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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.

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