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Monday 9 September 2013

Diary Entry - 8th September, 1918

An awful gale blowing and on going to Vrancourt to see our adjutant Vaisey buried - he had been killed on Saturday by almost a direct hit while trying to get DAC horses clear of a Sunken Road outside his HQ - hear that my leave to Australia is granted from Capt Pelham and waste no time but start for rail head that night.

Lt Hoyland and 2nd JA Nicholson killed a few weeks later while souvenir hunting in a village west of Cambrai.

Diary Entry - 7th September, 1918

The sugar refinery was our position and the RE were busy putting power pump in order at all speed and water was produced in gallons at eight p.m. and think we were first to get our horses there.

Friday 6 September 2013

Diary Entry - 6th September, 1918

Enemy very active with long range guns all night, throwing them at random anywhere at all. Several periods were very unhealthy, but it was no use moving as shells were falling everywhere. Several times crawled out of bed into a trench and one dudd landed very close. However, in morning very relieved to find no casualties. Horses moved toVrancourt in afternoon as shells still falling about, even back there, as Hun seemed to know that our engines with trains were hauling the necessaries for guns and men to a rail head here, even though it had only been in our hands about three days. The guns went forward near the canal yesterday, to position near Doignies.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Diary Entry - 5th September, 1918

 More battling for water, all kinds of promises made by the gilded staff but nothing forthcoming.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Diary Entry - 4th September, 1918

Much anxiety for the horses as only watering is from a well head with bucket in the village and this usually entails standing for two hours in a queue to get near the precious liquid.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd September, 1918

Limbers and wagons ordered up at eight a.m., remainder get under way at ten thirty a.m., and we are all to rendezvous in a previously arranged valley. However, on arriving at intended spot - and waiting for orderlies from guns and receiving none - go out in search and find everything streaming on over the sky line towards the enemy. After a long ride, find the brigade in a small valley just in rear of Morchies and eventually get everything along there, after losing water cart for hours, and several other vehicles. The Hun seems from reports to have footed it over the Canal du Nord which runs through Cambrai.

Monday 2 September 2013

Diary Entry - 2nd September, 1918

During night, orders received to stand harnessed ready to march at five a.m but at six a.m. orders were cancelled and, on riding forward to brigade to learn the situation, hear 62nd have again failed - also hear Canadians have broken through south of Scarpe at Arras and are well into the gap. Australians well through Peronne and on Mont St Quentin.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Diary Entry - 1st September, 1918

Battery go still further forward to near the Beugnatre Vaux Vraucourt Road at three thirty a.m. and fire a barrage for the 62nd Div to attack at dawn, but they failed to clear the village of Vrancourt, although tanks assisted and got right through the village. Several tanks whom we saw said the village was ours if the infantry had followed.

Saturday 31 August 2013

Diary Entry - 31st August, 1918

Move off at five a.m. as ordered, intending to join guns and move forward but, on reaching brigade, are told we are not required so return very crestfallen and angry at someone having given a wrong order.

Diary Entry - 30th August, 1918

Shells fall near by during night but never in our line. We move off at five a.m., or rather had orders to, which are cancelled during night.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Diary Entry - 29th August, 1918

Shelled by big velocity gun from two a.m. Shells only just dropping over but all the time wondering whether Hun whon't shorten range and get our horse lines. The Column catch it, losing several horses, and by nine a.m. we were on the road to the gun and lock stock and barrel pitching our lines in front of guns as Hun was falling back through Vaux Vraucourt.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Diary Entry - 28th August, 1918

Rise at five a.m. to make sure of water from a pump in Commiecourt, but things are very congested, as a lot of transport has moved up in the night and an ammunition dump been established on road to Behangier.

Diary Entry - 27th August, 1918

We move whole wagon line to a copse to East of Courcelle le Comte and about 8,000 yards behind what was German line. Water very scarce and poor but get a little in Gommiecourt and Achiet le Grande.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Diary Entry - 26th August, 1918

Get quite a decent night's rest in a dugout but have an awful scrum for water in the morning as a whole cavalry brigade congest things badly and seem to think they have priority.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Diary Entry - 25th August, 1918

A peaceful day, haul up six wagons of ammunition, look for better watering, as demand had become greater than supply at Douchie, but fail to find anything worth moving to. The Huns are retreating through St Leger and Mory, closely pursued by our infantry, supposed to be assisted by cavalry.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Diary Entry - 24th August, 1918

Move wagon lines to Douchie where RE had water and troughs in full swing and the whole world seemed to be concentrated round about Douchie even before we arrived there and thousands more horses came crowding up all day. We had a section and one howitzer standing in readiness to advance from guns all day and it was some job trying to supply all wants for guns and wagonlines, especially as I had to stand by at the guns with the teams for the section ready to go forward, but felt very pleased at having Hoyland with us again as of course he knew the ropes from A to Z, although only holding subaltern rank now. The forward or galloping section was withdrawn to wagonlines at dusk, and I got back to Douchie about nine p.m. feeling very dusty and tired.

Friday 23 August 2013

Diary Entry - 23rd August, 1918

Rode to St Amand directly after lunch, the guns having pulled back to the wagon lines to await orders. When we arrive at the town mayor's, find him out, and he has arranged nothing, but this is the usual way that sort of person treats you. As we are wondering what's to be done, some infantry march up and bury two officers and, on approaching one of their officers and stating our difficulties, he gives us some men to dig a grave, and their Padre offers to take the service. When the grave was finished, we carried on, but before we could place poor Cruikers at rest had to lengthen it as he was a good six foot one and the grave was not quite long enough. On returning to the wagon lines, found guns had to be moved forward again to a position to north west of Courcelle-le-Comte, which the Major was reconnoitring, and we got guns and ammunition in at dusk.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Diary Entry - 22nd August, 1918

Guns are evidently moved up to within 300 yards of our trenches on Tuesday night. Attack commences at dawn. Cruikshank, poor chap, killed by a premature during first phases of the barrage, from some battery in rear. He was seen to fall and when examined it was found a shrapnel bullet had penetrated back of his steel helmet far enough to push a piece of his skull onto his brain, thus killing him at once poor chap. He was a fine young chap who had joined a mounted rifle regiment at 16 and fought through the German East African campaign then sailed to England and joined the RFA, and we are all very sad to lose him. By nine a.m. the battle had progressed so well that wagon lines were ordered up to Monchy. That evening as I rode away from the lines towards St Amand to arrange about Cruikers' burial, an old BE crashed, killing both pilot and observer. Evidently they were just circling round Divisional HQ, while the observer finished his reconnaissance report preparatory to delivering it by parachute, when they crashed into a balloon wire, tearing off a wing, cutting the balloon loose and crashing on the main road not 20 yards from our horse lines. It was late when I returned from St Amand and really could not make any arrangements, as all troops were in the forward area, so left it in the hands of the town Major to have a grave dug and padre ready to officiate at the burial service on Friday afternoon.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Diary Entry - 21st August, 2013

Go to guns and thence to brigade and see much evidence of an attack on our part, tanks everywhere, but of course no-one knows anything or dares to mention it as Corps have people on the alert to catch people talking about future events - a new and much needed measure in our army.

Monday 19 August 2013

Diary Entry - 19th August, 1918

Cruikshank comes down to the WL and General Martin Powell, who was commanding 48th Bty a few days before I joined it, dropped into the Mess after lunch for a few minutes, but I just missed him as had to attend a funeral (?) Cruikers and I spent the evening playing some sort of whist he introduced to us.

Diary Entry - 18th August, 1918

The Colonel came for a trot round the battery wagon line, giving us a good chit on our appearance, and he sent Hoyland up to the guns to help Major Scott.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Diary Entry - 17th August, 1918

The same dumping of seventeen wagon loads of ammunition goes on in the forward area, all batteries taking part at dusk. While unloading, Cruikshank says 77 mm dropped almost on top of them, killing two horses in C subsection's team, later another horse had to be destroyed and yet another evacuated. During the morning Hoyland turned up at the wagon lines, having found his way to the 2nd Div, even though he was ordered at the base to some other unit.

Diary Entry - 16th August, 1918

We really start on the ammunition racket in earnest and send out eleven wagons along with six wagons of the DAC. I deliver the wagons to 2nd Lieutenant Cruikshank at gun position and he takes it on, returning about eleven p.m.

Thursday 15 August 2013

Diary Entry - 15th August, 1918

Take a walk round in the morning, visiting the Colonel with Scottie. Coming back via D 36 we discovered there was to be a BCs' meeting there at two thirty so Scottie stayed to lunch with D 36 and I went to lunch with Barrett and the TMs. The meeting over, we went back and I went to the wagon lines after tea with my kit. The meeting was to arrange about the carting of ammunition right forward about 1000 yards from the front line. When we turned out our eleven wagons and had them at the dump, an order came cancelling it all.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Diary Entry - 14th August, 1918

I got rather a shock when, just turning out for breakfast at nine a.m., see the Colonel looking down into the trench, along with Vaisey and McKinty, and hear him ask why the parade wasn't ready. It seems Scottie had forgotten to tell me about it. Anyway, it all blew over with a few sparks. I took Sergeant Higgins up to see a new camouflage position we had to build and showed him where to dump the material. On returning to lunch find, on ringing the brigade up, there is much excitement, as the Hun is supposed to be going to fall back. He has already given up Serre and Bucquoy. Daylight patrols go out, and I am ordered to move two guns up to the old position near Adinger Wood. Barrett goes up with them. In the mean time, Brigade HQ moves up to Inf Brigade in the Purple Front line and the Colonel spends the afternoon in No. 13 post. The patrol find one or two machine gun posts with the Huns asleep and scupper them, going on to the main line, where the Hun suddenly wakes up and lets them have it. Up goes the SOS at once, but of course no-one knows where to put their barrage down with safety, until the Colonel rings through from the post. I had just given the forward guns the lines when Scottie appeared with his kit. In the mean time, we had received orders to stand by and be ready to move within two hours notice.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Diary Entry - 13th August, 1918

Came up to the guns to stop and relieve Major who goes for a rest to the wagon lines.

