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Saturday 30 June 2012

Diary Entry - 29th June, 1917

Walford: Todd came in to lunch and Siggers arrived soon afterwards, having been relieved of his duties by Murdoch, who had returned from Paris leave. We went in to Arras at five p.m. to try to see the Dudds, but could not get a seat, so went to the theatre and saw the cinema and Charlie Chaplin. Again we dined at the club, where I met Chas Hawker, and walked out at ten p.m. That evening four guns pulled out and Cruikshank came down.

Thursday 28 June 2012

Diary Entry - 28th June, 1917

Walford: At four p.m. as the Oppy business was on, Hoyland and I rode up to the guns to take part. As we went over the ridge in the trench, on looking over the parapet to locate some crumping going on, we were more than displeased to see it was in the vicinity of our destination. We waited till it stopped, then walked on. As soon as we got into the sunken road, we saw that the majority of the rounds fell in the road and about the Mess dug outs. My luck seemed to be out as, whenever I have been near this position, the shells have greeted me. Both the men's cook house and our own had been knocked out but, by a miracle, a barrel of beer between the two places was untouched. Beyond this, little damage had been done. The shelling had been brought on us by two 6-inch howitzers, which had come into the sunken road a few yards beyond the Mess. Their flash is enough to give any show away. The barrage commenced at nine ten and strangely it met with little or no opposition from the Bosche and we never had a round near us for the whole 40' firing; very different to our previous battles, when we were shot at the whole time. The business was a success and our line pushed well into Oppy Wood. The line straightened and the Hun lost 200 prisoners. That night we rode down. It was very heavy going as two very heavy showers came on during the attack. During the firing No. 1 gun pit had a little excitement as it caught fire, but the detachment soon had it under control. After the shooting, the Hun fired on the 6' howitzer, without success.

Diary Entry - 27th June, 1917

Walford: Wednesday. At nine fifteen a.m., Hoyland and a supply officer of the ASC named Robinson (Capt.) set out for the battery, the latter really on a joy ride. He had never seen the trenches before. It was a warm day with thunder hanging about. After lunch, I went into Arras to draw the pay and then on to Roclincourt RE dump, to see about some paint for the transport wagons. It rained heavily while coming out of Arras but was steaming hot again before going a mile. About five thirty, Hoyland and Robinson returned, having spent their time up in Arleux Loup, shooting the new 106fuze. This is a direct acting fuze[?] used this summer with tremendous effect by heavy hows up to 9.2 inch on back line wire. Their opinion was that they could note no difference to percussion shrapnel at 2000 yards but at 3500 yards it detonated with tremendous effect, especially on brick houses, one of which they hit in Neuvirieul.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Diary Entry - 26th June, 1917

Walford: Tuesday. Siggers came down to tea and we went in to see the rest of Beau Belles, as we had only seen half of it, arriving late the night before. Having Hoyland in the party, we were again late, only arriving some few minutes earlier than on the previous evening, and this time the man gave us a box free, for some reason of his own, but we enjoyed it again. Siggers as acting adjutant had to return to the brigade, so Hoyland and I had dinner in the club.

Monday 25 June 2012

Diary Entry - 25th June, 1917

Walford: In the morning, I took Ginger out for exercise and rode over towards St Eloi and had a look at the RNAS Aerodrome, where the Triplane Squadron hail from. It was really wonderful to see the way these machines rise off the ground and climb. They are up 1000 feet before they turn after leaving the ground. They also landed very nicely. Arrived back at the battery at eleven a.m., had lunch at eleven forty-five, went off on the one-eyed horse at twelve forty-five for the Army show at Chateau de la Haye, along with Hoyland and Hortage, the latter we picked up at St Eloi, near the ruin. The show was beyond all imagination and the turn outs would take a lot of beating, even at Olympia. We were there until four thirty and saw the grand parade, judging of officers' chargers, officers and section jumping, as well as other odd events. There were some beautiful chargers shown and a very nice little chestnut took the prize, after a lengthy contest. The judges even rode each horse round the ring several times. We hurried back at four thirty, just missed seeing the Prince of Wales and Sir Douglas Haig arrive and, after tea at the WL, we went into the theatre Bowe Belles. This was also a most excellent performance, the best I have yet seen in France, and the men who did girls' parts were extraordinarily good. The theatre ran from six p.m. to eight p.m and when it came out we three met Siggers and the Padre (Holden) at the officers' club, where we finished up the day with a good dinner. It was raining at ten thirty p.m. when we commenced for home and, having no coats, we thought we were in for it, but were lucky in getting a car at the five crossroads or the Octroi, which took us to our doorstep.

