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Saturday 31 March 2012

Diary Entry - 29th March, 1917

Walford: We had a day's rest here and the old skins needed it. It rained all day, very heavily too, and, as Siggers and Hoyland went into St Pol, they were about wet through on their return. The whole battery were late at stables, which were at seven thirty a.m., and the Corporal of the picquet – Harwood – was put under arrest. But E subsection, one of my lot, did the usual, by being later than anyone else, so I gave them a gentle talking to and gave them two extra picquets, the worst offenders being made to suffer. Buxton passed through the town during the day and lunched with brigade.

Bee: Had a day's much needed rest as the men's feet were very sore. It was a miserable day, raining hard. Had no chance to groom, only walking exercise. Rumours were very prevalent as to where we were going but heard nothing definite.

Letter Home (Bee) - 28th March, 1917

15th Battery RFA
28th March 1917

Dear Mother and Father

Well, we have had no mail for a long time. I don't know whether I said in my last letter that I had received mittens, scarf and balaclava. I feel a regular dog with the mittens and scarf on. I think I last wrote on, and am still on, the move. So far we have been lucky not to have been on the road when it is raining, except for half a day. Rain makes it very unpleasant. The back area roads are in very bad condition. The area we are going through has had a very large amount of traffic on it. OUr men have done splendidly on the march. It is far harder for them than infantry as they get so little working. The officers get far more of that kind of exercise than the men in the artillery, but the heads, of course, don't look at it in that light. On the strength of it, they gave us a 20-mile march yesterday. It was not as if it was 20 miles you could walk straight out. The traffic was so heavy you would go a quarter of a mile and then halt and on again. My section were very cheery and sang all the way up to the last four miles. I walked all the way with them and had had quite enought of it when we got there.

Diary Entry - 28th March, 1917


Tuesday 27 March 2012

Diary Entry - 27th March, 1917

Note: I don't know where the text of this entry has gone, but I need to publish a blank - which I will fill in on my return home - in order to keep the sequence.

Diary Entry - 26th March, 1917

Walford: The clocks were put forward an hour in the night as new summertime came into force. Owing to this I was an hour late in the morning and thought my alarm watch had failed but found I had failed to put it on. It was raining when we called at six a.m. and simply poured all day. On going to stables found everyone harnessing up. There was a great rush to get the Mess packed as breakfast wasn't until six forty-five and then Hoyland and several others were as usual late. Siggers and I went around the billets and caught the battery up at Beauquesne, finding we were third in the line of march, D 36 leading. As soon as we reported to Suttie, he took us along, including Hoyland, to Douillens, leaving Evans to march the battery, as Cruickshank was billeting at Outrebois. We spent the day mostly eating and drinking. We tried to find a cinema but there wasn't one. Siggers and Hoyland both saw a dentist at three p.m. and the latter spent over an hour in the chair. We left the major at six p.m. and found the battery comfortably established when we got in and we were in the same mess. The Colonel and Thorburn went on leave. Oakley has taken over adjutant's duties and Thorburn was posted to the 71s as captain.

Bee: I was orderly officer today and we had to be on the move early. At stables at five a.m., really four a.m. It was pitch dark up till six a.m. and very warm at seven a.m. when it started to rain very steadily and kept on until midday. D 36 lead, we second and moved off at eight a.m. I came by R A car to Doullens. I have never seen anything like the way the roads are – they are absolutely cut to bits. The traffic must've been tremendous as three months ago they were in a splendid condition. Todd, the doctor met me at Doullens and we went and had my boil opened in the hospital, to try to get some culture for vaccine. It was rather a sore operation but was soon over. I had lunch with Walrond, Padraic Holden, Todd, McClellan (vet) and Colonel Birch, the wagon line Colonel. Major Suttie and his three oldest subalterns had lunch at the same place and all looked very sad. Major Grant Suttie leaves them today and goes to the staff as brigade major. We are all very sorry to lose him out of this division. After lunch I had to walk to our billets which are at Outrebois, about five miles away, and I have never seen anything like the roads in some places - well over my ankles on the road. We are at the big chateau again and the wagon line is far better than we expected.

Leter Home (Bee) - 25th March, 1917

15th Battery, RFA
25th March, 1917

Dear Mother and Father,

I am afraid I have missed the mail, but have sent a postcard, which I hope you got. Mum, I received the scarf, mitts and balaclava cap, which were splendid – lovely soft wool. I also got a pair of socks a few weeks before. You keep me well supplied and you always send some along as others are wearing out. I still have some left which your girls sent me, when I was at Vimy last June.

I must try to tell you what has happened. We have been hearing about a lot. On the 11th March, I was at the wagon line, we had been storing up ammunition at our guns. Just to give you some idea, we alone had to have some 7000 shells and ammunition, which, of course, did not walk there. It was a bit of a job getting this along through the mud, mostly drawn by packhorse and two-wheeled vehicles. The latter only carried 40 rounds and took six horses to pool.

The same day we had a bit of a show at the trench called Grevillers and Loupart. They were supposed to be rather strongly held. We captured it and got a good many prisoners. This same night the Colonel asked me if I would go as his adjutant, (sort of secretary). You know my capabilities at book work so wrote stating my case and he let me off. He was rather surprised, as it is supposed to be rather a soft job for any ordinary individual, but I should sooner be in the firing line any day. There is more paper used in the Army than anywhere I have been, but it was rather a compliment to be asked by the Colonel. We were both asked some time agoif  we would go into the horse artillery where, of course, all the nuts are, but we refused that, so they will be getting a bit sick of us I expect. Anyway, I'm glad the Colonel has found out that my character is not as bad as my friend the major made out when I first arrived in France.

On sixteenth of March the frost started again. This was greatly in our favour as it allowed our transport to move more easily. After a show on Grevillers and Loupar,t things began to move. The Hun has been moving or preparing for months and evidently thought he would catch us napping but got a bit of a surprise. Of course, when you are on the spot, everything is very uncertain. Our guns were very soon out of range. The road over this country, which has been badly shelled, has no solid bottom to it.

I heard tonight that I had to be prepared to move the wagon line. The same day I went for a joy ride over the country we were fighting on last year at the beginning of the Somme show and could hardly believe my eyes. Troneswood was a rest camp for infantry and all the roads had been made first class. Railway trains ran to Delville Wood which is ahead of Trones. The Anzacs held this area and I was very much amused at their sign posts. They call all the used-to-be towns by Australian names, such as Bendigo, late so-and-so. Of course, at the present moment, there is nothing to mark the place where these towns stood, not even brick dust. This has been used for roadmaking. To make a road you first of all have to lay timber. They generally use about 6-inch through and you can imagine the quantity needed. Then 6-inches of metal on top, but even this does not last very long. The traffic is enormous.

