them. (Only a couple of weeks ago one of our best
Service Battalions was practically wiped out in the
fighting on the Aisne.) And so (to quote Duhamel
again) I ''realize the misery of the times and the
magnitude of their sacrifice'5.
I have never seen such a well-behaved company.
But when their day's work is over they have about
four hours left, with nothing to do and nowhere to go
except the cstaminets. I calculate that about £500 a
week is spent, by our Battalion alone, in the estaminets
of this village, and every man goes to bed in varying
degrees of intoxication! What else can they do, when
there isn't so much as a Y.M.C.A. hut in the place?
They aren't fond of reading, as I am!
Every night I come back to my big empty room,
where the noise of bombardments miles away is like
furniture being moved about overhead. And from
8.30 to 10.30 I read and do my day's thinking. Often
I am too tired to think at all, and am pursued by
worries about Lewis guns and small company details.
And while I'm reading someone probably drops in
for a talk and I must put down Motley and Other Poems
and listen to somebody else's grumbles about the War
(and Battalion arrangements).
Outside, the wind hushes the huge leafy trees; and
I wake early and hear the chorus of birds through
half-dissolved veils of sleep. But they only mean
another day of harsh realities which wear me down.
It isn't easy to be a company commander with a
suppressed "anti-war complex"! When I was out
here as a platoon commander I was able to indulge
in a fair amount of day-dreaming. But since I've been
with this Battalion responsibility has been pushed on
to me, and since we've been in France I haven't often
allowed myself to relax my efforts to be efficient. Now