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Friday 30 November 2012

Diary Entry - 30th November, 1917

This proved to be a more exciting day than it first appeared. On having breakfast soon after eight, noticed a rather heavy barrage going on in Bourlon wood and there seemed to be a lot of smoke coming out of the trees. About eight forty-five, the Huns put down a very heavy barrage north of the wood, mostly composed of five nines. Although this was all unusual, we went about our duties in the usual way. Siggers was coming down at eleven and we also expected the Colonel round the lines during the day, as he had just got back from leave on the previous day. Siggers told us the Hun was attacking and that they should need a lot of ammunition. However, before he left and as we were going up to communicate with the battery by phone, Armytage, who had field glasses on the front, remarked as we passed that he saw about a battalion running back from our front line and they looked very like our men. Almost immediately a mounted military policeman belonging to the 47th division came down the road and shouted that all transport was to move to the other side of the village at once. Well, things were beginning to happen. Barrett was sent out to locate a new spot for a wagon line and batteries higher up the valley were already commencing to move. In the midst of all this, a Hun plane was brought down just close by by a DHS and he landed quite well. Some despicable creature had taken our Mess cart in the night and we located it moving off with a 62nd divisional battery but did not have time to tell the OC what we thought of him as there was only a bombardier in charge. Siggers returned to the guns and a message soon came down ordering all limbers to be sent up to a crossroads quite near D 36 battery, so we got them under way. About twelve thirty p.m. a message came by dispatch rider ordering the 36th brigade wagon lines to the Place de St Hubert, a spot some two miles behind Roclincourt. I went on to reconnoitre the position, Driver Capstick, Barrett's groom, having come back in the meantime. Well, we eventually got into a fairly good position there at about dusk, with nice water troughs quite close by, but as we came up the valley the Hun was putting some big velocity shrapnel at its mouth and it was not too pleasant. There seemed to be a lot of 60-pounders looking for a resting place on this road and they eventually dropped trails on the roadside just below us. As the night grew later we gradually realised what a precarious position we were really in. To get out of our position there was only one road over which we could pass and that was by Metz and thence to Ruylcourt. The Metz Trescault Havrincourt road was already blocked as it was under shellfire. It appears the Huns had broken through the 56th division's front and they had taken Gouzeaucourt and advanced to a wood about one and three-quarter miles east of Metz and taken goodness knows how many prisoners and guns, including two 4.2 inch howitzers. Rumours were flying that he had taken at least 8,000 prisoners and 120 guns. Rumours had it that RA had moved, and the DAC, so no one knew what to do about filling up with ammunition. However, Major Claudet and Captain Hewitson went out scouting for the different two HQs. I eventually got into bed about midnight. The limbers got back soon after dark and both Shapland and Barrett turned up together.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Diary Entry - 29th November, 1917

A good day. The DAC bring up eight wagons of ammunition to the battery position. We spent the day trying to straighten out the lines and clear the mud away from the standings. The 15th and 71st batteries move over a small crest onto the Havrincourt-Cambrin road but in my opinion they do not gain anything, though they seem to think they do. Water troughs are in course of construction up there and are almost completed – four large square tanks built of canvas.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Diary Entry - 28th November, 1917

It turned out fine and the sun put in an appearance. I did not feel very strong and put it down to the deep dugout and the smoke inhaled on the previous night. The men get on building bivouacs in the side of the bank but most of the time is taken up watering horses from four tubs in the village, this performance taking a good part of two hours - and awful dirty water it was too. However, there was no other to be found. In the afternoon, we sent eight wagons to Ruyaulcourt to refill with ammunition, it being a good six miles around by Metz and Trescault. I pay a visit to the guns just about midday and find it can easily be reached on foot in 15 minutes. They all seem very comfortable so I stop to lunch with them.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Diary Entry - 27th November, 1917