On 18th we moved our wagon line six miles forward. We had got established, horses unharnessed and fed, when we got orders to move again, another 8 miles further on. Our line of march was along what is known as the main Albert-Baupaume Road. The old front line used to run across this road. The Hun blew it up in three places between the front line and Baupaume, a distance of three miles. We had to go through a good part of Baupaume Junction. Here he had made a good mess of the roads, blowing up every track, the guns and vehicles bumping over the rails and sleepers being a very good test for our vehicles. We only managed to smash one, which was lucky. We finally finished up at the village called Bufillers, on country where grass was growing, and it was a joyous feeling. We arrived at our destination late at night and were glad to find the Hun had left us a tin shed which we camped in. It snowed hard all night so it came in very handy. Our men were into Baupaume shortly after the infantry and had to cut the wire across the road. The town, of course, is flat. They have blown it up and then set it alight. We were never allowed to shoot at it as the French thought they would leave it undamaged. We stayed there two nights and then came back to Albert. It was a long trek and bitterly cold. The traffic by this time was tremendous and we were held up for 8 hours by Lesars as two caterpillar engines bogged on the road, which stopped all traffic. We stopped three nights in Albert and heard we were going out to rest to be fattened up for another part of the line.

The Anzacs run a theatre in Albert, which we went to, and they gave a very good show. One man recited bits out of the Sentimental Bloke and Ginger Mick. I like both those books enormously. This show is very popular and makes a lot of money for the Australian Comforts Fund. We started on our march to rest yesterday, after having a day's rest today. It is a five days march, up into the country where we first joined the battery. I hope to see Jack, as he is up that way.

You have been asking in your last letters what has happened to Mr Gilliard. He is still in the land of the living and we always see him when on leave, busier than ever and now we are known at the War Office as Gilliard's six, being the first he had any dealing with.

I hope you will be able to wade through this. We are both splendid. The British Army has quite changed. Any fears they had of the Hun having the upper hand are quite gone and we are all in great spirits. The Hun does not know what a tonic his move back has been to us.

Very best love,
from your loving son,

Monday 26 March 2012

Diary Entry - 25th March, 1917

Walford: Saturday, Cruikshanks took my duty of OU and took a church parade of 48 men to church at ten a.m. Five of my men were late for the parade so detailed them for church in the evening. As soon as afternoon stables were over, the battery formed up and the Major gave them a little speech which was greeted with three cheers from the battery at the end, proposed by the Sgt. Major (Watford), of course. Soon after lunch I took some groups in the garden of the billet and we had not been finished two minutes when the general arrived. Cruikshank, Siggers, Evans and I went to church in the evening. The church was very empty. Carrington was there.

Bee: A glorious day. Usual routine. We were in trouble as some of our caucus burnt some timber belonging to baths.

Sunday 25 March 2012

Diary Entry - 24th March, 1917

Walford: After breakfast in bed at seven a.m., we rose and the battery moved off at eight forty-five a.m. I stayed behind with the veterinary Sergeant and six men (all with bicycles) to clean up huts, as they were very dirty. It was a cold frosty morning with an East wind but it did not take long to get fires going and burn the rubbish. About ten thirty-five the place looked as if the place had been improved so I left and told the men to follow on bicycles. I picked the battery up at Vardencourt where the brigade watered. We all pulled up in a large station yard and filed down to the river by batteries. Then we fed and ourselves had some lunch. The halt was about one and a half hours as there were only seven kilometres to go with a long pull up into the town – Puchevillers. It was three by the time we got there. We soon turned into stables, watered and fed and got round to the billets. As I had bad neuralgia, probably caused by the cold wind, I turned in before dinner. That evening the news reached us that Suttie had been posted as brigade major to the 36th division, an event we thought would take place about the beginning of May.

Bee: A very cold morning. We moved off at eight fifteen a.m. via Bouzincourt. We timed things just nicely. We were travelling last. The division RA march together. We stopped at Contay[?], pulled into the station yard and watered. This took two hours. We got fairly good billets, considering, but there was great congestion when we arrived in the village as the 46th division feet were marching through at the same time. Got settled down at three thirty p.m.  

Saturday 24 March 2012

Diary Entry - 23rd March, 1917

Walford: A cold frosty morning and after stables I repacked some kit which had been dumped at Albert and sent a sand bag of stuff home, finally reducing a biscuit box full to an ammunition box full. After lunch, Suttie, Hoyland and Siggers went down to Albert and saw the kit inside the military forwarding officer's hands. In the afternoon, Cruickshanks and I rode out round Thiepval, Hamel, and back through Aveluy wood. It was rather funny to ride through Thiepval and find it absolutely evacuated, not the sign of any feet about at all, and it was not five months since it had been taken. The cavalry were very busy viewing things and on the way home we passed some RHA and and cavalry bivouacked just below our lines. The officers were beautifully dressed in flowing long coats and everything looked very smart but we could see them with set faces and looking rather depressed when they got into the mud belt. After crossing the Iancre below Thiepval, we crossed the railway which had been completed as far as Miraumont and seemed to have a fair amount of traffic on it. We all went early to bed that night as an early start was to be made in the morning and we had to be clear of Bouzincourt by nine fifteen a.m.

Bee: Quite a decent day. I was orderly officer. We had a section out for a trial, packing. The general and Colonel came round the horses. Had nine horses sent to mobile, lame one way or another. We have had to cut things down in the way of kit but we are better off for horses than most people. All the same, we are 30 short. We start tomorrow at eight a.m. and go as far as Pushvillers, then Outrebois, then Bourers Anniy [semi-legible, probably mispelled], so we have a fair march. The Five Army could not let us go without a souvenir so at midday told us we had to draw from a dump six miles away some nets to camouflage the guns. This finally turned out to be a GS wagon load, which means more stuff has to be dumped. We have to leave our poor old piano behind, so have presented it to the YMCA, on condition that, if we are able to carry it later on, we can get it.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Diary Entry - 22nd March, 1917

Walford: At nine a.m. there was an inspection of kit and necessaries by each section commander. There was a long list of stuff to go through and it took a good two hours - and I must say that was rather skimping it. Stables at eleven thirty. The little man (general) turned up and I had to run him round until Suttie came. I was not sorry when he did appear as he was asking numerous questions. Suttie lunched with brigade in Albert and Hoyland, Siggers and self called for him there after lunch with his servant, as we were all going to the baths. Walrond came to the baths with us and both he and Suttie were lucky getting into a hot bath straightaway. There were about six officers waiting before us and it was about one and a half hours before we had a look in, as the water supply was bad. Bee and Kershaw came out while we were waiting. At five p.m. we tea-d with Walrond, Bee and Claudet, (now a captain acting) at the officers' club and went on to the Anzacs' mixed show. They put on a splendid show and we thought them very clever. The pictures were also quite good and we got out and back home about eight p.m. I forgot to add that K (Kellagher) came to a farewell dinner that evening, as the 34th Brigade were on the next morning leaving the division for the North as Army Troops. It was indeed a reunion of the 48th battery and I only wish it held good to this day, as we were a happy family.

