October 1917

OCTOBER 1917

1 Monday

Nothing but the usual work.

2 Tuesday

Have again got the officers class and a dozen men who are for passing out at the weekend.

3 Wednesday

The usual work.

4 Thursday

The usual work.  Weather very bad all day.  A strong wind and rain which almost stopped outdoor practice.

5 Friday

Weather better today but still windy.  Div. moving tomorrow and I expect we will be left on here for a while at any rate.

6 Saturday

Passing out tests for Advanced Class.  Weather put in fearful at ten o’clock just after I got through flag reading test and kept at it all day.  I managed to get through the tests.  Four Officers and a dozen men are leaving tomorrow, 8.30pm.  These four officers sent for me and gave me 40Frs as a present.  A very nice present.  They also gave me a good glass of whisky.  The clock is to be put back to usual time tonight.

7 Sunday

Church parade 11am.  Weather still very bad.  Service held in a marquee.  Padre came late about half an hour.  Rained in torrents and blowing a proper gale all day.

8 Monday

Still had my own class this morning.  The men returned to their units after dinner.  I have no class now as the officers left are placed with other classes.

9 Tuesday

Still no class.  This morning the School Adjt. asked me to tour the various classes lecturing them on the Message Form.  Went to see the 51st Div. concert party, “the Balmorals.”  A dozen of us went and had two hours fine entertainment.  They are the best party I have heard out here.

10 Wednesday

Got a start on my lectures today and gave these of an hours’ duration each.

11 Thursday

Weather fine and dry but cold and windy.  Very sharp frost tonight but fine and clear.

12 Friday

Rain again a very nasty day.  Tests today so I have nothing today through having no class.

13 Saturday

In charge of party packing stores in preparation for moving.  One lorry load sent off to Achiet-le-Petit.

14 Sunday

Started at 8.30am to load as many stores as possible and send off.  Two lorries came but could only manage one load.  I went in charge of the stores to Achiet le Grand where they are loading onto trains for the north.  I heard to Hazebrouck or Poperinghe.  Got the things into train and left for camp at 12.50 arriving exactly 1 hours’ ride.

15 Monday

Just the usual work all day.  About 4.30pm a devil of a lot of heavy explosions near Mercatel, sounded very much like our ammunition dump on fire.

16 Tuesday

Preparing to move.  Paraded and left camp at 1.30pm and marched via Hamelincourt and [space, no village named] arriving Achiet le Petit about 4.14pm only to find there was no camp for us so we were dumped in the Divl. Theatre – a barn without blankets or Gt. Coats until such times – 2am – as the 5th Yorks left their camp for us.  They moved out to entrain at 2am and we got in the camp anyhow without blankets or any other covering.  It seems that we should have taken over the camp left by the East Yorks at 8.40pm.  So much for the mis-interpretation of orders when about 300 men have to put up with a cold Oct night without covering.  A few of us spent the night around a large fire we built by the roadside.

17 Wednesday

After being up all night, could not sleep for the cold, as we had no blankets.  Got blankets at 6.10am.  Got rations issued, had breakfast then turned in at 10am until 11.30.  Had a good sleep and felt A1.  70 men going in advance at 5.30pm.  Train leaves station 7.45pm.  This party is going with the Divl Depot Batt.  I am placed in charge of party.  The rest of the school leaves camp at 10.15pm.  We were crowded into horse trucks [photo] 40 per truck.  RE Field Coy shot a horse on the station.  It had its leg broken while entraining.  Our train travelled via Arras and St. Pol after then I slept until we reached where we detrained, Bavinchovie.

18 Thursday

We then marched to Bollerzeele, the Officer losing his way resulted in us marching a distance of 27kms.  We had breakfast at the station and set off at 7.40am arriving in the Corps Reinforcement Camp, Bollerzeele at 2.30pm.  My feet are all blistered with marching on the hard paved roads.  The remainder of the school arrived at 4pm after quite a short journey by road compared with ours.

19 Friday

Cleaning up and parade for usual practices in Sig at 10am.  Medical inspection at 2pm about 40 men were inoculated.  Everything seems upside down, no-one seems to know anything at all, even parades are not ordered by officers until the actual time for parade.  I had a look into village after tea.  It does not seem much of a place.  My feet are still bad.  I measured on the map the distance we trekked yesterday after leaving the train.  It was 27kms about 18 miles.  A stiff march after two sleepless nights.

20 Saturday

First parade rifle inspection 9am, first warning of this parade was one minute to nine, result 9.15 when men paraded.  Next parade inspection by Camp Cmdt. Major McLeod at 10am.  I got excused this parade.  Weather keeps fine but cold.

21 Sunday

No church parade today except for RG so we had a complete day off.  Had a walk through village, it was that fine and bright before dinner.  Saw a convoy of motor buses and lorries 170 in all, with troops going towards St. Omer.  Spent part of night in estaminet on the Aneke road.  Fritzy came over bombing while we were in there and dropped an aerial torpedo and a bomb about 600yds away.  The torpedo did not explode.  Three officers and 18 men went forward for a stunt by two of our Bdes., during the next few days.

22 Monday

Another party of 23 men went forward today.  On the usual Sig Practice.  Fritzy was over again tonight but not in this area.

23 Tuesday

Rained the whole night and still raining.  Had a good bath today.  The school had the baths taken for the morning.  This is the day that our Div. is supposed to go over the top but whether they have or not I cannot say as the weather is fearful and likely to stop any operations.

24 Wednesday

Weather very wild but fair and clean.  Started to rain and blow a proper gale at tea time.  The wind increased as the night wore on.

25 Thursday

At 2 o’clock this morning it was blowing a hurricane and the marquees were going down on piece.  The Sergts’ mess, batt orderly room, canteen and about a dozen others were blown down about this time.  To improve matters it rained steadily the whole time.  The uproar and confusion lasted all night.  At daybreak it faired up but the wind continued making it difficult to erect the marquees again.

26 Friday[1]

It rained the whole blessed night through and practically all day until 6pm when it got out clear and moonlight but freezing hard.  We had the weekly tests today but only got it partly done.  Our Div. went over this morning opposite Houlthoust Forest gained their objectives but Divs. on the flanks failed.  Our lads held on.

27 Saturday

Fine and bright all night.  Fritzy was over at 1.30am bombing but did not drop any near our camp although he was very close.  We carried out remainder of tests this morning.  Got half day off this afternoon.  About 400 details from 151 Bde. came in today.  I saw a good number of old friends of the 6th DLI.

28 Monday

Nothing doing all day.  Weather fine but cold.  Fritzy over bombing but not in our immediate vicinity.

29 Monday

The usual Sig work and lectures.  Went and had about a 10km stroll up through Merckeghem and back.  Fine bright night with sharp frost.  Fritzy came over again about 8pm dropping bombs indiscriminately.  He passed over our camp a few times.  I got into bed about 9pm owing to the cold and was pulled out again to detail 18 men to go forward as signallers for the show tomorrow.  Getting the men detailed and arranged for rations and breakfast kept me up to midnight.

30 Tuesday

Up at 4.30am and paraded forward party at 5am.  Took them to Bollezeele station where they left at 6.12 for Poperinghe.  They would then go forward in a motor lorry.  About 10.30am the weather set in very wild and wet and continuing all day.  I managed to get caught in it getting wet through

31 Wednesday

Weather glorious, fine and quite hot all day, a change from yesterdays’ soreness.  Usual sig work.  Half day off after dinner.

Notes:

[1] Check Wyrall