A day of preparing things and making investments for the future, to be paid off later.
On the last day of artillery preparation before Second Artois is renewed yet another time, let’s just take a moment to note that for this prepatory bombardment alone, the French army will fire just a shade under 500,000 shells into a tiny strip of ground, barely a few miles wide by a few miles deep. Is it so unreasonable for the generals to have supposed, this first time it was tried, that surely nobody could have survived such a shelling?
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Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, yeah. Kenneth Best is back up the line.
Go up to trenches with officers. Colonel Rye is depressed, feels responsible for the lives of his men. Several lads say how much they appreciate short family prayers in trenches. I wish I could get round to all. I can only take ten at a time and there are thousands out there.
They feel their leaders are lacking in sympathy. A lad is sent to do the impossible. He died in the heroic attempt. “Never mind”, say the red tabs, “we can get plenty more at one shilling a day. But do look after the horses…”
I sincerely hope he’s not quoting directly and is merely trying to illustrate an attitude…
Mimi and Toutou are being loaded onto a transport ship today. The expedition’s supplies and equipment go with her, the blokes to follow shortly thereafter. It’ll take 17 days of sailing to reach Cape Town, at which point the full ridiculousness of their enterprise will set in.
Battle of Bellewaarde
We have got all our instructions. We have a trench to take, in fact the enemy’s second line, with the help of the Lincolns. I’m afraid it’s going to be rather a difficult job. The men are all cheery, and we rag each other as to how we’ll look with wooden legs, or tied up in an old sheet for burial. All the plans have been explained today, to all ranks.
All stores have been issued and we are waiting to march off. Unfortunately the Huns must know almost everything, as it has been so widely discussed. I am beginning to suspect it is done with an object. Sacrifice a brigade here and push hard somewhere else.
However, we are going to justify our existence as Terriers and men – we middle-class businessmen! God save the King!
The BEF is also conducting a similar, larger, line-tidying operation at Givenchy, but McKinnell is wrong to suggest that his blokes are purely a distraction (although the logic is reasonable). Another reason for his pessimism is that they’ve spent the past few days digging jumping-off trenches for the attack. Of course, the Germans have not been slow to notice the appearance of fresh saps in front of their line, and have been shelling them heavily…
Actions in Progress
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