Monday 12 August 2013

Diary Entry - 12th August, 1918

Parade in a mist at forward wagon lines at seven forty-five a.m. The manoeuvres go on all the morning, finishing up with a pow wow at one p.m. on the hill, with Ironside and all officers. Cruikshank and I ride down to the wagon line and I have a hurried lunch and go on to RA on a bicycle to play cricket. The match was RA v RGH, the Colonel, Vaisey, Armytage, some other officers and myself were playing. We beat them by about thirty runs after a very interesting game. On the same field as we played, baseball and polo were being played and the American were making a great fuss over their ball game.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Diary Entry - 11th August, 1918

The usual routine at the wagon lines. I go to the show at night.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Diary Entry - 10th August, 1918

Go up to see the Major in the morning about the open warfare stunt to be carried out with the 99th Inf. Brigade on the Sabbath and meet the Major at brigade HQ. From there we ride to Berles-en-Bois to see the country we are to work over.

Friday 9 August 2013

Diary Entry - 9th August, 1918

Go to the Barn Owls in the evening with Todd and DJ36 and Roche Kelly honoured us with his presence at tea. He is ADVS of the division, a peculiar little worm who wears the French Agricultural Medal. The show was fair to medium, run by 37th Div.

Diary Entry - 8th August, 1918

A beautiful day for the show, a lovely bright sun which made the wagons and horses look topping. Naturally, there was great competition for the best wagon team and turn out, which was the second event, and it was funny to see the wagons being put together on the ground so as no dust would mar the appearance of the vehicle. Brig General Ironsides and Colonel Parrie were the judges, the former was very thorough,, even looking at the men's respirators. We won three of the five events with the turn out of team and wagon, best turned out NCO and the jumping won by the Major. These results thoroughly held up the belief in the battery that we are first in the brigade, also the division.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Diary Entry - 6th to 7th August, 1918

No entry for 6th August.

7th August: The Major came down again to put on the finishing touches.

Diary Entry - 5th August, 1918

Inclined to be wet. I have somewhat of a tiff with Keith, all on his side, because I would not allow him over our jumps as they were not finished.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Diary Entry - 4th August, 1918

Have a good look round and the Major comes round about eleven a.m. and spends most of his time pulling the show horses' tails and trimming their legs.

Saturday 3 August 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd August, 1918

I go to the wagon line for lunch and Barrett comes up in the afternoon.

Friday 2 August 2013

Diary Entry - 2nd August, 1918

Find it raining heavily on getting out for breakfast. The Major makes for the wagon line early in the morning. Otherwise everything as usual.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Diary Entry - 1st August, 1918

Come down from the OP through the wood, as the Hun was five nining the usual track and round the corner of the wood. There is a peculiar horse fly in all the woods about the Somme which sucks the blood out of you and on some people they raise huge swellings. They were very bad this morning. Have a breather at the 15th Bty with Siggers.

Wednesday 31 July 2013

Diary Entry - 31st July, 1918

I spent the day at Apple OP for the twenty-four hours and, except for a few odd rounds of harassing fire, had a quiet time. Everything else as usual but, on hearing Sanger had applied for six months, I sent mine in.

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Diary Entry - 30th July, 1918

Am somewhat surprised to see in orders that Siggers becomes acting Major of 15th Bty and I acting captain of the 45th and go round to 15th Bty position after tea to discuss life with him. On the Monday night, the King's Liverpools did rather a successful raid, taking six prisoners, including an officer - and caught the Hun in the middle of a relief, so the barrage probably shook them up a bit.

Diary Entry - 29th July, 1918

Funnily enough the Huns did fire at the gun as soon as it started the usual night harassing fire so we had to pull it out and put it in our old man position, but it had received a nasty blow on the buffer from a five-nine.

Diary Entry - 28th July, 1918

Hearing the forward gun had been shot at most of the night we decided to move it and went up to select a position in the morning. We find one across the Cojeul Valley not far to the rear, which Saunders informs the Major has no flash cover - not a bad start for a shop boy who has had exactly forty-eight hours experience and, being the CRA's son, not much was said.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Diary Entry - 27th July, 1918

Major takes Saunders to the OP and they do a little shooting.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Diary Entry - 24th to 26th July, 1918

On Wednesday, the Major and Cruikshank went to the WL and on Thursday I spent the day at Dorris OP (daylight only) but there was little or no movement to be shot at so we tickled up some Hun OPs and in turn had a few rounds fired in our direction. On arriving back at the Mess, find Nicholson and the General's son have arrived, the latter having come on from RAHQ. General Saunders and Roberts (DTMO) arrived round in the position soon after breakfast on Friday. Otherwise everything is as usual but good news keeps arriving from the south where the French have pushed in behind the right flank of the attacking Hun and taken a lot of prisoners and guns.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Diary Entry - 23rd July, 1918

Got in for breakfast at five a.m. then went to bed and got up at eleven a.m. It was a beautiful sunny summer's day and everything was as usual.

Diary Entry - 22nd July, 1918

Register after lunch as the Hun rather spoilt our plans in the morning. The men were working with the ammunition, carrying it out from the ravine to the pits, and I was on my way out to lay out the line of fire with a director and ruminating in my mind as to whether a Hun balloon sitting on the crest could see us or not when over came a pip squeak landing 25 yards over. It was a good ranging round and we thought it a fair enough warning so went for the dug out with four or five more rounds after us. The old Hun then shoved over a few rounds onto the dug out, then gave it up. It was four in the afternoon when he went down and we finally got registered. After dinner we went to D36 and played some bridge and there was a deal of revoking when the Hun started popping 5.9s and pipsqueaks into the same valley and they seemed to be almost bouncing off the concrete walls of the Mess. As soon as it grew quiet, the Major and I got back and turned the men out for action. We fired the barrage all right and pulled out without molestation at three fifteen a.m.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Diary Entry - 21st July, 1918

In the evening we take the guns forward to what was our old position to register for a raid which is coming off during the following night. The Major and I go up with the guns, get them in without incident and live with the TMs

Saturday 20 July 2013

Diary Entry - 20th July, 1918

Nothing doing all day. The Major rides his small pony up the line on his way to the OP, leaving it in a gun pit at TMs. Siggers comes in for tea and I take him along to the 15th Bty about six p.m.

Friday 19 July 2013

Diary Entry - 19th July, 1918

Remain at the guns, my only job being to hunt round for some timber for the gun pits. Am rather sorry to hear from the Major that Siggers is to go to 15th Bty to command it, as Major Claudet has gone down with appendicitis. His captain is evidently considered incapable of commanding the show.

Diary Entry - 18th July, 1918

Set out for Dorris OP at four fifteen a.m. and am somewhat fed up after walking the two miles to find I have come on the wrong day. A horse artillery merchant holds the fort so there is nothing for it but to walk back again. As I left Douchie on my right the Hun was dousing it with gas shell. After breakfast find a useful windlass for the mine which we left. Cruikers came up in the evening.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Diary Entry - 17th July, 1918

At ten a.m. I set out for the wagon lines on Julia. Lunched there, and Cruikshank, Siggers, McKenna, Thornburn, Crabtree, Graham and I all rode over to RAHQ at one thirty p.m. to play cricket against them. Of course they had played quite a lot and we had not seen a bat and ball for three or more years. They went in first and we tried nearly every one in trying to bowl them out, eventually getting them out for 162, Armytage making 50 not out with a wonderfully effective mowing stroke. We were about prostrate on the field when the last man was bowled and, in batting, put together 84 but am sure with any practice we would have a really good team as there is good material - even the Colonel seemed to have played a lot at some time or other. On the same field in which we played a tank demonstration was going on before a division of infantry and these wretches used to come rolling down on us but am glad to say they kept off our matting wicket. Stayed at the WL for dinner then rode up to the guns with Bill Westcote.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Diary Entry - 16th July, 1918

At the guns. A warm steamy day with thundery clouds hanging about in the morning. Our chaps downed a Hun plane and two camels downed a German balloon in the evening. The Major goes to the wagon lines in the afternoon.

Diary Entry - 15th July, 1918

Go along the FOO wire in the morning and mend five breaks and then have it cut behind us before reaching No. 10 post. Major goes up to cover the daylight raid done by 60th. It consists of two men and an NCO, their objective being an enemy's post which he occupies at night only. He fires all the afternoon with hundreds of heads up over the top watching the men crawl across no-man's land. As a matter of fact they even stood on top and the Hun took no notice, so they consolidated the post and stayed there.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Diary Entry - 14th July, 1918

Brig General Ironside who commands the 6th inf bde comes round the guns with the Colonel, he and Jumbo were at the shop together and are great friends. Ironside, commonly known by the infanteers as Tin Ribs, is a tremendous man, with the VC and a very fine record behind him, one of his stunts in South Africa being a fine piece of work - disguised as a Dutch bullock driver he gained a lot of information of the Boers' movement. He also speaks about a dozen languages. The Major lunches at brigade and I go to liaise with the 1st Royal Berks at six p.m.

Diary Entry - 13th July, 1918

Do orderly at the guns. Barrett back from OP. Major goes up the line to meet Howard who commands the 60th KRRs to arrange about some daylight stunt he is to have. The Colonel comes round at eleven a.m. and has a look round.

Friday 12 July 2013

Diary Entry - 12th July, 1918

In the afternoon, stroll southwards, along what was the old German frontline in 1917, to the Essarts Hannaschamp road, in search of C124 battery, which Rus Bell is in . Eventually find them, dug right in in the old Hun front line. Find Rus away and a Major Cutbush, who used to be in our division in the 47th(?) Bty, in command. He did me very well and said he would tell him where we were.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Diary Entry - 11th July, 1918

Go down to the wagon lines at twelve, Siggers and I go off to Corgneaux in a Ford box car to see Russell. He sent it over for us. He had called on us a few days previous and I found that he is a Major, much to my surprise, and commands an 8' battery just south of us. It was not a nice day, being thundery and showery, but after lunch he ran us into Doullens and I had a spin on the Triumph he rides. We had quite an amusing time in the old town, shopping, and motored to our lines in St Amand for tea and it simply poured with rain on the way and when we got there.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Diary Entry - 10th July, 1918

Remain at the guns all day and have to wear my gas respirator from seven to eight, as an order came out they were to be worn an hour each day for a week. The new triplex glass put in the respirator is a great improvement to them, though they are no more comfortable things to wear.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Diary Entry - 9th July, 1918

Get back at twelve p.m. having had an uneventful night. Get a bath and shave and feel much refreshed. It is very thundery and close, and late in the evening a Hun scout flying down the line in a south-westerly direction gets well peppered but finally sinks one of our balloons when it is almost on the ground. We could hardly see him when he did this as he was well south of us and there was a lot of stuff flung at him.