Bee: Fine early but then snowed like fun up to eleven a.m. I had to go to Senlis to the field cashier for money. Montaubon, our battery dog, was found yesterday after being lost for nearly two months. This afternoon I had a beautiful bath. Then I went to the officers' club for afternoon tea with the 48th - Siggers, Hoyland, Walford. From there we went on to the Bonza Theatre, run by Anzacs, and a very good show they gave too. Claudet received official news that he was made acting captain. We heard we were very likely going into action at Boulie or Vimy.

Diary Entry - 21st March, 1917

Walford: I, being orderly officer, had to turn out for stables at seven a.m. The lines were a sight for sore eyes in the morning, as guns and wagons were dotted all over the place, some left where they had stuck in shell holes and yet others in very peculiar places. It was funny watering at Fritz's well, a spot which was only 60 yards from our gun position when we fought for Thiepval. The battery was to march at one a.m. but no-one ever expected to get off at that hour as things were so scattered and the men were very tired. At ten thirty a.m. I took the wagons and limber round to K dump, an ammunition depot on the northside of Pozière. As soon as they were emptied, we made for the old Aveluy lines, watering in the Ancre on the way. It was three p.m. by the time we had the horses fed and then turned out – I was glad to step into a Nissan hut once more and have a comfortable meal. After stables at four thirty, we settled down and were soon in bed after dinner.

Bee: Much finer today but still very cold. We were much luckier than the rest of the brigade as D 36 did not get in until twelve p.m. and the 48th and 71st did not get past Pozière. Heard today that we are going to the First Army who are somewhere between La Bassée and Arras. The 34th Brigade leave us and go to Army Troops. A tremendous lot of cavalry came through here today. A continual string, for three hours.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Diary Entry - 20th March, 1917

Walford: At nine a.m. we were to march, being the last of the Brigade, but as neither of our GS wagons had turned up by morning it was surmised that the road was blocked and a man on being sent out to investigate confirmed the fact. The Major sent me on to the blocked part of the road to find out from the colonel how long he thought it would be before the road was cleared. Well, I found the road jammed for half a mile just below Le Sars as far as the first crater and the beginning of the old Bosch railway. It was not long before I discovered Goschen, who reckoned they would be an hour. Well when I arrived they were trying to pull out a motor lorry loaded with 9.2 ammunition, which had gone through the road, but nothing would budge it. On investigation, I found two caterpillars with 6' hows on the side of the road, both bogged - in fact, one had just been pulled out of the middle of the road. Ther was an APM there trying to clear up the mess, but he had a hopeless task as the Anzacs took no notice of anyone. Although it was a wet day with showers evey half hour and a cold wind blowing, I quite enjoyed myself, just watching the trend of affairs. They opened up by letting all the traffic file through towards Bapaume. Well, I sent several notes back to Suttie by my groom, saying there was no hope till late in the afternoon, then chummed up with an Anzac captain running a refilling point just there. It was supplied by an Anzac light railway. This man's name was Elliot and he turned out to know Claude Anderson in Queensland well and he gave me lunch and some hay for the horses in AGS wagon, which had stood in the block all night without feeds. The efforts of the Anzac police were most amusing. They let their own people through and stopped everyone else. Eventually the Jamor came up about two pm and looked at the situation. We watched them take 60-pounders and 6" hows over the road, which would hardly hold a donkey cart and every moment we expected another gun to sink through the surface. Eventually he sent me on to arrange about a WL at Poziere and also to arrange about supplies, which were awaiting orders there. I got tea with the DAC, They offered me some lines where there were plenty of billets and good lines but which was impossible to take guns and wagons into as we should never have got them out in the morning. So we decided on a piece of ground at the back fro the DAC and erected tents for the men to doss in, arranging that we should go into a Nissan Hut which was vacant. About five the 15th Battery passed along the road so I rode on to meet ours and passed the 71s. There were bits of the 48s everywhere, mixed up with other traffic and really the traffic going both ways there that night was something extraordinary. I eventually found the Major near Le Sars and told him that we would be all right. Imagine my disgust on getting back in the dark to find the ground appeared much more holey with a lamp on it than in daylight and to the Sergeant Major it must have looked hopeless. My heart sank to my boots when I found the 71s had taken both the huts I had counted on as mine. Howeve,r it was too late to try to turn them out now and we should have to use the tents. It was luck having Meade in the DAC or I don't know what we should have done for a Mess. He turned the Clerk out of their bedroom into their office and let us have their room where we just fitted. Suttie, much to my surprise, was very amiable when we got into the Mess at twelve a.m. and I was more than glad as was not feeling like a strafe after having spent three quarters of an hour on getting two mess carts in off the road and through the mud. He slept with the DAC HQ and left us after we had had supper, consisting of some tongue, bread and a bottle of fizz, which left all of us very sleepy, as had practically nothing to speak of all day.

Bee: I was orderly officer today. A brute of a day. It was snowing and blowing a hurricane when I first got out. My first job was to reconnoitre a road out so as to save going along the railway line. I found a way which took us over soft ground for 400 yards but we managed it all right. We started to move at nine a.m. and got away well, considering the horses were so cold, as they had no rugs. After the battery were on the main road, I was sent on to see what the traffic was like. This is the only road in this area in fair order but hardly wide enough for the traffic there is on it. Just before I got to Le Sars, I found things in a hopeless condition, absolutely blocked, two caterpillar tractors bogged on the opposite side of the road and a motor lorry as well. The Anzacs also had a refuelling point at the same point. There was not enough room for a horse to get through. I tried to get off the road but my horse got bogged but as soon as I got off him he got out. By the time I got back to the head of the battery they were blocked. The road was blocked with two lines of traffic right back to Pozière. The wind was bitterly cold and our people were held up there for six hours. I was sent on to see if our old wagon line and billets were still unoccupied. I got down here about one thirty p.m. and was surprised to find everything the same as we had left it. I had a little lunch at the club and the battery head got in at six thirty. We had watered and fed by eight p.m. Kershaw came back yesterday and Oakley went to brigade to take over adj.

