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Bullets & Billets   By: (1888?-1959)

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Bullets & Billets

By Bruce Bairnsfather




CHAPTER I Landing at Havre Tortoni's Follow the tram lines Orders for the Front.

CHAPTER II Tortuous travelling Clippers and tablets Dumped at a siding I join my Battalion.

CHAPTER III Those Plugstreet trenches Mud and rain Flooded out A hopeless dawn.

CHAPTER IV More mud Rain and bullets A bit of cake "Wind up" Night rounds.

CHAPTER V My man Friday "Chuck us the biscuits" Relieved Billets.

CHAPTER VI The Transport Farm Fleeced by the Flemish Riding Nearing Christmas.

CHAPTER VII A projected attack Digging a sap An 'ell of a night The attack Puncturing Prussians.

CHAPTER VIII Christmas Eve A lull in hate Briton cum Boche.

CHAPTER IX Souvenirs A ride to Nieppe Tea at H.Q. Trenches once more.

CHAPTER X My partial escape from the mud The deserted village My "cottage."

CHAPTER XI Stocktaking Fortifying Nebulous Fragments.

CHAPTER XII A brain wave Making a "funk hole" Plugstreet Wood Sniping.

CHAPTER XIII Robinson Crusoe That turbulent table.

CHAPTER XIV The Amphibians Fed up, but determined The gun parapet.

CHAPTER XV Arrival of the "Johnsons" "Where did that one go?" The First Fragment dispatched The exodus Where?

CHAPTER XVI New trenches The night inspection Letter from the Bystander .

CHAPTER XVII Wulverghem The Douve Corduroy boards Back at our farm.

CHAPTER XVIII The painter and decorator Fragments forming Night on the mud prairie.

CHAPTER XIX Visions of leave Dick Turpin Leave!

CHAPTER XX That Leave train My old pal London and home The call of the wild.

CHAPTER XXI Back from leave That "blinkin' moon" Johnson 'oles Tommy and "frightfulness" Exploring expedition.

CHAPTER XXII A daylight stalk The disused trench "Did they see me?" A good sniping position.

CHAPTER XXIII Our moated farm Wulverghem The Curé's house A shattered Church More "heavies" A farm on fire.

CHAPTER XXIV That ration fatigue Sketches in request Bailleul Baths and lunatics How to conduct a war.

CHAPTER XXV Getting stale Longing for change We leave the Douve On the march Spotted fever Ten days' rest.

CHAPTER XXVI A pleasant change Suzette, Berthe and Marthe "La jeune fille farouche" André.

CHAPTER XXVII Getting fit Caricaturing the Curé "Dirty work ahead" A projected attack Unlooked for orders.

CHAPTER XXVIII We march for Ypres Halt at Locre A bleak camp and meagre fare Signs of battle First view of Ypres.

CHAPTER XXIX Getting nearer A lugubrious party Still nearer Blazing Ypres Orders for attack.

CHAPTER XXX Rain and mud A trying march In the thick of it A wounded officer Heavy shelling I get my "quietus!"

CHAPTER XXXI Slowly recovering Field hospital Ambulance train Back in England.


Bruce Bairnsfather: a photograph

The Birth of "Fragments": Scribbles on the farmhouse walls

That Astronomical Annoyance, the Star Shell

"Plugstreet Wood"

A Hopeless Dawn

The usual line in Billeting Farms

"Chuck us the biscuits, Bill. The fire wants mendin'"

"Shut that blinkin' door. There's a 'ell of a draught in 'ere"

A Memory of Christmas, 1914

The Sentry

A Messines Memory: "'Ow about shiftin' a bit further down the road, Fred?"

"Old soldiers never die"

Photograph of the Author. St. Yvon, Christmas Day, 1914

Off "in" again

"Poor old Maggie! She seems to be 'avin' it dreadful wet at 'ome!"

The Tin opener

"They're devils to snipe, ain't they, Bill?"

Old Bill


Down South, in the Valley of the Somme, far from the spots recorded in this book, I began to write this story.

In billets it was. I strolled across the old farmyard and into the wood beyond. Sitting by a gurgling little stream, I began, with the aid of a notebook and a pencil, to record the joys and sorrows of my first six months in France... Continue reading book >>

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