Monday 8 July 2013

Diary Entry - 8th July, 1918

I am informed at ten a.m. that someone is due at OP from us and, as it is my turn, off I have to push, with two signallers on a three-mile walk in the hot sun. The relief should have been carried out at ten and I did not get there till twelve thirty, but Gow was very good about it. It is very quiet and I watch the Major shoot the FG from No. 10 post. He also registered one gun of the rear position and found the line all right.

Sunday 7 July 2013

Diary Entry - 7th July, 1918

Brigade move out in the afternoon. Barrett and Lambkin arrive down soon after lunch from the position. The Major stays up there for the night. Three guns are brought back at night and they are all given a line on the mushroom tree at 7,000 yards.

Saturday 6 July 2013

Diary Entry - 6th July, 1918

Commence on two more pits, getting some men from the advance wagon lines to help. Also go into Monchy to arrange about baths. Send up a GS wagon to the guns during the day to move some of the ammunition back and manage to evade the military policeman in Monchy who is to stop traffic by day in the village, but General Willan asks for the unit's name on seeing the team going up the Cojeul Valley.

Friday 5 July 2013

Diary Entry - 5th July, 1918

Come down to brigade to stop till our guns come down. HQ, who move out in the direction of Bienvillers, intend handing over their accommodation to us.

Thursday 4 July 2013

Diary Entry - 4th July, 1918

After lunch walk down to the rear position to get the men working on it. The Major also goes down to see brigade and we eventually spend most of the time there, stopping for tea, and I arrange to come down and stay there and live with brigade.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd July, 1918

At six p.m. relieve Pocock at the batallion and find the 1st KRRS in and soon after I arrived a new Colonel - Howard - stepped in to take command from a Major Orfrey. During the afternoon an infanteer arrived being attached for a fortnight. His name was Banner of the 1st Royal Berkshires

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Diary Entry - 2nd July, 1918

Major and self go out after breakfast and reconnoitre the Purple Line and OP, covering same and have about a five mile walk. We went past Duesnoy Farm, a very favourite spot of the Hun's - in fact all that crest is very badly scored with holes and there is nothing there. We also found a lot of red and black currants in the garden of another old farm which also seemed to have received a lot of attention. They were quite good eating. We found the spot we were looking for - Sausage Rise - and found that it commanded a good field of view. Roberts (DTMO) and Gorry came to tea and seemed full of life, the former making a great noise.

Monday 1 July 2013

Diary Entry - 1st July, 1918

Remain at the guns. Major and Lambkin go down to the WL to see how our section got on in the show. The latter had to act as section commander in Nicholson's absence. Keith Thorburn won it by one mark from us, in spite of the fact he had a leg over the whole time in the driving drill but both the judges being on the wrong side did not notice it and of course he won it on his horses as we licked him to pot in harness and turn out. It was another beautiful warm day.

Sunday 30 June 2013

Diary Entry - 30th June, 1918

OP at eight a.m. Hun two-seaters are rather busy patrolling, so ask for some scouts and at ten thirty a.m. 5 come out and down a Hun in flames - only one chap tackled him, an SE5, and had the Hun cold. A good light all day and fire 90 rounds at various targets. The Major takes the CO of the battalion up to show him his SOS lines but the latter seemed so frightened in the front line that I don't think he saw a round. However, they were quite all right.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Diary Entry - 29th June, 1918

Walk with Major towards the forward wagon line, leaving him at the 15th to attend a BCs meeting. Find on reaching the forward wagon lines that our horses have gone on up to the guns. However they soon arrive and I send the Major's to the 15th and go on to the rear WL. The harness looks well for the show, which is to be an eliminating show for the brigade, in spite of the fact that we have thirty five men down with PU. This is I believe also called Spanish influenza and puts the men down with a fever for eight days to three weeks. Come back after tea and look at the mine which is going down in our rear position near brigade on our way. They have eight frames in which is good.

Friday 28 June 2013

Diary Entry - 28th June, 1918

Go to the forward WL in the morning and on to rear position then back for lunch nothing doing in afternoon.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Diary Entry - 27th June, 1918

Lambkin goes down to rear wagonline to start men on rear position mine and in the afternoon the Major and I went down to brigade and we all stay to tea. I remain for a time to bring up a prisoner before the Colonel. After tea the Major goes to OP and reregisters guns on zero for another raid.

Diary Entry - 26th June, 1918

On relieving old Lambkin at the OP in the morning became rather nervous as am told the barrage was all wrong and we bashed in our own frontline, killing two and wounding thirteen men of our own. This keeps me pretty worried all day though am pretty sure in my own head that, unless the guns which were registered on the range are wrong and we have been given false calibrations, our barrage is all right. It was a coolish day and see no movement though fire a few rounds with forward gun.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Diary Entry - 25th June, 1918

Stay at the guns all day and in the evening take the forward gun to another position and eventually get it settled in about twelve a.m. just on the edge of Douchy village. On returning to the battery find Major Scott asleep and Barrett informs me he had dined well though unwisely at D36 so there was nothing for it but to set to and work out the barrage. This was rather a nuisance as if the Major had not told me he was going to work it out as I went forward I should have come back a little earlier. Just got the barrage ready for the No. 1s by one thirty, zero hour being two a.m. The 23rd Fusiliers were doing the raid and the barrage being over at two twenty and no retaliation coming from the Hun lines we turned in. The Major was still sleeping heavily with all his clothes on so we left him as he lay.

Monday 24 June 2013

Diary Entry - 24th June, 1918

Went up to the OP at eight a.m. and relieved Tucker who had just been ticked off by the Perrire for allowing his men to use the trench as a latrine. It was rather tough when we had only been in twenty-four hours and could not possibly have done what we were accused of doing. Have quite an amusing time with the forward gun which bangs the front line at under 2000 yards.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Diary Entry - 23rd June, 1918

The captain man takes Scottie and I round the OPs and forward gun and we seem to walk all round France. The Hun seems to be pretty tame, as we walked about in full view within 2000 yards of him and he never fired a round at us. When  we got near the forward gun the Hun became unpleasant and we sat down in the valley to a flank to see if he was going to continue but when we had seen ten rounds we gave it up and went on to battalion. The Captain man seemed to try to put the wind up us, saying we would walk by a certain track but that it wasn't wise. However, the Hun was kind and took no notice of us.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Diary Entry - 22nd June, 1918

March at eight a.m. Siggers and I ride on to St Amand and find B189 is the battery we take over from 46th Div. They remain at the wagonlines that night but we take up four guns into action. Scottie and I go up for the night and the Major of the battery we relieve - a funny sort of codger - rides up with us as he has to take two guns off into another position that night.

Friday 21 June 2013

Diary Entry - 21st June, 1918

After breakfast Major goes to seven ones gun line to say goodbye to the men but comes round in stables and seems to have a wonderful eye for horses, which is hardly to be wondered at considering he had been a horse dealer in Ireland before the war. The guns are relieved at three p.m. by a battery from the 15th Div. and they bring six guns to our lines in the afternoon, three springs and three recuperators, we leaving our guns in the position. That evening we all went to Turnip Tops - in fact I think the whole brigade were there. The show went with a wonderful swing.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Diary Entry - 20th June, 1918

Make for Arras at seven thirty in order to catch a lorry which was to leave the Octoir at eight a.m. for St Amand and the new gun positions we are to take over. We had (a representative from each battery) a fairly rough journey and arrived at Mouchy-le-Preux about eleven a.m. calling at RAHQ on the way. This was the day Major Scott joined the battery and we found our guide and the captain of battery we were to relieve and off we went. After a good three mile walk we reached the position, which, on first appearances, did not look too good and the mines for living in looked as if they would fall down if anyone sneezed, as all the frames had been removed and someone had put in corrugated iron against the roof, with props to hold it up very few and far between. After lunch we returned to the village, picked up the lorry and went back to our wagonlines, having a rough 24-mile ride.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Diary Entry - 19th June, 1918

At eleven a.m. McKenna and I walked to the guns for lunch. It was a very muggy and thundery sort of day so we were pretty warm when we got there. We found Nick was the sole inhabitant as the others were up the line and Cruikers doing OP. However, they got back for lunch all right. There was a very short heavy shower about two, which made things more steamy than ever.

Diary Entry - 18th June, 1918

Inclined to rain in the morning but fines up about ten a.m. although still thundery. Siggers comes down for lunch. Notice that Thorburn is back again as see him go past with Dickson on his way to the guns so bang goes Siggers' chance of being Major of the battery and my hope of being Captain.

Monday 17 June 2013

Diary Entry - 17th June, 1918

Ride down to Lenz Arras Road in morning to engage a bath for the afternoon and thoroughly enjoy the large enamel bath at three p.m. At evening stables McKenna and I tackled the thin horses and filed down their teeth, some of the donkeys needed some holding.

Diary Entry - 16th June, 1918

Siggers was down in the morning but went up before lunch to play the organ for the Padre's service in the Mess. McKenna, Lambkin and I walked to the rear position in the afternoon.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Diary Entry - 15th June, 1918

Take out four bombardiers in the morning map reading and we go for a good ride round, calling at RA about twelve p.m., they all seem good though one Br. Austin seems very intelligent. Lambkin arrives from the guns after lunch and in the evening we all go to a very excellent show run by the 51st Div named Turnip Tops. This show is run on musical comedy lines and both the music and songs were written and composed in France by a man who used to be at the Gaiety.

