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Sunday 31 March 2013

Diary Entry - 31st March, 1918

Siggers and self go to Holy Communion in town major's office. The room was overcrowded, being filled with staff officers and officers and men of divisional artillery. We heard after the service that two officers of the sixteenth Brigade, Lieutenants Fox and Perry, had been killed during the morning. We have another staff ride in the afternoon, a larger affair than the skeleton one of yesterday. Everything was successful but for a heavy shower of rain which caught us. On arriving we are told we have to relieve 41st brigade on Monday, where we stay for two days, entraining on the 5th for the North.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Diary Entry - 30th March, 1918

Go for a staff ride in the morning and take up several positions, fairly successfully, everyone seeming to be fairly free of rust. Nothing else doing.

Friday 29 March 2013

Diary Entry - 29th March, 1918

Good Friday. It fines up soon after breakfast. At stables at eleven a.m. Loll about in the afternoon, expecting orders at any time as we were all the time under an hour's notice to move, but there seems to be little doing on the front, though we hear the Huns have Albert and are somewhere between Bouzencourt and Aveluy

Thursday 28 March 2013

Diary Entry - 28th March, 1918

Go to guns at eight a.m. and arrive just in time to hear we are going to pull out. Ride back and warn the wagon lines, also send up section limbers at intervals and commence to pull out right away. The guns get down about eleven a.m. and we marched straight on to Varennes via Lealvillers and Ascheux. There was a freezing south-west wind blowing and lots of dust blowing about. Varennes is packed with troops but on hunting hard for billets we managed to get some cover for the men. It commences raining about four p.m. and we are all very pleased we have a roof to sleep under. We all turned in early and there was rather an amusing incident during the night when the major started walking in his sleep. He stepped on my pillow, crashed off onto Robson who was sleeping on the floor, all the time saying 'Get your clothes on, pack up.' It gave us a bit of a shock but, as there was no stir from the next room where all the others were sleeping, took very little notice. Then the major woke up, heard us all shouting questions at him, got back into bed and commenced laughing. He remarked that he had once before done it in another battery.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

Diary Entry - 27th March, 1918

Go to advance wagon lines near Mailly Cemetery where the limbers and six wagons are all kept harnessed up in case of emergency. Was there all day and took up ammunition several times as we were doing a lot of shooting. The Hun at ten a.m. shelled the village and the orchard very heavily, blowing up one of the seven ones' limbers. A little later, he shelled the area in front of the position with eight inch but was about 50 yards short of us. I had a comparatively peaceful day and was rather amused at my groom, Driver Wrate, and a Corporal pursuing an old cockerel which strayed from the village. They eventually ran him to ground in the cemetery. There was a DH 4 on its back near me, a beautiful machine, rather crimped, but no one came to salvage it. The New Zealand artillery came into position in the evening and we looked like being relieved. Barrett relieved me and, on getting back to the rear wagon lines, I found a Bristol fighter down near the Mess. The pilot had run out of petrol. It was a lovely machine with 250 horsepower 12 cylinder Rolls engine in it which consumed 18 gallons an hour (of petrol). I was also rather surprised to find two or three heavy batteries in action nearby as nothing had been seen of them on the retreat. The battery evidently got some good targets during the day on the main Serre road and 15th battery knocked out a limber and team on the road. Then another one came along and got locked in it and it was promptly knocked out too, blocking the whole road. Many other targets were taken on with success too.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Diary Entry - 26th March, 1918

