Jan. 11th - 9 am,
back at Louvencourt.
Jan. 12th - Trailed back to Hebuterne (8 miles) and reached the old familiar dug-out.
Jan. 14th - The enemy bombarded us very freely. Some shells burst just outside the entrance to our dug-out and the fumes were sickening.
Jan. 15th - The Battalion was relieved by the Worcesters mid-day and we returned to Bus-Les-Artois.
Jan. 21st - Off up the line, and took over H.W. Station.
Jan. 22nd - Our artillery ranged their guns on Gommecourt Wood, and bumped a lot of stuff over. The reply was weak.
Jan. 26th - Bus-les-Artois.
Jan. 28th - The Signal Section detailed to proceed to Louvencourt and there assist in the erection of huts.
Jan. 31st - Back in the trenches again.
Feb. 1st-13th - The enemy frequently opened up a hefty cannonade on crumbling Hebuterne with 8-inch and lesser sized shells.
Feb. 14th-18th - The Battalion took over part of the Bucks Battalion's line. Rain set in and surely flooded the dug-out. Watched Howitzer shells bursting on German trenches. None of us had any sleep to speak of.
Feb. 19th - Relieved at last, we trooped off to Courcelles.
Feb. 20th - Indulged in a sprinkler bath at Bus.
Feb. 21st - The Divisional Band played selections in the barn near our billets.
Feb. 23rd - Trenches.
Feb. 24th-March 1st - Rotten time altogether. Fuel extremely scarce. Snow fell continually for days. It had just dawned on the Army Command way back in their cosy chateau that the winter season existed. There was little rejoicing when we did get a bearskin apiece at the 11th hour.
March 2nd -
Relieved. Tramped back to Sailly-au-Bois for the alleged "rest"
March 3rd-5th - Snow. The Signal Section engaged the Machine Gun Section in a very formidable snowball battle. The Signals spent their evenings around a log fire in the billet listening to the gramophone.
March 6th - Back to Hebuterne, wallowing in the half-frozen mud. The Battalion took over "G" Sector via the long communication trench known as Vir St. Gatrix.
March 7th-12th - Spent a most unpleasant time. Plenty of snow fell on the 10th.
March 13th - Our old friend Sergt. Durrant killed at 11.30 pm.
March 14th - Sailly-au-Bois.
March 15th - Flag-wagging and foot drill.
March 16th - A very rough football match took place between 'B' and 'C' Companies.
March 18th - The Battalion occupied the trenches in "G" Sector. The German shelling very severe.
March 25th - Sailly-au-Bois.
March 29th - Cleared up the billet prior to the usual jaunt to Hebuterne.
March 31st - Palf and I were helping ourselves to some tea out of a dixie standing near the entrance to a cellar, and hearing the soft whistle of shells passing through the air the whistling developed into the too familiar swooping noise. Palf flung himself down the cellar steps while I fell prone as the 5 shells burst within a few yards of us. Somebody yelled out that he was wounded, and a stretcher-bearer took charge of the lucky blighter (complete with "Blighty" touch). Nothing remained of the Dixie of tea. My eardrums ceased to function for some hours owing to the nearness of the explosions.
April 2nd -
Attended Church Service in the cellar of Pumping Station.
April 4th - Back to Sailly-au-Bois.
April 5th - The Battalion trekked to the anemone-carpeted Couin Woods, and billetted in huts.
April 6th - Enjoyed a concert in the wood given by a talented party.
April 7th - The Divisional Band played.
April 8th - The troupe called 'The Varlets' gave a fine show in the barn.