Diary Entry - 19th March, 1917

Walford: Breakfasted in bed at seven thirty, rose and had a look round for a road to avoid the wire and also craters, which Bosche had cunningly blown up in the streets of all the villages so that no vehicle could pass without bridging or going round the town. I forgot to add that the main Bapaume Road had been blown up in three separate places. About ten a.m. Hoyland arrived with the remaining guns and wagons so we took them round the same track The 15th and 71st had gone while the Major and Siggers reconnoitred a way for the guns we had brought up the night before. We eventually got in about twelve p.m. After lunch two GS teams were sent back for kits and harness left behind. The harness off 30 horses naturally took up a lot of room. After lunch, Siggers and I took our horses and set out on a reconnaissance. It was really a joy ride. We went through Brevillers, Behangies and Mory, all of which had been fair sized villages. There was not one brick left upon another in any one of them and they all looked as if they had been blown up. Some of them were still smouldering,. All the village roads were impassable for big mines, which had been blown and big trees had been felled across some of the sunken roads. On the main Arras-Bapaume Road beyond Behangies, the Hun had levelled every tree on each side of the road, just for pure frightfulness, I suppose, as they were all felled outwards from the road. Mory was in a frightful state, some very big craters blocking the roads and as we met wounded infanteers wandering in we thought we had better not go over the ridge. We were told the Uhlans [?] could be seen patrolling the ridge held by the Hun but he would not come out and have a scrap with our chaps but turned tail. We rode back via Bapaume and just before entering the town it began to rain very heavily, so we took shelter in the ruins of a house. The only shells we heard or saw all day were fired at Bapaume by the long range 5.9 gun which dropped them anywhere but in the town as far as I could see. Bapaume had been treated in the same manner as all the other villages and very little remained of it. When we got back we were told that we were to go back to Aveluy the following day and our hopes of chasing the Bosche were blighted. By five the rain was pouring down and with a strong westerly wind was making a nasty pattering noise on the tents. The 15th Battery Mess close by were lucky as they had found an old tin shed  which kept out the water splendidlly and they also had some dugouts in the railway embankment. And so we settled down with four in a tent on stretchers with great prospects of either being flooded out or blown away before morning and, to add to worries, neither of our GS wagons had turned up.

Bee: Sat here all day. Built a cookhouse, which was rather useful, as it started raining about four p.m. Heard that we were going back to our old lines in Albert. There must be something doing up North.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Diary Entry - 18th March, 1917

Walford: At eight, I set out for the rear position and found everyone very busy packing up when I got there and all the guns gone. I no sooner arrived than Suttie took me on to meet my horses, which he had ordered. We reached the Bapaume Road and there was no sign of them so we walked on to the WL at Poziere. here I left Suttie as had to go onto Albert to sort out some of my kit that was being dumped there. Suttie had to meet the colonel at Grevillers at one p.m. to reconnoitre gun positions. Well, I got a lorry down to Albert and just on the outskirts met Bob Simpson who belonged to the 17th (14th?)  Division and who was just going out to rest. I found Hoyland and Cruikshanks at the dump, depositing the kit and sent Cruikshanks back to Poziere. As soon as I had squared up, Hoyland and self lunched at the officers' club then I caught a bus back to Pozieres. The lunch was not a great success as the place was overcrowded. From Poziere I made along the Bapaume Road for the battery. Well, I caught them up just as they were trying to get over a track which Siggers had been trying to make passable all day. It was simply impossible and what with weak horses and bad drivers it was not very long before we were in difficulties. One gun got into a shell hole and two wagons and it was about one and a half hours before we got them out. However, we reached the spot where the Brigade were supposed to bivouac with a section and four officers. The rest of the brigade took a different track and ended up on the other side of the town to us. Well, by this, we had four guns at Destremont, eight wagons and the rest of the battery at Poziere, so we were in a fairly distributed state. That night we laid out lines on Behangies[?] in case of accidents and spent a pleasant night under canvas. All the teams had gone back to Poziere to bring the remainder of the battery over the heavy roads and because we were thirty horses short.

Bee: Got orders at four a.m. this morning, saying we had to be at Pozière, so had to alter the time of starting – make it earlier. We had to make a pretty big dump of stuff, but on the whole moved well and got off in good time. I got them settled in our lines at Pozière and everything seemed fine. I rode on to see Walrond and was very bucked as everything seemed to be satisfactory. And I came back feeling very bucked. But had only been back half an hour when Walrond rode in and said we had to move at once. I forgot to say that before this we were told that we were to be at Pozière for four days. Anyway, we got under way. The road was blocked with traffic. We left Pozière a at eleven thirty a.m and got to our destination at five p.m. We came along the main Bapaume road, which was in fairly good condition except the Hun had mined the road in three places but the RE had made a track around them. The Hun had a heavy railway running alongside this road, having carefully mined trucks here and there. We passed through the outskirts of Bapaume, which was still burning. The road from Bapaume to Boeufvillers was mined and blocked so badly that we had to come along railway line, which was a severe test to the vehicles. One water cart was badly smashed and we had to leave it. We were lucky to find a tin house that the Huns had left for a mess. A beautiful night and I slept outside

Saturday 17 March 2012

Diary Entry - 17th March, 1917

Walford: In the morning it is reported that the Hun has evacuated Bapaume, Grevillers, Achiet La Petite and Biefvillers. I go up to take charge of two guns, one the 15th Bty's the other ours and lay out lines of fire so that, in case of Bosche turning dog, we can support our infantry, as all the other guns were very much out of range. The remainder of the brigade were busy all day getting their guns back to advanced WL and in vicinity of Destremont Farm and also getting their other vehicles and stores up from the rear WLs at Aveluy. After lunch, I took a walk over the ridge and down towards Poziere and through Loupart Wood. There were a lot of villages burning in the east and some of them were giving off a dense black smoke. Every now and then the tic tac of a machine gun could be heard in the direction of Achiet le Grand. There were some old Bosch 44 mm positions just over the ridge which were very well hidden. The German planes were very active during the afternoon, large patrols coming over and flying very low and at a great speed. On inspecting the wood I found a lot of old dug outs in it which had great big trees on the roofs for bursting the shells. I was much surprised at Loupart Trench as it was very badly knocked about and the wire was also very much damaged. That evening after tea the Indian cavalry came up and about dusk passed round the corner of the wood and formed up on the plain just this side of Biefvillers. It was very boggy passing the corner of the wood as everyone had used it as a zero line and the ground was very much knocked about there. The old Indians did not like the idea of dismounting and it was not long before some of their horses were down and in fact some of them stuck fast. However, the majority got past before dark came on.

