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but, then, nobody sleeps in a stable from choice so who could blame them if they became a little subdued ?

"Never mind," they said, "perhaps it could be worse." On which philosophic note the Platoon proceeded to make the best of it and set-to to make itself comfortable. Sentries were posted and then supper was served. Supper consisted of bottles of beer and bread and cheese. This raised the spirits of the men a couple of points, but upon closer acquaintance the beer proved to be but a snare and a delusion. Looking back, I can only conclude that the bottlers of that beer were in league with the Director of the Exercise in an endeavour to make things difficult. It was physically impossible to drink that beer. There were many pretty exponents of the art of drinking assembled in that stable, but that beer had them all beaten into subjection. It had to be literally sucked from the bottle in the form of cream. This is not the best way of taking beer, and it wasn't long before the unpleasant consequences of taking it in this manner began to manifest themselves. Even the bread and cheese was against us. Nearly everybody dropped it in the straw, and I would like to place it on record that the proverbial needle in the haystack has absolutely nothing on bread and cheese dropped in a bed of straw. After much futile grubbing amongst the straw, the Home Guard admitted itself beaten, and retired hungry and thirsty to take what rest it could.


There was a ray of hope, however. Patrols were to be sent out later, and each man was to be given a bowl of hot soup before setting out. That, at least, was  something to look forward to, and with that cheery thought we snuggled in our greatcoats and tried to sleep. I say tried, because it soon became painfully evident that our endeavours in this direction were doomed to miserable failure. Sharp points ascended from the floor and pierced my back and side in a hundred places, and a draught, of gale strength, whistled down my neck and, becoming trapped by my gaiters, circled viciously and icily round my legs. The prospect of a few hours of this appalled me. I had visions of becoming a lifelong cripple and wondered morbidly what I should look like in a Chelsea Pensioner's uniform. Of course, I wasn't quite sure whether or not ex-Home Guards would be eligible. It wasn't long though before reason asserted itself, and I came to the conclusion that unless I did something about it pretty quickly the only thing I should be wearing would be a shroud. So with a low cunning born of necessity, I concocted an excuse that I was going to make enquiries about the patrols and left that chamber of horrors, making a silent vow that never again would I enter it. I then found my way to the warmth and comfort of the cookhouse, only to find that the Platoon Sergeant had installed himself there too. But, after the rigours of the stable, even this did not deter me. I'd found my haven and was determined to make the best of it, come what may.  (......continues.....)