April 9th - Sunday. It fell to the lot of the Battalion and the Oxford and Bucks Battalion to undertake a very delicate task; the digging of a trench about a mile long to connect up the extreme flanks of the salient front line at Hebuterne, fixing up barbed wire entanglements along the whole length 5 yards in front of the new trench, and digging pits at intervals to the rear of the trench. The Battalion reached Hebuterne by dark. A strong patrol of the Berkshire Regiment were lying in grass near the German entanglements, on guard covering operations. Hour after hour we worked and the Germans did not show the slightest sign of 'wind-up', a proof of the cat-like method we adopted. The trench and wiring were nearly finished when to our astonishment the Berks patrol came towards us in a panic. Wind-up! Without a word the entire body of men made for the newly made trench and stood with fixed bayonets ready for the onslaught. Not even a grass-hopper approached. The whole operation was finished before the first streak of dawn without a single casualty.
April 12th - The Battalion left Couin Wood for Hebuterne to relieve the Bucks Battalion in the line.
April 13th - The Germans poured a stream of hell fire on the new trench and a working party out digging a communication trench to the new line suffered heavy casualties.
April 15th - About 11 pm the Germans let hell loose on us. The terrific bombardment lasted about 15 minutes. Nerve-racked, we came out at 3 am.
Apr 16th - I rested. Sergt. Jennings was wounded, and Cpl. Fred Reeves took charge of the Signal Section.
Apr 17th - I was detailed to accompany Bill Hopkins on a telephone wiring stunt out to the new trench in the evening. Forgetful of the steel-helmet, I left the dug-out wearing a soft hat. Bill and I walked out into No Man's Land along a water-logged sap, passing through a zig-zag secret path to the other side of the wide belt of barbed wire entanglements. A heavy storm of rain broke over us. Bill had connected up some fresh wires at a point midway between the old and new trench, and went off to the pit some distance away, leaving me alone. I saw the wide familiar cordon of flashes extending some miles along the German horizon. I immediately flung myself bodily in a 5.9 shell-hole which was half full of water, and tried to bury as much of myself as possible in the thick muddy sides of the crator. As shells burst nearer and red-hot shrapnel plonked around in the sodden ground, I saw no possible chance of my getting away alive. A "Minnie" burst just to my right, rending the air for 7 ot 8 seconds with the fearful crashing din of its explosion, and showering me with mud and water. 20 minutes I endured thus, and to my immense relief the German batteries ceased to fire. I then crawled in the mud towards the new trench and continued my way towards the pit where I knew Bill was waiting, keeping well to the side. Bill and I made up our minds to dash back together. We had run about half way and the German batteries opened up another bombardement. We fell flat in the mud and hoped for the best. This straffe was not so intense as the previous one and lasted for only 10 minutes, but quite long enough. We wormed our way to the wire and found the gap through the entanglements. Bill and I negotiated the sloppy, muddy sap with careful strides and reached the Company Signal Station in the original front line. I was about to enter the dug-out when I heard, with a start, our batteries on the Plain open up a bombardment in reprisal. The sudden blast of the cannonade set up a violent reaction on my nerves which had been shattered, and I fell into the dug-out in a state of hysteria. Fred Reeves and Wally Deavin made a dixie of cocoa for Bill and I, and endeavoured to brighten me up. After a few hours rest in the bunk, Fred escorted me to HQ Signal Station in the village. The doctor gave me a few quinine tablets to go on with!
Apr 18th - Convalescent at HQ, but feeling much better after a night's sleep.
Apr 20th - The Battalion was relieved and marched to Couin Woods. The billetting area in the woods, where the huts stood, was churned up by our predecessors into a regular slush. Listened to the Divisional Band in the afternoon.
Apr 21st - At mid-day, the Battalion tramped back to Sailly-Au-Bois and took over strange billets in an out-of-the-way place.
Apr 22nd-30th - Beautiful weather prevailed. Ernie Biles and Bill Pracher were appointed Cooks-Extraordinary to the Section, and the meals they dished up were quite good.
May 1st - Left Sailly for the trenches. I took over Station J.Z. The Battalion relieved the R. Berks. Members of the London Division manned parts of the front line, while some were stationed in Hebuterne itself.
May 2nd-6th - Nothing of military importance happened.
May 7th - Sunday. Attended service in cellar. Rev. Meek preached.
