4th Week at War - 25th - 31st December 1915 - Calonne
The men of the Unit were permitted to observe both Christmas day and Boxing day as days of rest and recreation in so far as emergencies would allow. 48563 Pte Ieuan Phillips records that Christmas day was "very enjoyable" and that they had a lovely meal and pudding.
On Boxing Day, B Section handed over the running of the Hospital to C Section and departed at 9.30am for Vieille Chapelle to be attached to the 57th Field Ambulance for a week's instruction. B Section consisted of 60 men under the command of Capt Ffoulkes along with Lieut J Burke and Lieut D C M Page. The three officers took it in turn to take a party of a dozen men or so up to the A.D.S. of the 57th Field Ambulance at St Vaast for 2 days. St Vaast is located about 3 km east south east of Vieille Chapelle and was about 2 km from the front line and is now the site of the St Vaast Post Military Cemetery. Capt Ffoulkes with his party relieved Lieut Burke on the 29th December. According to Capt Ffoulke' letters, the A.D.S. was located in an orchard about 300 meters from the communication trench and consisted of a semicircle of splendid dugouts one of which was especially large for the treatment of the wounded. On the morning of his arrival at the A.D.S., Capt Ffoulkes took six of the men into the trenches and records that they had quite an exciting time. They had to keep their heads low as they walked along the 1km zig-zag communication trench, as if they stood erect, their heads and shoulders would show above the parapet and there was a German machine gun trained on the trench. Having reached the reserve trench, Capt Ffoulkes left the men with the Regimental Medical Officer of the 9th Welsh and went on to the front line trench. He recalls that "it was strange to feel that you were within 100 yards of the Germans - it's the nearest I've been to them yet and I didn't want to get any nearer". He further records that British Field Artillery Batteries were posted all around the A.D.S. and kicked up an infernal din at times, especially a battery of 18 pounders situated about 80 meters behind the A.D.S. In the evening, they enjoyed sitting on the roof of their dugout, watching the British shells bursting over the German trenches until the German guns began to return fire when they felt it best to retreat into the safety of the dugout.
At the 9am parade on the 27th December, Lt Col Davies read out to the Unit at Calonne the Christmas Message to the Troops from His Majesty the King. Arrangements were made with the representative of the Mayor of Calonne, for the Unit to take over the remaining classroom of the school on the night of the 29th for a week.
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