Bee:  S glorious day. I went for a ride. Had to be at RARE at nine a.m. I was writing a chestnut mare which Bromley sent back in exchange for his horse. It was very fresh and pig rooted the first two miles, much to the amusement of the ASC motor drivers. I then went on by Tritzes, Well, Mar, Ovillers, La Boisselle, Contalmaison, Bazertine le Grand, Longueval, Montaubon, Marmetz, Trecourt. The Anzacs hold this area and I saw many amusing incidents. They put up noticeboards to places – Bendigo, late so-and-so, Albury, late so-and-so. I could hardly believe my eyes. Burnefay Wood, when we were there last year, was continually shelled. It is now full of huts and has a train running there and good roads. It gives you a good idea of what work there is to be done behind the line. Just after I got back, an orderly came in with a note which said we had to move. All the teams I sent up this morning came back. We were in Bapaume early this morning and had got well past it. The Hun is making the pace too hot. There is not a gun in the division within range, only naval guns. And there are very few of them. Tomorrow, at this pace, they will be out of range. A most extraordinary show. Had a letter from the kid. Got orders to move, which was rather trying, as we had to make an advance wagon line at Pozière and had wagons and pack horses, at two gun positions. I had an order to move at once but did not worry as had no horses and knew Walrond must've made a mistake. We got the posts up for our wagon lines at Pozière and had things packed up.

Friday 16 March 2012

Diary Entry - 16th March, 1917

Walford: I remained at the guns throughout the day but about nine thirty a.m. I took the remaining gun and cook's cart down Dyke Valley onto the road without the least trouble. The two 18th Division guns were still bogged and they had men from all the brigade to help them so it does not say much for their methods. In the meantime, Cruikshanks had removed the other gun up near the Bapaume Road and had shot the Cook's cart horse, which had been reported dead the night before. He said the poor brute was simply knocked out by exhaustion as it had been frozen in the shell hole all night. In my opinion the Br, Denne\t by name, ought to have been flogged for cruelty and laziness, instead of that he was forgotten about as the next few days were very strenuous. Suttie went to the wagon lines and squared things up there returning with the new subaltern, Evans, who proved to be a middle-aged man - of 45 years. The latter's kit did not arrive, through some mix up with the 71s' Mess cart, so we had to give him some spare blankets off our beds.

Bee:  Frost last night but a beautiful day. Rode to Senlis twice. Rode the first major's horse and had a very strenuous time. It plays up when passing a motor coming towards it. Its first performance was when an army general's car came along. It went up on its hind legs and ran amok. It has evidently got rid of some of its riders in this way. It is not frightened; it is just wickedness. Anyway, I nearly killed a Hun during one of these performances. Put the wind up him but in time I hope to beat her.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Diary Entry - 15th March, 1917

Walford: A nice day and we had a large scramble to get up by nine a.m as the colonel was to hold a BCs meeting in our shack, which would just hold three of us sleeping on stretchers. The Colonel was sent for by the General in the middle of the meeting and made off for RHQ. Soon afterwards, when Suttie, Cruikshanks and Siggers had gone forward to the forward guns, an urgent message came in, the gist of it being we had to have a section ready to act as artillery supporting infantry advance guard and two guns had to be drawn to Poziere and two officers were to be ready there as soon as section was mobile. Well, we had to supply four teams and two extra teams and the battery was 25 horses short. The battery was far from being mobile. Well, had to act on this message straight away and make arrangements accordingly, this needles to say gave me a very worrying time till the Major arrived about two p.m. However, he seemed to think I had done all possible when he arrived, which was satisfactory, but I was surprised that he detailed Cruikshanks to go with Siggers, though on looking at it now quite see his point. Of course, I was keen to be with Siggers and had pictured all sorts of excitements. Well, we tried to get the two guns out that afternoon, but as the horses had to come from Aveluy WL - all the Poziere WL horses being on pack work - and they had been sent for by mounted orderly. It was dusk when the limbers arrived. So we put the two teams (20 horses) on the one gun and tried to pull them direct out by Bapaume Road, as the Dyke Valley track had been badly knocked about by gas shells the night before and there were already two guns the 18th Division stuck on this road and you could not get round them. Well the gun got almost onto the road when the cook's car belonging to the 15th Battery bogged in front of us and we had to leave it until the morning. Our Mess cart, or rather Cook's cart, got bogged in the Dyke Valley about 400 yards from the guns and one of the horses got bogged in a shell hole where they failed to move it and in the morning it had to be shot. Meanwhile the 18th Division who were in action (1 Bty) about 200 yards above us up the same valley were the whole day trying to get two guns out with two 10-horse teams. They were bogged for two hours outside our Mess and, when the day ended, had one gun bogged 25 yards from the road and the other stuck 400 yards from the Acqueduct Road, so I considered we having gone the longer way round and over worse tracks had done well.

Bee: Went to the guns yesterday. Tried to shift two guns but only managed one and knocked the horse about. Three men badly strained. I first of all went to the old position as a GS wagon broke down there last night. Our cook's cart also broke down. My groom and I managed to tie the GS up so as to get it back here. Tommie has no resources at all. His men worked on it for an hour last night and could not put it togther. My groom and I fixed it up in half an hour. But, of course, we had daylight. I then went round by Courcellette and rode right through it. It is quite a quiet little spot now and has road through it. Had luck at the guns. They have a miserable Mess, nothing but mud, which they slip on. There seems to be no limit to the depth of mud where the traffic goes over it. And dead horses everywhere. In most cases they died from exhaustion, poor things. They are all very weak. And it is a wonder there are not more crippled than there are, as there is barbed wire, iron stacks, let alone pits of shells, all over the place. I came home by Bapaume Road. There are a lot of horse on the side which have been killed by shell fire and the heavy traffic has cut that road to bits. The number of people wandering about in fatigues burying parties is very wonderful. Came back by Avaulis. The road was blocked and I thought I would go over the top and when crossing a trench my horse fell and staked himself in the shoulder. It was lucky it did not get him in the ribs. We had to put three stitches in. I had a look at the new wagon line, which the Division very kindly gave us in Poziere, it is one mass of 8-inch shell holes and very soft. Would take wagon line men a week to line it. So we are not going to shift. We are a long way back but the extra distance is compensated for by the standings.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Diary Entry - 14th March, 1917