May 10th - The Battalion was rlieved by the Bucks Battalion and marched to Coigneux. Housed in tents, ten "thick" in each.
May 12th - At sundown, the Battalion marched to Hebuterne for the purpose of digging a lengthy cable trench across a portion of "G" Sector for our esteemed pals the Royal Engineers. Picks and spades were doled out at Sailly on the way up, and everyone seemed eager to capture the lightest implement to work with. "Whacker" Phillips would have chosen a cardboard spade if such a variety had graced the dump. Spreading ourselves out along the route of the proposed trench line, the Blue and White Banded Engineers acting as Formen, each of us started digging out allotted span.
May 13th - Met my brother, Ernest, who had joined the Battalion with other reinforcements.
May 15th - The Battalion left for Authie. Arrived 11am.
May 18th - The 145th Brigade marched to Beauval. Lovely weather.
May 19th-30th - Our stay at Beauval was exceedingly jolly throughout. The Brigade was stationed here for the long-expected rest, with plenty of training thrown in. "Housey Housey" (the only game of chance approved by the Army Council) found numerous devotees in the Beauval Estaminets. The Divisional Band gave frequent concerts in the Square. Towards the latter part of our stay at Beauval, the Doctor got a move on with his needle and innoculated all and sundry.
May 31st - The 145th Brigade left Beauval at an early hour and marched to Coulonvillers. We had breakfast on the road. The distance covered was about 14 miles.
June - St. Riquier. The Battalion assisted in preparations for the July offensive. All roads leading to the line were alive with moving transport, troops, Howitzer Batteries, field guns, and long range pieces, ear-marked for the mission "Kill at any price."
July 1st - 145th
Brigade and 144th Brigade in reserve to the VIII Corps. Dawn was
breaking when the Battalion passed the outskirts of Hebuterne on
its way to Mailly Maillet. Our Batteries cannonade was at full
blast. Enemy shells were seen frequently bursting over Hebuterne.
Scotch troops were holding the line there, ready to attack at a
given signal right along the front. Numerous observation balloons
peopled the skies.
July 2nd - The Battalion bivouacked on the fringe of Mailly Maillet. Prior to moving off in the evening to attack Thiepval, Rev. Helm conducted Holy Communion Service on some rising ground just beyond the camp. Under the cover of night the Battalion marched to a point within a mile of their rendezvous. A very liberal rum issue took place. I went off with another Signaller to find Brigade HQ in order to secure a few reels of telephone wire. We passed a Field Ambulance on the way, and the road was lined for some distance with rows of stretcher-cases. Here and there one noticed a motionless form swathed in blankets. It was a grim, sad sight. Gas alarm given! German gas drifting slowly towards us. Put on respirators. On rejoining the Battalion we learned that the attack was postponed.
July 4th-18th - The Battalion returned to Hebuterne. Usual trench routine. Ample evidence of the fruitless attack by the Scotch troops on July 1st.
July 19th - The Welsh Division relieved the 48th Division in this portion of the line. The Battalion trekked to Bouzincourt.
July 20th - The Battalion left for Ovillers-La-Boiselle to engage in the Battle of the Somme. Passing through Albert one noticed the shell-torn church. In the vicinity of La Boiselle one saw the battlefield of July 1st. One heroic group of dead met my gaze on the left of the road. They were all Lewis gunners, and their officer lay out-stretched in the centre of them. The long winding German trench leading to Ovillers-la-Boiselle was littered with German corpses. The relieved Battalion of Worcesters filed past us in the trench, and many of them were in a state of hysteria. HQ Details made a temporary harbour in a spacious down-sloping dugout - fitted up by the Germans as a Dressing Station. At the far end stood the operating table, while on the floor were scattered the ghastly remnants thrown down by the surgeon. The stench was terrible. We all filed into this fearful place until the dugout was packed with men. Most of us threw off our kits. Ten minutes elapsed, and to our horror the gas alarm was raised. I went "cold", for it was a couple of minutes before I could find my respirator in the darkness amongst the jumbled kits. It turned out to be a false alarm. The Battalion held a portion of a Communication trench leading to Sky Line Trench, while the Germans held the remaining length. A thick barrier of Hun dead thrown up by the Germans separated the combatants.
