“A seething mass of Chinese & Prisoners of War”

Much of the behind the scenes work was undertaken by Chinese labourers.

Monday 1 July 1918

I did not have to get up very early as my duty for today consisted of taking 50 other ranks to Vendroux at 11 am. We had a long march of 6 kilos to get there, a hot & dusty road. Arrived at Vendroux, found it a seething mass of Chinese & P of War.

A desolate waste of burnt out hay ricks! About £300,000 damage by a spark! Party worked at filling trucks from 1.30 till 4. Tea & started march back.

A man named Nicker taken ill with PVO. It took 3 hours to see him into hospital. He kept almost ..[illegible due to bleed through from other side]…

Leave Calais tomorrow.

End of 12th week.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

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One long delicious 24 hours of dolce far niente, carefully mapped out by me into periods of rest, sleep, reading, letter writing, hot bathing, shampooing & all those other little etceteras which make life glorious for a while

Sydney took advantage of his quiet day to write to his sister and her husband.

June 7th 1918
My Dearest Florence & Mr I

Turmoil is nearly always followed by peace, & the peace of this present is well worth the turmoil of that past. No Florence, it was not a case of stormed at by shot & shell bravely he fought & well, the turmoil herein referred to, is merely that of a 24 hour journey – nay a 36 hour journey in a truck on a railway line over a distance of 108 miles to get from somewhere to here (thus does the censor hamper & roil our English!) a distance of 33 miles.

My last letter [does not appear to survive] told you of my going to a gas school. Well, I am here. We arrived yesterday afternoon & the course does not start till tomorrow morning, so that today is just one long delicious 24 hours of dolce far niente, carefully mapped out by me into periods of rest, sleep, reading, letter writing, hot bathing, shampooing & all those other little etceteras which make life glorious for a while.

From your ever affectionate brother
Sydney

Letter from Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/3/41, 43)