9 February 1916

Harrison Johnston, the 15th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, 105th Infantry Brigade, 35th Division

It had frozen hard in the early morning, so the slush was not so bad.

We cleaned up our billets and left at 8-10 for H.Q. Before we left the old man, Paul Leroy, turned out rather money grubbing. He charged us very heavily for the stuff we had had and finished up by making us pay one franc for a rotten old ladder which the sergeants had broken. The ladder only had about three of the original rungs on it, the rest were of string or wire. As the sergeants had been drinking beer and coffee all day long, and paying well in cash for a week, it seemed very mean of him. I paid him the franc.

We started off for our march in good time – it was ten or eleven miles and we did it all right, but some of overseas boots gave out, and a few men got bad feet. Only one of X Company fell out and did not rejoin.

When we got a little more than half way two Officers rode up – one a general, I think his name was Lloyd, and another Officer. He addressed me as I saluted, “Are you the 105th Brigade?” “Yes, Sir.” “What unit?” I told him. “Where is your Brigadier?” “Head of the column, Sir.” “Send him to me.” “Yes, Sir.”

I went off at a gallop up the column. The other Officer turned out to be Prince Arthur of Connaught. He is a nice, smart looking man. He told the Brigadier that he liked the look of our mean and that they marched well. We had heard that Sir Douglas Haig might see us on the way over – the others evidently came instead.

Having arrived at the village Molingham near Aire, Robert (billeting officer) turned us (X Company) into a farm yard and left us.

We got the men settled down about 5 p.m., having had dinner and tea getting ready.

This morning the guns have been pretty busy – we can hear the heavy guns very clearly – so Billy Brown and the other boys will hear a bit of noise if they do nothing else. They are in the line now.

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