Unauthorized leave did attract official displeasure and punishment:
Four or five fellows left without passes at all and others overstayed their leave for two or three days. When they got back, they were paraded before the Colonel and given from 8 to 14 days C.B. (confinement to barracks) with loss of pay for the days they were absent. They are getting plenty of fatigue work around camp and have an hour’s pack drill every night. This pack drill would be hard enough on warm nights like these after they have been working all day as they have to wear their tunics, haversacks, water bottles, mess cans, kit bags – their full equipment – it is quite a load. (1)
Resourceful soldiers occasionally stuffed their packs with straw to lighten their burden when assigned to pack drill, and were occasionally caught. They must have thought it worth the risk.(2)
“Pack Drill” makes kitchen fatigue seem light work. These members of the 55th battery on kitchen fatigue seem positively cheerful.
(1) Brown, Robert Gordon. Letter to his mother, May 31, 1916. Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project.
(2) Empey, Arthur. “Pack Drill,” in “Tommy’s Dictionary of the Trenches.” Over the Top. New York: 1918. 303.
The photograph is from Percy’s small album.