Tuesday found us at three o'clock in the morning wet to the skin trying to pull two teams out and we had a devil of a time as the skins did not like turning their heads to the snow but the Sergeant Major persevered and we eventually got them out. Again pulling into the wagon lines there was a rotten, boggy approach to it and we had to double back all the dudd teams to get into the lines. Four o'clock found us just about chilled to the bone, trying to find cover. Luckily we were one of the first lot in and found several mineshafts just started. In one, we found just enough room to get down to it, so we bagged it for the night. The men all got into these shafts somehow and they were covered from the driving rain so we were lucky to get in early as the other people never got anything at all. It was raining when I stirred out at eight a.m. and the cooks were having a hard job to get the fires going. In fact they never got tea made until ten fifteen a.m. The next thing was water for the horses. There was a dirty pond in the village with four tubs to water at and it used to take hours to fight your way near the hole. There were so many horses about. Of course, we had no food, as expected to go to the wagon line first, pull out rations there and send the basket on to the guns. The bulk of the Mess stuff was to come on in the big Mess cart with Shapland and the two M S and a GS wagon starting that morning. Well, I thought I would try and gain some information from 62nd divisional battery so wandered up to their Mess and the captain there offered me breakfast, which, of course, I accepted and it seemed one of the best breakfasts I have had owing to the fact that we had no dinner and very little tea on the previous night. There was very little to learn, but I met another Australian by the name of Westcott there. He's with the 71st battery. I went up to the guns on foot for lunch to see how they had fared and found they were fairly comfortable in a tin shed situated in a trench. However, we were fairly well off in the evening as I found an old Hun machine gun dugout and we had a good shaft at the bottom of it to stretch out in. The rations with Shapland never got in until after eight and we were left in the dark without any candles till they did turn up and nearly succeeded in smoking ourselves out by making a fire in the dugout to give us some light. In the end we turned in and went to bed without any dinner just about falling asleep when our heads hit the pillows.

Monday 26 November 2012

Diary Entry - 26th November, 1917

We were reasonably comfortable, having a Nissen hut, also huts for the men and stables for the horses. In the afternoon Cruikshank, Nicholson, Shapland and myself took a ride over the open country. We could not resist it as had never seen anything quite so open in France. We were more than annoyed on getting back to the Mess at four thirty p.m. to find an order there saying we were to go into action that night. At five p.m. an order arrived that we were to move off at six thirty p.m. It was a tremendous rush to get away but the whole brigade managed it. We marched via Bertincourt, Ruyaulcourt, Metz, Trescault and came into action just east of Havrincourt. It commenced snowing as we came through and, after two hours of it, down came the rain. The whole brigade trudged up into action and we had guides from 62nd division RA, the positions being pegged out with pieces of wood. The guides had difficulty in finding their way in the snow, but we eventually hit the positions, all in a small valley. Needless to say, it was getting very sloppy and the going was very heavy, especially up a long slope from the road, and two of our wagons stuck

Sunday 25 November 2012

Diary Entry - 25th November, 1917

The train journey was quite comfortable and when we woke up at Aubigny we found there was only about 12 miles to go. After leaving Arras we passed through what was the old frontline before the retreat from Bapaume to the Hindenburg line. Achiet le Grand was reached about nine thirty a.m. but we stopped there over an hour before proceeding to Bapaume. On reaching Bapaume we disentrained and, after watering and feeding, awaited our orderlies who had proceeded by an early train to find billets and come back and guide us to them. After waiting three hours and finding no one, Siggers sent me on ahead to Haplincourt to see if any of the artillery could be found. Sure enough we found the 15th installed and also dug out our two orderlies who were made to leave their bicycles at Achiet and come on in a motor lorry. Sent Wrate back to guide them on and went back myself when I had seen the lines and billets. We eventually got in about seven p.m. It was a bad entrance and had some trouble pulling in.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Diary Entry - 24th November, 1917

