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 12th January; A Pipe In The Dark, Winter quarters
Thomas Newcombe
 Posted: Jun 4 2016, 09:14 PM
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Lieutenant, 50th Regiment of Foot
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Group: British Infantry
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It was a minor sort of glory to be able to sit quietly outside his billet and smoke his pipe. He was obliged to wear his greatcoat, of course, but he hardly minded that. Wisps of fragrant blue tobacco smoke curled away on the light evening breeze, increasing to long streams when Tom exhaled around the pipe stem.

This might be Spain and it might be winter, but he still found it possible to enjoy the comparative peace of an evening without the burden of responsibility. He had stood his watch as picquet officer and now was interested only in smoking his pipe and wondering how different from today tomorrow might be.

The answer, naturally, was 'not much', but inertia and routine were not bad things. Not completely. He had discovered a wineshop in the village which, for the right price, served a very prime meal. So long as you didn't ask questions about the food - such as what it was or where it had come from - the shop's proprietor was a most agreeable fellow. Perhaps he would spend some of his precious coin there tomorrow.

He leaned back a little in the chair he had dragged outside and wished he had a table on which to prop his feet. And, along that line, a plate of beef and a pint of bitter. Ah well. You couldn't have everything, he supposed, and drew in deep on his pipe.

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Daniel Medhurst
 Posted: Mar 7 2017, 03:40 PM
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Private; 1/50th Foot
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It was dark, and although it was January, it was still a damn sight warmer than England - not to mention a whole lot warmer than the mountains had been when the Army had made its retreat the previous winter. Medhurst shivered at the recollection of that.

He'd got his hands on some soft tommy - far better than the ship's biscuit that formed part of the Army rations - and was heading to share it with his mates. Except he hadn't, obviously, been watching where he was going because he'd wandered a sight too close to an officer taking his ease with a pipeful of tobacco. The fragrance of it should have alerted him - would have, had he been more awake.

Ah well, nothing for it now. He offered a salute. "Evenin', sir!"

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Thomas Newcombe
 Posted: Mar 8 2017, 06:10 PM
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Ah, well - the approach and inevitable salute from one of the men meant Thomas at least had to sit up straighter so he didn't appear completely graceless.

"Evening, Private." He didn't trouble himself to get to his feet, however, and returned the salute with rather less precision that it had been offered with. "Keeping warm?"

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Daniel Medhurst
 Posted: Mar 13 2017, 12:15 PM
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"It's warmer than it is at home, sir," Medhurst replied, hitching the loaf up a bit where it had started to slip from his grasp. "Dam - darn sight warmer'n it was last year, and all. Nasty old business, that was."

He recollected that he was talking to an officer and hastily shut up; officers did not generally appreciate their men talking out of turn, after all, and even though Medhurst hadn't thought he'd been out of turn, who knew what the officer would think? He tugged at his cartridge box, settling it back into place as he stood there - although, come to think of it, that wasn't exactly standing to attention. Oops. Good thing Sergeant Tobbin or Corporal Everett weren't anywhere nearby.

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Thomas Newcombe
 Posted: Mar 19 2017, 04:00 PM
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Ah, yes. Last winter. Thomas wriggled his toes inside his boots, in a subconscious check that they were still there and functioning. He well remembered the miserable cold of last winter.

"Aye, that it is. Still..." he exhaled a stream of smoke, "no sense losin' toes or fingers out of carelessness." He eyed the loaf the fellow had under his arm and added, "Where'd you get hold of that?"

Fresh bread was ever a welcome commodity, after all.

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Daniel Medhurst
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 01:30 PM
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"Was bought fair'n'square in the bakery, sir." Medhurst made an expansive, though aborted, gesture in the direction of 'over there somewhere' before coming back to some semblance of 'attention' - and hoped that the officer wasn't one of those who liked to pull men up over the tiniest thing out of place.

Medhurst might not be the smartest man in his company, in either sense of the word, but he was a half-decent scrounger. And at least the garlic sausage was still out of sight under his shako!

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Thomas Newcombe
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 02:30 PM
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"Never suggested it weren't," he replied evenly. That hadn't been in his mind at all, in fact, though he supposed it was only to be expected that a private man should assume he was being accused of theft. It was too often an accurate accusation to make.

Thomas exhaled a stream of smoke and asked, "What was it, a shilling a loaf or some other such thievery?"

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Daniel Medhurst
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 02:51 PM
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"Summat like, sir - me an' me mess clubbed together for it." Which was the only way they'd been able to come up with the money; it had been that or nick it - and while Medhurst could pinch things, easily, he wasn't as half so good at the quick-talk to get out of trouble if he was brought up for pinching it. Not like some he could mention.

"Better'n biscuit," he ventured, seeing as the officer hadn't pulled him up short for offering an opinion earlier. He was probably skating on very thin ice by doing so twice in a minute, though. "Sir!" he added, lest the officer pull him up for insolence as well.

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Thomas Newcombe
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 04:15 PM
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Lieutenant, 50th Regiment of Foot
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Group: British Infantry
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Ah, that made sense. It was also obvious now that he thought on it some. For a single soldier to have a shilling to spend on bread was suspicious, but if his messmates had contributed, it was perfectly acceptable. Such was the army.

"Biscuit has its merits." Thomas tried to smother a smirk. Biscuit was a detestable item of food but when there was nothing else to eat, it almost seemed a luxury. No, he couldn't keep up the mask. "It's remarkably useful to hammer tent pegs down with," he added, the smile breaking slowly through.

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Daniel Medhurst
 Posted: Apr 10 2017, 05:02 PM
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Private; 1/50th Foot
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Medhurst cracked a grin at that. "I heard o' biscuit stoppin' bullets, too, sir - Sar'nt Tobbin swears he'd'a bin dead if he ain't shoved a bit o' biscuit in his jacket afore Tallyvera."

Banging in tent-pegs, really. As if he'd have the chance to try that one - he'd be lucky to ever see the inside of a tent! Wrapped in a dirty old army blanket was how Medhurst slept, and hoped he didn't get eaten by fleas and lice and what-all have you!

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The Black Cuffs is coming in,
And that'll make the lasses grin!
~ Trad
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Thomas Newcombe
 Posted: Apr 13 2017, 06:35 PM
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Lieutenant, 50th Regiment of Foot
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Ah, Sergeant Tobbin. Thomas' opinion of the Mancurian was mixed. He'd heard that story, of course, and while he found it easy to believe, he couldn't help considering that Tobbin made more of the event than it perhaps deserved.

"Perhaps we'd all do better if we stuffed our jackets with biscuits, next time Johnny Crapaud decides to square up to us," Thomas remarked cheerfully. "Assumin' the commissariat's even got that many biscuits handy!"

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Daniel Medhurst
 Posted: Aug 16 2017, 02:02 AM
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Private; 1/50th Foot
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Joined: 30-August 16

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"If they did, don't figure they'd let us have'n," Medhurst replied, wondering what that amount of biscuit would look like, and deciding that he'd rather have decent bread from a baker's than the twice-baked stuff the Navy ate. Even if it could stop bullets.

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The Black Cuffs is coming in,
And that'll make the lasses grin!
~ Trad
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