca leaves. Allays hunger and prolongs the power of endurance. Direction: one or two dissolved in the month every hour when undergoing continued mental strain or physical exertion’. Medical handbooks used at the front described it as a mild sedative also usable with exhaustion and for stimulation ‘cocaine suppresses your feelings of hunger, you can go on for 24 hrs and you feel invincible. Aggressive. You lose your feelings for compassion. The perfect drug for creating the perfect killing machine’. I do not know how widely it was used and by which ranks in the army. Nurse Edith Appleby in her diary recalled how one very quiet man told me swearing was not his habit or any joy to him but he swore as much as any man when shells were coming over “it helps one to bear it quite wonderfully” he said. My little pot of gold, Jim Reynolds Cockney Ancestor 100 autumn 2003. His uncle Walter Harold Fairbank had an article published ‘Living in an eight-foot hole’ in a local paper ‘You can get used to the game of war but it does your nerves no good. At present we are in the trenches. Ankle deep in mud, and as it is raining the walls are always falling in. Sergent…who is my pal and I dug a hole eight foot deep. Made a roof of wood, straw, wire netting and clay…and have a fire inside a pail, which keeps us warm, and on which we make tea. You would be surprised what good dinners the boys make. We can only move out of the trenches at dark, and then we get clean straw, water etc. for the next day. We got chickens at the last place we were at, nearly every day. The lads get them and kill them in a tick. There are no civilians here, and any that come turn out to be spies. The Germans are in trenches anything from 100 to 1000yards away’. ‘I want people who have never come here to read and feel the sensations of the first time under snapping rifle bullets or the rush of the whizz bang or the first night listening post or on patrol…be glad to get a dug-out of the rotting bags with piece of corrugated iron on the ground …rats as big as kittens fir company….feel the “crumbs” [lice[ in their shirts…the luxury of sleep of utter exhaustion, the ability of men to endure the impossible, sleep, shave, wash their feet and be as fresh and fit as before…can they picture men sitting on the two top bunks their heads against the ceiling and their legs dangling smoking like a stove (against orders of course) playing poker on credit…happy as clams on high tide’ (Frankau) “Even those who did not in the least complain of actual shell shock shook quite visibly and some were almost unable to control the movements of their hands” [Margery 7th Bttn Oct 16]