We had taken the precaution of having the vehicles parked on the side of the road so that we would have no trouble about getting bogged but a wretched motor lorry trying to get into 41st brigade HQ in the afternoon bogged right against our No.2 gun. At five p.m. we moved off, but No. 2 wagon team stuck and I led off and halted some miles up the road until they all got through. By the time all vehicles had joined up with the column, we had lost an hour and a half. Siggers came up and said we would wait till supplies caught up, as they were the last to pass through the bad spot and he had ridden on as soon as they were through. Well, as it turned out, they gave more trouble, the two grey horses being inclined to jib, so Siggers took the battery on, while I brought them along in the rear. We called the Hun up about two miles through Steinvoorde, but I made them step it pretty hard. We had a good march and found on arriving to the minute that the RTO would not be ready for us till ten thirty so we parked all the vehicles near the railway siding, watered and fed and waited for our train to pull in. We commenced loading at ten thirty p.m. and had finished and begun dinner at one a.m. The men worked splendidly. Everything went without a hitch. We put on a section of the first section of the DAC as well. The train moved out at two a.m. Each section had one truck to themselves, the officers had a carriage, NCOs two and our servants one. We had brought along some Tommy's cookers and they proved very useful in the train as the servants cooked meals and passed them in through the window.

Friday 23 November 2012

Diary Entry - 23rd November, 1917

Marching drill in the morning and redrilling of NCOs. Six men evacuated, this all being arranged between Todd and Siggers. We were over strength and some very good reinforcements have been posted to us. I find our movement orders have arrived on reaching brigade and that we entrain at Cassel on Saturday night and detrain at Bapaume. In the afternoon Siggers, Connover and self ride to Cassel station to reconnoitre the road. Arrive there about four, have tea in the town, and get back about seven. It seemed a long ride but there was a strong wind blowing and I suppose that made the ride more tedious. We stopped at Steinvoord on the way home and did some shopping.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Diary Entry - 22nd November, 1917

After inspection parade at nine a.m. gun drill and marching drill for the gunners while the horses are out on exercise. During this parade I go to brigade and see Todd about some men we believe to be swinging the lead. Mills comes over to look at our guns, four of which are very bad, the carriages being in a shocking state. During the morning we evacuate four horses, one being my poor old Ginger. They had all four gone blind from this opthalmia disease. We draw two in the afternoon. They had just arrived from Calais and we drew out of a hat for them and were lucky in getting to the best – a black and a bay. The horses were supposed to be allotted by Colonel Beach at the fifteenth battery lines but really Thorburn ran the show, managing to put in plenty of dirty work, he and Armytage being a regular pair of spealers[?]. The horses were very late in arriving. Cruickshank and I waited three hours for them

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Diary Entry - 21st November, 1917

We just managed to get through stables with a light misty rain falling and, as soon as we had turned out, down it came. In the morning, Siggers and self visited brigade to glean information, but there was none to be had from Mills, acting Colonel. In the afternoon, Cruickshank rode to Wattou to do some shopping

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Diary Entry - 20th November, 1917

March at eight a.m.via Vlamertinghe. Switch road round Poperinghe to Wattou. We had some trouble in getting out of our wagon line although we had taken the precaution to clear a path through the worst part. We finished up just between St Laurent and Droglandt, the last half mile being an awful boggy bit of road. In fact we were supposed to go another route, some five miles round from Wattou, but somehow the guides went amiss. Anyway we got through the bad bit, only having one vehicle stuck, and the rest of the brigade got through too. The wagon lines were not bad and there were some tents there, the officers being in a farm on the tile or brick floor.

Monday 19 November 2012

Diary Entry - 19th November, 1917

We spent the day in getting rid of spare kit, each officer sending away a lot of spare stuff as we thought there might be no room for unauthorised transport when we entrained and so we were prepared to put our kits on the wagons. The railhead was at Rigersberg junction so it was no distance to send them. In the afternoon Siggers and I walked to brigade to find out details of the march and also one or two other odd details.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Diary Entry - 18th November, 1917

An awful serum [?] in the morning as the captain arrived. Luckily I stopped in bed but there were five crammed in somehow on the floor round the table. The BC said I could go after breakfast so at ten fifteen a.m. I humped my pack and set out down the railway. Got a lorry above the dressing station went on down till I met my horses. It was very sad to find that poor old Ginger had gone blind, the eye disease having affected his sight, and when I tried to take him over the railway line he fell into the ditch on either side and stumbled across the railway track. There is nothing for it but to evacuate him so I went to brigade in the evening and saw McKenna.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Diary Entry - 17th November, 1917