Walford: It was a very wet morning and had been raining through the night. This was the day we were to get a gun forward below Loupart. At nine thirty, a limber team of 12 horses set out, headed by the Major and followed by Siggers and me, with pack horses. The previous day a party from each battery had worked ont the Dyke Valley as far as the Acqueduct Road and made a track. All went well as far as the Acqueduct Road and men were making a cutting off it at battalion HQ under the colonel's instructions when we arrived. I went on with the pack horses from here but met with misfortune crossing an infantry foot bridge (some 4 foot 6 inches wide) as one of the horses slipped off into the creek. It took us a good 35 minutes to get the poor chap out as the creek was fairly boggy and there was all sorts of rubbish in it. However, we eventually got him out and proceeded on our way. As soon as that job was finished, I went back to the guns, which I found putting a trench bridge over Grundy. The 50th Battery (Major Dale) were leading and crossed all right but got bogged getting onto the road near the creek. We got over all right and were well away over Grevillers trench, heading for the ridge, when the 50th came along. However, we were the first to drop our trail on this historic opening day of the Great German Retreat. After plotting out the position, we came back down the "Ladies' Leg", a valley so called because of its shape - and on crossing Grundy found Major Walrond still trying to get his gun over the trench bridge - they had already been into the trench with the limber once. They just got over as we wended our way back to the Mess, covered in mud, having done a good day's work moving a gun some two miles forward over very badly shelled ground.

Bee: Went to Senlis and got pay for the Army in the morning. Paid out in the afternoon, Nothing much else doing - still don't feel like smoking. Had a pair of socks from home.

Diary Entry - 13th March, 1917

Walford: In the morning, the infantry reported that Bosch had left Loupart trench, probably on account of the bombardment the heavies had given it the night before. The infantry were also reported to have gone over the ridge in pursuit. The next thing to be done was to reconnoitre forward positions below the Loupart Wood and in the evening I took up 15 pack horses with ammunition, dumping it in an old dugout on the road that runs across the river from Pys toward Loupart. It was rather funny walking across from Battalion HQ through old wire and trenches, which to date had been our support line. Hoyland went to the wagon lines in the morning, Cruickshanks and Siggers coming up to the guns. The latter had gone down the day I joined from 15th to get a bath and bitter end in Albert.

Bee: Got up this morning but still have an awful sore throat and feel anyhow. It is a godsend I am down here really. I heard at lunchtime today that the Hun is supposed to have retired behind Loupart and evacuated Bapaume. The major sent down for two 10-horse teams to shift two guns to our new position, 3,000 yards further on. I don't know how they will do it as the ground about there is fairly riddled with shell holes. It is nice to think that you can walk about anywhere without being seen. At Loupart they could see all the ground right back into Pozière.

Diary Entry - 12th March, 1917

Walford: During the night it rained heavily and, on waking up, I found that most of it was running into the mess. I did not get much sleep as the Bosch puts shells (gas) uncomfortably close to us and I had visions of being gassed in my sleep. The rats were also troublesome, several of them taking me for a corpse and walking over me. When they got up near my head I was rather frightened of being minus an ear in the morning. Talking about corpses, I forgot to mention that, when we first came up, they were lying all over the place, but the padre came up one day and covered most of them – most of them were pretty bleached. I went to the four eights for breakfast and the major fired about 750 rounds on Loupart wire ,which was not bad with five guns and considering the time he took. We used to go to bursts of five rounds gunfire or battery fire one second with interval. The light was not too good and it was showery. We had a new Sub posted to us named Evans. The 15th had a man namedShapland posted.

Bee: Spent the day in bed, feeling rather miserable. Had a letter from the Colonel, asking me to go and be his adjutant as Thorlburn was going to the 71st Battery. I wrote and asked if he would excuse me, on the plea of being such a fool at that work. It is thought a fine job by many, but I should far sooner be with a fighting unit any day. I will be getting into the bad books, as that is the second privilege I have refused – the RHA and then Adjutant. I hear I have been put in for a second pip. The orderly officer, Conover and Sanger were in here today. And on top of that a new Sub, Shapland, turned up.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Diary Entry - 11th March, 1917

Walford: Having slept at rear position, came up to the guns with Walrond in the morning, he going on to shoot. About one p.m. Claudet rolled up, having lost his only pair of glasses on the way, so he was somewhat blind without them. So, after lunch, I went over to the 48th Mess to see Suttie about returning and arranged that I should come back on the next morning. The 15th had dug out a new Mess, which, although it smelt a lot, was better than the trench they used as a Mess, except for the rats, which were as big as fox terriers. I tried my automatic on one without success.

Bee: Feeling rather miserable, not smoking. Claudet went off to the guns this morning. I spent most of the morning settling up canteen account and Mess. Paid out in the afternoon. They are still wanting ammunition. We had a show on Grevillers trench yesterday and evidently got all our objectives. I saw quite a lot of prisoners coming down. What is going to happen when we move forward goodness knows as the ground is awful now.

Diary Entry - 10th March, 1917

Walford: Z day. This was the morning for the attack on Grevillers and soon after four thirty a.m., when I was getting up, Walrond and Bromley arrived with the scheme for the barrage and the number ones were all busy preparing ammunition. The barrage was very simple and the rate being only gunfire 20 '. The ball opened well together, except for some other division well on our right and, although the Major went forward, the light was impossible and very little news could be gleaned. About nine a.m., we received news that all objectives were gained and about 200 prisoners had been accounted for by the division. The firing was all over by six fifteen a.m. and things seemed quite quiet. However, in the afternoon, the Bosch shelled Irles and Grevillers slightly, but the casualties were very slight. I saw some Bosch being taken down as I went to the rear position and the infanteers seemed very pleased with the barrage.

Bee: Had what they called a bath at nine a.m. after breakfast but they only gave me about two cans of water, which hardly wet me. Captain Dunlop, the vet, came round. He is acting AOVS. Our horses I believe are as good as any in the division. We are back onto 18 pounds of corn now, but they want it, all the work they are doing, on an average 9 to 10 hours a day. I pushed it home how they had fallen away on nine pounds of corn. I'm sure the whole of our horse trouble in this division is due to our ADVS major Swanston. He either takes drugs or is doolally. He certainly does not look as if he knows anything about horses and never by any chance will give a direct answer. Claudet and Armytage turned up this evening, both looking very fit but Claudet, of course, has lost two pairs of glasses between London and here. They had a bad trip back and finally got to Amiens. I have a hell of a throat today and I expect am in for flu.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Letter Home (Bee) - 10th March, 1917

15th Battery, 1917
10th March, 1917

Dear Mother and Father

I am having a very quiet comfortable time at the wagon line and have been down here about five days. I got two letters yesterday, also a cable wishing me many happy returns of the 10th February, signed Austin. I took it to be Mr Ernie and have written him tonight

It's grand to hear you are having such a good season. I felt quite warm reading your letters. Am glad to see the North station wool sold so well, but I expect it would have realised far higher prices if it had been sold before the government stepped in.

