26th September 1915

At Halifax (Nova Scotia). Coaling operations were commenced at 5-30 a.m. and have continued throughout the day until 7 p.m. 1234 tons of coal have been taken in. It is said that “better the day better the deed”, but I would rather that Sunday was chosen for a more suitable and appropriate deed. I have before told you how I like Sunday coaling – it is detestable and I did hope we should have had a proper Sunday this week, for there was no particular hurry to take in coal. Our parson has spent the day fishing over the stern of the ship – presumably trying to drown his sorrows. He paid his usual visit to the Sick Bay this evening. bare-headed, black-faced and wearing an oilskin (it was raining) he didn’t look anything like a parson. I said apropos the coaling, “What a lovely day”. He pulled a face and shrugged his shoulders – apparently disgusted like myself.

At 4 o’clock whilst having tea I mentioned that in England the people were leaving Church. At 2 p.m. whilst writing, I thought of you just getting ready to go to Church and remarked to my mates “Wouldn’t mind if I was going to Church myself”. We have been kept busy this afternoon by minor accidents – three cut heads and a man with a fractured rib.¬†Wonder where we shall be next Sunday – at sea I suppose, but we should be much nearer Plymouth than we are today. It has been a cold and wet day and altogether most depressing.

Since writing the last sentence I have heard some news which makes me wish I had not written that set of words, for this news puts a little better appearance on matters and provides one ray of sunshine in an otherwise murky day. This “ray of sunshine” is contained in a wireless report received tonight informing us of the British advance in France, where 3 miles of ground has been gained plus thousands of prisoners and a large number of guns captured. The French have also made an advance with like results. This is good news indeed, but has been anticipated I think by those of us who read of the continuous artillery bombardment of late by French and British artillery. This struck me as being the prelude to something else and I’m not altogether surprised to hear of the advance. One hopes that it will be maintained, for such an happening would have far-reaching results – in Russia and Bulgaria – especially in the latter country where a sort of between-two-minds feeling seems to exist. It will not help matters if Bulgaria joins forces with Germany, altho’ the only real result would be a prolongation of the war. Bottomley has said for some months that our men would get on the move in September and he looks like being right. I believe he expects the war to end by Xmas if Bulgaria keeps out – I do.

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