When getting up at six a.m. an orderly came round with the news that we were to be relieved that day by B battery 161 brigade. We had no barrage that morning but were getting 30 packs led by one man and taking them across country to the position. There was a very thick fog and we had much trouble in leading horses to the position. Of course they did not close on the heels of one another and got lost themselves. Some came up the Tramway, one cutting his leg very badly on a steel sleeper, and three did not get up to the guns at all. Siggers turned up just as we were in the middle of shaving and so I handed him my message from brigade. They had had no information of the relief at all and he was rather surprised. After taking him round the guns and to the OP, he started down but returned a little later with the new major, named Hunt. He turned out to be a Melbourne man. After Siggers had gone through the office work with him he went down to the wagon lines and I showed him the OP guns and everything there was to be known about the front. He had four subalterns up at the guns that night, one at Arbre and the remainder at the pillbox. The fog was awful. Our men got away about four thirty p.m. and all seemed very pleased to get out of it. Soon after going to bed, the Hun sent over gas, but the blanket at the door seemed to keep it out.

Friday 16 November 2012

Diary Entry - 16th November, 1917

Another good day with the usual half-hour barrage at ten minutes to seven. We had thirty packs up and Br. Brice and Gnr. Mellon who went down to meet them were wounded in the leg slightly. Doonah came round the position during the morning, passing several tactless remarks about the position and work being done. We finished cleaning the OP and could stand up in it when it was finished. The Div went over without a barrage at five p.m. and took Vocation [?] Farm and Virile Goudberg copse and did not meet with any opposition. In fact the SOS did not go up for two hours later.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Diary Entry - 15th November, 1917

Nicholson goes down to the wagon line being relieved by Shapland and incidentally our brigade goes out and Doonah comes in. The railway still remains unmended and makes ammunition very difficult to keep up as have to handle it so many times. Some large cupolas arrive up from the wagon lines so start the wheeler on splinter-proof shelters. In the morning as I went to the guns there were a lot of aeroplanes spiralling overhead as it was a glorious day and one of our DHSs brought down an enemy's scout in flames. A heavy gunner at Arbre ran forward and cut the iron cross off one of the wings, which floated down a long time after the body of the machine had crashed to earth. In the afternoon after lunch I went up with Shapland to Arbre and we registered the guns. It was rather amusing as Thorburn was registering the same pill box as us but his guns had been moved and were shooting all over the place and he turned round and apologised to me for his bad shooting, explaining that he had just moved his guns and was reregistering. Claudet came up just as I had finished and so I invited myself to tea with him, having one or two things to see him about. Went to tea at their pill box behind St Julien. It had a nice round hole in the roof of the passage where a 5.9' had ricocheted off its surface.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Diary Entry - 14th November, 1917

A very misty morning and inclined to rain. We fired the usual early-morning barrage somewhere about six a.m. The Hun scored two direct hits on the railway line by which the ammunition comes up. The men at the OP pillbox remove all sorts of rubbish, including a D3 telephone, a pair of glasses and a German box of bombs. The amount of other debris in the way of old tins was something extraordinary. Colonel came round the guns at nine a.m. and seemed pleased with what the signallers had done on the previous night at the OP. They went out twice on the wire to Kron Pince[?]. Once they found the people there had the wire off the phone and the next time mended a break very near their end and they never turned out at all.

Diary Entry - 13th November, 1917

A nice sunny day, quite a contrast to the two previous days. Siggers goes down about ten a.m. and while I was at the guns during the morning another host of Gothas came over, right over the position, and dropped two bombs, one in front of Arbre and another 75 yards to the rear of the battery. They then went on towards the wagon lines and our planes chivvied round them and the archies made a great fuss so they turned back and eventually offloaded their bombs in the Strombeke Valley in front of Arbre. At dusk there was an SOS. The Huns attacked the Canadians but our battery saved the situation – at least it caught them heavily and they never got as far as our front line. The infantry seemed highly pleased with it.

