22 March 1916

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

Something is happening but I don’t know what.  This is a fact – the guns did not fire at all from lunchtime yesterday until 9 a.m. this morning.  The whole world seemed quiet and peaceful.  Air is full of rumours.  The most likely to be right is the one that an armistice has taken place for burial of the dead at Verdun.  Of course, the M. O. had a beauty – “Greece, Rumania and Holland had sent the ultimatum to Germany that if she did not throw up the sponge in 24 hours they would come in and help to smash her.”  Another beauty was that four divisions of Germans had surrendered at Verdun!  We thought we got funny rumours at Camp in England, but they’re far better here.  However, there is a move on.  Robert was warned last night to go to H. Q. He dressed and went about 10-45.  He received orders to proceed this morning early to our new billeting area but on reporting at H. Q. this morning he was shown a message cancelling the order and stating that our division are not to relieve the division we should have done.  There are other signs of activity in another direction and much heavy artillery seems to be changing its position. I expect we may get hurried orders to pack up and be off somewhere else.

A lot of French soldiers are billeted where I am, and they have much more comfortable places to sleep than my men have, also a separate room to feed in, if you please.

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