July 21st-29th - Ensued nights of fierce fighting, the Battalion's objective being Sky Line Trench. Mills bombs and rifle grenades were chiefly used. One night "C" Company were lying out in the open ready to attack directly our artillery barrage fell, but the Germans "smelt a rat" and dropped their curtain of fire on our fellows a quarter of an hour before our attack was due to commence. The order was given "every man for himself." My brother was one of the few to get back into the communication trench unscathed. I was at the Signalling Lamp Station some hundred yards away with at that time Harry Blackwell, Mackeller, and Ray Hillyard. Shells burst all round the sap where we crouched. Many of the signallers, bandsmen, sappers and others were called upon to assist in stretcher-bearing one morning after a big fight. On the way up to the Dressing Station we passed scores of stretcher cases being to taken to a Field Ambulance. Among them I recognised our esteemed Capt. R.J.C. Little, Commander of "B" Company his face drawn and deadly pale.
July 30th - The Battalion was relieved by the Bucks Battalion. With sorely depleted ranks, the Battalion marched to a small camp on the outskirts of Albert for the night. On the way to the camp I looked back towards the line and beheld one long blazing inferno of bursting shells out of which streamed countless very lights.
July 31st - The Battalion marched miles back to the peaceful village of Cramont.
Aug. 1st-14th - The Battalion trained and rested at Cramont. Meanwhile, reinforcements arrived to join the Battalion. I was transferred from the Signal Section to a clerkship on the Orderly Room Staff. The OR staff consisted of the Adjutant, Capt. J.P. Winterbotham, Sergt. E. Turner, Wally Orchard, and myself.
Aug. 15th - The Battalion trailed back to Bouzincourt.
Aug. 16th - The Battalion went into the line at Ovillers-La-Boiselle.
Aug. 17th-26th - Major G.F. Collett took command vice his brother, Lt-Col. J.H. Collett, who went to Hospital sick.
Aug. 27th - Two Companies attacked and captured a German trench near Mouquet Farm, taking a machine gun and over 90 prisoners of the Prussian Guards. The casualties suffered in the two phases of fighting in this area numbered 54 killed, 428 wounded, and 95 missing.
Aug. 28th - The Battalion was relieved and bivouaced on the outskirts of Bouzincourt.
Sept. 8th - The Battalion relieved the Bucks Battalion in the trenches near Beaumont Hamel.
Sept. 10th - Relieved.
Sept. 11th - Entered Beauval again for a long spell of severe training.
Oct. 1st - The
Battalion migrated to Humbercourt.
Oct. 2nd - Marched a few more kilos and stopped at Warlincourt.
Oct. 10th - In view of an offensive brewing in the region of Gommecourt, the Battalion made tracks for Hebuterne to engage in the attack. Marched to Henu.
Oct. 14th - Took over the trenches at Hebuterne.
Oct. 17th - The offensive did not reach boiling point and the Battalion trailed back to Henu.
Oct. 19th - Warlincourt.
Oct. 21st - Humbercourt.
Oct. 22nd - Beauval.
Oct. 23rd - We moved South to Talmas.
Oct. 24th - Reached Behencourt, near Flixecourt.
Nov. 1st - Contalmaison.
Nov. 2nd-9th - The Battalion took over the trenches at Le Sars, opposite the Butte de Warlincourt. All communication to the front line was overland, and the Communicators were impassable owing to the fearful mud. The German artillery played havoc with our relieving parties. Any movement by day was out of the question.
Nov. 10th - Terrible weather prevailed. The Battalion waded back to Shelter Wood Camp, a most unromantic spot.
Nov. 14th - Into the trenches again.
Nov. 17th - Martinpuich.
Nov. 21st - The sodden troops cooled their heels in Middle Wood Camp. The camp consisted of dozens of tumble-down shacks with perforated roofs, scattered over the face of a mud swamp on a bit of a hill.