Friday 14 June 2013

Diary Entry - 14th June, 1918

Cruikshank gets down about eleven a.m. and after lunch we ride out to see the thin horses grazing on the track to St Eloi. Barrett goes up in the evening to the guns to stop.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Diary Entry - 13th June, 1918

Colonel comes at ten a.m. and inspects A subsection in marching order and E sub in skeleton order harness, also goes round everything else and seems well satisfied, though asks endless questions about everything.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Diary Entry - 12th June, 1918

Ride to the rear position in the morning. A very busy day at the wagonlines, as had to get all the harness ready for the Colonel's inspection which he ordered for Thursday.

Diary Entry - 11th June, 1918

McKenna and self go to Chamblain l'Abbe, have lunch at the club and draw money from the field cashier. In the afternoon we watched a game of cricket - there were no extraordinary performers but there was a splendid matting wicket and should like to have had a knock.

Diary Entry - 10th June, 1918

In the afternoon ride a bike up to the guns to see about the 2MS who is inclined to crib about having to go up to the guns, but Siggers, as I knew he would, took the strong hand and said that we could do without him if he wanted to accept the next Sgt. Major's job, he was not indispensible.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Diary Entry - 9th June, 1918

At eleven a.m. the Colonel, Major Mills, Flemming, Crabtree and Pocock, two new subalterns, went round the rear defence lines and looked at all the probable gun positions for each line. We lunched in Agney Duissans on a sandwich and biscuit, getting back about three p.m. Find that Nicholson has come down in the afternoon in order to dodge church which is being held in the Mess.

Diary Entry - 8th June, 1918

At eleven a.m. the ADVS 15th division came round to see the forage and looked at some of the horses' feet as had to send in some sort of report. We had a march out parade at two p.m. in the afternoon and Siggers arrived at three p.m. to see it. Everything seemed to be packed very neatly. The Divisional RA ran a concert in the evening and a lot of us went to see it, but it was a rotten show.

Friday 7 June 2013

Diary Entry - 7th June, 1918

There was the usual inspection of harness which was not at all good. A subsection as usual walked away with the half holiday. A certain Driver Maxie who had returned from hospital arrived at our lines but with a chit from the 52nd Brigade but when I sent him to the 52nd Brigade they refused to have anything to do with him so after going to the adjutant about it found we would have to keep him as the statement saying he was to report to the 52nd Brigade had no signature to it. On the way back from the brigade I met Nicholson rummaging about some old huts looking for timber. Hear in the evening that Major Bromley of 41st Brigade was killed by a shell at midday while standing at the door of his Mess.

Diary Entry - 6th June, 1918

I took the horses out to a new grazing field after breakfast and went on to see Pelham as we badly needed some lime. Barrett went to Camblain l'Abbe to draw some money from the field cashier.

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Diary Entry - 5th June, 1918

Barrett and I take a flutter to the rear position in the afternoon. The CRA Corps was round the horses during stables and congratulated everyone on the horses' condition and the way they were groomed, which was very satisfactory.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Diary Entry - 4th June, 1918

Send up a working party under Sergeant Head and go up myself at nine to get them started on clearing the entrance to the old hole so the wheeler can get a look at it after lunch and see what ought to be done with it. Siggers sends us down railway sleepers from Athies - good strong timber and just the article for the job.

Monday 3 June 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd June, 1918

Siggers comes down in the morning to have a look round and in the afternoon we both ride up to rear position to arrange about building 4.2 proof shelters for the detachments. He arranges that two shall be built, one in an old funk hole which is already beginning to fall in and the other has to be cut out of the face of a bank.

Diary Entry - 2nd June, 1918

Cruikshank goes up to the guns in the afternoon and I accompany him to see the Captain. Barrett comes back with me and as we cross Roclincourt Valley the Hun opens on the Ecurie balloon with 8' shrapnel, making it very nasty in the lines, as all the pieces fall about there, we being in the line of fire. The first round seemed very close but had no effect on the balloon-atic. All he did was to move his lorry along the road, the cable and winding gear being attached to it. Though several heavy bits of metal, weighing anything up to 40 lbs, were found about the wagonlines, no-one was hit and we were all glad when the balloon descended about seven p.m. and the Hun gave up the shooting.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Diary Entry - 1st June, 1918

Had a smoke helmet inspection on parade and also withdrew all blankets but one from the men. All are supposed to be handed in but as the battery came out with one per man bought from the battery funds they always retain it. Cruikshank and I ride to Aubigny after parade and see the Major who looked very well and expected to go down the line that afternoon. We were very struck with the number of men hanging about the CCS and cannot think why they are all there as they seem to have nothing to do. The ADMS was going round when we called after lunch. He seemed a good sort of chap.

Friday 31 May 2013

Diary Entry - 31st May, 1918

Go to the farm with Cruikshank in the morning and as we go note that the Hun HV guns are after the 12' gun on the railway, but after a few had been very close they puffed off further up the line. At stables inspect all the harness huts and gun park and eventually give the award of half holiday to A&E subsections.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Diary Entry - 30th May, 1918

Siggers comes down and we all ride over to see Vosper and are pleased to find him well and hearty, expecting to be sent down the line in a couple of days. From Aubigny we go to Camblain l'Abbe to the club for lunch and notice Acq is receiving attention from the Hun HV guns so skirt it to the north, wasting little time in doing so.

Diary Entry - 29th May, 1918

Come down to wagon line for lunch. Walk over with Mike afterwards to see one of our FEs which has come down after being over to drop its bombs. The propellor had evidently stripped the bolts holding it to the engine shaft. Nick goes up to the guns that evening. The news of Vosper is not too good, Cruikshank having been to see him says he was looking very pale and was not allowed to talk much, having to catch his breath each time he did try.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Diary Entry - 28th May, 1918

We were somewhat surprised to hear from Cruikshank that the Major (Vosper) had been hit while in bed by a bullet from an enemy's plane. It appears he had been hit in the chest while sleeping in the Mess and had been packed off to the ambulance murmuring all the time that he had lost the best battery in France. Remain at guns all day to keep shop while Siggers and Barrett go forward to register for a raid which is to come off on 30th. It is quite a cold day again, the wind having a nip in it.

Monday 27 May 2013

Diary Entry - 27th May, 1918

Spend a lively night of it at the OP keeping a keen look out for a raid or any signs of enemy action. The Hun at two p.m. shelled the back areas with gas, sprinkling the forward areas slightly with it, and we had to keep our respirators on for a few minutes. This went on till about dawn and the Hun disappointed us again. I really thought he would make a local attack. As I came down from the trenches met Barrett and Siggers on their way to see the infantry.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Diary Entry - 26th May, 1918

Go to the OP to do a 24-hours duty and notice as we pass the section that No.1 gun has jammmed and not run up - probably some springs smashed. Relieve Gough and find Flemming and an 8' merchant shooting at TM emplacements so don't get a look out till about two p.m. as the Major took hours to fire his 48 rounds. The Hun was also very unpleasant and kept putting them very close to us. In the afternoon the Hun artillery became very active and began knocking our trenches about very badly and what is more we could see most of his guns blazing off. At five p.m. the fire became a regular bombardment ad I really thought the Hun was going to make a small attack. However, after carrying on at gun fire till eight p.m, with TMs and every gun he had, the front quietened down except for a few pepper shell which caught us unawares for a minute or two.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Diary Entry - 25th May, 1918

Warm and steamy. Siggers and I walked to battalion but found the Colonel and General just in the act of going round the trenches and, as the adjutant did not seem very communicative, we came back. I had neuralgia at the back of the eyes rather badly so went to bed before dinner.

Friday 24 May 2013

Diary Entry - 24th May, 1918

Rained heavily all morning, clearing again towards evening. Barrett did roving OP and came back soaked to the skin, only wearing a British Warm.

Diary Entry - 23rd May, 1918

A high wind blows (50 f.s) and signs of a change approaching. Siggers and I go up to the OP in the afternoon to register No 1 as it has been put into a new concrete pit.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Diary Entry - 22nd May, 1918

Siggers comes up for lunch and is shown around by the Major. A beautiful warm day and we bathe again in the afternoon, meeting the Padre on the bank. Both Siggers and the Padre were very amused at the words of encouragement given me on the high diving board, "Go on kid, it won't hurt you", by a Tommie. In the evening the Major goes down, calling in on the way to try to arrange a special leave.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Diary Entry - 21st May, 1918

Do roving OP but spend most of the time in the brigade OP with Tucker as don't fancy wandering around the front line, the Hun making it rather unpleasant, but I got as far as A company HQ in Pudding Trench.

Monday 20 May 2013

Diary Entry - 20th May, 1918

Cruikshank goes down at ten a.m. I remain in at the guns to keep shop. Major and I bathe in the afternoon off the island and meet Majors Claudet and Tucker in the water. To my surprise the water was quite warm and one could stay in a long time. Lambkin comes up in the evening about the middle of dinner, both his horses lathered with sweat. He lost his way and says "the horse took the wrong turning." Before dinner the Major and I strolled up to see the detached gun.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Diary Entry - 19th May, 1918

Come up to the guns after going to church at Madagascar Corner in the theatre, held by our Padre - the colonel and adjutant were there. On arriving at the guns, Vosper walked me up to the detached gun in Athies, telling me on the way that I was a candidate for the captaincy in the seven ones but that the Colonel said that if I was going to apply for six months' leave in August, as I have every intention of doing, it would hardly be worth my while to accept it. It took no deciding, as I had no intention of taking a job in any other battery in the brigade, so I agreed. Major Thorburn goes in a day or two to GHQ as interpreter to the French army and his captain will in all probability get command and leave a vacancy for captain which I think Armytage (Charles) will get. The gun is in a splendid place just having flash cover and that's all (15 feet) and there are large pill boxes with four feet walls for the detachments only a few feet away. In the afternoon I watched the Major and Nicholson bathing in the public gardens lake, not having a towel myself. There were a large number of Jocks bathing off the other bank. What a chance for the Hun, only 300 yards from the front line.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Diary Entry - 18th May, 1918

Go for another semi staff ride with signallers BC's limber and no Nos1, we go out towards St Eloi as Siggers and I intended lunching at officers' club at Chamblain l'Abbe. At twelve we sent the party home and rode on to the village for lunch. Vaisey and Capt. Scott rolled up in the general's car and sat at our table, the former was going on to Aubigny to have his teeth seen to. Again, it being a splendid night, our planes are busy and a few Huns venture over our lines too.