Diary Entry - 24th June, 1917

Walford: Sunday. We sent 24 men to Church at Ecurie to the Cinema hall. Hoyland and I also went and met Siggers on the way. I forgot to add that he had gone the previous day as adjutant while Murdoch went on leave to Paris - he was looking for the church. We were all late but stepped into the service bravely. It has been a good day and we rode up to Roclincourt in the afternoon to collect RE material. After coming back, as Ginger was a little fresh, I took him over the jumps and he cleared them splendidly. My new horse is a remount who only has one eye, but he is a nice little bay with white stockings and better than old Tommie who was very badly gone in the legs.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Diary Entry - 23rd June, 1917

Walford: Saturday. Bellew went on leave soon after breakfast. The day looked promsing and managed to hold out for the sports at four p.m. It wasn't a very thrilling show, though the Officers' mule jumping, bun and treacle race and hundred yards were quite amusing. The battery kept up its reputation and took its fair whack of prizes. Dr Jackson and Dr Barwick of my section took second prizes to the seven ones, who had been preparing harness for the Corps sports for weeks, and I must say their harness looked well. Anyway, if no-one else enjoyed themselves, Thorburn and Gough did, as they seemed to run or try to do most of the running of the events. My mule was a failure in the jumping and the gray Cruikshank was riding never ran up to expectations, though I think if it had had the right man up on it, it would have won.

Friday 22 June 2012

Diary Entry - 22nd June, 1917

Walford: After lunch, it rained until four p.m. and the brigade sports, which were to have been, were put off. Murdoch came down and stayed with us most of the afternoon, returning after tea. Cruikshank had come down the previous night to ride a grey mule in the sports, so we all went into Arras at five to try to see the cinema show, but it was over full so had to try for a seat in something else. We eventually found a show run by a hospital, which was quite good. We stayed there too long and lost our table, which we had reserved at the club, but we got seats all right. It was a clear evening and we walked home.

Diary Entry - 21st June, 1917

Walford:  Thursday, Hoyland spent the day at the guns on business with the Major. I was doing Orderly Officer so rose at five thirty a.m. The day turned out showery.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Diary Entry - 20th June, 1917

Walford: After lunch, Hoyland and I rode over to Mt St Eloi to see some Corps Sports taking place that day. On entering the ground, I ran across Kirby, a man I had trained with at Ipswich. He was with the 31st Div and had been to Egypt with them. We stayed until five and saw some quite good jumping, the VC race and pig sticking. It seemed quite a well-run performance and there were some very good turnouts there. The 9th Battery took the best gun or wagon turnout. On our way home, we hunted for RE material at Marveuill, without success. The four of us dined at the officers' club in Arras that night - quite a good spot, but it was a rotten night, pouring with rain, and Bellew and I, who walked, got very wet, but Siggers and Hoyland, who had been to Roclincourt about some business on horseback, arrived drenched. However, we had a good dinner and we walked out through the mud and slush and felt very hot on our arrival, as it was a warm night, in spite of the rain.

Monday 18 June 2012

Diary Entry - 19th June, 1917

Walford: We had a good peaceful night and awoke to find ourselves very near our destination. At six thirty a.m., we detrained and got onto a motor bus waiting by the way. This took us to Roclincourt. By the time we got out, it was raining, a thunderstorm having blown up, so I walked to Brigade where I could be sure of a breakfast, as was not sure whether the battery was back or not. Todd and I walked for the wagon lines at ten a.m. and nearly got drowned in a heavy thunder shower and large lumps of ice and hail. I found all the battery in, on quite a decent bit of ground not far west of Madagascar corner. That night three guns went up into action, Cruikshank taking on an advance party to knock the old position into shape. Sandford, Nicholson and Cruikshank were the three officers, the rest of us remaining here.

