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Private George Ferguson - Day 16, 28th June 1916.

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Private George Ferguson.

Day 16, 28th June 1916.

Our first day fending for ourselves. It was like the black hole of Calcutta. A vast huddle, hundreds of us. I was giving up hope of making friends at all until I met Walter. He was to be my look out partner. My life depends on him and his life depends on me. Eternal partners. This is it. All the training in the world couldn’t have got us mentally prepared for this. Even though our corporal made us do everything under the sun, he put us through 100x more than our bodies can manage with. But we all are hiding our number of feelings.

Firing broke out about 200 yards from where we were. We were all at camp. The sergeant told us to drive them away from the camp. We retrieved our guns. We swiftly kept low and ran northwest of the camp. The mud was splashing up out boots and up to our faces. I could taste it on my tongue bitter and horrible. We hurried through the pools of deep squelching mud. Walter turned and asked me what we were going to do when we reached them. I said it was best to think of that when we get there.

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We were to venture into their territory. We packed everything. Our only possessions we have. We had our huge backpacks and big long tent bags in our arms and an enormous mighty rifle that is loaded and safety lock on. We set off on our adventurous trek into the back of beyond. Two hours had passed, two solid hours of jogging through pools of deep dirty mud and across acres of vast open fields. We all stopped for a rest. I got out my smoking pipe and tobacco.

Sergeant gave us a prep-talk. He said we were half way there. Still another 2 hours to go yet. But we couldn’t wait to reach our soon to be camp. We set off once we all had a drink out of our water canisters and had a short smoke. Walter said after all this has blown over he’ll buy me a pint. Walter was always at the side of me. He was for the next 2 hours.

We had reached our destination, after the totally enduring journey. We all set up our tents. Swapped tent mates so we’d be tent mates. Just gone 6 and time for supper. Rice – high in carbohydrates that would give us the amount of energy we needed.

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Later we got to a clearing in the forest. It was tremendously bright as the sun was gleaming down through the clearing. We decided this was where we were meant to be so we sat down and had a cup of tea from a flask. But I added a bit of my whiskey from my sprit canister. We also had a smoke each from Fred’s collection of cigars.

About half an hour later Sergeant, Tim and Clyde cam through the trees and sat down. They sat down for about 1 minute when sergeant told us we have to put our tents up now. It was dark early that night. I was on camp watch until 12. Then I went to bed and I had 5 and a half hours sleep.

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