The Colonel visits us at one p.m. and gives us a message for the major which is that we have to supply a liaison officer in the morning to be with the sixth brigade at seven a.m. The major details me for the job so at six fifteen, after having walked to the horse lines, had a bite of food and some tea, I set out, with two signallers, two mounted orderlies and my horses. The map reference given us by the Colonel is wrong and after half an hour's hunt, we find we have to go forward through Auchonvillers instead of to the rear and to Mailly Maillet. I find my destination is down through Beaumont Hammel and down the road to Beaucourt. After leaving my horses in a small quarry, the signaller and self walk on down the road, meeting two infantry men only, who, though they belonged to the sixth brigade, could not find them and said they had been almost hit by a four point five How bursting on the road. Bryant and I wandered on and when only about 400 yards from Beaucourt two 4.5 How shells almost did for us, so, concluding we were in No Man's Land, we wended our way back to the horses. Just as we were mounting, a captain of the Fusiliers who was also looking for the sixth brigade, came along, so, thinking he would find them, I followed. But we only made a long detour over rough country and eventually recrossed the Auchonvillers road above Beaumont Hammel and, as we had followed the trench all the way, which was presumably the front line, I set out to remove my horses from No Man's Land and proceeded to the fifth infantry brigade whom I knew were in Auchonvillers. They tried to direct me to the sixth brigade, as did the TGOC division Major General Perrire but, as two and a half hours had been lost trying to find them, I thought it best to stick to the fifth, whom I had found by accident, and I sent a note to the Colonel to tell him what I had done. It was a memorable day full of incident. At ten thirty a.m. the Bosch was reported to be coming on in large numbers, both from Serre and across the Ancre from Grancourt and although we intended fighting, things were very grave as the brigade Major had been out on reconnaissance in front of Serre to find the people on our left. His report was that there was no one there and the 51st div who were supposed to be there could not be found. The Hun soon began to put down a barrage with one or two batteries five nine four two and pipsqueak and as we were simply in an open house with no dugout I thought we should soon be blown kite high. He made it too hot for the batteries and they withdrew to the orchard and slope behind Mailly Maillet station. The Hun was reported in the Sucrerie about eleven fifteen a.m. and pushing on towards Collincamps. This village was due north of us. Things were looking very blue, but we were determined to hang on at all costs. About twelve p.m. the Germans were reported in Collincamps. In fact, they were placing indirect fire on our men's back who held the line facing the Ancre in front of our village. Orders for withdrawal were written out but held for a quarter of an hour in case anything turned up in the way of support. Two very strong units turned up just in the nick of time and our hopes went high when we heard a division of New Zealanders were advancing to our support as well as a new type of tank named whippet. The whippet tank is about 30 feet long, about three feet above ground, with a turret at the rear end of it wherein are a number of machine guns and their main feature is their speed – 12 miles an hour or 18 miles an hour under favourable conditions. About one thirty p.m. the tanks advanced on Collincamps, followed by a battalion of New Zealanders, and they put the Hun back 2,000ards y, driving him out of this village and taking 1,000 prisoners. By three p.m. the position was well in hand and everyone was very pleased with themselves. In the meantime the guns had been doing great execution, especially fifteenth battery, who came into action to the north of Auchonvillers with a section and fired with open sights. Siggers, with a gun, also dropped into action near the cemetery (Mailly) and fired at Collincamps Avenue with open sights. In the meantime the seven ones in action near the Larry [?] were being machine gunned from their left flank and Captain Scott did great work in stopping a civilian train from being captured, by stopping them and making them go back the way they had come, but they took a lot of persuading. If they had gone on they would have been captured at Beaumont Hamel or Beaucourt and most of them were bound for Albert. At five p.m. the New Zealand Brigadier arrived very cool and collected and informed us he was coming up to relieve us and so ended a very thrilling day during which I had often thought of either being captured or fighting to the end. The brigade major Wardel was splendid and had the whole thing at his fingers' ends and in my opinion saved the situation for the infantry. At eight p.m. they were relieved and I proceeded to the New Zealand headquarters in Mailly Maillet where the Colonel met me and said I could go back to the wagon lines. It was a three-mile walk to Beausart and I can tell you as soon as I had a bite I was fast asleep, not needing any rocking.