Monday 12 November 2012

Diary Entry - 12th November, 1917

Corporal Hornsby wounded – he was found on the road, lying in a pool of blood, evidently a bomb fell close to him and his horse threw him off. After lunch go up to the guns to relieve Siggers and got up there quite comfortably from Buffs Road, over the duckboards and there were no shells floating about. Just before I left, a nest of planes came right over the lines – about four Gothas amongst them – and they looked very dangerous as they hung right over the top of us. However, the bombs seemed to be carried away from us with the wind and none came very close. I had an uneventful walk over the boards and up the tram lines to find Nicholson in the pillbox, Siggers not having come in from the guns.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Diary Entry - 11th November, 1917

It rained again very heavily all day. We sent up 60 packs at four a.m. and 20 men to work at the position and also a gun team with the new gun. When everyone was away, we had exactly 5 whole men left in the lines when all parties were away. We had another go at RE material, as Pelham came round just before lunch. He was going on to RAHQ.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Diary Entry - 10th November, 1917

It rained heavily all day. In the morning I went down to the canal bank to see the staff captain of the first division about our RE material, as they were shouting for it from the guns. This way of getting material proved almost as fruitless as putting in through brigade as they simply made a note of the stuff we want and that was all that was done about it. The first division had attacked early in the morning, trying to push obliquely along the ridge towards Rosebeeke and although they were successful in gaining their objectives they eventually had to retire to their old line as the mud was impossible. All their Lewis guns and rifles got jammed with mud and the Hun put down a very heavy barrage too. Our big guns 12' and 9' were blazing away hard as I went down to the canal and making a great noise.

Friday 9 November 2012

Diary Entry - 9th November, 1917

It rained most of the night but cleared in the morning. We had two teams down in the mud near the railway line. The R E have built an embankment over our already muddy lane. Getting over it the horses sink down to about 18 inches in gluey clay, and there they stick. The railway seems to be gradually being formed into a siding and we shall have to find another way out. In the afternoon Cruickshank and I again go to brigade with the same result as before and only see Connover and Todd. The approach to their HQ on horse is simply awful, about 200 yards of mud 18 inches deep. We made another way out by pulling away some barbed wire entanglements. It is very bad in one spot to but think it will hold out.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Diary Entry - 8th November, 1917

We were severely bombed in the night at three a.m. and some seemed to fall almost in the lines but found in the morning they were about 50 yards from the sergeants' mess. We sent up 60 packs and Nicholson relieved Cruikshank at the guns in the morning. Towards evening Cruickers and I both get a bath at Reigersburg in the men's bathhouse. It was a skimpy affair and consisted of as much water as you could get to flow from one hole of an inch in size – one eighth of an inch bored in a pipe – so you can imagine how it felt on these cold nights but must say the water was hot, (what eventually leaked through the hole).

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Diary Entry - 7th November, 1917

Raining hard in the morning, slackening down to showers about eleven a.m. I went out to see Maclean about ammunition soon after breakfast, riding Ginger. Having fixed his business up, rode on to look for an RE dump, which Siggers had given me the coordinates of but, though I enquired of many people, could not find it and came to the conclusion that the coordinates were wrong, as everything was Canadian and I was trying to find the 23rd Div. dump. I came back to where I knew they used to be and found that the first division had taken over from them. When I got there, my visit was unfruitful as they had no SOS rifle rockets and knew nothing about them. In the afternoon, I tried brigade, to see if they could do anything for me, but the Colonel (41st Brigade) and adjutant were out and I only saw the Padre, Todd and Thorburn. It rained hard while I was there but when it lifted Thorburn and self walked home, calling at Maclean's on the way home. On arriving back, found Barrett had come to join us from the seven ones

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Diary Entry - 6th November, 1917

