March 1918

MARCH 1918

1 Friday

A very dirty, wet, wild day.  I spent the day erecting a brattice around the inside of our mess door.  The place is quite comfortable now.

2 Saturday

I could not sleep for the cold.  Turned out this morning it was freezing hard and bitter cold.  I intended preparing my kip so I won’t feel the cold tonight.  Four officers and 23 men went on special courses at VIII Corps.

3 Sunday

Usual trail around with the Camp Cmdt on hut inspection then immediately after on church parade.  The Padre turned up this morning but 15 mins late.  Nothing more all day except that we can hear a low rumble of distant firing.  It seems to be towards the coast.  The German prisoners here are all put on bread and water only.  I hear it is a sort of reprisal.  I feel sorry for them this cold weather.

4 Monday

About 40 new students arrived today and about the same number returned.  The OR Clerk was on pass at St. Omer so I had a devil of a time as there were no rolls made out of the men returning and the offrs. did not know who should return.  It was a proper mix up.

5 Tuesday

Detailed new classes on early parade.  Just the usual daily work.  Weather still keeps very cold and windy.  Much calmer tonight.

6 Wednesday

Compulsory recreation every Wednesday afternoon.  I arranged two football games and a cross country run.  Weather very fine.  We had five Sgts + three Cpls all Australians come into our mess today.  They are instructing on Hotchkiss class.

7 Thursday

I got on to the School Cmdt about my promotion.  He said it was at present going through G. office.  I am still A/SM so consider I am entitled to promotion if an SM is necessary at the school.

8 Friday

Usual tests today.  I got a surprise when I went in for tea and got a cup saucer put down before me.  Cmdt. told me today that we are likely to move shortly but he did not say where to.  Summer time comes in tomorrow night 11pm.

9 Saturday

Just the usual baths etc.  I had quite an easy time of it today.  Spent the afternoon on Helio practice signalling to two of the Instructors who had biked to Watten for the purpose.

10 Sunday

I had the usual hut inspection at 10.30am then pay at 11.30.  This afternoon had a walk to Tournehem about a hours walk each way.  The weather is hot enough for summer except at night.  Saw umpteen Chinese or Manchurians could not say which.  About noon 6 of our large bombing planes were flying around the camp.  What a size they looked.   Our Division have all moved down to the Cambrai front and we are left.  I expect we will move any day now.

11 Monday

Our 7am parade is held in the dark almost once more through advancing time.  I had the usual work all day.  Had a bath again tonight.  Gave a lecture in the morning and one in the afternoon.

12 Tuesday

On pass to St. Omer where I spent a jolly four hours got back at 2.30pm.  Took a lecture at 3pm and had a game of football after tea getting a hard biff on the face for my pains.

13 Wednesday

Recreational sports this afternoon.  I arranged two football matches and a X country run.  I will be able to turn my hand to almost anything if I keep on.  Weather still hot but seems to be changing towards night.

14 Thursday

Early parade and 8.45 inspection parade not held on account of rain.  More or less showery all day.  Nothing of importance.  I took two lectures again today.  Still no signs of moving to rejoin the Division.

15 Friday

I have nothing special today.  I just had the usual buzzing around seeing that huts were clean etc.  Got notice at 3 o’clock to move Sig Office + QM Stores to other huts.  This meant a busy time testing wires etc.  Got all moved and fixed up by 5pm.

16 Saturday

Usual baths today.  I spent the morning rewiring signal office but did not get it all finished.  I saw a decent game of football this afternoon between our passing out class and the remainder of the school.  I had a walk to Eperlecques after tea.

17 Sunday

Usual busy time getting huts squared up for inspection at 10.30 and a march out by La Commune[1] and back to camp.  A distance of just over 5 mls.  It was glorious day for a trip.  A party of men leave rejoined school this morning.  When coming back they were chased to the Div. HQ on the Peronne front at Harbonniers so it looks as though we are going to stay here a while yet.

18 Monday

The usual work all day.  Wire today says that the school must be ready to move on short notice.  So I can expect a busy time getting everything ready.  Forgot to go for my weekly bath tonight.

19 Tuesday

Raining heavy today, work indoors.  A wire saying that I am to go on leave to commence March 23rd.  Busy all day arranging different fatigue parties.  Had a bath tonight.  Still raining.