Monday 25 March 2013

Diary Entry - 25th March, 1918

None of us needed any rocking to sleep that night. We all just got down to it in the open and needed kicking up when we were called at three forty-five in the morning. Although orders were to march via Pys and Miraumont, when we got in at night we had to turn round and get onto the Albert-Bapaume Road. As soon as the 41st Brigade got clear, the Colonel led us on through Courcelette, along the east Miraumont Road to Miraumont, but we were soon in the thick of another traffic jam when we crossed No Man's Land – this was the country we had spent miserable months on in February 1917 but it had been somewhat improved and instead of being a sea of shell holes and mud it had a coat of grass on it. We halted for two hours when we decided to try and force our way through the tightly packed road and chance a road down the south side of the Ancre to Grandcourt. I navigated our wagons down this and camped just below Thiepval where the road leads across the river to Beaucourt. We got here about eleven a. m. and were followed by an army brigade and 63rd Div. artillery, the latter seemed to be panicstricken and came past at the trot. Each battery took a section into action near Miraumont and sent the remainder of their guns and vehicles on down to Beaucourt to a point of assembly. The guns caught the Hun about two p.m. as he advanced in column of lamps [?] through Le Sars. We received orders about two p.m. to march on to Auchonvillers and establish our wagon lines and the guns withdrew about five p.m., being chased down the Miraumont Valley by 10 centimetre shells. Lieutenant Shipley was slightly wounded. As they crossed the river the REs blew up the bridges at Beaucourt and everyone made for Engelbelmer, Auchonvillers and Mailly Maillet. The guns drop into action just north of Auchonvillers about five thirty p.m. Robson and I go on duty. We do harassing fire on Miraumont all night shooting at 8000.

Diary Entry - 24th March, 1918

The situation again critical and there seemed to be some doubt as to whether our right flank was in the air or not. The morning was misty though a bright sun was trying to percolate through the haze. About seven a.m. the Huns started shelling Hoplincourt and Barrastre Woods with 5.9' hows and searching behind the woods with pipsqueaks from the south. The remainder of the dump in Haplincourt wood was soon alight and crackling furiously. Two German balloons were up by eight and seemed to be looking right down on us. At nine a.m. we opened an SOS barrage at a slow rate of fire as the infantry have to withdraw, having no-one on their right. By ten a.m. the infantry began to pour back over the ridge and others seemed to be going up from the rear in support and there looked to be a real box up. However, that was only a gunner's point of view. By ten thirty a.m. we were putting down a very heavy barrage in front of the Green Line, which just ran to the front of Bertincourt and at eleven a.m. orders came through to limber up and retire. There was a heavy smoke barrage coming in from the south and suppose the Hun was trying to advance under cover of it.  The tanks went into action just in front of our section and drove the Huns back while the section under their cover completed their firing. On going back over the ridge the Major picked us up and said as there was no more ammunition to be had he was taking the right section back to the position, so to fire off what we had left and I, with the remaining two guns, was to proceed with guide to point of assembly where Siggers had the wagons and guns. From what we could gather, things were in a bad way and must say I did not expect to see either Major, Nicholson or the section again. We found Siggers just north of Le Transloy. He had two guns in action just off the road and the wagons in a valley behind them and had lost one team and a wagon in trying to get up through Bolancourt. On getting over the Le Transloy road, we just ran into the Somme battlefield, which is simply one mass of shell holes, large and small, and, if you get off the road, it is well nigh impossible to get on again. Siggers already had a GS wagon bogged in a shell hole going down to the lines. When we got it out, we proceeded to have or try to get some lunch and await orders and about one fifteen p.m. the Major, Nicholson, Cruikshank and the section joined us, much to everyone's relief.

When lunch was over and we were looking for a way onto the Boulancourt-Guedecourt road a sudden panic started as the Huns were reported advancing on Boulancourt. We had a very rough track to go over to get onto the road and got one GS wagon hopelessly stuck and had to abandon it. The body of the four-wheeled Mess cart also smashed and had to be abandoned with a lot of kit. My kit was left, but luckily someone came along and salvaged it and put it on an ammunition wagon. We then commenced a very trying trek along bad roads which were packed with traffic and infantry all making for the west. As we went along some batteries dropped into action on the south side of the road and fired with open sights due south. At one time it looked as if we would all be captured and if the Hun had had any cavalry there we should have been. The tanks combined with infantry wallowed about the crests of various hills over the shell-pitted country to ward off any rush that might be made on our rear guard. It took us over two hours to go half a mile and the Hun was cunningly dropping some HV shells about the road, trying to cause a panic. In fact he knocked out Brigadier General Barnet Barker (5th Brigade) who was resting by the side of the road. About five thirty p.m. the Colonel came along looking very worried and decided to sidetrack us towards Le Barque and Le Sars, as there were all manner of wagons stuck in the road in front of us, they having sunk through surface and got into the gluey clay mud peculiar to the Somme country. We got onto an old road running due north and eventually came out at Le Barque where we found the traffic very much blocked too. By nine thirty p.m. we were on the main Bapaume-Albert Road, refilled at Butte de Warlencourt, bivouacked at Le Sars, with everything ready for an immediate move or action.

