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

December 2, 1917

Nothing of note taking place. I have let the diary slide. I first started in the dispensary, but when we were made the gas centre, I was put in charge of that section. We were to try new treatment, certain inhalants to be used to prevent development of pneumonia. Got everything fixed up but still had to keep an eye on the dispensary through one of the dispensers going on leave.

The weather on the whole has been extremely mild, and our first snow appeared on 1st December, but a very light fall and soon disappeared. Have had a couple of trips into Bailleul for drugs and also visited the1st C.C.S. to see friends and find out about Howard Carr, a great friend of mine who has been killed. He was a splendid fellow from Adelaide. Our stay in this place has been most enjoyable. We have breakfast at 8, then lunch at 12.30. At 4 p.m. we have tea and a 6 p.m. dinner after the English style, between then and 8 I play cards - the first time for years and then write letters or try my hand at some French.

Everyone appears to be in good spirits, and every meal the fun waxes fast and furious. Although only 10 miles from the line it is a quiet sector being 11 miles from Ypres, and we appreciate it after our last position. Leave to England has slackened off. I am about 17 on the list, and at first it appeared as if I would get there for Xmas, but now it will be about New Year before I get it. My old friend here of the 1st Field Staff Sgt. Say has received his commission at last.  After three years they have at last given pharmacists a commission in General Hospitals and C.C.S.’s.

This June they called for particulars and on 1st December the first 5 were appointed, not a bad selection, but not of the fairest as the 3 men who came away with the 5th Field in 1915 each received one. There are older men with a better claim. Being only Sgt. and that only for 18 months did not put me in the running. The night before Geo. Say went away we had a hopover in his honour and it was most successful. Seventeen of us graced the festive board with trifle, champagne, coffee and rum as extras. The fun finished at 12.30 when twelve of us joined hands for Auld Lang Syne, the others having been put to bed.

We had the piano of course and there were songs, dances and joking all the evening. He had to catch a train at 7.30 in the morning and a friend and myself went with him in the car to see him off. I will miss him greatly as we were born companions. He was one of the best characters I ever met, upright and honest, always fair. He gave the battalions, patients and others a fair spin always. The ambulance can ill afford to lose his sort.

We have been able to put up a good stunt at Cambrai; by a surprise attack with tanks, we advanced several miles and captured about 100 guns and 10,000 men and have held the ground despite heavy attacks. ‘Tis certainly a serious blow to the hun as it destroys his security in this part. The Italians appear to be holding their line now and better news is coming from that quarter and with the new Allied Council of three men we can hope for better things in the future.

NOTE: The next diary entry is December 9


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