We have had a great time shifting up our guns. The Hun got back out of our range. We are still having extraordinary weather. When the Hun evacuated his old line, it was very foggy but comparatively warm compared to what it had been. Most of the hardfFrost had thawed out and the ground got rather soft. They made me OC transport. I was meant to look after getting big guns out and ammunition and, in plain English, it was a devil of a job. There was one bit from our old position to a hard road, a distance of 150 yards, which kept us busy. It took us six hours hard work with eight horses in each team to get four vehicles over this bit. I think I used more bad language that day than I ever have before. I have quite decided that English drivers are not horsemen. They have got as much idea of what a horse can do as a fly. Anyway, we are out and established in our new position and the Hun has treated us very kindly so far but we will shake him up when it comes to the scrap as our guns will hit hard from our present range.

We have had snow the last two days and frost every night for a week. I can't make this weather out at all. There has been very little rainfall this winter but I expect it will make up for it later on. I do hope we will be on much more solid country before it does get wet. The country in front of us looks to be more solid and has grass growing on it.

I had a very nice letter from uncle Chester this week. It was very good of him to write as I know how very little time he has to himself.

Tell old Aplin I hope the pipe smokes are good. I find them very good myself.

With love to all,

from your loving son, Bertie.

Friday 9 March 2012

Diary Entry - 9th March, 1917

Walford: Y Day. Slept at the guns overnight and soon after ten Bromley came up and went straight to the OP. At midday Walrond turned up, having arrived at the WL the previous night. Again it snowed at intervals, making the light bad. I remained at the guns for the night, the remainder retiring to rear position.

Bee: Walrond went up to the guns this morning and about ten p.m. the same night messages began to roll in for ammunition, sandbags and whatnots. The horses are having a bad time as we are so far from the guns – about nine miles. But there is no water any closer. A thaw has set in and the roads are beginning to show it.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Diary Entry - 8th March, 1917

Walford: X day for Grevillers. The light was good and Bromley, who had slept at the guns, went to the OP to shoot wire, and I went to the guns. The Colonel was round as soon as I arrived and seemed well pleased with affairs. We fired only 150 rounds as there were continual showers of snow. In the evening Oakley did liaison with the infanteers. Also in the evening the DAC had a team knocked out on the Bapaume road near our turn off. The Bosch kept shelling the road, searching up and down it - someone at last must have been doing some observing.

Bee: More snow last night and frost. A very cold wind all day. Just as I was coming back from Staples, I met Walrond coming up the road. I nearly fell over with surprise as I never thought he would be back before Claudet. He was full of buck and brought back all kinds of toys- a new scheme map board, two or three thermometers, registration books and whatnots. He was great on the submarine question as said had some valuable information that we had bagged a sub every day last month. Claudet, he said, had got an extension of leave for his eyes and has now to wear glasses. He will want a good many pairs as he will break such a lot.  

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Diary Entry - 7th March, 1917

Walford: A cold East wind blew all day and it was inclined to snow. Bromley went to the OP and tried to shoot, after coming down from the OP I went to rear position where I remained for the rest of the day. In the evening the wind was still high and it looked like more snow. Major came back to the four eights, Major Carrington having returned from leave.

Bee: I intended going up to the guns today but Bromley wrote and said Walford was with them so I did not. I can walk all right but it is still a bit sore. I went down to the 34th Brigade to try to ring up Bromley and while there Colonel Groschen came in, so it saved me no end of trouble. He said there was no use going up till it was quite all right, which rather consoled me, as I rather feel I ought to be there. He told me that each brigade is to have a cavalry colonel to look after the wagon line, which in my mind will cause a lot of friction. His name is Colonel Beach, an old grey-haired man.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Diary Entry - 6th March, 1917

Walford: Remained at old position all the morning and on going up to forward position in the afternoon, Thorburn came round and told me I was attached to the 15th battery until Claudet came back, as Bee was ill with boils and they only had Bromley and Oakleigh to do duty. So at four p.m. I relieved Wallace of the 50th at Brigade OP. In the evening, the Bosch sent over a salvo of five nines into Happy Valley, wounding Dean and four other men of the 71s. None of the wounds were serious and I believe Dean walked to the dressing station. However, he was sent to the base.

Bee: Still all day. Walked down the lines at stables. The boil gave me fits the first part of the night but after that it burst and I got some sleep so I am lucky in many ways.  

Monday 5 March 2012

Diary Entry - 5th March, 1917

Walford: Proceeded to the guns at eleven a.m. It had snowed in the night and there were about three inches of snow on the ground. It was too misty to shoot. Siggers and I relieved Barrett at the guns. The latter proceeded to the wagon lines to pay out. In the afternoon we shot 200 rounds on the wire as the sun put its nose through the mist at midday and a thaw set in.

Bee: It snowed all last night, about a 3-inch fall. Goodness knows what it will do next. It started thawing hard about midday. I had to throw in the sponge today. My boil got very sore. Todd came and saw me and sent me down to the wagon line. It is very hard on Bromley and Oakley, but I can't get about and am only miserable up at the guns and down here I ought to be able to give it more attention. Claudet ought to have been back yesterday but has not turned up so far.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Diary Entry - 4th March, 1917

Walford: At dawn went to Brigade OP, a new spot just in front of position. It was an old dug out - the old Bosche front line (Galwitz). It was a much better spot than the old one, although it only had the one entrance, Bosch not having had time to connect it up. This place commanded a good view of Grevillers Trench (present Hun line) and at eleven thirty a.m. Siggers came up and we cut wire and registered two other guns which had come up the previous night. As the 15th battery made things too lively for us there with prematures, we moved forward and to the left in the afternoon and then the 71s almost got us with a premature. It had been a good day and the batteries did a lot of damage to the wire through the day.

Bertie: Very cold and bright today. I was here all on my own. The only people left here now are 14 drivers who work the pack horses. Bromley and Oakley are at the guns. The 60–pounder has been hard at it all day and has only moved 30 yards. But they are leaving their mark behind them. The Padre came and buried the two men today.

Letter Home (Bee) - 4th March, 1917

15th Battery, RFA

4th March, 1917

Dear mother and dad,

We are going very hard at present, but all for a good cause. I expect you have seen by the papers sometime ago what the Hun is doing. I think it a good sign that the end is not far distant. We are pushing up some distance from this position, as he sent us back so far he got out of range.