While on the main Bapaume Road numbers of enemy planes flew on towards Albert leaving us alone, but I shuddered to think of the execution they could have done on such a bright night with their machineguns. The road was simply thick with traffic going either way - and all horse transport too. One aeroplane would have accounted for hundreds of horses, men and transport. In fact, one machine might easily have blocked the whole road.

Driver Smith PR, Gnr Belcher J and Gnr Ford R wounded in the team which was knocked out

Saturday 23 March 2013

Diary Entry - 23rd March, 1918

We were informed before dawn that we had to be ready to cover Beaumetz which had been taken during the night and that the enemy were to be checked by us if they attemped coming down the valley from Beaumetz. This meant a 45 degree switch, which made us enfilade the position with No. 1 gun. However, we had to do the best we could and chance a premature as there was no room to move out to the right. About twelve, we caught a glimpse of the enemy crossing the ridge and got onto him with open sights at 3000 and continued to put down a barrage, searching behind the crest. Nothing appeared to happen of much importance till one p.m. when we noticed machine gun fire seemed to be coming from direction of Velu wood. Then things began to happen, shells fell in vicinity of position from direction of Velu Wood, our left rear, and machine gun bullets began to whistle over our heads. Fortunately, the wagon lines had kept a good eye on us and as they thought things seemed strange to the left had the limbers up. Orders came at one thirty to limber up and we were away in all haste in ten minutes with machine gun bullets fairly whistling around. No horses had come up for us and we footed it, meeting the Colonel near Bertincourt Sucrerie. He warned us to leave Bertincourt on our right, as the Huns were through Velu wood. Unfortunately, having no horses to guide the guns away, F subsection's gun went back the same way as they came, between Bertincourt and Velu wood and were soon under machine gun fire. The wheel driver, Dr. Davies, was killed with a bullet through the head and a centre horse hit, the team took charge but the drivers bravely stuck to their horses and eventually rejoined the battery back near Villers au Flos. The Major, Nicholson and myself in the meantime wandered off to the left of Bertincourt with our one gun and a few men getting along in haste from shells and machine gunfire. We eventually picked up a track to Ytres then proceeded by Bus and across country to Villers au Flos. The Major went on to meet the Colonel and when we got back we found the wagon lines to the northy of Rocuigny and the guns in action to the rear of Barrastre. The 9.2' gun was still searching and sweeping indiscriminately about the back areas and several lobbed close to the horse lines. The Major sent for me at the guns about five p.m. and he and self remained with the guns that night. We kept up harassing fire on Velu Wood all night. About eight p.m. the Hun was reported to have patrols in Bus and there was certainly a lot of machine gun fire coming from that direction but we could not make out what had happened to the 19th Div gunners who were on our right, as they remained absolutely silent. There was a certain amount of wind at ten p.m. and our wagon lines were ordered up to the guns in case we had to move off in a hurry. REs were busy just in rear of the position, digging a trench but all left when their task was finished at two p.m. Vosper and I had no kits up and spent the night walking about trying to keep the circulation going, as did most of the gunners.

Sgt. Beadle EW evacuated (not having got over the Beauchamp gas).

Fitter Shoesmith F wounded in action.
The abovementioned man was sitting on the gun as we came out of Bertincourt position and just behind that village as gun went off the road up a slight bank he lost his balance, fell under the gunwheel and had his leg smashed. We passed him off on a CCS at Bus, who were in the middle of packing up. It was his wish that he be put off there, but know I should sooner myself have been carried further to the rear as it is doubtful whether the horse ambulances could get away quick enough.

Dr. Davies G killed in action.

The large dump at Ytres commenced blazing about nine p.m. and was a really wonderful sight. Every few minutes there would be a huge flare lighting the sky to a dull red colour, then, a few seconds later, a muffled roar would reach us as a huge dump of shell - varying in calibre from 18-pounder to 15' howitzer - exploded. This dump burned on all night, periodically flaring up, giving off large explosions.