Friday 17 May 2013

Diary Entry - 17th May, 1918

Another beautiful warm day. The Major and Nick come down for tea, I have another knock at cricket with the men in the afternoon.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Diary Entry - 16th May, 1918

The weather seems to have suddenly turned into summer and has become very warm. I go looking for men's baths in afternoon and find none belonging to the 15th Div in Roclincourt but on going to Anzin[?] find what is wanted. Have a great game of cricket in the evening with the men but get very hot. After dinner Siggers and I took an orderly down to Anzin to show him where to get sand. It is fine to hear our bombing planes going over. The air is full of the hum of their engines and looking towards the enemy's lines one could see the special lights the Hun uses for warning the people behind the lines of the approach of hostile planes going up north and south.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Diary Entry - 15th May, 1918

Go to the rear position and out on a staff ride in the afternoon, taking the BC's limber. We take up several positions and get back about five thirty p.m.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Diary Entry - 14th May, 1918

Go to the rear position in the morning. Lambkin takes the map reading. In afternoon, Siggers, McKenna (veterinary officer) and self walk to guns and meet Major on the way down and, as he only wanted to see Siggers, he turned and walked back with us. The Hun was very active in the afternoon and seemed to be slinging shells about everywhere, putting several when we arrived just to the right of the position. It was very warm walking home in the evening.

Monday 13 May 2013

Diary Entry - 13th May, 1918

Start work on our rear position. Siggers and self ride over to it in the morning and find that the infantry brigade out of the line use the ranges to the rear of the position and don't seem to be wonderfully accurate in their shooting. It rains again in the afternoon.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Diary Entry - 12th May, 1918

Major Quiller Couch (son of the author Q) of the 9th Battery relieved me so I came along to the battery, which is only a short walk, and am told to go back to the wagonlines, which I do in the evening. The Major was up the trenches with the Colonel, firing the Brigade on their SOS to see where the shells fall, as the barrage given us is very close into our own front line.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Diary Entry - 11th May, 1918

Very misty. Pay a visit to the 36th Brigade in the morning and find that Jumbo is away distributing remounts at the wagon lines. However, am assured he is coming round in afternoon, to arrange about a straafe on Fampoux and the trenches to the north. In the afternoon, about four p.m, he came round, saw General Hilliam (44th Inf. Bde, they relieved the others) and fixed it up that his infantry should be cleared from the line at a certain hour. The Colonel and self afterwards walked over to the inf. bde on the left to arrange the same scheme with them.

Friday 10 May 2013

Diary Entry - 10th May, 1918

There is absolutely nothing to do on this job but try to humour the infantry if they are being spelled and see that any particular point they want straafing gets attention as soon as possible. In the afternoon I visited 41st Brigade across the river in Blangy and saw Barton, their colonel. He, funnily enough, used to command the battery Nevitt was in and knew him well. He also had been on leave to Australia from India just before the war and had stopped with the Toombies of Warnambool. When the padre and I set out on our way back we were greeted with gunfire from a 77 mm battery and were chased over the bridge at the double, much to the amusement of the many tommies who were spectators a little distance off.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Diary Entry - 9th May, 1918

Ride to guns at nine a.m. to do senior liaison officer as Siggers had to be on a court martial. Took over from Major Bromley of 17th Battery and found the 40th infantry brigade were the infantry.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Diary Entry - 8th May, 1918

A bright sunny morning, rode round to Marveuil to get something from the EFC but found they had moved so went on to Etrun and RAHQ and got my Corian back from Charles Armytage.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Diary Entry - 7th May, 1918

It was inclined to rain in the morning though it eventually fined up about ten thirty. I took the horses out grazing in the afternoon while Siggers took a map reading class. The horses grazed at the usual place down near the 12' gun and amongst the wire entanglements there.

Monday 6 May 2013

Diary Entry - 6th May, 1918

At an order from brigade, a captain or major and subaltern from each battery had to ride the back areas of defence with the colonel, starting from the other side of Marveuil at ten fifteen a.m. We covered a lot of country and just looked at it from different points. Siggers and I lunched at Chamblain l'Abbe and we got home about four thirty p.m., having had quite enough riding. Siggers got back in an ambulance.

Sunday 5 May 2013

Diary Entry - 5th May, 1918

It rained until ten thirty a.m. and when Siggers came back from church we rode to Duissant to get some money but found no cashier there so proceeded to RAHQ at Etrun. They were surprised to hear there was no cashier there as they had directed us there and, on enquiring over the phone, they discovered that the nearest cashier was at Chamblain l'Abbe. The Brigade Major, a new man - Why - wanted us to stay for lunch but we decided to go on and lunch at the officers club in the village. There was a nice club there opposite Canadian Corps HQ but, on going to the cashier at two, were rather annoyed at being told the office would not be open until four p.m. owing to a meeting being called by the OC cashiers. So there was nothing for it but to ride home vanquished, having ridden some twenty miles to no purpose.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Diary Entry - 4th May, 1918

Major comes down at ten a.m. and we walk out to look at the horses grazing. He goes back to the guns for lunch. In the aftenoon, Siggers and I ride over to Marveuil to get some sand for building an OP. Having got what we want, we return by Etrun, call in at RAHQ and find that the brigade has some more decorations: Majors Claudet and Vosper the MC and McKinty the MC.

Friday 3 May 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd May, 1918

A harness inspection (skeleton order) by Siggers at stables. Go for a ride to see the skins grazing in the afternoon and on the way see three large naval guns on the railway, two 9.2s and one 12'. During the morning archies knocked half a propellor off a Hun plane and brought him down. in a spin quite close to Ecurie, the machine crashed but both the occupants were alive though violently ill as a result of the spinning. The Huns late in the evening shelled the balloon at Ecurie with HV HE air bursts, getting some very low bursts in too. The balloon kept moving up and down on a light railway, bringing us right in the line of fire and one shell burst right over the lines, with an awful smash, and the Brigade MO Capt Todd and his two horses were wounded.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Diary Entry - 2nd May, 1918

Cruikshank arrives up from the wagonlines. He has not been feeling fit just lately. The Major goes to the OP and shoots all the guns on some tree which the topographical people say they know the exact position of. They finish up with a peculiar registration which is useless for calibration purposes. I get down for a few days at the wagonlines and soon after arriving we have a knock with a cricket bat and ball picked up during the retreat.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Diary Entry - 1st May, 1918

Nicholson goes to the wagonlines in the morning to stop for a few days. All quiet through the day and Siggers pays us a visit in the morning.

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Diary Entry - 30th April, 1918

Rains all day. Nicholson comes down from the OP in the morning. Barrett comes up from the wagon lines.

Monday 29 April 2013

Diary Entry - 29th April, 1918

A bright sunny day. The Major rides up in the evening about five p.m. having been round the rear trenches reconnoitring in vicinity of Aubigny. Siggers goes down to the wagon lines after dinner.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Diary - 28th April, 1918

On the night of 27th-28th, the battalion on our left had a large raid, sending over 240 men who remained in the enemy's lines for three quarters of an hour. We put down a barrage for 70 minutes. The show was a complete success and we brought back 1 officer, 54 men, 6 machine guns (destroyed 4 others) and one ganetenwerfer or machine for throwing pineapple bombs. Our casualties were very light, the enemy failing to put over any shells probably explained by good counter battery work by our heavies.

There is still a ground mist. Lambkin goes down to Fampoux from battalion and reshoots the guns on another calibrating point, a house with supposed enemy machine gun in it. Siggers and I take a walk along the railway embankment to look at the site for the new OP and see how the work has been going along. The Canadian Corps general had been round the guns at seven a.m. but as the men had been up firing till three the position was not at its best. The Colonel later in the morning wrote a devil of a stinker to Siggers about it, though must say each grouse he put in writing could be answered with ease and there was no need for any heat at all on his part.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Diary Entry - 27th April, 1918

Gorry of the seven ones relieved me half an hour late, much to my displeasure. On arrival at the Mess find the Major and Cruikshank up on a joy ride. It remained misty during the morning but Siggers is able to calibrate in the afternoon, though only did three guns when he was chased by five nines.

Friday 26 April 2013

Diary Entry - 26th April, 1918

Go to OP. Quite a party of us set out from the guns, including Lambkin who was going to battalion for three days liaison and Siggers who was going up to try to calibrate. It was very foggy and as no wind got up the visibility was rotten all day. The front was quiet, though expected trouble at night as we were supposed to be making a raid - also the battalion on our left. However these seemed to have been cancelled as the front was exceptionally quiet.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Diary Entry - 25th April

Siggers and self call in at the 15th Battery to pick up Major Claudet on our way to start a working party on the reserve (rear) position. At eleven thirty we reach the spot and find Barrett already waiting with about ten men he had brought up from the wagon lines. On the way home thought we should never get Claudet away from brigade. He would persist in playing the goat in his usual manner.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Diary Entry - 24th April, 1918

The Colonel came round about ten a.m. and took Siggers off to be shown the OP he'd chosen. The Major is relieved at infantry brigade and goes down to the wagon line so as Siggers can complete his week up here. I ride down with the Major soon after two and, coming back about seven, call at brigade to find Siggers had just left, he having been out with the Colonel reconnoitring a rear position. Get caught in a shower of rain as I walk back from Brigade.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Diary Entry - 23rd April, 1918

Soon after breakfast Siggers went out to recommoitre an OP to cover the Thilloy reserve line on instructions from the Colonel. The enemy planes were active all day and two reconnaisance machines were very intent on registering a group of heavies and for this purpose flew very low. We fired hard on them with the Lewis gun and expended 1,200 rounds of SAA but never brought either of them down though am sure we harassed them. Nicholson spent the day at the OP doing 24-hours duty.