Friday 8 June 2012

Diary Entry - 8th to 18th June, 1917

Walford: Friday. Being at Aire at the 1st Army School to catch the leave train I had to ride about 7 kilometres to Berguette and catch the train from Bethune. It was very warm and on arrival of the train I was pleased to find Armytage and Connover on board - and they had a carriage too. The trip over was as usual and on arrival at Victoria I picked up Mim at 54 Victoria Street, where she was doing war work, and, after called at Coxes, went straight to Craven Hill Garden, where I found Mim had moved everything to from Batts, which was a pleasant surprise. Saturday morning, we rushed in a lot of shopping, and at five p.m. set out for Slough to stay with Mrs John Manifold at Farnham Common. The rest of my days were spent here, except one, when I went up to London to the dentist and had two teeth done. The stay at Highlands was very peaceful and pleasant and one afternoon we made a jaunt to Maidenhead and took a launch up the river, which was beautiful. Then there was only one other day when we had the car out, to Penge, to call on some people. All good things have an ending and on Sunday evening Mim and I wended our way back to London, much refreshed by the country air. The following morning Mim escorted me to the station and pushed me reluctantly off by the eight fifteen. Boarding the boat, I was again glad to meet Connover and, after circling once in mid channel while destroyers covered our retreat, we eventually got over without trouble. We passed a muggy afternoon in Boulogne, then caught the seven forty-five p.m train for Ecoivre. Connover having much luggage - mostly for the Colonel - he distributed it well and we had the carriage to ourselves, being able to stretch out on the seats. Armytage did not put in an appearance, but one never expected him to, as he never turns up to time.

Monday 4 June 2012

Casualties and Awards

The second volume of my grandfather's diaries has just come to an end and at the back of it he listed those he knew up until today's date in 1917 who had been casualties or had received awards for gallantry. Here are the pages containing his lists - sorry for the doubling up in the photographs, due to not being able to fit things neatly into the camera frame:

Diary Entry - 4th June, 1917

Walford: Hoyland arrived at ten a.m., having done a tour of France on the railways. Bellew on duty. Sandford goes off on leave at one p.m. A vet Colonel comes round after stables and looks at the horses, evacuating five myths for skin disease - I suppose he has to keep his job by always finding cases.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Diary Entry - 3rd June, 1917

Walford: Nicholson O.O. A harness inspection at two thirty and we have to pick out harness from gun team first line and firing battery to compete in open prize given by Major. I also offered a prize 10 francs 1st, 5 francs, 2nd, for each subsection and for anyone coming in a place in the Major's prize. Besides prizes for the harness, there were some for horses and the left section did so well that I had to pay out 75 francs when it was over. There was one prize for horses. F Sub ought to have had it, but the Major gave the decision to another pair.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Diary Entry - 2nd June, 1917

Walford: Saturday. Orderly officer. Still off colour - almost flop while shaving. Determine to see the doctor as eyes go wrong, everything is a blur. Eventually find him in at six. He is a good old chap and fixes me up splendidly.

Friday 1 June 2012

Diary Entry - 1st June, 1917

Walford: Cold rather better but still off the oats. During stables at eleven a.m the army vet came round the horses and ticked off Sergeant Lundie, our veterinary sergeant. A small stores inspection at two in the gun park, and we were all surprised to see we had not lost more stuff after what we had been through. Sandford, Bellew and self had tea in the town. After dinner, Nicholson and the others went to see a family, the daughter of which said she would teach them French.

Diary Entry - 31st May, 1917

Walford: I am orderly officer: reveille at six a.m., inspection parade at eight thirty, taken by the Major. Horses for the riding school parade at eight forty-five. As the horses were watering at midday, John turned up in a Ford box car. He seemed fit and looked well enough. We did not have much entertrainment for him. However, he stayed till tea and then went off to the line, as the section was moving up from a near position. As neuralgia worried me during the afternoon, I went to bed without dinner. A cold in the chest was giving me beans, as every time I coughed the neuralgia gave me fits,. However, the medical orderly gives me some good pills.