Friday 22 March 2013

Diary Entry - 22nd March, 1918

At four a.m. receive orders from guns to fetch up limbers and necessary transport but, as we had moved out our horses from the standings to the top of the ridge towards Bertincourt and there was a thick fog it took about two hours to get the teams turned out. It was as well the fog held or else we should have been for it going up the road in the open. Found, on reaching the rear position, that they had moved all the guns and kit back from Boar Valley with the wagons and transport they had at the forward wagon line early in the morning. But there was still some left up near the Boar position so I took a GS Wagon team up for it. All the gunners and officers were looking very tired as they had had few decent nights owing to mustard gas harassing fire and the recent days continual fire. The orders were to move back to the wagon lines in Haplincourt so Major and Cruikshank went on. Nicholson, Robson and I bring on the battery and meet Mr 9.2' naval gun bracketing the road behind Havrincourt wood, placing one round 24' plus and the next 25' minus every 45 seconds. There was no avoiding the gentleman so we went through at the trot with the result that half the kits fell off an overloaded GS wagon and the cook's cart body came unlimbered at the crucial moment. Ruyaulcourt had by the look of it been treated in the same manner a few minutes before our arrival so we did not linger there and eventually got to the wagon line, avoiding Bertincourt altogether. We thought we were for a day's rest but before lunch was over orders came in that BCs were to reconnoitre positions between Velu Wood and Bertincourt to cover Hermies which was being heavily attacked from the north. So five o'clock found Nicholson and myself leading the battery up in front to Bertincourt and eventually found the Major had a position in an old horse standing along side the seven ones. It was dark when all was ready and we turned in to a deep machinegun dug out but there was no sleep as the Colonel and various other people kept calling in all night and I turned out three times.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Diary Entry - 21st March, 1918

First day of spring. The German offensive begins at 4.40 p.m. Gunner Levison (left section) killed in action at advance wagon line by an HV shell splinter.

At a few minutes before five a.m. we were woken at the wagon lines by a heavy bombardment in the direction of Bullecourt, Benguy [?] and Moeuvres and a few minutes later shells began pouring into Haplincourt, from direction of Moeuvres, both 5.9' gun 4 10 cm gun shells. They mostly fell up the road in amongst the 41st Brigade. The Hun kept straafing the village with one round about every minute and by seven thirty a.m. there was news that 8 horses had been killed, two men and a number of others inujured. At six o'clock the shelling started on a dump in Haplincourt wood It consisted of SAA tank ammunition (3-pounder) and petrol. It soon got going and there was a tremendous crackling of rifle ammunition intermingled with the bursting of the shells. The fire burnt out in about an hour. The Hun either switched one gun or owing to bad laying got off the original line as shells began to fall in the 15th wagon lines but luckily they got their horses out after the first round. The shelling eased a bit at twelve p.m. but continued right on till dusk. About eleven a.m. a big enemy gun probably a 9.2' naval gun began shooting on Barrastre Wood searching back to a Nissan Hut camp on the left hand side of the road. Siggers and the Padre nearly met their death by inquisitively looking at the hole one of these shells made when another landed only seven feet from them, but they luckily escaped with a shaking.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Diary Entry - 20th March, 1918

A cold day, but fining up. Attend stables. A fairly quiet day all round.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Diary Entry - 19th March, 1918

Attend stables in the morning and take it fairly easily. It was inclined to rain in the morning but held off till the evening. Major came down for lunch. Had a look round and we all walked to Villers au Flos in the afternoon to see the agricultural officer about seeds.

Monday 18 March 2013

Diary Entry - 18th March, 1918

A beautiful day. There appeared to be a tank demonstration on the plain between Haplincourt and Bertincourt and when I rode across to Etricourt I was almost enmeshed by tanks and generals. Found Quiller Couch at RA and he discovered where the 9th Division were for me. I rode on to Nurlu to find B battery, 50th Brigade, as Uncle Bell was with them, but when I found them I discovered he was at the guns. However, they gave me lunch at the wagon lines and I rode back in the afternoon. Siggers went up to the guns to see the Major and got back about the same time as me.

