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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Diary Entry - 19th January to 4th February, 1918

The battery went up into action, relieving a section first then four guns on the 20th. I set out at six thirty for Bapaume on Ethel, arrived the club soon after seven, had breakfast and wandered down to the train. The train never appeared till ten a.m. and, although it was two hours late, it did not take long to get down to Amiens once it got underway and it was interesting going down the valley through Miraumont and Hammel country, which this time last year we had only seen from the OPs. It was all very much knocked about and one mess of shellholes, the former town must have been quite a large place, but it was merely a shambles, although the outlines of large chateaux could be picked out. Stayed at the club in Boulogne, a new institution run by the EFC and full of WAAC girls who do all the waiting. The place was packed with officers both going and coming and it was some fight for dinner. I stuck to a KRR man called Stevenson whom I found had been in Australia and knew one or two Melbourne people I knew. He was left on the wharf the next morning as was on duty and only leave men were allowed aboard. London reached at four p.m. I realised it was not Monday but Sunday so went in search of a room at Brown's Hotel Dover Street but failing to get a room went to the York Albemarle. I ran into crowds of people on Monday at the Carlyle, mostly Australian, and filled in a good deal of shopping, spending the evening at Herne Hill with Gilliard. Tuesday night I stayed at Herne Hill, then motored up to town in a Bianchi which Tom was taking to Highlands and we drove down for lunch at Highlands in very fast time. Staying a night with Barbara who, with John and Nan, all looked well. I pushed off to London on Thursday after lunch, intending to go straight up to Ely but I found Forster was in town and stopping the night so stayed in town with him, intending to go up on Friday with him. However Vosper turned up on Friday night and I stopped till Sunday morning, doing a couple of theatres with him, the best of which was Chu Chin Chow. Having left Vosper at Hammonds Court, I caught the nine fifteen for Ely, driving from Picadilly in a hansom cab. Forster met me in the Gin Palace (25 Crossley Landon) and we drove up to his wing HQ where Mim was waiting. They had a very nice house on the Ely Road and I spent a very comfortable week there, making short tours in their small car to Cambridge. Mim was looking well though as usual thin but Forster was not too bright having to retire to bed one day owing to something disagreeing with him. I was very interested in the two stations Whitton and Thetford, the latter being a beautiful ground and really model aerodrome. Capt something took me up for a flip at Whitton but it was very misty and when a Hun (new pilot) almost got us coming out of the mist suddenly we went to ground and I can't say I was sorry as it did not impress me at all except just the sensation of leaving the ground. Cambridge was very empty, though some of the colleges were packed with cadets, especially Trinity, and I don't think they would improve the inside of the colleges. I paid a visit to our old motorbike place and saw Mrs Lawrence and Lilly. They told me of Sid Bo and others who had visited them since the war and the latter said she would send me out some butter, though told her to do nothing of the sort as expect they find it fairly hard to get along with food at such a price. Left for London on Saturday evening, got a bed at Belgrave Mansions and went down to Herne Hill for an hour or two, getting to bed about one. Had quite a good trip out, meeting a New Zealander named Gilkinson on the boat, having previously met him in the club. We were going the same route so stopped at the club, our train not leaving until ten fifty in the morning. We had a topping dinner at the Criterion Restaurant on the Sunday evening. Reached Bapaume on Monday night at eight p.m., not being able to obtain a bed at the club, I set out on foot for Haplincourt and luckily got a lorry which took me all the way. Here I found Siggers and the Padre counting out oodles of money amounting to four hundred pounds, this the latter had made in eleven days with his YMCA canteen.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Diary Entry - 18th January, 1918

Turned into stables early to get the horses ready for Major General Perrire to see at two fifteen p.m. It commenced raining before stables and by midday was coming down very heavily. Pinto arrived late and gazed on the horses as they filed past him on the road. It was really a waste of time as he knew nothing about them, though said he thought them looking well. Siggers in the morning had gone up with Hossack to look at the gun position and they never got back till late in the evening. I discovered at the last moment that I would have to go by the leave train as civilian trains from Abbeville were not allowed. I did not really mind as lorry jumping to Amiens is always a lottery.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Diary Entry - 17th January, 1918

Rise at six a.m. and take early morning stables. We could hold no inspection parade as it was raining very heavily and continued all morning. After lunch Siggers and self walked over to Villers au Flos to draw money from the field cashiers. In the evening go to Barrastre and hear the Dudds (17th div troop). They were simply splendid and quite the best I have seen in France. The man dressed as a flapper was perfect and she and another very good man took off Clarice Mayne and That [see fascinating explanation from dne 1 in comments below].