It has been very foggy lately and we are having heavy frost again. I have seen a lot of the battlefield lately, which is not a pleasing sight. How the poor old infantry lived at all during the cold weather I can't understand. I did not think the human body could stand it, but, of course, some of the poor boys didn't. The Hun was a little better off than we as he had a few trenches.

Our old position is quite a health resort at present. We have horses on a line at it and you can walk about as if you were at home. The moving of vehicles is an awful job. I have been left behind at the old position to try to move the ammunition. There is 200 yards of mud to go through before you get to the solid road. Yesterday we started at eight thirty a.m. to get eight wagons out. We had 10 horses on each wagon. The last we got out at five p.m. in the afternoon. Of course, our drivers are no horsemen, which makes things worse. They are all right on the straight road but when it comes to using a bit of gumption they are beat. I had to mount the off wheel in every case, but one does not stand much chance in a team of 10. There is one big gun which has been struggling for two days and has only been moved 50 yards – and it has 10 heavy draughts on it. I would give any money for a team of bullocks at this present moment. They would be just the thing. The caterpillar motor tractors are no use even in this stuff but let's hope it is going to lead us on to fresh ground. We will make him hum.

I am afraid this is very short, but time these days is limited. Walford is back and looks well; in fact, we are both in good form, still taking three meals a day

Mum, I got post this week - a pair of socks, a balaclava, mittens and a book.

Best love to you all,

from your loving son,


Saturday 3 March 2012

Diary Entry - 3rd March, 1917

Walford: I remained at rear position all day. There was a cold east wind blowing and the Bosch planes were very active during the afternoon. After dinner, I went up to forward position to sleep and relieved Barrett, who had been there all day.

Bee: This has been a big day. Hard frost last night and hazy most of the day. Nearly everybody is up at the new position now. The last two guns went up this morning. I was left to get the wagons out. Two guns and eight ammunition wagons. There was 200 yards of mud to get through before getting onto the hard road. The two guns got out splendidly with a 6-horse team when the ground was solid. At eight thirty a.m. we started on the wagons. The first two got through all right with 10-horse teams. About this time we got news of an explosion at the forward position. It appears Sergt Viller, Bomb. Howell and two others were getting some timber out of an old truck. They evidently hit a shell with the pick and off it went. Viller and Howell were both killed and the other two men wounded. Afterwards found this trench was full of ammunition. It must have been an old battery position. Well, we were hard at it with the wagons until five p.m. I have never spent a more tiring day for a long time. I never realised what poor horsemen our drivers are. They seem to have no idea of driving. It took us three hours to get one wagon out of a shell hole. I rode on the off leader in most teams. Every vehicle which came over the track made it worse. And you could not get another track without going into shell holes. The latter are fatal as they are frightfully soft even if dry. One team carefully put a wagon into a shell hole which took us three hours to get out. There was a 60-pounder, which only moved 10 yards in 7 hours, with 8 heavy draughts in. Besides sticking in the mud they blocked our only way. Anyway now our ammunition has to go out on packhorses, eight rounds a horse. It is slow but sure.

Friday 2 March 2012

Diary Entry - 2nd March 1917

Walford: In the morning I walked to the advanced wagon lines to see that all was well and that they were not doing any damage. The roads were very heavy and were cutting up under the continual frost and thaw 
which have been going on the last few days. After lunch, I went to advanced position and gave the section the lines of fire with No. 4 director and after doing so checked the line by walking onto the hill behind and reckoned they were two degrees out. Siggers registered and they worked out to be two degrees thirty out, so my guess was pretty good and, as the 15th Battery laid their lines with same director and had same error, we put it down to the error of the compass. After dinner, as ammunition had not arrived at forward guns, I had to go out and hunt for them. On arriving at the position, I found only one wagon had arrived. The others had stuck at the bottom of the valley and had dumped the ammunition there. I followed the track right up to the Bapaume Road and found ammunition dumped at intervals along the track. The track was very heavy going and most batteries had had trouble. I came home via a road at the east end of Courcelette where a lot of men were engaged in pulling 6” howitzers into position in the quarry and, as it was raining, they were having a lot of trouble.

Bee: Very foggy all day but still had to hang about for what good I couldn't see. But, thank goodness, after today, we hand over all these jobs to the 41st Brigade.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Diary Entry - 1st March, 1917

Walford: Thursday, I was feeling far from strong when I got up, and I stayed at the guns most of the day, while Siggers cut wire from SN2. At four p.m teams arrived with limbers (10-horse teams) to pull the guns up to new position. At five pm Sergeant Major and I set out from Pozieres down the Bapaume Road for a track which we were to find leading off on the lefthand side. There was a lot of traffic all morning, the same way as we, and, as the Hun had been shelling the road about an hour before, I thought we might get it in the neck as it was very clear, so we opened out to 20 paces' interval. Some one and a half miles down the road, we met a guide, and Sergeant Parkes and hit off across country. It did seem funny to be going along this road crowded with lorries and other traffic when only three days ago it would have cost you your life if you appeared down there on a horse in daylight. The infantry had done a lot of work filling in shell holes and making the ground possible to take guns over, but, as we passed through an old Bosch 4.2 position, I was rather frightened we should have an accident by running over one of these shells and we had quite a business clearing a pathway through them. On arriving in the Dyke Valley, a lot of gunners were awaiting our arrival to help us over the really bad ground but am glad to say we did not need their assistance. Hoyland arrived when we had the guns in, along with Bromley. The were breathless as had heard we had missed the guide and were proceeding along the road through Le Sars. That night when we had waded back through the mud, I was very tired and glad to see bed in sight.

Bee: The valley is becoming very lively, a tremendous lot of movement. [Illegible] coming in and 18 lbs going out. Ten horses to our guns. But I never realised our driving was so bad before. Tommie is of course not used to horses, but really he is a perfect fool and will not realise that he has a gun coming some distance behind and generally topples into an eight-inch hole. Six horses, well handled, would take out a gun, in my mind. But I suppose one can't have everything. Bromley and Oakley went off early to the new position. At two p.m Brigade rang up and said I had to man group OP, which was rather a knock, as it left no officer in the battery. It was a perfect night and found the OP crowded with people. Our front was fairly quiet. The people on our right had a bit of a show, which also brought fire onto our front. The Hun sent up no end of green and red rockets, as a result of which some smart person sent into Brigade that our SOS had gone up. But was merely the Hun lights miles behind the line.