Diary Entry - 17th March, 1918

My eyes had improved greatly by midday and at four I have a look round and find Siggers has unearthed a nice black mare for me, my groom having lifted it off some DAC lines. Dr Cox, Siggers's groom, also brought back a horse, but he sent it back. In the evening McKenna and I strolled over to see the clover field which we had wired off for the horses and had placarded with reserved for Vth Corps. Bdr Clarke, C and Gnr Law were gassed.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Diary Entry - 16th March, 1918

Wake up with very sore eyes caused by getting some mustard in them from somewhere but goodness knows where. After breakfast Sergeant Higgins and I set out for the wagon lines and when I got in the light my eyes were very painful and swelled right up. There were a number of other officers and men in the brigade in worse condition than myself and Dixon, Claudet, Kershaw (evacuated) and McKinty were all very bad, especially the second two. On arrival at the wagon lines I lay up for the afternoon in the dark but in the evening when the sun had gone down we all went to the 17th Divisional Show called the Duds, which was quite a good show but very crowded, the fellow dressed as a flapper was splendid.

Friday 15 March 2013

Diary Entry - 15th March, 1918

Take it quietly all day and in the evening take a section up near Boar Copse into the 9th Battery old position and fired off 200 rounds, scattering them about the Hun lines.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Diary Entry - 14th March, 1918

Misty morning with wind in the east from the Hun lines. A lot of buzzing could be heard in their lines, sounding like motors - and lots of them - so I reported it to the brigade as probably enemy tanks moving up under the mist, adding a little more wind to the already windy staff.  Colonel and Vaisey came in for lunch. I slept at guns, the Huns again gassed us, commencing about nine p.m. and carrying on for one and a half hours.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Diary Entry - 13th March, 1918

Go group OP at ten a.m. and relieve the seven ones, a very quiet day and a good light. Lots of movement could be seen well behind their lines, especially on the road leading into Marcoing from Cambrai. I tried to get the heavies onto it without success. At night the Huns again bombarded with gas from round Le Quennet Farm, right up to Bourlon Wood. The guns must be moved up at night as you can see the flashes quite easily.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Diary Entry - 12th March, 1918

Go down to the Metz position which has been altered and is no longer on the Trescault Metz road but near the Havrincourt wood. Cruickers was down there and they were getting along digging cupolas down into the ground. A Hun was brought down in the morning and was claimed by the battery Lewis gunners, though an aeroplane really brought it down. Cruickers comes up in the evening, Barrett going down - the former sleeps at the guns. We take a section up to Boar Copse and fire off 200 rounds, scattering it all round the place. The Hun put more mustard over at night, commencing about ten p.m. and pumping it over for about three hours. We had to fire in the middle of it all, as a deserter had walked over and said the Hun was to attack at dawn, so we fired from midnight onwards as counter preparation and all the time the position was being shelled. But again we were disappointed and nothing happened and as a result of the mustard three or four of the men's eyes were affected and Cruickers got a whiff of it too.

Monday 11 March 2013

Diary Entry - 11th March, 1918

Spend rather an unpleasant night in the mine at the guns as some gunner mistook my cubicle for a urinal which was most unpleasant. He was walking in his sleep. I think it was mainly due to the fact that we had received a barrel of stout from the wagon line and they had been making the most of it. Nothing exceptional happened during the day - it was very quiet but again beautifully warm and sunny. Nicholson went to the wagon lines early in the morning, for him, leaving here at nine a.m

Sunday 10 March 2013

Diary Entry - 10th March, 1918

Being orderly officer have a good day with the Lewis gun as the Hun persisted in coming over to register some of the back area positions. I must have got off 400 rounds when the gun jammed and we had to pull it to pieces, finding a small part broken. As it was a nice still evening, the Hun started to put over gas shell at eight p.m, continuing for about three hours, but having good dug outs well curtained, we were not bothered at all, though the infantry had heavy casualties.

Saturday 9 March 2013

Diary Entry - 9th March, 1918

Another bright sunny day, the expected attack by the Hun never came off. We ran another gun up to Boar Copse.