Monday 22 April 2013

Diary Entry - 22nd April, 1918

Orderly dog. The Colonel comes round in the morning and fires off one or two odd remarks about the position. Siggers and Lambkin spend the day in the front line shooting at houses in Fampoux and registering points for an infantry colonel. In the afternoon the Hun puts over some big stuff at our heavies in Blangy on the outskirts of Arras. When the rations came up in the evening one of the mules, being tired of life, lay down and died in the middle of the road.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Diary Entry - 21st April, 1918

Arrive down at eleven a.m. to find Siggers in command as the Major had gone to do senior liaison. Young Scott relieved me. Enemy scouts very active during the morning but our old RE8s take no notice of them and continue shooting the heavy batteries.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Diary Entry - 20th April, 1918

Go to the OP at eight forty-five and eventually reach it at ten fifteen, after walking all over France, and relieve Fleming. A fair amount of shell fall on our right in Pudding and Lemmon trenches, otherwise we are not troubled. The OP is a good one and covers a lot of enemy country. Almost every gun the Hun fired could be seen but a long way back and the heavies had some good shoots on them. We registered odd points, fired on movement and silenced a minnie. An SOS went up on our right about ten fifteen p.m. and things were disturbed on our front for a time but soon settled down again. The Canucks made a raid about three fifteen a.m. without a barrage and there were plenty of Mills grenades bursting and machine guns rattling to our left front about that time and, though we killed a few and had some casualties, don't think we got any prisoner or identifications, which was what we wanted.

Friday 19 April 2013

Diary Entry - 19th April, 1918

Still cold and inclined to sleet. Except for an odd shell dropping on the road just to our rear, all is quiet. Lt DV Lambkin rejoined his unit from brigade.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Diary Entry - 18th April, 1918

Major and Cruikshank go to the wagonlines, the latter eventually having his kit sent down to stay. Siggers comes up with the Major for tea. It turns very cold and is inclined to rain in the evening.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Diary Entry - 17th April, 1918

A sunny morning so there was considerable activity in the air on both sides. Clouded over towards midday and the Major could scarcely see the zero point when trying to register in the afternoon. We have some revolver target practice in the afternoon.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Diary Entry - 16th April, 1918

The rest of the battery move in towards evening and everyone finds themselves in very comfortable billets, much more so than the position we left, and the Major's billet, which I share, is a palace. According to news, we have repulsed all further attacks up north and have killed hundreds of Huns. Nicholson goes to the OP for 24-hours' duty and I do duty at the guns. At night, go to brigade to take over a working party to load ammunition on a train. There was a mix up about engines as usual and it was one p.m. when we arrived at canteen dump with one load.

Monday 15 April 2013

Diary Entry - 15th April, 1918

Colonel comes round early and says we are to change position with D36 so there is no use grousing but to get on with it, this being about the fifth move in twelve days. My section swaps over with a How section that afternoon and we move about 2,000 rounds of ammunition. I remain with the section for the night.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Diary Entry - 14th April, 1918

A very cold north wind blowing with a thin fine mist mixed with it. I have to go to guns, and find the position perched up on a high ridge, with the bivouacs and Mess dug into a steep bank in rear - almost too steep even for an enemy How to touch. We register in the afternoon, a difficult shoot, owing to the gusty wind.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Diary Entry - 13th April, 1918

Still cold but there is nothing doing all day. We send up a party to dig new position but, on arriving, they find they are not wanted as we are swapping over positions with Canadians near Blangy and to the north of 41st Brigade on the Scarpe

Friday 12 April 2013

Diary Entry - 12th April, 1918

Ride to Canadian veterinary section to see about some linseed and bran for the horses, but meet with no success. Spend rest of the day near a fire as there is a very cold wind blowing.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Diary Entry - 11th April, 1918

Siggers and self called up to the guns during stables to meet Major on track where we are to have four guns of the battery, the other two remaining in present position. Find the Major has left an NCO at the new position with instructions for us. Siggers goes on to see the Major and I ride back to Etrun to get authority to draw RE material from the Canadians. Am lucky in hitting the right division and they are very obliging, giving us all we want. On getting back to the lines, I go to the Canadian baths, which consists of a dribbling stream of hot water but it takes some of the dirt out.

Diary Entry - 10th April, 1918

On going round my horses in the morning find there are two wounded ones and poor Mary, who is mates with Dolly in the centre of the firing battery, has a nasty gash in the shoulder. The old gun teams were naturally very tired, which is not to be wondered at considering the march. Siggers and I ride to the guns in the afternoon, with about eight NCOs, so that they will know their way. We were greeted with a shell on arriving and there seemed to be lots of new holes about. We could only find Sgt. Laming and, on asking where the officers were, were told they were away from the position. We looked round and did not find them, so, on the arrival of another shell, again about 30 yards from us, we mounted the horses and rode off.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Diary Entry - 9th April, 1918

Set out in the rain or Scotch mist at eight a.m., marching second to D 36 lead. We feed about three miles from Aubigny, the misty rain having cleared about ten a.m., and turn up the main Arras road, which has lots of traffic on it. As we approach Acq we meet several tanks moving out of the village and across country towards Arun. The head of the column had just got into the village Acq when the Hun commenced shelling with his eight inch gun. At first we thought it was just an odd round but soon discovered that he meant business, as he kept sending them over about every two minutes and they were all bursting with a terrific smash, having very instantaneous fuses. We filed on into the village, Sergeant Keegan getting a hard hit on the arm from one chap, which burst close - but it bounced off again - and eventually began to park in a big farmyard. When the horses were all unhooked, one landed just short, 40 yards, and another just over. We began to file to water by sections at the Major's orders, and I thought I was for it, as, when we filed out, one was due to pitch somewhere in the vicinity of the road we had to go. We led out and before the tail of the horses got clear one pitched right on the first line team of F sub, killing five men, wounding four and killing four horses and eight mules. There was a shocking mess on the road and Barrett had been very close to being killed, though he came through, having a man wounded on his right hand and a mule killed on his left hand. As we were watering, a big hunk of metal landed in the water from a short, frightening all the horses, but we filed right out of the village up to the aerodrome to the south of the village. We were there for about four hours, two thirty p.m. to six thirty p.m., and I was lucky enough to get some tea from the officers' Mess of the R F C, which pulled me together as had neuralgia all day and these earsplitting bursts did not improve it. The Hun eased up a bit about six p.m. But he had put some very close to the railway on which a hospital train ran down during the bombardment. We hooked up and got clear of the village about seven fifteen p.m. and made for Anzin via Mont St Eloi, as orders had come through that we were to go into action at night. About ten p.m. we found Siggers, who had gone on ahead, waiting for us in very good covered-in standings with Nissan huts for the men, but it took some getting in as it was pitch dark. The Major and Cruickshank had gone up to the guns about five p.m. and we had to send Barrett up with the guns into action at night and they never got back with the teams till five a.m. in the morning. One gun had been put out of action by an airburst during the bombardment.

Driver Turner Robert Thomas
Driver Gregory George H            1st Line of Sub                                       All killed in Acq by HV gun
Driver Merson Charles Barkus
Gnr Barker William George

Gnr Adams
Gnr Chadwick
Gnr Cook                                                                                  All wounded in action
Gnr Spence T

Monday 8 April 2013

Diary Entry - 8th April, 1918

It rains in the morning and carries on till the evening. Stables absolutely a washout and lines very mucky. Take a walk in the evening and have a look over a fish hatchery nearby where there are some fine big trout swimming about in small pools. Orders came in about eleven p.m. that we are to move up to Acq[?] in the morning and the time of marching is eight a.m. This was somewhat sudden as we were led to believe that we were here for about three days, in spite of rumours coming in at midday that we were to move that same afternoon. They were soon knocked on the head though as it turned out they were for the 2nd Canadians and not us. Orders seem very mixed just now and we are always being changed or cancelled.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Diary Entry - 7th April, 1918

It was a fine morning and there was a church parade in the orchard just near our lines at eleven a.m, at the same time as stables was going on. One of my Gunners, Bamber, performed on the small folding organ he used to play in a cinema at one time - and he played an organ in some church on Sundays. It was stormy in the afternoon and when the Major, Siggers and I set out for Frevent it commenced to rain.We could not get a lift on a lorry so hopped on a train which runs on a small line alongside the road. We could find nothing of any interest in Frevent and as we came back saw a lot of tanks being moved down southwards on trucks, also passed a troop train the occupants of which said they had come from Italy. We got back in an ambulance all right.

Saturday 6 April 2013

Diary Entry - 6th April, 1918

Again all our plans are altered at the eleventh hour and we find that instead of marching for Arras and action we are to join our infantry at Estree Wamin[?] only a few miles away - and they are in a rest area. I march at eight fifteen a.m. with cook's cart and go through a large forest so as to get in ahead of the brigade and get the men's dinners going. The battery went quite a long way round so as to avoid colliding with the infantry. It was a lovely forest I passed through, full of splendid timber, each tree standing very straight, being about four feet in girth and up to 100 feet high. There were also said to be boar (wild) in the forest. Just on coming into Beaudricourt, I ran into the infantry and tacked on behind them. At Estree Wamin found Siggers and helped him do the billeting. There was an old Corps General (X Corps) by Morland watching the troops go through, also GOC Div Perrire at other end of town where they came in. Battery go in and we were at lunch by one fifteen p.m., quite comfortably.

