Witley, June 30, 1917

Saturday          Windy and cold today not much rain Rc’d two letters from [Janie] Ans them this evening Slept this afternoon — When are we going to get out of this hole should like to know

85 Tonsorial artists Witley crop.jpgEveryone is feeling a little stale: “there was not much in the matter of training that we had not had our fill of.” (1) The training schedule in the War Diary is full of “same syllabus” and “etc” — at least today is only a half day of “stables, gas instruction, medical inspection, fatigues, harness cleaning etc.” (2)

They were beginning to think they would never get to France.

O Pip 3 It is rumoured heading.JPG

  • “That skirts will be shorter next spring.
  • “And that we will be in England.” (3)

The rest of the rumours attest to the unreal quality of this limbo:

  • “That the N.C.O./s are giving a strawberry party to their men.
  • “That we are to have flower gardens around the stables.
  • “That the sensational game of croquet is to be introduced by the officers.
  • “That the batteries have promised not to pilfer from one another.
  • “That the office staffs are to do morning stables.”(3)

The theme of the Division’s deployment appears as a “Stop Press” notice further on in the June issue of The O.Pip:

“We have been informed over our ‘Greased Wire’ by our special correspondent at the War Office that as a result of the recent inspection held by the Inspector-General the 14th Brigade is to undergo nine months more training in England, and that the 13th Brigade is to return to Canada.” (4)

It’s frustration, rather than wishful thinking.

(1) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. Toronto, 1919. 11
(2) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 5 (June 1917): Appendix III: 12. Library and Archives of Canada.
(3) The O.Pip. 3 (June 1917): 7
(4) The O.Pip. 3 (June 1917): 16

The photograph is from Percy’s small album, where it is labelled “Tonsorial Artists.” The object of the artistry is hard to see behind the artists, but it is a horse.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”


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