Nov. 27th - Trailed to Scotts Redoubt Camp.
Nov. 30th - Trenches.
Dec. 4th - Shelter Wood Camp.
Dec. 9th - Middle Wood Camp.
Dec. 13th - Scotts Redoubt Camp.
Dec. 14th - Trenches. In spite of the fact that no offensive operations were undertaken, at Le Sars our casualties were 22 killed, 64 wounded, and 3 missing. Sickness was rife; 113 officers and other ranks were so invalided as to be struck off the strength of the Battalion.
Dec. 15th - The 15th (Scottish Division) relieved the Battalion.
Dec. 16th - Villa Camp.
Dec. 17th - The Battalion moved on to Becourt Camp for "rest", and to await reinforcements. Well-timbered huts.
Dec. 25th - Christmas Day. The weather was anything but seasonable, but the constant drizzle did not dampen our determination to enjoy ourselves.
Jan. 10th - Under
the command of Lt-Col. A.B. Skinner, the Battalion marched into
Merelessart, a most delightful village situated far from the boom
of cannon. Here we were destined to stay, for the purpose of
training, for the best part of a month.
Jan. 11th-29th - Off parade, Signallers dived off in various directions - usually in parties of 3 - to their favourite estaminets.
Jan. 30th - The Battalion marched away to Hamel.
Feb. 3rd - Moved on
again to Froissy and established ourselves in Marly Camp vacated
by a regiment of French soldats (108th Regiment).
Feb. 8th - Battalion went into line opposite Barleux and La Maisonette, the Germans opposite being of the Prussian Guards.
Feb. 13th - Sophie Trench.
Feb. 18th - Marly Camp.
Feb. 25th - Sophie Trench.
Feb. 29th - La Maisonette Trenches.
Mar. 3rd - The Battalion marched back to Cappy.
Mar. 8th - Achille Wood, Cappy.
Mar. 11th - Trenches.
Mar. 13th - Cappy. I witnessed a painful event. One of our "Sausage" Observation Balloons was attacked in mid-air by a German Taube. The usual thing happened. A thin wisp of smoke trails up from the top of the envelope increasing in density every second. Within 10 seconds the balloon is a raging mass of flames from end to end. One of the airmen (the 2nd to jump from the basket) did not leap forward enough, and the parachute brought him down in the direct line of the balloon overhead. The blazing mass descended rapidly and engulfed the parachute and man in mid-air.
Mar. 16th - Two Companies of the Battalion under Capt. Conder, MC, with 2 Companies of the 1/4th O.B.L.I. captured a German rearguard at La Maisonette. They were the only units in the 5th Army to do this. Three Germans were killed and 6 captured from the 88th Prussian Regiment.
Mar. 17th - The Warwick Brigade continued the attack and took Peronne.
Mar. 18th - The Battalion was relieved and marched back to Cappy.
Mar. 19th - At 4 pm the Battalion began its long, weary march to Peronne. The going was most treacherous, especially the last few miles along the shell-pitted bank of the River Somme. The obstacles were many, and having been warned of booby-traps left by retreating Germans, everyone was more or less "breezy." The night was intensely dark. The outskirts of Peronne were reached at 9.30 pm. Practically all the houses and public buildings had been destroyed by the Hun (although within easy reach of British artillery the town had never been shelled by our guns). Ahead near the Grand Place houses were still in flames. HQ staff was billetted in what appeared to be a convent school.
Mar. 21st - The Battalion moved forward in the wake of the retreating German Army, with Ward's Flying Column. This Column also comprised the 1/4th OBLI, 2 batteries of Field Artillery, 1 section of MG, and a squadron of the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry. At Doignt, the first village passed after leaving Peronne, the formidable reserve positions prepared by the Germans, lay deserted in all their glory. The lines of trenches were thoroughly modern and heavily wired in front. The Hun had felled scores of huge trees across various roads to delay the progress of our transport. Our fellows discovered that many of these trees absolutely bristled with hidden bombs which exploded at the slightest interference. The Battalion halted at Cartigny. Meanwhile Sergt. Tunner, Wally Orchard and I remained at Peronne in the orderly room.