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Diary Entry - 16th January, 1918

We were late in rising and had hard work to get any breakfast. Sanger and Peter Head were in the club. They had just come off leave. It was blowing a hurricane but luckily Siggers and self had it on our backs and got out in quick time. The news on getting back was that we were going into action on the 17th, 18th, ie one section first then the other two.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Diary Entry - 15th January, 1918

At eleven, Siggers and I rode into Bapaume, intending to try to get a car into Amiens. It began raining hard when we got in there and thaw precautions were on, stopping all lorries and cars from running, so we decided to stop there on the chance of catching something. The rain continued all day, so we decided to stay and see the pantomime and then walk home if the rain had stopped. We saw the panto. It was quite good, but the rain still continued to come down in buckets so we stayed at the club.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Diary Entry - 14th January, 1918

In the morning Barrett took a squad in physical jerks. We again chased the band up and heard them play at Rocquigny but don't think they played so well as were tired, having given shows before the one we saw.

Diary Entry - 13th January, 1918

Inclined to freeze again. The RA band played in A sub section's stableyard. There was a good gathering but it was cold standing about. Lambkin and an HLI officer came in for tea, having walked over from Rocquigny where he is attending a Lewis machinegun course. In the evening we went and heard the string and wind band play at Barrastre YMCA hut and they were really splendid and played some very well-known airs.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Diary Entry - 12th January, 1918

This appears to be a similar entry to yesterday's so possibly my grandfather has lost a day somewhere:

There was a lecture on the buffer at ten a.m. by Cpt Marshall, formerly acting captain instructing at Shrewsbury, but he did not explain it half so well as the ordinance staff sergeant did in the afternoon to our NCOs. The Colonel attended the lecture and ticked off Hossack of the 15th Bty for smoking without his permission.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Diary Entry - 11th January, 1918

A lecture by Cpt Marshall of D36 at ten a.m on the pneumatic buffer. The Colonel chipped Hossack in the middle of it for smoking, otherwise everything went smoothly. Being orderly officer, I took an inspection of No.1's boxes and telephone stores in the afternoon. We drew five quite good mules as remounts but were in need of horses to replace our gun teams in several subsections. The battery played 16th battery at soccer and won 1 nothing. A thaw sets in towards evening.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Diary Entry - 10th January, 1918

Temperature risen considerably. Everything in a very sloppy condition. Water simply pouring off the hillside above the camp. Barrett went off with a brigade party in a lorry at five fifteen a.m. to Aschiet le Grand, there to catch the train to Amiens. We played 16th battery football in afternoon, winning one nothing. Barrett got back at ten, having some excitement on the lorry in the morning, pirouetting around several times on the road, eventually missing the train and having to go by the leave train.

Diary Entry - 9th January, 1918

As the General was to honour us with a visit, we had stables at ten a.m. Everything was looking spotless when Saunders arrived about ten forty-five a.m. but he took a very hurried glance round, remarking on the brilliance of the harness, the Colonel was poking his nose everywhere and asking me all kinds of strange questions about horses' hoofs, Nissan huts, et cetera. It snowed all the afternoon, ending with a rise in the temperature at seven and consequently a thaw. The Colonel gave a short lecture in the evening in 71st Bty Mess on the 7.0.0 and his duty, it mostly referred to the incidents of the 4th when our barrage was a bit late in coming down owing to communications.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Diary Entry - 8th January, 1918

Another bitter night and I failed to keep the cold out of my bed. Being orderly offic,r awoke at six a.m. to the crashing of bombs not far away north of us and, as the fall in was about to go, a wretched plane flew right over us - at least he seemed directly overhead by the noise - and dropped six bombs not two hundred yards from us. The men stampeded up the hill after the first three, so, not quite knowing what to do, I shouted, 'Lay on your stomachs.' It was all over very quickly and the trumpeter sounded the fall in about 15 seconds after the second lot had burst. We heard afterwards that one infanteer was badly wounded. In fact, he got his deserts as had a large brazier burning merrily in the open. It had frozen again in the night and the place was one sheet of ice, making it awfully slippery. That evening Siggers and I dined with McKenna and we arrived just before the Colonel and Adj left to dine with General Fanshaw at the Corps. Goschen offered me a job as intelligence officer - or in other words General's ADC - but I refused, not wanting to leave the battery, having been with them so long. It rather made my mouth water though as it is a thoroughly cushie job with little or no work to do and thoroughly comfortable quarters guaranteed.

