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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Diary Entry - 8th April, 1917

Walford: A real spring day, beautifully warm, with just a slight southerly breeze. During the morning, I attended stables and water. In the afternoon, Evans paid out the battery. Hoyland and I took a walk over to our old position (section) in the Bois de Noulette near the chateau. We found our pits turned into men's billets and the battery out in the open to the south of the wood. The place seemed to have been straffed rather severely. In fact, we had to take cover while there. It seemed a very undesirable spot to loiter in. The trees were all very freshly scarred and the chateau was nearly levelled to the ground. We chatted to the adjutant of the brigade there. Their HQs were in the old French dugouts and he said they had lost five men during the morning, having had a direct hit on a pit, and several other casualties had occurred the previous evening on the tramway, so we made tracks for home. On the way, we watched a nine two firing and noticed they were using the new 106 phase which has no delay action.

Bee: Quite a good day. Armytage and I are chosen for intelligence officers during the day of the show. He and I went up with Conover, the orderly officer, to the Tottenham tunnel which is our jumping off place. I have never seen anything like this construction. It is a mile long, the main passage, and then has numerous passages for billets. The [illegible] places are the most awful puzzles I have been in. They are worse than any maze. The tunnel is lit by electric light, which is generated by a plant in the tunnel. It has numerous entrances, which act as air vents. We went right up to our place. They were to blow a mine known as the Wombat which was to connect our front line with the Hun line where cables were to be put through. We found that we had to come up tonight, as the infantry had to come up, which blocked the whole way. They started to move up at eight p.m. and kept coming until one a.m. We got news at midday that we had to go on cutting wire. On our way back from the tunnel, we met Colonel Newcombe and Major Carrington, who were going up to see the wire and if the 6" could not be turned on. We left here at five thirty p.m,. feeling more like walking Christmas trees than anything else, with revolvers, provisions, gas helmets and one thing and another. They put us in what they called the Cave for the night - a place, once you got in, that there was no chance of getting out of. We discussed the next day at great length. There were five of us officers and 15 men. Those who could, slept.

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