Mar. 24th - The Battalion moved forward to Bouvincourt. Here the released inhabitants received the 1/5th Glosters with loud acclamations. The hungry people clustered round our cookers and were given substantial meals. Later, the Mayor of Bouvincourt presented a French flag to our Colonel W. Adams as a token of gratitiude from the inhabitants.
Mar. 27th - Cartigny. Orderly Room staff joined the Battalion with the boxes of "state papers", also the large bag of mysteries (according to the Quartermaster) and typewriter.
Mar. 29th - The Battalion returned to Doignt.
Mar. 31st - Forward again to Tincourt.
Apr. 3rd -
Battalion moved up to Epehy from Divisional Reserve after long,
tiresome march by night, and took up their position in exposed
trenches running round the fringe of the village. Here we were
shelled incessantly by the German 5.9 batteries behind the
Hindenburg line. Luckily for us the majority of shells were duds
and plunged into a grave of soft clay near the edge of the trench.
Snow fell thick and fast during the early hours. Shelling
increaed as the day wore on, and it was unsafe to venture out.
Apr. 4th - At 7.30 pm the Battalion moved back to Villers Faucon.
Apr. 5th - The Battalion attacked and captured the village of Ronnsoy, suffering 60 casualties. Signaller Bill Biles killed in action.
Apr. 6th - Bill Biles laid to rest in the French Cemetery at Villers Faucon, as also was Pte Trenfield. At sundown the Battalion marched to St. Emelie and bivouacked in neighbouring fields.
Apr. 7th - Scoured village for souvenirs. Witnessed the ghastly effect of a few direct hits by our Howitzer and Field Batteries on a German machine gun nest near the edge of a commanding ridge. Dead men were distributed in all directions. One "Jerry" looked extraordinarily gruesome, the fellow's head had been carved right away leaving only his face attached to the body. At 4 pm the Battalion marched to Hamel and occupied fairly respectable billets.
Apr. 8th - Divisonal Band entertained us while Hun shells pounded the green acres outside the village walls.
Apr. 13th - The Battalion, in conjunction with the rest of 145th Brigade, moved to and occupied Lempire. Captured 50 prisoners.
Apr. 15th - St. Emelie bivouacks.
Apr. 16th - Gillemont farm in reserve.
Apr. 18th - Lempire.
Apr. 19th - Railway cutting camp.
Apr. 25th - Tombois Farm captured, thus bringing to a conclusion a series of victorious battles.
Apr. 26th - St. Emilie
Apr. 29th - Tincourt.
May 1st - The Battalion trooped off to Cartigny.
May 2nd - 48th Division relieved by 42nd Division. The Battalion marched to Le Mesnil Camp for a short spell of training.
May 12th - Under a blazing sun we moved off in column of route to Combles. We waded into the desolation of Combles in our own perspiration.
May 13th - Proceeded to Bancourt.
May 14th - On again to Beaumetz.
May 18th - Still further to Demicourt.
May 23rd - The Battalion took over the outpost line at Hermies near Havrincourt Wood on the south of the Bapaume-Cambrai road.
May 27th - Trailed back to Velu Wood in reserve.
May 29th - Back to Hermies.
June 4th - The
Battalion moved to Beaumetz.
June 9th - Hermies.
June 16th - Velu Wood.
June 22nd - Hermies
June 28th - Beaumetz.
June 30th - Hermies
July 2nd - Relieved by 1st Northumberland Fusiliers. Battalion moved to Fremicourt.
July 3rd - The long trail to Bellacourt started. It was a terribly hot day.
July 4th-20th - The Battalion underwent a course of intensive training, preparatory to taking part in the Battle of Ypres.
July 21st - Battalion marched to Pommier.
July 22nd - Rested.
