May 1918

MAY 1918

1 Wednesday

Was in the Gas Chamber this morning for test Gas Helmets.  Had a ride on horseback with our Interpreter to Fismes a distance of 9kms each way.  Left here about 3pm and got back about 6.

2 Thursday  

Took the exercise ride this morning.  Usual stables.  Very hot all day.

3 Friday

Left the Div. about 9 o’clock for the Sig. School at Crugny arriving there about 11am.  Very hot all day.  I have a touch of diarrhoea.

4 Saturday

Bathing parades all morning.  Half day off.  Div. Gen. caught some of our fellows playing cards and the result was that our officers were told off.  I am still running with diarrhoea.  Has a walk into the village after tea.

5 Sunday

Instead of a day off we had an inspection and then sig work until mid-day.  Got orders to move at 2.30 but we were ready and marched off ay 2.10 instead.  We just went to the other side of village to where the Div. Wing is camped.  We could not get any transport so all our stores had to be carried over by the men finishing about 8pm.

6 Monday

Rain again during the night.  Every night since we came into this district it has rained and fine during the day.  The inhabitants say this is the general condition.  Had a walk to Serviget after tea, got wet coming back.  21 Div. here now.

7 Tuesday

Raining this morning.  Nothing special today.

8 Wednesday & 9 Thursday

No entries

10 Friday

Last three days have been dull and wet but it is bright and hot today.  Went to seek my shirts in the village but could not find the house where I left them.  Will have another try for them tonight.  Did not get my shirts.

11 Saturday

Moving at 2pm to a place between Muscourt and Maizry and very hot it was marching.  We arrived at 8.20pm after lying 2 hours on the road near Muscourt.  Got tea at 9pm.  We are billeted in barges on the canal.  Two barges for the school.  The distance we marched was 18kilm’s.

12 Sunday

It rained the whole day long result we could not take the hatches off to clean the things out.  Also had latrines to make.  The cook is in the open so our meals are very indifferent owing to the rain and want of utensils.  I was absolutely fed up with the whole issue today.  We have no accommodation for carrying on in wet weather as the barges are so crowded.

13 Monday

Weather better today but dull.  A lot of the chaps bathing in the canal before breakfast.  The usual Sig Instr.

14 Tuesday

Had the Div. Gen. (Gen. Jackson) down this morning.  He inspected the barges and gave orders that they had to be thoroughly cleaned and washed.  We were in the midst of this work when we got orders to move by 6pm, this was at 4pm.  It just put the tin hat on everything.  We got away at 6 but what a scramble and marched 3 miles to Revillon.  Got squared up a little by 9pm then Fritzy came over with his bombs, sort of relieving the monotony a little.  He was not near our camp.

15 Wednesday

I think we will be fairly comfortable in this camp as we have plenty room.  Busy all day cleaning and making latrines besides the usual instr.  Fritzy over again tonight.

16 Thursday

No entry

17 Friday

Still keeps very hot.  Had a hot bath and a change yesterday and a cold dip this afternoon.  Had a ride over to Div. HQ in Beaureux.[1]  Maj told me I shall be going on leave shortly.  Fritzy over again about 10pm.

18 Saturday

Usual work.  Saw a German plane brought down about 5.30pm by shell fire.  Had a bathe in the Aisne canal tonight, it was A1.  Very hot and sultry tonight.

19 Sunday

Church parade this morning.

20 Monday & 21 Tuesday

No entries

22 Wednesday

The usual instructional work the whole week.  The only thing to break the monotony was Fritzy’s visits every night.  He was rather too close to feel comfortable at 10 o’clock.

23 Thursday

Fritzy was over again about 2am and also 5.30am.  We had a proper night of it.

24 Friday

No entry

25 Saturday

Went to a French Foyer du Soldat to see their cinema tonight.  The pictures were too small.

26 Sunday

Church parade at 10am.  Rained during the afternoon so I spent the time in my blankets.  Had a walk into Gennes village after tea.  Turned in for the night about 11.20.

27 Monday[2]

Fritzy opened up an attack prompt on 1.00am.  There was no more seep after that.  He put gas shells over gallore, some of us went off to seep with helmets on.  Everyone was turned out in case of a move at 3am.  The road Maizry to Revillon was full of waking wounded.  Saw Matt Hardy of the 6th DLI going back with a wound on his face and ear.  No work this morning, waiting orders.  Dismissed all the men to find their units.  Got all the stores collected in one place but could not get transport.  Fritzy advanced so quick he was in the school firing on us as we cleared out.  Trekked through Fismes, St. Giles where I met one of our coy. wagons, went with it to Arcis–le-Ponsart.[3]  All the way to St. Giles planes were firing on the roads and caused only one block that I saw.  We were constantly firing on him as we came along.

28 Tuesday

Moved off with the wagons and about 50 men that we had collected and joined the coy. at Dravegny at 8am (Tuesday).  Just got there in time to move with them.  Got nothing to eat.  Did not have a bite since breakfast Monday except some apricots.  At Thery watered and fed horses had a bite of tinned sausage and tomatoes, left as he started shelling, got to Rosnigny about noon.  Stopped there with horses hooked in until 1.30 Wed morning.

29 Wednesday

We slept 4 hours in the open.  At 1.30on the go again.  Stopped at 6am at Cuiles[4] had breakfast and a lie down until 9am.  Washed, hooked in and moved at 10am.  Owing to traffic we only did 7kms. by 10.30pm.  At this time we crossed the Marne at Port-le-Binson went other 3kms then fed horses.  On the road again midnight until 2.30am.  Picketed at Igny [5] where we got laid down for sleep.

30 Thursday

Weather very hot.  After being ready at 12 noon, 2.30pm we eventually got away at 5.30 from Igny arriving Breuil about 7pm for the night.

31 Friday

Left Breuil 9.30am marched through Orbais, La Chapelle, Champaubert (monument here to commemorate the Battle of Champaubert in 1814) and Etoges to Vert-la-Gravelle[6] about 30kms, arriving at 6pm.  About 30 kms, picketed horses on village square.

Notes:

[1] Beaurieux

[2] Battle of the Aisne: 50 Div. lost 227 officers & 4879 ORs killed, wounded or captured see Wyrall p.345

[3] Divisional HQ set up at Arcis-le-Ponsart Camp see Wyrall p.335

[4] Cuisles Chateau, battalions assembled on the morning 30 May see Wyrall p.349

[5] Igny-le-Jard

[6] Vert-la-Gravelle, Division arrived 31 May ess Wyrall p.345