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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Diary Entry - 17th March, 1917

Walford: In the morning it is reported that the Hun has evacuated Bapaume, Grevillers, Achiet La Petite and Biefvillers. I go up to take charge of two guns, one the 15th Bty's the other ours and lay out lines of fire so that, in case of Bosche turning dog, we can support our infantry, as all the other guns were very much out of range. The remainder of the brigade were busy all day getting their guns back to advanced WL and in vicinity of Destremont Farm and also getting their other vehicles and stores up from the rear WLs at Aveluy. After lunch, I took a walk over the ridge and down towards Poziere and through Loupart Wood. There were a lot of villages burning in the east and some of them were giving off a dense black smoke. Every now and then the tic tac of a machine gun could be heard in the direction of Achiet le Grand. There were some old Bosch 44 mm positions just over the ridge which were very well hidden. The German planes were very active during the afternoon, large patrols coming over and flying very low and at a great speed. On inspecting the wood I found a lot of old dug outs in it which had great big trees on the roofs for bursting the shells. I was much surprised at Loupart Trench as it was very badly knocked about and the wire was also very much damaged. That evening after tea the Indian cavalry came up and about dusk passed round the corner of the wood and formed up on the plain just this side of Biefvillers. It was very boggy passing the corner of the wood as everyone had used it as a zero line and the ground was very much knocked about there. The old Indians did not like the idea of dismounting and it was not long before some of their horses were down and in fact some of them stuck fast. However, the majority got past before dark came on.

Bee:  S glorious day. I went for a ride. Had to be at RARE at nine a.m. I was writing a chestnut mare which Bromley sent back in exchange for his horse. It was very fresh and pig rooted the first two miles, much to the amusement of the ASC motor drivers. I then went on by Tritzes, Well, Mar, Ovillers, La Boisselle, Contalmaison, Bazertine le Grand, Longueval, Montaubon, Marmetz, Trecourt. The Anzacs hold this area and I saw many amusing incidents. They put up noticeboards to places – Bendigo, late so-and-so, Albury, late so-and-so. I could hardly believe my eyes. Burnefay Wood, when we were there last year, was continually shelled. It is now full of huts and has a train running there and good roads. It gives you a good idea of what work there is to be done behind the line. Just after I got back, an orderly came in with a note which said we had to move. All the teams I sent up this morning came back. We were in Bapaume early this morning and had got well past it. The Hun is making the pace too hot. There is not a gun in the division within range, only naval guns. And there are very few of them. Tomorrow, at this pace, they will be out of range. A most extraordinary show. Had a letter from the kid. Got orders to move, which was rather trying, as we had to make an advance wagon line at Pozière and had wagons and pack horses, at two gun positions. I had an order to move at once but did not worry as had no horses and knew Walrond must've made a mistake. We got the posts up for our wagon lines at Pozière and had things packed up.

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