12 February 1916

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

This morning we did not start work until nine. All officers and platoon sergeants had to attend a lecture on the extent and exact position of the present British-French line. This was preceded by a speech from the Brigadier. He seemed quite cheery and bright. He goes to the trenches tomorrow for instruction for four days, and said he hoped to return on Thursday next.

I received the parcels of cigarettes to-day, which were sent by the children of Harold’s school for the men. They were very pleased to receive the first lot – I gave out a thousand. I must write and thank the kiddies for their kindness.

As I finished this I heard horses’ hoofs – looked up, and there was a full blown General, with some of his staff coming down the lane, followed by a lancer complete with flag. I went out. The guard on the next billet did not turn out. The sentry presented arms – I saluted as they passed and the General wished me a good afternoon. As soon as they had passed I rushed up and asked why the guard had not turned out? A man called McLellan was the sentry, and he said “I asked him if I should turn out the guard and he said ‘no.’” My glorious goodness – to think that a sentry in my Company should ask a General if he would like a salute! McLellan was a waiter in the Sergeants’ Mess and had not been on parade much until we left England. They seem to have got all the real dead-beats on guard to-day. It is enough to make on weep.

We had dinner at the Café this (Saturday) evening – seventeen of us – the C.O. in the chair. Had quite a nice, cheery evening, back 10-30 and bed at once – very tired.

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