Friday 5 April 2013

Diary Entry - 5th April, 1918

Friday - I missed one day. Being orderly dog, I rise at five a.m., get the horses watered and fed. We are supposed to march at eight forty-five, but receive orders at the eleventh hour that we march an hour later than previously ordered. It had been raining all the previous day and night and looked as if it would continue all day, but eventually turned off at nine thirty a.m. We march via Ascheux, Marieux and Doullens to Luscheux, watering and feeding at Sarton. There was a lot of traffic on the road, especially near Doullens, and we got into our lines about five p.m. We watered and fed on getting in then gave the men and ourselves an hour to get food and turned in to stables for an hour at six forty-five p.m. We all slept very well at night and I had to sleep on the brick floor in Mess as found Madame was occupying the bed supposed to be allotted to me. It was truly a wonderful household. There were about four daughters and one boy and they were all very friendly - in fact too much so, but produced some topping cider.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd April, 1918

Go to the OP at six a.m. but take the precaution of moving the wire 200 yards to the left and further forward and gaze through a hedge. The battery was to be relieved at ten a.m. by the 77th Bde. At eleven a.m. the relieving officer was shown up by a telephonist from D36 and brought right across the open plough country instead of coming under cover of the crest. Of course the Hun was watching and we soon had a lot of machine gun bullets whistling about us. I was not sorry to hand over and get out of it. The whole battery was clear by twelve fifteen p.m. and we proceeded to Varennes, where we heard orders had been altered and, instead of entraining, we were to march north and join the 10th Corps.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Diary Entry - 2nd April, 1918

Take stand to at five a.m. while Cruikshanks strikes off for Martinsart at eight a.m. to do liaison with the infantry. Major and I wander up to OP in the afternoon, a nasty spot which you approach in full view of the Hun across the open. We got into the spot without being sniped at and found Tucker of D36 in possession. We had not been there three minutes when a four two dropped to the left of us soon afterwards, another to the right and, when the second arrived, I realised that someone was watching or had watched us. The next was just over. and the fourth, as we left the hole, almost fell in it, so we sat behind a hedge and viewed the country from there.

Monday 1 April 2013

Diary Entry - 1st April, 1918

Major, Cruikers and Nick go up with battery to relieve the 16th [18th?) battery, who seem in a very guggah state and seem neither to care if they are captured or killed, Cruikers comes back for me and we take four guns up about twelve p.m. The position is behind a ridge to the north-west of Bouzencourt, with not a hole of any sort near it and plumb in an open field. Nick was up at the OP and as soon as we got through to him he registered all the guns on the road running up Usna Hill to Ovillers. I carried on as orderly dog while the Major and Cruikers took a walk round.

Sunday 31 March 2013

Diary Entry - 31st March, 1918

Siggers and self go to Holy Communion in town major's office. The room was overcrowded, being filled with staff officers and officers and men of divisional artillery. We heard after the service that two officers of the sixteenth Brigade, Lieutenants Fox and Perry, had been killed during the morning. We have another staff ride in the afternoon, a larger affair than the skeleton one of yesterday. Everything was successful but for a heavy shower of rain which caught us. On arriving we are told we have to relieve 41st brigade on Monday, where we stay for two days, entraining on the 5th for the North.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Diary Entry - 30th March, 1918

Go for a staff ride in the morning and take up several positions, fairly successfully, everyone seeming to be fairly free of rust. Nothing else doing.

Friday 29 March 2013

Diary Entry - 29th March, 1918

Good Friday. It fines up soon after breakfast. At stables at eleven a.m. Loll about in the afternoon, expecting orders at any time as we were all the time under an hour's notice to move, but there seems to be little doing on the front, though we hear the Huns have Albert and are somewhere between Bouzencourt and Aveluy

Thursday 28 March 2013

Diary Entry - 28th March, 1918

Go to guns at eight a.m. and arrive just in time to hear we are going to pull out. Ride back and warn the wagon lines, also send up section limbers at intervals and commence to pull out right away. The guns get down about eleven a.m. and we marched straight on to Varennes via Lealvillers and Ascheux. There was a freezing south-west wind blowing and lots of dust blowing about. Varennes is packed with troops but on hunting hard for billets we managed to get some cover for the men. It commences raining about four p.m. and we are all very pleased we have a roof to sleep under. We all turned in early and there was rather an amusing incident during the night when the major started walking in his sleep. He stepped on my pillow, crashed off onto Robson who was sleeping on the floor, all the time saying 'Get your clothes on, pack up.' It gave us a bit of a shock but, as there was no stir from the next room where all the others were sleeping, took very little notice. Then the major woke up, heard us all shouting questions at him, got back into bed and commenced laughing. He remarked that he had once before done it in another battery.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Diary Entry - 27th March, 1918

Go to advance wagon lines near Mailly Cemetery where the limbers and six wagons are all kept harnessed up in case of emergency. Was there all day and took up ammunition several times as we were doing a lot of shooting. The Hun at ten a.m. shelled the village and the orchard very heavily, blowing up one of the seven ones' limbers. A little later, he shelled the area in front of the position with eight inch but was about 50 yards short of us. I had a comparatively peaceful day and was rather amused at my groom, Driver Wrate, and a Corporal pursuing an old cockerel which strayed from the village. They eventually ran him to ground in the cemetery. There was a DH 4 on its back near me, a beautiful machine, rather crimped, but no one came to salvage it. The New Zealand artillery came into position in the evening and we looked like being relieved. Barrett relieved me and, on getting back to the rear wagon lines, I found a Bristol fighter down near the Mess. The pilot had run out of petrol. It was a lovely machine with 250 horsepower 12 cylinder Rolls engine in it which consumed 18 gallons an hour (of petrol). I was also rather surprised to find two or three heavy batteries in action nearby as nothing had been seen of them on the retreat. The battery evidently got some good targets during the day on the main Serre road and 15th battery knocked out a limber and team on the road. Then another one came along and got locked in it and it was promptly knocked out too, blocking the whole road. Many other targets were taken on with success too.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Diary Entry - 26th March, 1918

The Colonel visits us at one p.m. and gives us a message for the major which is that we have to supply a liaison officer in the morning to be with the sixth brigade at seven a.m. The major details me for the job so at six fifteen, after having walked to the horse lines, had a bite of food and some tea, I set out, with two signallers, two mounted orderlies and my horses. The map reference given us by the Colonel is wrong and after half an hour's hunt, we find we have to go forward through Auchonvillers instead of to the rear and to Mailly Maillet. I find my destination is down through Beaumont Hammel and down the road to Beaucourt. After leaving my horses in a small quarry, the signaller and self walk on down the road, meeting two infantry men only, who, though they belonged to the sixth brigade, could not find them and said they had been almost hit by a four point five How bursting on the road. Bryant and I wandered on and when only about 400 yards from Beaucourt two 4.5 How shells almost did for us, so, concluding we were in No Man's Land, we wended our way back to the horses. Just as we were mounting, a captain of the Fusiliers who was also looking for the sixth brigade, came along, so, thinking he would find them, I followed. But we only made a long detour over rough country and eventually recrossed the Auchonvillers road above Beaumont Hammel and, as we had followed the trench all the way, which was presumably the front line, I set out to remove my horses from No Man's Land and proceeded to the fifth infantry brigade whom I knew were in Auchonvillers. They tried to direct me to the sixth brigade, as did the TGOC division Major General Perrire but, as two and a half hours had been lost trying to find them, I thought it best to stick to the fifth, whom I had found by accident, and I sent a note to the Colonel to tell him what I had done. It was a memorable day full of incident. At ten thirty a.m. the Bosch was reported to be coming on in large numbers, both from Serre and across the Ancre from Grancourt and although we intended fighting, things were very grave as the brigade Major had been out on reconnaissance in front of Serre to find the people on our left. His report was that there was no one there and the 51st div who were supposed to be there could not be found. The Hun soon began to put down a barrage with one or two batteries five nine four two and pipsqueak and as we were simply in an open house with no dugout I thought we should soon be blown kite high. He made it too hot for the batteries and they withdrew to the orchard and slope behind Mailly Maillet station. The Hun was reported in the Sucrerie about eleven fifteen a.m. and pushing on towards Collincamps. This village was due north of us. Things were looking very blue, but we were determined to hang on at all costs. About twelve p.m. the Germans were reported in Collincamps. In fact, they were placing indirect fire on our men's back who held the line facing the Ancre in front of our village. Orders for withdrawal were written out but held for a quarter of an hour in case anything turned up in the way of support. Two very strong units turned up just in the nick of time and our hopes went high when we heard a division of New Zealanders were advancing to our support as well as a new type of tank named whippet. The whippet tank is about 30 feet long, about three feet above ground, with a turret at the rear end of it wherein are a number of machine guns and their main feature is their speed – 12 miles an hour or 18 miles an hour under favourable conditions. About one thirty p.m. the tanks advanced on Collincamps, followed by a battalion of New Zealanders, and they put the Hun back 2,000ards y, driving him out of this village and taking 1,000 prisoners. By three p.m. the position was well in hand and everyone was very pleased with themselves. In the meantime the guns had been doing great execution, especially fifteenth battery, who came into action to the north of Auchonvillers with a section and fired with open sights. Siggers, with a gun, also dropped into action near the cemetery (Mailly) and fired at Collincamps Avenue with open sights. In the meantime the seven ones in action near the Larry [?] were being machine gunned from their left flank and Captain Scott did great work in stopping a civilian train from being captured, by stopping them and making them go back the way they had come, but they took a lot of persuading. If they had gone on they would have been captured at Beaumont Hamel or Beaucourt and most of them were bound for Albert. At five p.m. the New Zealand Brigadier arrived very cool and collected and informed us he was coming up to relieve us and so ended a very thrilling day during which I had often thought of either being captured or fighting to the end. The brigade major Wardel was splendid and had the whole thing at his fingers' ends and in my opinion saved the situation for the infantry. At eight p.m. they were relieved and I proceeded to the New Zealand headquarters in Mailly Maillet where the Colonel met me and said I could go back to the wagon lines. It was a three-mile walk to Beausart and I can tell you as soon as I had a bite I was fast asleep, not needing any rocking.