20 Wednesday

Medically examined for scabies etc.  Very little visual work but plenty fatigue as the school moves tomorrow, entrain at Watten and moving via Etaples.  I am staying behind to go on leave on the Friday morning from here.  Fritzy over bombing at Calais.

21 Thursday

Busy all morning getting all loaded and places cleaned up.   Everything satisfactory except lorries which arrived 11.30 instead of 9.  I had dinner in the Corps Sgts Mess.  Had a good rest in the afternoon.  Fritzy over Calais bombing again tonight.

22 Friday

Left camp with lorry for Watten at 9.20.  Left Watten with passenger train at 10.15 arriving Calais at 11.10.  Went to docks heard boat left at 5 so had a trip around town.  Spent afternoon in Picture House.  Boat cancelled taken to No.6 Camp for the night.  A German plane over at 4.  Rumour of Hun offensive.

23 Saturday

Parade for boat at 8 but was left behind, more men also sent back from boat. Paraded at 1pm, told off in groups for train to return to units.  Leave stopped for the present owing to German offensive on the Peronne front.  Some cursing and grousing by all who are waiting to cross.  Fritzy bombing us at 9.  We went to the shelter but was told that all leave men must remain in their tents as the dugouts were for the staff.  Chinese labourers were running and screaming all over the place.

24 Sunday

Up at 5.45 and did nothing but lie about all day.  Another air raid at night.

25 Monday                                                                                                                                                  

Reveille 4.30.  Breakfast at 5.  Paraded and marched to Fontinettes station where we entrained and left about 8.15.  We travelled via Boulogne, Etaples, Abbeville and Amiens arriving Coullaucourt at 11.30pm.  After reaching Abbeville, the whole route was congested with trains, hundreds of civilians leaving the battle area.  Roads were thick with traffic also.  We marched to Harbonnieres where I was lucky enough to fall in with the Div. who had just fallen back from Foucaucourt.  I spent the night in the schools.  We were sent off this morning without rations and had to buy ones food en-route.  It was very cold travelling in those open trucks.

26 Tuesday [2]

Hanging about until 3pm when set off back to Marcelcave.  Div. fell back about 5.  Got into a house when old people were just leaving.  The old woman cried as she left I had a bite to eat and stopped there all night.  Fritzy over bombing during the night.  Reported the Huns are in Poyart.  He was shelling Harbonnieres as we left.

27 Wednesday [3]

Left Marcelcave at 2.30 for Gentles via Cachy.  At Gentles we were ordered back to Villieres Brettoneaux where we arrived at 6pm.  Disturbed in our billet during the night by chaps looting.  Fritzy shelled the town all night.

28 Thursday[4]

Turned out at 3.30, hooked in at 5.  Reported  we were cut off, so got more ammunition and prepared to fight for it.  We eventually got away at 10 and marched to Hangard got there at noon. Left Hangard at 4 for Lourdain, rain the whole journey, arriving at 9.30pm wet through.

29 Friday[5]

Left Lourdain at 10 and marched to Boves arriving about 4pm.  Fritzy shelling.

30 Saturday[6]

Left Boves about 10.20 arriving Sains-en-Amiens about 1pm.

31 Sunday[7]

Left Sains-en-Amiens at 12.10pm had one biscuit for dinner and not another bite until I’ve had breakfast at Bourdon the next day.  It rained more or less the whole journey .  We arrived at 11pm tired out to the wide.[8]

Notes:

[1] Probably Communal le Mont

[2] March 26th Harbonniers to Marcelcave via Guillaucourt and Wiencourt, 5 miles

[3] March 27th Marcelcave to Villers Brettoneux via Cachy, Gentelles then back to Villiers Bret. 9 miles

[4] March 28th Villiers Bretoneux next day to Sourdan via Hangard, Domart, Berteaucourt, Moreuil, Morisel and Mailly-Raineval 15¼miles.

[5] March 29th Sourdan to Boves via Louvrechy, Ailly-sur-Noye, Remiencourt and Cottenchy 12 mls.

[6] March 30 Boves to Sains-en-Amiens 3½mls.[Sains-en-Aménois]

[7] March 31 Sains-en-Amiens to Bourdon via St. Fuscien, Pont de Metz, Ferrieres, Picquigny, Crouy and Hongest 20¼mls.

[8] Don’t understand this expression