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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Diary Entry - 9th April, 1917

Walford: On returning from our walk the previous evening, we found Cruikshanks waiting for us at the Mess saying he had walked down from the guns to reconnoitre a road for ammunition, as we were to be forbidden use of the main road that night. So I went up, mounted, with him to see the track he had reconnoitred and found that we should be able to use the road after midnight. On going back, had dinner then set out with Murdoch for the ammunition dump to pick up 10 ammunition wagons, which were taking up pills[?] for us. It was almost one p.m before we got clear and we had a clear road until we came out of St Eloy where there was a block of motor lorries. Half an hour saw us through that, but we met with a jam soon after getting onto the sleeper track. Well, we remained here till about four a.m, owing to a 60-pounder battery calmly sitting on the track while they got each individual gun into its pit and a Canadian water cart got one wheel off the track and into a trench, where it stuck. After we had disposed of the water cart by turning it over, all was clear and we reached the battery at four forty-five a.m. (the barrage and attack being timed for five thirty a.m). It soon commenced to rain and it was a good half hour before we started down the new track for home. The officer from the DAC was an awful fool as he would not make up his mind whether to see all wagons clear of the position or not. I got fed up and made good speed for the WL. One had a good view of our barrage riding towards Villers-au-Bois which looked very terrifying as the whole horizon was a mass of mud spouts showing where the shells were doing their work. On arrival at the WL, I unsaddled Tommie (the horse) and went straight to bed - by this time the rain was falling very heavily. I slept till twelve fifty and, after lunch, walked over to see Sanger, eventually bringing him back to dinner. Towards evening periodic snow storms blew up, making life very unpleasant.

Bee: The day of the Vimy Push. We were out at four a.m. The place (tunnel) was blocked with gunners. We were well up and near the opening. Our job was to go out an hour after zero. But the batch of snipers and machine gunners kept us down. The Brigade of foot in front of us made a mess of things. Runlor says that a six-inch smoke shell of ours fell to give them cover until they got over, but they got the wind up and thought it was gas and stopped in their own front line and, of course, the people on the right advanced too fast for them. Their snipers played the devil all day and held the left up. Besides this, they kept shooting our wounded. Hun could see them quite plainly and Armytage had a shot at them with his revolver, but they were too long a range. Then we got a corporal with a rifle who showed great determination but only had an ordinary sight. After half an hour's shooting, another Hun we did not see got our corporal right through the head, through his steel helmet. Armytage was very lucky as this corporal was next to him. At twelve noon they sent out a bombing party to take these snipers and it took them until four p.m. to accomplish this and they finally captured 20 Huns. But they kept us from doing our job very successfully. I got back to the Battery at eight p.m after a very tedious day. And glad to get back where people who were not continuously passing you. This show was on a 30-mile front and, from information, was very successful. Ten thousand prisoners taken.

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