April 1918

APRIL 1918

1 Monday[1]

Left Bourdon at 9am arriving at Domvast 5.35.  On the road we halted and fed horses at Domquer.  Passed Sir Douglas Haig on our road here about 3pm.

2 Tuesday[2]

Left Domvast at 9, fed horses at La Boisle about noon arriving at Douriez about 4.20pm.

3 Wednesday

Stables and exercise, ride, orders at 4pm to move at 6pm to Willeman.  Waited at X roads one mile north of Dompierre for remainder of convoy.  Left this point at 8.15 arriving at destination at 1.40am.  Got laid down for sleep at 3.30am.

4 Thursday[3]

Reveille 7am.  Hooked in and moved off at 10am.  Watered and fed and had a bit dinner at 5kms about 2pm.  Reached our destination Fiefs at 5.30pm.

5 Friday[4]

Left Fief at 10.10am.  Rained all night until about 9am.  Very misty when we set off, put in very cold about 2pm.  Arrived at Ecquedecques at 1.10pm fixed up picket lines, watered, fed then moved again arriving at Robecq 6.10 did not get lines fixed until 7.30.

6 Saturday

Reveille 6am.  Got into trouble for not bringing a party to attention when the General passed in his car.  Took exercise ride out remainder of day on the horse lines and checking stores.

7 Sunday

Still on horselines.  Took exercise ride out.  Got school stores off the railway at Chocquies this afternoon.  Checking harness etc this morning.  Moving up into action tomorrow.  Wrote my first letter home since Monday March 25.

Laleau was the village we stopped at on Friday.  It is about 1km out of Robecq.

8 Monday[5]

Reveille 5am.  Hooked in and moved off at 8.30am arriving Merville at 10.00am.  We went right through the village and stopped at a small village on the right of the Hazebrouck Road.   Got covered in horse standings but had to seek billets for ourselves.  Got fixed up in a joiner shop at Caudescure.[6]

9 Tuesday

Reveille 6am.  Orders to be ready to one at one hours notice.  Fritzy shelling Merville all night.  Many casualties among the civilians.  Heavy bombardment going on towards La Bassee.  Over 4000 Portuguese soldiers rounded up here who had left the trenches on their own.

10 Wednesday

Heavy shelling about here and in Merville during the night.  Two I heard about midnight sounded like mines going up.  A lot of refugees still moving back.  We had the usual stables.  One of my LD got in a ditch and took us over an hour to get his out.

11 Thursday[7]

While out on exercise this morning I was called in, watered, fed and hooked in to move by 11.45.  We did not move until 7.15pm.  During the afternoon we were fell in again to go into the line but it did not come off.  We moved to La Motte, stopped one hour then on to Thiems via Hazebrouck arriving at 5.30am

12 Friday

Watered and fed by 6.30 then to sleep.  Got up at 10 and onto the lines again after having breakfast.  Saw a Fd. Amb. and a Bde. of Field Arty pass through the village.  Finished on the horse lines by 5pm and turned in for a sleep at 9pm.

13 Saturday

Reveille 6am.  The usual stable routine all day but standing ready for a move any moment. (Sent a register letter home today)

14 Sunday

Reveille 6am.  Watered, hooked in and fed and were ready to move off at 8.15.  Move cancelled at 9.15.  Exercise ride straight away until 11 o’clock.  Afternoon off so I had a bath but no change of clothing, the first bath for about three weeks.

15 Monday

Usual stable routine and exercise rise.  Very cold all day.

16 Tuesday[8]

Ready to move 9am.  Stood hooked in until 10.30.  Told to put picket lines up for 2 hrs but was stopped again.  We eventually moved off at 11.30 arriving at Roquetoire at 1.45pm.  Saw my brother tonight for a couple of hours.  Heavy arty fire towards Merville + Armentieres.

17 Wednesday

The firing towards Merville + Armentieres is very heavy this morning and continues since last night.  The usual stable routine and exercise.

