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Gunner F Close

 
 

Harrogate Herald - 8th December 1915

Gunner F Close, of the 4th West Riding Royal Field Artillery, Ammunition Column (whose home is at Laverton), writing from the Front, gives some interesting and humourous incidents in the soldiers' life. He says : 

Work out here depends on the weather, and whether any big movement is in progress. Our column is at present billeted in a field, or rather, what has been a field. I think it now resembles a very vast marsh. We mostly live in bivouacs, ingeniously constructed with poles, sacks, boards, ground sheets, string, tacks, nails, wire, tin, and any other articles we can get hold of. The result is a structure something like an old farmer's hen hut, that keeps anything out but wind and rain, but that is only a minor consideration. Some have left the bivouacs (as so-called) and gone and taken up a new abode in an old thatched barn, which serves as sleeping apartment, dining-room, harness room, reading room, saddler's shops, and partly stable. I don't know which has the laugh, those in the barn or us in the huts; but I will say this, my father has a far better hen hut than this one my mate and I sleep in, and it is, I think, a treat to some of them. Considering the conditions the food is generally decent. For instance, today our regular cook, who has just returned from leave, after a couple of hours' hard kneading of dough, on an old box lid in the rain, constructed a very sumptuous dinner; and, mind you, he called it jam roll, but owing to the many different opinions offered by the chaps, I dare hardly give you mine. But, nevertheless, he kept cutting it up into lumps and dishing it out minus milk and sugar, and we had to look sharp with our mess tins, too. Then for tea we had jam and bread, and perhaps tomorrow we may have bread and jam for a change. I'll give you my tip, it is "laugh and grow fat" here, for I'm sure you won't with anything else. Well may we sing :

Take me over the sea,

Where the Alli-man cannot catch me;

I don't want to stay at the Front anymore,

Where canons and pom-poms around me do roar.

Oh! My, I don't want to die,

I want to go home.

But to put all joking aside, I will own up that I have been a lucky beggar. I have only had one touch, which was a piece of shrapnel in my side, and after a few days in hospital and a little light duty I was all right and knocking about again. Mt two pals have both been touched for "blighties", and are in England (lucky beggars, and poor me!). I have at the present had the luck to get my hand bit with a horse, so I am writing this to pass away a bit of time. I am a despatch rider, or mounted orderly, and can tell you it is not fun riding about in the mud and rain, hardly knowing I have any feet on , and at night when it is as dark as pitch and the only thing to see are the star shells going up, and now and then a "Jack Johnson" coming over, to perhaps burst 20 yards off you, all you can say in reply is, "It ever touched my"; but still I am sorry to say we have laid a few of our brave pals to rest out here in lonely France and Belgium who have done their little bit, and done it well. So now I remain, wishing you a happy Xmas and a merry New Year.

 

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