Monday 25 March 2013

Diary Entry - 25th March, 1918

None of us needed any rocking to sleep that night. We all just got down to it in the open and needed kicking up when we were called at three forty-five in the morning. Although orders were to march via Pys and Miraumont, when we got in at night we had to turn round and get onto the Albert-Bapaume Road. As soon as the 41st Brigade got clear, the Colonel led us on through Courcelette, along the east Miraumont Road to Miraumont, but we were soon in the thick of another traffic jam when we crossed No Man's Land – this was the country we had spent miserable months on in February 1917 but it had been somewhat improved and instead of being a sea of shell holes and mud it had a coat of grass on it. We halted for two hours when we decided to try and force our way through the tightly packed road and chance a road down the south side of the Ancre to Grandcourt. I navigated our wagons down this and camped just below Thiepval where the road leads across the river to Beaucourt. We got here about eleven a. m. and were followed by an army brigade and 63rd Div. artillery, the latter seemed to be panicstricken and came past at the trot. Each battery took a section into action near Miraumont and sent the remainder of their guns and vehicles on down to Beaucourt to a point of assembly. The guns caught the Hun about two p.m. as he advanced in column of lamps [?] through Le Sars. We received orders about two p.m. to march on to Auchonvillers and establish our wagon lines and the guns withdrew about five p.m., being chased down the Miraumont Valley by 10 centimetre shells. Lieutenant Shipley was slightly wounded. As they crossed the river the REs blew up the bridges at Beaucourt and everyone made for Engelbelmer, Auchonvillers and Mailly Maillet. The guns drop into action just north of Auchonvillers about five thirty p.m. Robson and I go on duty. We do harassing fire on Miraumont all night shooting at 8000.

Diary Entry - 24th March, 1918

The situation again critical and there seemed to be some doubt as to whether our right flank was in the air or not. The morning was misty though a bright sun was trying to percolate through the haze. About seven a.m. the Huns started shelling Hoplincourt and Barrastre Woods with 5.9' hows and searching behind the woods with pipsqueaks from the south. The remainder of the dump in Haplincourt wood was soon alight and crackling furiously. Two German balloons were up by eight and seemed to be looking right down on us. At nine a.m. we opened an SOS barrage at a slow rate of fire as the infantry have to withdraw, having no-one on their right. By ten a.m. the infantry began to pour back over the ridge and others seemed to be going up from the rear in support and there looked to be a real box up. However, that was only a gunner's point of view. By ten thirty a.m. we were putting down a very heavy barrage in front of the Green Line, which just ran to the front of Bertincourt and at eleven a.m. orders came through to limber up and retire. There was a heavy smoke barrage coming in from the south and suppose the Hun was trying to advance under cover of it.  The tanks went into action just in front of our section and drove the Huns back while the section under their cover completed their firing. On going back over the ridge the Major picked us up and said as there was no more ammunition to be had he was taking the right section back to the position, so to fire off what we had left and I, with the remaining two guns, was to proceed with guide to point of assembly where Siggers had the wagons and guns. From what we could gather, things were in a bad way and must say I did not expect to see either Major, Nicholson or the section again. We found Siggers just north of Le Transloy. He had two guns in action just off the road and the wagons in a valley behind them and had lost one team and a wagon in trying to get up through Bolancourt. On getting over the Le Transloy road, we just ran into the Somme battlefield, which is simply one mass of shell holes, large and small, and, if you get off the road, it is well nigh impossible to get on again. Siggers already had a GS wagon bogged in a shell hole going down to the lines. When we got it out, we proceeded to have or try to get some lunch and await orders and about one fifteen p.m. the Major, Nicholson, Cruikshank and the section joined us, much to everyone's relief.

When lunch was over and we were looking for a way onto the Boulancourt-Guedecourt road a sudden panic started as the Huns were reported advancing on Boulancourt. We had a very rough track to go over to get onto the road and got one GS wagon hopelessly stuck and had to abandon it. The body of the four-wheeled Mess cart also smashed and had to be abandoned with a lot of kit. My kit was left, but luckily someone came along and salvaged it and put it on an ammunition wagon. We then commenced a very trying trek along bad roads which were packed with traffic and infantry all making for the west. As we went along some batteries dropped into action on the south side of the road and fired with open sights due south. At one time it looked as if we would all be captured and if the Hun had had any cavalry there we should have been. The tanks combined with infantry wallowed about the crests of various hills over the shell-pitted country to ward off any rush that might be made on our rear guard. It took us over two hours to go half a mile and the Hun was cunningly dropping some HV shells about the road, trying to cause a panic. In fact he knocked out Brigadier General Barnet Barker (5th Brigade) who was resting by the side of the road. About five thirty p.m. the Colonel came along looking very worried and decided to sidetrack us towards Le Barque and Le Sars, as there were all manner of wagons stuck in the road in front of us, they having sunk through surface and got into the gluey clay mud peculiar to the Somme country. We got onto an old road running due north and eventually came out at Le Barque where we found the traffic very much blocked too. By nine thirty p.m. we were on the main Bapaume-Albert Road, refilled at Butte de Warlencourt, bivouacked at Le Sars, with everything ready for an immediate move or action.

While on the main Bapaume Road numbers of enemy planes flew on towards Albert leaving us alone, but I shuddered to think of the execution they could have done on such a bright night with their machineguns. The road was simply thick with traffic going either way - and all horse transport too. One aeroplane would have accounted for hundreds of horses, men and transport. In fact, one machine might easily have blocked the whole road.

Driver Smith PR, Gnr Belcher J and Gnr Ford R wounded in the team which was knocked out

Saturday 23 March 2013

Diary Entry - 23rd March, 1918

We were informed before dawn that we had to be ready to cover Beaumetz which had been taken during the night and that the enemy were to be checked by us if they attemped coming down the valley from Beaumetz. This meant a 45 degree switch, which made us enfilade the position with No. 1 gun. However, we had to do the best we could and chance a premature as there was no room to move out to the right. About twelve, we caught a glimpse of the enemy crossing the ridge and got onto him with open sights at 3000 and continued to put down a barrage, searching behind the crest. Nothing appeared to happen of much importance till one p.m. when we noticed machine gun fire seemed to be coming from direction of Velu wood. Then things began to happen, shells fell in vicinity of position from direction of Velu Wood, our left rear, and machine gun bullets began to whistle over our heads. Fortunately, the wagon lines had kept a good eye on us and as they thought things seemed strange to the left had the limbers up. Orders came at one thirty to limber up and we were away in all haste in ten minutes with machine gun bullets fairly whistling around. No horses had come up for us and we footed it, meeting the Colonel near Bertincourt Sucrerie. He warned us to leave Bertincourt on our right, as the Huns were through Velu wood. Unfortunately, having no horses to guide the guns away, F subsection's gun went back the same way as they came, between Bertincourt and Velu wood and were soon under machine gun fire. The wheel driver, Dr. Davies, was killed with a bullet through the head and a centre horse hit, the team took charge but the drivers bravely stuck to their horses and eventually rejoined the battery back near Villers au Flos. The Major, Nicholson and myself in the meantime wandered off to the left of Bertincourt with our one gun and a few men getting along in haste from shells and machine gunfire. We eventually picked up a track to Ytres then proceeded by Bus and across country to Villers au Flos. The Major went on to meet the Colonel and when we got back we found the wagon lines to the northy of Rocuigny and the guns in action to the rear of Barrastre. The 9.2' gun was still searching and sweeping indiscriminately about the back areas and several lobbed close to the horse lines. The Major sent for me at the guns about five p.m. and he and self remained with the guns that night. We kept up harassing fire on Velu Wood all night. About eight p.m. the Hun was reported to have patrols in Bus and there was certainly a lot of machine gun fire coming from that direction but we could not make out what had happened to the 19th Div gunners who were on our right, as they remained absolutely silent. There was a certain amount of wind at ten p.m. and our wagon lines were ordered up to the guns in case we had to move off in a hurry. REs were busy just in rear of the position, digging a trench but all left when their task was finished at two p.m. Vosper and I had no kits up and spent the night walking about trying to keep the circulation going, as did most of the gunners.

Sgt. Beadle EW evacuated (not having got over the Beauchamp gas).

Fitter Shoesmith F wounded in action.
The abovementioned man was sitting on the gun as we came out of Bertincourt position and just behind that village as gun went off the road up a slight bank he lost his balance, fell under the gunwheel and had his leg smashed. We passed him off on a CCS at Bus, who were in the middle of packing up. It was his wish that he be put off there, but know I should sooner myself have been carried further to the rear as it is doubtful whether the horse ambulances could get away quick enough.

Dr. Davies G killed in action.

The large dump at Ytres commenced blazing about nine p.m. and was a really wonderful sight. Every few minutes there would be a huge flare lighting the sky to a dull red colour, then, a few seconds later, a muffled roar would reach us as a huge dump of shell - varying in calibre from 18-pounder to 15' howitzer - exploded. This dump burned on all night, periodically flaring up, giving off large explosions.

Friday 22 March 2013

Diary Entry - 22nd March, 1918

At four a.m. receive orders from guns to fetch up limbers and necessary transport but, as we had moved out our horses from the standings to the top of the ridge towards Bertincourt and there was a thick fog it took about two hours to get the teams turned out. It was as well the fog held or else we should have been for it going up the road in the open. Found, on reaching the rear position, that they had moved all the guns and kit back from Boar Valley with the wagons and transport they had at the forward wagon line early in the morning. But there was still some left up near the Boar position so I took a GS Wagon team up for it. All the gunners and officers were looking very tired as they had had few decent nights owing to mustard gas harassing fire and the recent days continual fire. The orders were to move back to the wagon lines in Haplincourt so Major and Cruikshank went on. Nicholson, Robson and I bring on the battery and meet Mr 9.2' naval gun bracketing the road behind Havrincourt wood, placing one round 24' plus and the next 25' minus every 45 seconds. There was no avoiding the gentleman so we went through at the trot with the result that half the kits fell off an overloaded GS wagon and the cook's cart body came unlimbered at the crucial moment. Ruyaulcourt had by the look of it been treated in the same manner a few minutes before our arrival so we did not linger there and eventually got to the wagon line, avoiding Bertincourt altogether. We thought we were for a day's rest but before lunch was over orders came in that BCs were to reconnoitre positions between Velu Wood and Bertincourt to cover Hermies which was being heavily attacked from the north. So five o'clock found Nicholson and myself leading the battery up in front to Bertincourt and eventually found the Major had a position in an old horse standing along side the seven ones. It was dark when all was ready and we turned in to a deep machinegun dug out but there was no sleep as the Colonel and various other people kept calling in all night and I turned out three times.