April 1917

APRIL 1917

1 Sunday

Reveille 6am.  Usual stable duties all day but got the afternoon off.  Preparations for moving again tomorrow to Beauval.  Weather still very wet and cold.

2 Monday

Reveille 5am.  Stables then breakfast at 5.45.  Move off at 8.30am for Beauval.  We treked via Villers, Bocage, Talmas and La Vicoque arriving Beauval after 2pm.  Poor lines for horses, very bad billets for men.  It poured very heavy on the journey but was worse at night.  Moving again tomorrow to Bouquemaison.  We marched about 17kls today.

3 Tuesday

Reveille 4.14am.  breakfast 5am.  Hooked in 8.15 moved off 9 am.  Were stopped before leaving the town until 10.10am.  We moved via Doullens to Bouquemaison, a distance of 14kls.  We arrived about 3pm.  Another bad place for horses.  Billets better but scattered and a long way from horse lines.

4 Wednesday

Reveille again 4.15moving to Ramecourt near St. Pol, a distance of 20kls.  We marched through Frevent, Neucqurand[1], Herlincourt arriving  Ramecourt about 3pm.  We have good horselines and billets.  Every day since the start it has been either rain or snow and very cold into the bargain.

5 Thursday

Reveille 6.30 breakfast 8, Marching order inspection 9.30.  Signalling practice remainder of the day and making preparations for moving tomorrow to Roellecourt.  Move tomorrow postponed 24 hours.

6 Friday

Reveille 6.30 breakfast 8.  Another marching order inspection then rifle exercise until 10.30.  Signalling remainder of the morning.  Afternoon of stables 5 – 5.30pm.  Preparations for moving tomorrow, very fine but turned to rain at midday.

7 Saturday

Reveille 4.15.  Busy night up to time of moving.  Moved off at 8.45 went through St. Pol to Roellecourt a distance of about 7 kls.  Weather fair but cold.  Got good billets and horse lines.

8 Sunday

Reveille 4.15 moved off 8.15 for Le Cauroy arriving there about 3pm after a good journey and splendid weather.  The billets and horselines not very good.  Moved through Ricametz, Maisnil – St. Pol, Buneville and Houvin-Houvigneul.  Rained very heavy towards night.

9 Monday

Still at Le Cauroy.  Got NCOs a mess fixed up in a private house.  Busy cleaning harness etc and visual signal practise.  Snow storms and wind all day.  Also sorting and dumping stores not required and getting visual stores put into working order.  We have travelled in a roundabout direction to get to our destination which seems as though it will be the Arras front.

10 Tuesday

Usual Reveille 6.30am.  Busy packing and dumping stores not required.  Expect to move today.  Very stormy more like mid-winter.  Hooked in and moved at 2.45pm for Berneville.  This is the worst day we have had for snow, it was terrible and bitter cold.  The distance about 17 kls.  Arrived at 8.10pm got tea 10.15pm and no sleep for the cold.  One of my wagons broke but we managed to get it through to the journey’s end.

11 Wednesday

?? before reveille which was 6.30 to try to get warmed through a bit as I was absolutely shivering with cold.  Grooming and harness all morning.  Cycles and visual stuff put ready for immediate use and wagons all packed awaiting order.  We are under 3 hours’ notice to move.  Weather wild with a little rain.  Orders to hook in to move at 2.30pm.  Move put off for one hour then cancelled altogether.  Snowing very heavy all the afternoon.

12 Thursday

Another night without sleep.  My blankets covered with snow when I got up.  Orders at 12 noon to move at 1.30pm, moved and arrived in arras after a few stops at 4.10.  No billets or horse lines taken for us.  Horses picketed in goods station yard.  Fritzy shelling about this place.  Not feeling very well today.  To bed early.

13 Friday

Reveille 6.30.  Usual stables.  11am ordered to remove horses and wagons as goods yard is to be used as a railhead.  Mid-day moved off to place near the Citadel.  2pm preparations for visual Signs to move forward.  Left at 4pm for Christchurch caves in Ronville.[2]  Getting ready to move out at 5am tomorrow to occupy stations.  These caves are very extensive and are supposed to have provided the stone for the building of the houses in Ronville.

14 Saturday

Up at 4pm got everything ready and just moving off when the thing is cancelled.  11am collected cable at Beaurains and had it taken to Telegraph Hill and Wancourt then assisted to get it laid.  4pm Germans attempted counter attack N of Wancourt but our guns stopped him leaving his trenches.  His fire barrage quite close to us.  I got back to caves at 6pm.  The caves are fitted cook houses work places etc.

15 Sunday

Had a good rest last night although I did not get to bed until midnight.  Nothing doing all morning.  Noon moved up to Advd. Div. dugouts.  No visual work doing.  Rain all day.