In the night the adjutant rang up and gave me the correct time, which I knew meant a barrage, so I explained that I knew very little about the front and in general things were very difficult, so he said shoot into the blue. A few minutes later the orders arrived and, after studying the map and orders for about an hour and trying to locate the gun position on the map, the coordinates of which I got from Cruikshank over the telephone, at three a.m. I eventually decided not to fire as it was a Chinese barrage and I only had two guns and besides the howitzer batteries in each brigade were the only other batteries shooting. The Canadians attacked in the morning at six a.m. with success and took Paschendale and got well along the top of the ridge anyway. The abovementioned town is the highest point of the ridge. This seemed to annoy the Hun and he put down a very heavy barrage at seven a.m. which went on until three thirty p.m. Siggers arrived up in the thick of it and had to come across country from Buffs Road as they were putting HY shells down the road. We kept inside while it went on and it went through all the battery papers et cetera. Anyway one would almost have lost a finger if you had put it outside, the shells were falling so thick and fast. The Huns seemed to pay special attention to the pill boxes and, although they did not actually hit us, they were nosing up against the wall most of the time. The brigade were less fortunate - a 5.9' HV shell hit the top of their pill box but luckily ricocheted and burst in the air. However, the weight of the hit knocked a hole in it and Dixon's servant was killed. At four p.m, things having quietened down, I took Br. Bates with me as far as brigade and went on to meet my horses. I hit the road about the dressing station and walking along came across two motor lorries derelict, having been burnt to the ground and, and a little further on was another in the same plight. The road looked very desolate with all kinds of wreckage on it and as a motor lorry laboured past I jumped on and found my horses about half a mile up the road. The H V guns were still shooting and as I passed the forward rail head a shell fell very close to some engines there. I have never experienced such heavy fire, every calibred gun they had must have been on the job. But they did not have it all their own way and when I came down our eight inch nine twos and big railway mounted guns were boosting away.

Monday 5 November 2012

Diary Entry - 5th November, 1917

I went up to the guns for the day as Cruikshank was at the OP and the Major had a working party of twenty men from the wagon lines. As I got off my horses and went down past the dressing station, they began to shell, so I went into the Brigade pillbox, got onto Claudet's telephone and asked for a guide to take me to the gun position. They said Br Bales (a signaller) would come down and guide me but, knowing what he was like when there were any shells about, I thought I should be left there all day. A little later I rang up and asked who was coming and they said Webb was on his way. By the time Webb arrived, shells were falling thick and fast everywhere and he said it was too hot to go by the railway and that St Julien Road would be better. Just as we left the pillbox, a shell burst at the crossroads leading into St Julien, wounding two mules tied to some ammunition dump there and the boxes began to smoulder. We wasted no time getting past the smouldering ammunition and, as we went, had the earth thrown over us from several shells. The pluck of some drivers is amazing and coming down the road past us was a driver with hat off, blood streaming down his forehead, leading his two packhorses along, quite as if it was an ordinary day affair and several GS wagons jolted past us at the walk, men sitting quite quiet on their horses with shells exploding all round them, never knowing whether the next minute they might be blown to atoms. Well, we had enough to do to get to our pillboxes - they seemed to be paying special attention to these concrete houses which are dotted about the country. There was no sign of the Major there but as they were expecting him back any minute I thought I had better wait and see if he arrived. After being inside for about ten minutes and there being no sign of him I thought he must be waiting at the gun position for us so sallied forth with Sgt. Keegan to the guns. We did not meet him but as Sgt. Keegan knew what work was to be done I told him to get on with it. About half an hour later Cruikshank wandered down from the OP, which was on the crest in front of the guns, and told me the Major had been wounded outside the Mess - in the arm - along with Br. Anderson and Gnr. Birtwhistle, the former in both hands the latter in the leg. The other men arrived up from the pill box, and we went on carting ammunition along from the plank road on a decaville railway which was laid as well as possible under the conditions one has to compete with in so shelled an area. By lunch we had moved all the ammunition so after the midday meal at the pill box I sent them out to scrounge for timber to hold up bivvies with and they carried on till the evening while I sat waiting for Siggers, expecting him or a note of some sort. The note eventually arrived by Br. Bartholomew about eight p.m. and Siggers said that he had seen the Colonel and that he was to take command and would be up in the morning.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Diary Entry - 4th November, 1917