July 23rd - Entrained for Godwaersvelde (Belgium). Marched from there to the camp at Houtkerque.
July 25th - I proceeded on leave to England.
July 31st - The Battalion occupied huts at the St. Jan Ter Beizen Camp (called Road Camp).
Aug. 4th -
Aug. 5th - Ypres.
Aug. 8th - Vlamertinghe.
Aug. 15th - Ypres. I returned to Dambre Camp, a sea of mud, from England. Heard of the Battalion's heavy casualties in the opening phase of the 3rd Battle of Ypres. Leslie Trinner was reported killed in action. by his death the Signal Section was deprived of one of it's best men.
Aug. 16th - St. Julien.
Aug. 18th - Vlamertinghe. I rejoined the Battalion.
Aug. 27th - Reigersburg Camp.
Aug. 28th - St. Julien. The Battalion again suffered heavy losses.
Aug. 29th - Dambre Camp. Battalion moved back to the huts at Road Camp.
Aug. 31st-Sept. 6th - Our stay at Road Camp was not without its charm. The 48th Divisional Band called twice and soothed the blighty-sick. The "Chinks" had their barbed wire encircled compound on the other side of the road, and their antics were very amusing. Met Sergt. Gwilliam, MM, of the 15th Division (late of the Signal Section).
Sept. 7th -
Battalion moved still further back to Alenbon in the Liques area.
At Alenbon the Battalion went into training. I was made Assistant-Editor
of the 5th Gloster's Gazette. Lieut. G. Hawkins was now the
Editor vice Rev. G.F. Helm.
Sept. 25th - Bonningues.
Sept. 26th - Reigersburg Camp.
Sept. 27th - Canal Bank (Ypres)
Oct. 3rd - Reigersburg
Oct. 9th - Dambre Camp
Oct. 13th - St. Jan Ter Beizen. The Battalion entrained at Hopoutre near Poperhinge at 10.25 am and detrained at Ligny St. Flochel at 5.30 pm. In a very warped condition after our long spell in overcrowded cattle trucks, we were herded into a field and awaited a hot meal. A bugle call heralded the hot meal - tea plus hot water. A 10 mile march brought us to Camblain L'Abbe.
Oct. 18th - The Battalion moved to Villers-Au-Bois, 3 miles away.
Oct. 19th-31st - The Divisonal Band entertained the Battalion towards the end of the stay in this restful haven. Coming events always cast shadows before. The event on this occasion was Vimy Ridge and the presence of the band to "cheer us up" gave us ample warning.
Nov. 1st - Marched
away and occupied trenches at Vimy Ridge. Transport stationed at
Nov. 9th - Winnepeg Camp, near Mont St. Eloy, occupied by the Battalion.
Nov. 13th - Wished Palf goodbye on his departure to England to take up a commission.
Nov. 14th - In column of route the Battalion marched to Tinques. Many rumours afloat.
Nov. 24th - The Battalion entrained at Tinques at 2.30 pm for an unknown destination (official). Of cours everyone knew it was Italy. The wheels of the train started to go round at 4.00 pm.
Nov. 25th - Passed through Epernay, continued to Chalons-Sur-Marne. Chaumont Viaduct, over the River Marne, was crossed at about 7.20 pm.
Nov. 26th - At 12 noon our train steamed into Amberieu situate in the heart of the mountains. Red Cross nurses very kindly gave us coffee and beaming smiles at the station. On again through magnificent scenery to Tenay. 3 pm Virieu Le Grand. 5.30 pm Aix-Les-Bains. 10.25 pm Epierre.
Nov. 27th - At 1 am the Mont Cenis Tunnel was behind us and the Italian frontier crossed. 11 am Turin. The Italians gave us a rousing welcome. Sergt. Proctor conducted a spirited rendering of "The Slashers" played by the band on the platform. This delighted the Italians very much. 1.30 pm Santhia. 6.0 pm At Milan the Battalion received the warmest welcome of all. The station was packed with cheering Milanese. It was an unforgettable welcome.
