tell me the name of my horse, or that I was already
well acquainted with his name, which was Winchell.
For the old Colonel had frequently referred to the
exploits of his dashing young relative.
I mention this mainly because my first few minutes
with my unit in France transported me straight back
to England and the Ringwell Hunt. Unfortunately,
the migration was entirely mental; my physical feet
took me straight along a pave road for about three
miles, to Le Hamel, where my company was in billets.
Anyhow, it was to my advantage that I was already
known to Colonel Winchell as a hunting man. For I
always found that it was a distinct asset, when in close
contact with officers of the Regular Army, to be able
to converse convincingly about hunting. It gave one
an almost unfair advantage in some ways.
Mansfield (who had been received with reserva-
tions of cordiality), Dick (persona grata on account of
his having been at Sandhurst, and also because no one
could possibly help liking him at sight), and I (no
comment required) were all posted to "C" company
which was short of officers. The battalion had lately
been much below full strength, and was now being
filled up with drafts. We had arrived at a good time,
for our Division was about to be withdrawn to a back
area for a long rest. And the Givenchy trenches on
the La Bassee Canal had taken their toll in casualties.
For the time being the Western Front received us into
comparative comfort and domesticity. We found
Captain Barton, the company commander, by a
stove (which was smoking badly) in a small tiled
room on the ground floor of a small house on the
road from Bethune to Festubert. The smoke made
my eyes water, but otherwise things were quite cheer-
ful. We all slept on the floor, the hardness and cold-