A very misty day, packs went up at four a.m. as usual, but the Major, thinking it would be quiet, owing to the fog, ordered another 30 pack animals to be up there by ten a.m. Nicholson went up with them and, on arriving at the first pill box above the dressing station, was told that it was too bad to go up any further. So he went back to Irish Dump and packed stuff from there to a dump on the side of the road. The Padre had a Communion service in our wagon line Mess in the afternoon at four p.m. About five men turned up and there was just room for the service and that was all.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Diary Entry - 3rd November, 1917

Gunner Smith, Cruikshank's servant, and Gunner Alcock, Nicholson's, come down to the WL with very sore eyes from mustard gas and have to lie quiet in a darkened place to give their eyes a chance of recovering. After lunch Hoyland went away in the Mess cart to a CGS[?] on the Vlamertinghe Poperinghe road - several other blisters had arisen in the night, probably due to the fact that he wore the same suit of pyjamas. Siggers and I went to Vogeltje to draw some money from the field cashier. We went by foot and lorry. We walked into Pop when we had got the money, had tea at the officers' club, did some shopping, then went to the Dudds, a very dud show near the railway station. We then dined at the rest house, a very nice chateau, right opposite the station, walked up to the first point duty man on the main road, asked him to stop something for us and he pulled up an ambulance filled with Australians. This we jumped into and had a hilarious ride to Ypres lunatic asylum, then striking across country. It was a perilous walk home across shell holes and Siggers went up to his knee in one.

Friday 2 November 2012

Diary Entry - 2nd November, 1917

We were rather surprised to hear late on the evening of the first that Hoyland had got a touch of mustard gas and his horses were to be sent up in the morning. He came down at nine thirty and told us he had fallen down when going out on the night Anderson was killed and, where he touched the ground, huge blisters were rising and they certainly were nasty large-looking reservoirs. The Major goes up after lunch and sends Nicholson back to the horse lines. The Colonel, Todd and Vaisey come round to see Hoyland in the afternoon, the former telling him he must go to a CCS where he will probably be sent down to the base and perhaps to England but that he will have every chance of coming back again. After glancing round the horses, the CO departs, being well impressed with the good condition of the skins. Siggers, after lunch, had gone off with the Padre to Pop to get some money from the Field Cashier. He returned about ten, not having found the 18th Corps headquarters and without the money.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Diary Entry - 1st November 1917

Another bright day. Siggers and I spend our morning until stables in building a fireplace in the Mess and also complete a sandbag wall at the entrance. We got news down with the rations that Gnr Anderson (Capt servant) had been killed in the cookhouse during the night. We sent up a large fatigue party of 30 men in the morning to remove a gun out of a huge shell hole. This gun was one which was taken up on the 31st but it had been left on the plank track while the men went for breakfast and some rotters had pushed it off into this hole. When some of this working party were coming back to lunch they got caught in a burst of fire and Cpl. Bing, Gnr. Alsop, Gnr. Bates, Gnr. Cuthbertson, Gnr. Higgins and Br. Barr were all wounded. During the night, we had a heavy bombardment from the air. The Hun started about ten thirty p.m and kept it up until dawn. He seemed to unload his bombs then rush back to reload. It was a very bright moonlit night and he could probably get a fair idea of the country. One wagon line nearby lost 35 horses in the night. we were again lucky and though some dropped remarkably close none dropped in the lines. One coud hear the earth falling on tin roofs after the burst and these seemed to be near the left section but on inspection in the morning there was no sign of any holes.

Gnr. Anderson - killed
Cpl. Bing - wounded, severely
Gnr. Alsop - wounded, severely
Gnr Bates - wounded, a scratch
Gnr. Cuthbertson - wounded, a scratch
Gnr. Higgins - wounded, a scratch
Br. Barr- wounded, very slightly
(Bates and Barr - left section men)