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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

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.

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