Topic: British Army
Ordinary day in billets
"Stand To" A Diary of the Trenches, 1915-18, Captain F.C. Hitchcock, M.C., F.R.Hist.S., 1937
Ordinary day in billets. Orders circulated to companies for the relief of the 1st North Staffords in the front line at the "Mound of Death" on the morrow. Company commanders went off on reconnaissance and returned at night with a bad account of our new line. For the past month the area round the ruins of St. Eloi had witnessed much fighting. Three mines had been exploded, and there was the usual scrapping for possession of the craters.
Our Division expected an attack, and we were detailed to hold the position. Platoon commanders were given maps, and were told to explain the situation to the men. It was during this so-called rest, which was in reality one long endless fatigue, that Headquarters issued orders that owing to the unsavoury tone in the word "fatigue" in future the term "working party" must be used.
It was pointed out that these working parties performed most important work, and that there was as much honour and glory in a "fatigue" party as there was in being the attacking troops. We were ordered to read this out on parade. I did so, and when I had finished one "old tough" was overheard to remark: "Begorra, ye can change the bloody name but the fatigue is still there."
The word "mine" was also scrapped, "sap" being substituted, owing, they said, to the Huns getting to know about our mining activity. There was a rumour afloat that it was the intention of the Higher Command to stop the rum issue and give hot coffee in lieu. Fortunately nothing materialised in this direction and we all breathed in peace once more.