Sergeant H. E Chapman, 1st Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance

We are just getting settled own in the latest new quarters. The situation is picturesque and healthy, and we are beginning to make ourselves comfortable and to arrange things in a convenient style. We have hopes of remaining here a little longer than in proceeding pitches and so are preparing to be able to receive a good number of patients in our shelters, which are in course of erection. My dispensary will be a nice little affair. Out of the hard clay soil we have cut out a space about 9 feet wide and going back 10 or 12 foot. This is cut in the slope of a small hill. The sides are built up with sand bags, also the front, and the top we covered with corrugated iron – at present none of this is available. Such shelters are proof against spent bullets and other projectiles. Of course if a shell happens to land on the roof it would make a nasty mess and be bad for anyone inside.
And now I am going to tell you quite a dramatic incident. To-day being Sunday we had a service at a quarter past four, and it was just outside such a shelter as my dispensary will be, and of the same size belonging to another ambulance stationed about 50 yards away from us. We all went up to this place and made a big huddled group close outside the dug-out. The clergyman stood just away from the walls of it and we all round. As soon as the service began shells went whistling overhead, the rival batteries on either side of the hill were exchanging their usual afternoon hate. We were singing the hymn, “Art though weary, art though languid” and had got about half way through when there came a terrific explosion, smoke and dust and bullets all round us. A shrapnel shell had come clean through the top of the dug-out and burst inside. By a miracle of Providence not a man was injured. No one was in the shelter at the time, the officers and men were just outside and there happened to be no patients. Had it dropped only a few more feet our way, and outside the dug-out, I dread to think what must have been the result. The medical equipment was blown to bits, and the place was full of bullets. I have a piece of the shell, half-an-inch thick, and as big as a large saucer. That was the most dramatic Divine Service I have attended, and it does seem that God must have spared us all. We did not stop to finish the Service. “Art thou weary” will always have memories for me whenever I ay sing it.