Diary Entry - 7th January, 1918

Lambkin goes off early in the morning on a Lewis gun course, taking a party of men from the brigade with him. It had rained all night and was still drizzling in the morning, every drain was choked with water, all the snow having melted from the surface. In the afternoon, ride over with Siggers to Ypres to the RE dump to try to draw material. We obtain a chit for the majority of the stuff and put it on two BS wagons which had arrived before us. On the way over, Ethel, being rather fresh, pitched me off the little devil, put her head down and pig rooted, properly taking me unawares. I shot onto her neck and could not save myself so fell clear on the off side not hurting myself in the slightest.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Diary Entry - 6th January, 1918

Lambkin, Siggers and I went to church in the village, held in a YMCA tent, a very cold looking spot. The whole tent was bristling with ice as it was still freezing and bitterly cold with a fair west wind blowing. Armytage, Siggers and self stayed for communion and there were about ten men as well. In the afternoon we had the wheeler working in the hut, putting up screens to keep the draft down. We also put two tents, one over each end of the hut. This also helped to keep out the gentle zephyrs that usually blow between the inside lining of the hut and the roof. All this work made the hut ever so much warmer and we knocked all the forebricks out of the stove, greatly improving it too.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Diary Entry - 5th January, 1918

It was very cold in the Nissan Hut during the night and I could not keep my feet warm at all, practically shivering all night. Our stove gave out so little heat that I went down to McKenna's hut (veterinary officer) and spent the evening there. Siggers and I walk up to the spill heap behind Hermies in the morning as all BCs were to meet the Colonel there at ten thirty a.m. I was still bitterly cold, though the sun was shining weakly and we walked each way, a distance of some [illegible - possibly 9] miles in all. The business was not long in being completed as it was only a matter of choosing perspective gun positions in case of a retirement.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Diary Entry - 4th January, 1918

There was great heat in the morning about the guns opening so late and apparently an old Corps General was in the trenches at the time and became rather heated about it all. Anyway, it is rumoured that the Hun took all our posts. The Major waits till two for the relieving OC but as he had to catch a train at Bapaume to go on the BC's course to England left me to hand over. The relieving Captain and his subalterns arrived at three p.m. and did not seem very enthusiastic about anything. They never expressed any pleasure, taking over such a good position, so, as soon as Lambkin had come down from the OP, we set off for the wagon lines, eventually getting a good lift down on a motor lorry.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd January, 1918

Early in the morning a subaltern arrives with a section of the B battery 78th brigade. The Major goes to the wagon line at ten to arrange things there before he goes on the BC's course. This subaltern whose name was Godsal and who had been up at Trinity in 1912 proved a terrible talker although otherwise he seemed quite a good chap. The Major comes back about four and I go up to OP at four thirty p.m. to do till dinner when Lambkin relieves me. As I leave the Mess hear a lot of enemy fire and on breasting the crest the SOS goes up at several places but on rushing with the telephone to the wire find we are dis [?]. The artillery were quite twelve minutes before they opened fire but eventually they received the order from brigade. We found our wire was broken inside the insulation. It was rotten luck as had been firing over it about one p.m. I forgot to add that soon after breakfast the Huns came over to bomb our back areas and one was hit by our anti- aircraft, evidently a splinter put one of its engines out of action, it being a Gotha. It promptly wheeled round and made for home, planing lower and lower as it came over the brigade. Of course, we all got onto it with machine guns and rifles and gave it volleys of ammunition, without result. However it probably fired some rounds during the chaos and one bullet hit Hewitson who was standing in 15th Bty position, specator to all his men's efforts to bring the Hun down. It was a painful wound and smashed his arm. So we got him, right away, to the dressing station. The Gotha eventually fell just over the Cambrai road and received marked attention from the 41st Bde.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Diary Entry - 2nd January, 1918

Come down to breakfast at seven a.m. and go on to Flesquiere OP. The light was fairly good in the early morning but snowstorms kept blowing up and it became very patchy. However, while it was good I registered a copse with a section and placed it where I thought it was in the Hindenburg line. Captain Hewitson, the Major and Lambkin came up - the latter had a try on a house near the Sucrerie, but he was very slow and I could not see what he was hitting. His exhibition just showed up how very little a subaltern coming out from London does know, even with the training he gets these days. There is no doubt experience goes for a lot in shooting. Soon after they go in it becomes very thick so I come in at four thirty p.m.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Diary Entry - 1st January, 1918

A hazy day, nothing doing all day, go up to the OP in the evening.