16 Monday

Spent the day cleaning all dugouts and building latrines.

17 Tuesday

Reveille 7.30.  Still raining heavy.  Turned out of our dugout by the CRE working on airline put up yesterday by an airline section 75% of the poles are down.  Very cold all day with snow at times.

18 Wednesday

Did not get up until 9am.  Breakfast, biscuits + marmalade.  Finished staying airline back to test station near Beaurains.  Weather very wet and cold.  Everything covered with mud.  Dinner biscuits + dates boiled together.  I would like a good feed now this is about a fortnight we have been on hardtack.

19 Thursday

Reveille 7.30 Weather much better but dull and like more rain.  Fritzy was shelling the whole night long, one falling quite close and sprinkling our dugout with dirt.  I had nothing on today.  Raining again after tea.

20 Friday

Left at 8.30am with party for baths in Arras.  Had a good bath, the first since Proyart and back after doing various jobs at 4pm.  Fritzy shelled very heavy.  Turned out of dugout by Div. Arty. Staff.  Got men fixed up in a trench and ourselves in a German MG position.

21 Saturday

Heavy shelling all night.  Went to Wancourt cemetery this afternoon and close to “The Tower” to fix Visual Stations for the coming straff.  We had to take cover on account of his shelling.  Got back about 5.30pm and found that there was an issue of bread for tea.  Weather lovely and fine.

22 Sunday

Reveille 7am  Bread for breakfast, welcome change.  About 8.30 a German plane flying low, set fire to one of our balloons then went for another but missed.  I saw no-one leave the first but two jumped out of the second one.  Fritzy brought another of our balloons down on fire at 1pm but his plane was brought down by one of ours before he could get back.  Fixed visual stations at 6pm at Wancourt and the Tower.  Got consun[3] then the officer moved them and we saw them no more until 11.30pm when we got one.  I got to bed at 12.50am the firing then was very heavy.

23 Monday[4]

Up at 4am went on the stations got comm [commenced] by 4.45am just as our arty opened out.  The gun fire was severe and Fritzy sent up his distress signals by the dozen.  I saw first batch of prisoners about 7am.  4th E Yorks. caught it very severe especially when Fritzy countered.  All objects were gained with a large number of prisoners but ground gained was all lost in the counter attack.  The 150th Bde. attacked again at 6pm gained their objective again and held it.  Two tanks were set on fire with the first attack.  Casualties in Sig Coy, 1 man killed in the morning[5] and another wounded last night.  Total prisoners taken by the Div. between 900-1000.

24 Tuesday

Firing very heavy all night, a few shells fell near our Sig Station during night.  Very quiet all morning.  One of our planes came down in flames near our dugout about 1.30pm.  The pilot had a couple of wounds, otherwise unhurt.  15th Div. attacked and gained their objectives at 6pm.  15th Div. are on our left.

25 Wednesday

Germans countered and drove the 15th Div. out of the trenches they got last night.  This was at 4am.  At 7pm the 15th again attacked, retook their objective and held it.  Numerous airfights and our planes seem to be getting the worst of it.  Two I saw came down in flames.  I think we are moving back tomorrow.

26 Thursday

Moving this afternoon.  Horse lines have already gone.  We are going to Courtinelle[6] visual station to be withdrawn this morning but did not get in until 4pm just as we were moving off.  We walked to Arras expecting to get the motor lorry there but there was about 45 men so I was left behind in Arras with 23 men.  They sent us rations back from Courtinelle with the Ofs. car.  They arrived about 9.20pm so I dished them out and we had our tea about 10pm.  This morning a Hun plane fired one of our observation balloons, this fell on a very large ammtn.[7] dump and fired it.  Explosions could be heard all day long.

27 Friday

Got up about 7.30am.  Ammtn. dump can still be heard burning.  A few shells fired with into the town during night.  Lorry came for us at 11am and we arrived Courtinelle 1.15pm.  It is a decent little place but the billets are no catch.  We are living in barns.  Indenting for clothing etc. and equipment lost in action.  Everyone is thankful to be back out of it once more at this time has been the roughest time we have ever had.

28 Saturday

We are out for a rest so those in authority have revelled at 5.30am.  Usual stables, cleaning wagons and I have all visual and wagon stores to check.

29 Sunday

Church parade and pay.  I remitted £20 home today through the paymaster.

30 Monday

Had a trip to Doullens on the motor lorry.  Left at 11am got back about 7.10pm.  There is not much to see in the plane.  We are under orders to move either tomorrow on Wednesday.


[1] Neucqurand=probably Nuncq-Hautecote

[2] Find out where these are

[3] Consun=what does this mean?

[4] Check Wyrall & SDGW

[5] Check SDGW

[6] Courtinellle/Courteville=can’t locate on modern map

[7] Ammtn=ammunition