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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Diary Entry - 27th November, 1917

Tuesday found us at three o'clock in the morning wet to the skin trying to pull two teams out and we had a devil of a time as the skins did not like turning their heads to the snow but the Sergeant Major persevered and we eventually got them out. Again pulling into the wagon lines there was a rotten, boggy approach to it and we had to double back all the dudd teams to get into the lines. Four o'clock found us just about chilled to the bone, trying to find cover. Luckily we were one of the first lot in and found several mineshafts just started. In one, we found just enough room to get down to it, so we bagged it for the night. The men all got into these shafts somehow and they were covered from the driving rain so we were lucky to get in early as the other people never got anything at all. It was raining when I stirred out at eight a.m. and the cooks were having a hard job to get the fires going. In fact they never got tea made until ten fifteen a.m. The next thing was water for the horses. There was a dirty pond in the village with four tubs to water at and it used to take hours to fight your way near the hole. There were so many horses about. Of course, we had no food, as expected to go to the wagon line first, pull out rations there and send the basket on to the guns. The bulk of the Mess stuff was to come on in the big Mess cart with Shapland and the two M S and a GS wagon starting that morning. Well, I thought I would try and gain some information from 62nd divisional battery so wandered up to their Mess and the captain there offered me breakfast, which, of course, I accepted and it seemed one of the best breakfasts I have had owing to the fact that we had no dinner and very little tea on the previous night. There was very little to learn, but I met another Australian by the name of Westcott there. He's with the 71st battery. I went up to the guns on foot for lunch to see how they had fared and found they were fairly comfortable in a tin shed situated in a trench. However, we were fairly well off in the evening as I found an old Hun machine gun dugout and we had a good shaft at the bottom of it to stretch out in. The rations with Shapland never got in until after eight and we were left in the dark without any candles till they did turn up and nearly succeeded in smoking ourselves out by making a fire in the dugout to give us some light. In the end we turned in and went to bed without any dinner just about falling asleep when our heads hit the pillows.


  1. The Australian looks to have been a Philip Westcott [address 'Berry Knowe', Shirley Rd, Wollstonecroft Sydney] who served in 34th Brigade in 2nd Division originally..

    1. Thank you. As I've probably already mentioned, I think there's an interesting research project for some young historian about the incidence of Australians joining up in the British Army. I have been told that it wasn't just in WWI but went on until recently - or maybe even still does. Anyway, those servicemen fall between two stools. They are not recorded in either the Australian War Memorial - unless they die in action - or the Imperial War Museum