19th April 1916 – Raleigh’s diary

I can’t believe how lucky I am. I never dared even hope that I might be assigned to Stanhope’s company; Dennis – of all people – that I should be so lucky to be under his command. Everyone out here seems to have heard of him; how brave he is; but more than that he’s my hero – not that I’d ever tell him. It’s not the done thing.

He didn’t seem all that pleased to see me but Osborne was at pains to tell me that Stanhope had changed. I didn’t notice it but perhaps I will, though I did notice he had a little whisky and yet he used to really tell the fellows off if he caught them drinking.

I’ve chosen my bed; I’ve got my own little cubicle in the side of the dugout. Quite cosy, though not home of course. I went on duty with Trotter and he showed me the ropes; he warned me not to take my walking stick in case I had to make a run for it! I think he was joking! I was surprised how quiet it all was. It felt like everything was holding its breath, waiting. A bit unnerving but I survived.

I had rather an odd incident with Stanhope this evening. He demanded to see the letter I’d written home; in fact he snatched it off me in the end. I know it’s standard practice but I didn’t know the captains really do read your letters. I mean I know it wasn’t exactly private but it rather restricts what one might choose to write.

I’ve just found out that I’ve been chosen to lead a raid into enemy territory to snatch a Boche to be interrogated about the big push. It’s to be me and Osborne and I know how much the men respect him, I feel it’s a real honour.


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