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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Diary Entry - 6th November, 1917

In the night the adjutant rang up and gave me the correct time, which I knew meant a barrage, so I explained that I knew very little about the front and in general things were very difficult, so he said shoot into the blue. A few minutes later the orders arrived and, after studying the map and orders for about an hour and trying to locate the gun position on the map, the coordinates of which I got from Cruikshank over the telephone, at three a.m. I eventually decided not to fire as it was a Chinese barrage and I only had two guns and besides the howitzer batteries in each brigade were the only other batteries shooting. The Canadians attacked in the morning at six a.m. with success and took Paschendale and got well along the top of the ridge anyway. The abovementioned town is the highest point of the ridge. This seemed to annoy the Hun and he put down a very heavy barrage at seven a.m. which went on until three thirty p.m. Siggers arrived up in the thick of it and had to come across country from Buffs Road as they were putting HY shells down the road. We kept inside while it went on and it went through all the battery papers et cetera. Anyway one would almost have lost a finger if you had put it outside, the shells were falling so thick and fast. The Huns seemed to pay special attention to the pill boxes and, although they did not actually hit us, they were nosing up against the wall most of the time. The brigade were less fortunate - a 5.9' HV shell hit the top of their pill box but luckily ricocheted and burst in the air. However, the weight of the hit knocked a hole in it and Dixon's servant was killed. At four p.m, things having quietened down, I took Br. Bates with me as far as brigade and went on to meet my horses. I hit the road about the dressing station and walking along came across two motor lorries derelict, having been burnt to the ground and, and a little further on was another in the same plight. The road looked very desolate with all kinds of wreckage on it and as a motor lorry laboured past I jumped on and found my horses about half a mile up the road. The H V guns were still shooting and as I passed the forward rail head a shell fell very close to some engines there. I have never experienced such heavy fire, every calibred gun they had must have been on the job. But they did not have it all their own way and when I came down our eight inch nine twos and big railway mounted guns were boosting away.

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