The grand old Duke of Aosta has succeeded in marching his ten thousand men to the top of the hill. (Well, after disease and casualties there’s rather fewer than ten thousand, but it’s still a mildly amusing joke.) The summit of Mount San Michele is now in Italian hands. And now they discover another Western Front lesson that should have been taken into account. It’s all well and good taking enemy trenches, but when you do that, you find that the enemy artillery knows exactly where their old trenches are. The men holding the top of the hill are now learning this rather explosive lesson.
The Duke puts in another request for reinforcements, and once again, General Cadorna will take his sweet time deciding whether to grant it. On the other side of the hill, the need for reinforcements is being taken rather more seriously.
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General Hunter-Weston, despite his bumptious attempts to put a brave face on things, is not in a good way. The exact nature of his ailment is, naturally, a Matter of Some Debate. If you’re minded to be charitable to him, the official diagnosis of sunstroke is the last word on this. It is, after all, rather hot and sunny in theatre.
On the other hand, Sir Ian Hamilton’s diary says “He has had a hard time and a heavy responsibility and is quite worn out”, making no mention of sunstroke. Whether you want to call it nervous exhaustion, neurasthenia, or something more modern, it’s entirely possible that Hunter-Weston’s nerves have finally cracked after nearly four months of failure at every turn. He’ll soon be on his way back to Blighty to recuperate, and he therefore leaves our story for a while.
He’ll be back.
Battle of Malazgirt
General Oganovski is rather disgruntled to find his brand-new positions on the Belican Hills coming under attack to the north and the west. Nothing decisive, but it does conflict with his intelligence assessment of Ottoman strength in the area. More soon.
Kenneth Best has been put on a boat. Once again the situation with food and water is pretty dire, although improving.
Sailing for Alexandria. Doc has put me on soup and fish. Wish they were more generous with the helpings. Padre came in and lent me V. Staley on Natural Religion, afforded me a little gentle mental exercise. I felt I was wholly disassociated from realities of life. It took me back to quiet scholastic days when I felt I was on the brink of discovering universal truth.
I wish I were back at the Front and fit again. Shaved by an Indian barber. Wrote to Robin.
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