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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Diary Entry - 31st October, 1917

Rise at three fifteen a.m to take up two guns and twenty packhorses. The men take some digging out on these occasions, but the Sgt. Major and the Nos 1 all get up and rowse them out. We get away about four fifteen and the two gun limbers go round to the 9th and 16th Batteries to pick up guns. The 9th are called a depot battery and simply sit down at the wagon lines and draw guns to and from the IOM, as they are knocked out or repaired. I went on with the pack,s picked up ammunition at Irish Farm, a railway dump in the forward area, and went straight on to the guns. The two teams were there before me and the first one had got stuck in a bad spot where a number of sleepers had been removed from the track. The sleeper track was only wide enough to take traffic one way and of course we could not offload the mules till we got past it. We tried taking them round the lips of shell holes, until one donkey fell into a big one and had a swim round for about ten minutes. It looked like a case of shooting him where he lay in the bog, but we got him out with the help of much bad language from the drivers. The gun was eventually moved but, as there were three (one belonging to the Naval Div.) on the track, all trying to get transferred to railway trucks on a decaville[?] railway, which was the final approach to the position, and the packs were all trying to offload near the railway, there was some congestion, This buffeting of men, mules and horses went on till we had moved 1,000 rounds with 20 packhorses, and all the time there was a continual stream of mules carrying up small arm ammunition on the same track for the infantry. We eventually got away about six fifteen and, much to our relief, the Hun never put a shell over. It was a beautiful sunny day and the Hun, while seeming to search through a nest of balloons in front of our lines, put some 5.9' shrapnel into our camp, some very heavy pieces falling about in the afternoon, but no damage was done.

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