18 Thursday

The whole company paraded before GOC of the Div. and thanked for our work during the last two battles.  Weather very col, wet and hailstones towards night.

19 Friday

Had very little sleep during the night owing to the cold.  The usual stables, making preparations for moving tomorrow.  We are going to Aire.  Snow and hail at times during the day.

20 Saturday[9]

Usual reveille.  Hooked in after a busy time packing and moved off at 9.30 arriving at Aire at 11.45.  We are picketed on the Garrison Field and billeted in the barracks.  I am in a tent on the field.

21 Sunday

Orderly Sergt. today.  Afternoon off until 4pm.  Pay parade at 6 and I was stuck there until 8pm.  We had church parade this morning in the barracks at 10.  A lot of French artillery arrived and picketed near us this afternoon.

22 Monday

Nothing to mention today.  The usual stable routine.  Permitted £10 home. 8.50pm very heavy bombardment in the direction of Merville and Bailleul.  I went to the “Blackthorns” 16th Din tonight.  They were nothing flash.

23 Tuesday

Stable routine and washing wagons.  Drew stores from QM Stores today.  Fritzy over with his planes tonight.  I had a stroll around Aire before dark.  We are moving again on the 25th at least that is the date mentioned.

24 Wednesday

I had a party at the baths in the barracks.  I tried to get a private bath in the town but had to be content with one on the horse lines.  Usual stables also making up stores from QMS.

25 Thursday

Not moving until Friday at 6.00pm.  We have a trek of about 23kms to Calonne-Raucourt and entrain about midnight.  Usual routine today.  I was again Orderly Sergt.  Heavy firing towards Bailleul tonight at 9.30.

26 Friday[10]

Busy preparing for moving all day.  Moved off at 6pm arriving at Calonne-Raucourt at midnight.  A mix up while entraining but it was finished with before 3am.  One of my LD horses got his head fast in the truck and was strangled.

27 Saturday

We dumped him out of the train just before moving at 6am.  Watered and fed the horses at Pontois near Paris about midday.  Had a good sleep during the morning but very little to eat but a few biscuits and bully.

28 Sunday

Slept A1 all night, watered and fed at [no village named] about midday.  Arrived at Fismes at 12.45pm.  Detrained without any trouble, had tea, moved off at 3.30 and arriving at our destination Aricole-Ponsart at 6.30pm in a proper downpour.  Got fixed up about 7.30pm then had a dinner.  Raining very heavy all night.  We are billeted French huts right away from any houses.  We are now in the 9th Corps (British) 6th French Army.

29 Monday

The usual stable work.  Everything is thick in mud with the rain of yesterday and last night.  Got turned out of one hut into another.

30 Tuesday

The usual stable routine today.  Weather much finer and the ground is drying up A1.  Sig. School started and the Maj. told me that I would be going within a day or so.  Was at the “Jesmond Jesters” and it was A1.

Notes:

[1] April 1st Bourdon to Domvast via Flixecourt, Surcamps, Domqueur and Yvrench 15¾mls.

[2] April 2nd Domvast to Douriez via Marcheville, Le Boisle and Dompierre about 20kms=13mls.

[3] April 4th Willeman to Fiefs distance 15½mls moved via Humieres, Bermicourt, Eps and Bayaval

[4] April 5th Fiefs to Robecq distance 15½mls.  Moved via Nedon, Ames, Lieres, Lillers and Busnes

[5] April 8th Robecq to a village north of Merville distance 8¼mls.

[6] La Caudescure

[7] April 11th Merville to Thiennes via La Motte, Harzebrouck, Morbecque and Steenbecque a distance of 12½mls.

[8] April 16th Thiennes to Roquetoire via Boeseghem, Wittes distance 7½mls.

[9] April 20th Roquetoire to Aire distance 4½mls

[10] April 26th Aire to Callonne Raucourt via Lambres, Mazinghem, St. Hilaire, Ames, Ferfay distance 13mls