Read today's entry from Harry Gissing's 1914-18 war diaries

November 30, 1916

Matters still quiet, mutual shelling going on as usual. Weather very cold, frost at night and ice lasting all day. Have been put down for leave in about three weeks time, so am looking forward to it. I took advantage of the slack time to have a sponge over and clean change of underclothing, after which I washed what I took off. It is a great luxury to be able to do this while out here.

Watched the two 6 in Naval guns firing to-night, they are about 50 yards from our huts and make a terrible row. The flash lights up the surrounding country as by day momentarily, the sheet of flame appearing from behind to be about 16 feet in diameter. Very few wounded coming through, our last being a Fritz, wounded in the foot. When he arrived in, nearly all his buttons had been cut off, and when he left us there were none left.

Everyone he came in contact with cut off a button and he started buying favour by pointing them out when he learnt that everyone wanted one. Had I allowed it the beggars would have taken his cap, knife, etc., it being a perfect mania amongst the chaps. He had a gold watch and chain, and each time he was handed over, the one in charge was notified of it, so as to hand it over intact and so on.

Large numbers of trench feet cases coming through, we have passed through 940 (one division for 10 days) odd cases so far. Evidence is being taken and I fancy that some of the O.C.’s will be hauled up over it, as some divisions are singularly free from the trouble. So far as I can see the absence of warm food or drinks and gum-boots is responsible for most. Most of the men were crying with pain and I gave several morphia. Had a few shells land nearby during the day, the nearest throwing mud on the roof.

(January 1917) Trench feet traced to presence of bacteria in mud in trenches.

NOTE: The next diary entry is December 3


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