Nov. 28th - 1 pm. Modena. 3.30 pm Boulogna.
Nov. 29th - 9 am. The Battalion detrained at Mont Agnana. The temperature was at freezing point almost. At mid-day it had risen to baking point. Marched to Roveredo and arrived at 2.15 pm.
Nov. 30th - Hurried departure to Agugliaro. Weather very beautiful. We were still on the bully beef diet.
Dec. 2nd - Further
march to Rovolon, a delightful scattered village in the midst of
Dec. 3rd - During the afternoon the Companies took part in a climbing competition up Mont della Madonna, and prizes were offered for this event by the senior officers.
Dec. 4th - The Battalion marched on bag and baggage to Bosco di Nanto.
Dec. 5th - By the right QM to Villa France in glorious sunshine.
Dec. 6th-14th - On again to Campo S. Martino. HQ Details were billetted in the spacious cellar of a very large villa standing in extensive grounds. Various units of the Italian army passed through the town. The men seemed totally demoralised and quite a hopeless rabble of unshaven humans. I felt sorry for the ammunition-laden mules. The jolting of the boxes had stripped the skin clean away from both flanks. Owing to the antagonistic relations which had already been manifested between the British and Italian troops we were ordered to walk about armed.
Dec. 14th - The Battalion marched 11 miles to Stroparri. Observed shrapnel bursting on the summit of the distant mountains. HQ Details and one company billetted at Villa Jonach, half kilo away.
Dec. 29th - Weather very cold, yet bright and dry. No mails had reached the Battalion for weeks.
Jan. 5th - The
Battalion was inspected by General Plumer, C-In-C of the British
Forces in Italy.
Jan. 7th - Weather broke up very badly, and snow storms were rife.
Jan. 24th - The Battalion moved away to S. Giorgio in Bosco. Roads very bad for marching.
Jan. 25th - Plodded to S. Martino di Lupari. Weather very brilliant once more. Observed enemy 'planes bombing Castelfranco.
Jan. 26th - The Battalion marched to Resana.
Feb. 3rd - Cycled to Casacorba where the Divisional Band was playing to the Bucks Battalion billetted there.
Feb. 4th-13th - We spent many happy days in Resana enjoying the lovely weather.
Feb. 13th - The Battalion moved to Castagnole (a 15 mile foot-warmer). Halted at the roadside for dinner.
Feb. 14th-21st - German and Austrian 'planes bombed Treviso (3 miles away) every night without fail.
Feb. 26th - Marched to Cusignana.
Feb. 27th - The Battalion relieved the 22nd Manchesters (5th Division) in the right Divisional Sector near Nervesa on the southern bank of the River Piave. The Austrians held the opposite bank.
Feb. 28th-Mar. 2nd - An altogether tranquil period. The Austrians shelled but very little in the daytime, and rarely at night.
Mar. 3rd - During
the evening the Battalion was relieved and moved to a support
position situate about 3 miles to the south of Nervesa. The night
was dark and stormy.
Mar. 4th - Still raining.
Mar. 7th - The Battalion took over the right Sector at Nervesa on the Piave.
Mar. 11th - The Battalion moved to Reserve Line Giavera.
Mar. 13th - Relieved in Reserve by the 2nd Battalion 163rd Regiment of Italian Infantry, and off the Battalion trooped to Musana.
Mar. 14th - Marched about 8 miles to Badoere, a very quaint circular village.
Mar. 15th - Left Badoere and proceeded to Fossalta. Beautiful weather prevailed.
Mar. 16th - Continued our journey to S. Giorgio Delle Pertiche.
Mar. 21st - I was appointed to a clerkship on the staff of Col. Pitt-Taylor at the Liaison Office attached to 6th Italian Army, and on the morrow I proceeded to GHQ at Noventa.
Mar. 22nd - After breakfast I shouldered my pack and strode away from safe quarters and a rosy future, leaving behind me, and well I know it, friends as true as the steel they carried.