WEEKEND WEB: Christmas on the Western Front

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Our correspondent reports back from France at Christmas 1917.

“Christmas is the great sense of retrospect.

More at this time than at any other period in the cycle of the months do men talk about ‘this time last year’.

The Yuletide of 1915, I spent in Flanders. That of 1916, I spent in Artois.

Lookinginto the future, as far as human eye can see, I cannot divine at this time of writing where the next fortune of war may determine that next Christmas will find the little band of men whose business it is to tell the world of the progress of this mighty struggle.

But one thing is certain, whatever may happen - a very large proportion of our Army is booked to spend not only this festive season, but several others coming, on the French side of the ‘Silver Streak’.

I am told it is estimated that some of the administration branch of our vast military organisation cannot hope to finish ‘clearing up’ under at least 10 years after peace is declared.

I trust that they will at least find consolation in the late Lord Kitchener’s forecast that the first three years of the war were likely to prove the worst.

The Christmas of 1914 was a dark one in the trenches.

The first Battle of Ypres had been fought to a standstill and the Germans evewhere dominated our little bit of front, which curved and twisted between the patches held by the French along the dreary flats betwixt Boesinghe and La Basee.

Yet the spirit of the the troops was wonderful.

Refit drafts were beginning to flow out freely and there was a general feeling that the Huns were now definitely held: that they had done all they were capable of in their effort to break through to Calais and failed, although why they failed with such overwhelming odds in favour of their succeeding remains one of the mysteries of the war.

COURT: Ex-soldier used bad language

Discharged soldier Herbert Harrison, of Sutton Bridge, was summoned for disorderly conduct on November 11.

PC Randall proved the case and the the defendant - who had been twice war-wounded - made use of disgusting language in the presence of a female , who turnedon to the road to avoid him.

Harrison was fined 20s.

Alice Claxton and Rose Watts Claxton were summoned for using foul and abusive language.

The pair, both of Sutton Bridge, were summoned by Olive Bailey, also of the town.

Major Merry appeared for the complainant and urged that the matter was of a very serious nature to his client.

Alice Claxton was fined 40s and Rose Claxton Watts 30s.