Friday 8 March 2013

Diary Entry - 8th March, 1918

Do group OP and relieve B87 and 19th Div battery attached to this group. A heavy ground mist obscured the view in the morning but it was better towards evening. In the evening the 63rd Div rather stirred things up on the left as they had a raid and did not let anybody know about it. In the evening we took a gun up in front of Boar Copse and did a little promiscuous straafing, the main idea being to make the Hun think the old positions round there were still occupied and draw some of his hate away from us. The weather just now seems to have taken a good turn. We have warm days like the beginning of May.

Thursday 7 March 2013

Diary Entry - 7th March, 1918

Walk to rear position near Metz and then on to forward wagon line. On the way down Trescault slope got a bit of a start as the Hun put down a heavy barrage on the Flesquierre front but nobody came over. Funnily enough, he did the same thing at two fifteen p.m for no apparent reason. Meet Siggers at the forward WL and walk back to the guns with him, meeting various people on the way - Mills, Claudet, Sanger, Thorburn. Again stroll down to Metz position in the afternoon with Siggers and Major to inspect our mine, which we are building in conjunction with the seven ones.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Diary Entry - 6th March, 1918

Do FOO in artillery lane but it was very hazy and could only see little individual movement, which I occasionally went to gunfire on and made the Huns keep undercover. Robson came up in the afternoon and we registered the tank. At night I did liaison with the 2nd OX and Bucks commanded by Colonel Crosse. They had all been with the battalion some time and were nice men, which is rather unusual as a gunner officer always feels rather out of it when doing liaison. They had great stories about the Hun coming over on the tenth and quite put the wind up me.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Diary Entry - 5th March, 1918

Major and Robson go to Metz to look for wagon line, also to visit near position. A walk up to the tank gun in a strong wind which is blowing from the west. The enemy's planes were very active during the morning and ours seemed to be very inactive. We do more gas drill in the evening. The colonel returned off leave, arriving up at HQ in the afternoon.

Monday 4 March 2013

Diary Entry - 4th March, 1918

Orderly officer - remain at the guns. A damp hazy day. We put in more gas drill in the afternoon, doing about half an hour in helmets.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Diary Entry - 3rd March, 1918

I was very sorry to hear that Shapland had died during the night, poor chap. HG Shapland was a nice young chap, about 23 years old, very keen and enthusiastic in everything he did and by no means slow witted but, rather, fairly clever. Still cold wind blowing and inclined to sleet so instead of riding I set out on foot for the guns. Meet Todd at Bertincourt Sucrerie and also catch a lorry which takes me to Metz. Find Claudet and Armytage working at their rear position, which is referred to by all other batteries as the Handly Page aerodrome, the gunpits being such a huge blot on the landscape. Also run into Cruikers, who is on his way down to WL. In the afternoon Major and I walk to the battalion and OP, fire on a tank and arrange about a battalion stunt which is to come off at one a.m. The duckboards were very slippery and the ground very heavy walking, making one tired by the time we got back.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Diary Entry - 2nd March, 1918

Very cold, strong east wind. Padre and I set out for 48th CCS to see Shapland and it was so cold riding over the plains that I felt like turning back, the wind simply cut your face like a knife. We found the hospital the other side of Ytres and an MO told us Shapland was very serious and, although he knew us in going in to see him, he looked to me very much like a loser in the great game of life. Padre and I rode on to Etricourt in a young blizzard then back across country in the teeth of the wind and snow. In the afternoon an organ, (collapsible type) arrived for the Padre, being sent out by the colonel. It was in a somewhat rocky condition when it arrived but the wheeler righted it and we had it going well in the evening.

Diary Entry - 1st March, 1918

An orderly arrives in the morning to say Shapland has been wounded in the head and is at Ytres CCS. Apparently he had been bathing in a splinter proof in the trench above the Mess and a pipsqueak landed about nine feet from the door, a splinter going through the entrance and hitting him on the head. This had happened on the previous evening. Robson and Barrett left for the guns in the morning, calling at the CCS on the way up. It was again freezing and a cold east wind was blowing, turning into a real April day in the afternoon, with cold sleet storms. Siggers and I rode out to see the clover was being fenced in, then walked over to Villers au Flos to see the corps agricultural officer.