Search This Blog

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment