David to May May 21st 1917
There is no mail in today and therefore no letter from you. I didn’t expect one really, but still I am always anxious to get your letters.
We have had rather a busy day today. We started at 7.30 for a route march of about 8 or 9 miles. This was of course because the men marched so badly the other day. The country round here is not so fine as that we have just left. It is simply undulating agricultural country with patches of wood here and there. In the middle of a wood we halted for about ¾ hour, took our packs off and then went out into a field outside the wood and did some musketry.
It rained pretty heavily off and on most of the morning but I was dry again by the time I got back. We got back to lunch and afterward a number of the officers (myself amongst them) had to go out to work out an outpost scheme for practices.
We did a whole lot of walking about but it was not bad as the weather had cleared up and the whole thing was simply a discussion on various points.
These outpost schemes of course vary with every different piece of ground and as no two men’s opinions are the same you can always reckon that whatever scheme you have it won’t meet with the approval of the officer who happens to be in command of the whole thing.
We got back to tea and afterwards had to go out and learn how to salute. Our own particular general says that none of the officers in the division salute properly, wherefore we are hauled out and taught how the forefinger should come one inch and no more or less above the right eye. I regret to say that one of the fellows whilst undergoing this instruction did not treat it as seriously as the occasion demanded and pulled out a protractor in order to measure the exact error in his own case.
I am sending a few postcards. Assevillers was one of the villages we went to soon after coming out of the trenches and the two views give you a very good idea of what these ruined villages look like.
When you are billeted in one of these places you live in the cellar of one of these wrecked cottages or perhaps in a dugout under one of the heaps of rubbish.
We went through Peronne on our way up to the railway. Of course I haven’t been near Combles but the view gives you an excellent idea of the landscape anywhere near the front line trenches.
Campbell has gone to Paris with another man, Warner, for 4 days leave. I could get this French leave too, but I shall not do so, as I don’t want a holiday unless you can be with me. Goodbye.