January 1st 1917. 11 am we marched to the Wareham Station and entrained for Perham Downs, arriving at that place at 5.30 pm.
January 2nd,3rd,4th and 5th 1917. Nothing doing but drill. I was on piquet at Flyfield last night. We were today issued with the remainder of our equipment. Tucker here is cruel, absolutely starvation with out the option. Here we drill from 8.30 am to noon and 1.30 to 4.30 pm.
January 6th 1917. We went for a walk to Ludgatshall this afternoon.
January 7th 1917. A miserable mucky day and My birthday ( 20 years old ) In the afternoon, I went to Tidworth for a walk.
January 8th 1917. Drill during day. After being paid at 6 pm we fell in at 10 pm, marched to Tidworth and entrained for Folkestone.
January 10th 1917. Arrived at Folkestone at 5. am and were marched to the Barracks which, in peace time, were a couple of fine private hotels. 9 am. Packed up and marched to the boat which left about 11.30 am and arrived at Calais at 1 pm.
This was an awful trip and I was sick all the way. On arrival at Calais, we marched to the town which is rather pretty to the Fontinettes Station where we entrained in cattle trucks for Etaples. ( 40 men to a truck ).
January 11th 1917. At last we arrived. ( 4 am ) One man was missing so the Officer started to call the roll. On account of the terrible ride and being tired the boys have had enough so they counted him out. On arrival at camp, we had a short sleep in the big mess hut. During the day we were allotted a tent.
January 12th 1917. We were here all day and were warned for the a draft to the front. My word this is sudden.
January 13th 1917. 6 am. Marched to Etaples Station and entrained for Albert, arriving there at 11.30 am, taking 5 1/2 hours to do 70 miles, a marvellous record for the French Railways. On arrival here we were sent to a rest camp.
January 14th 1917. 8 am. On the move again. This time to Ribemont. This is rather a nice place.
January 15th 1917. It snowed heavily last night. Had some really great sport snowballing.
January 16th 1917. After we had wandered round all day we found a nice cosy little billet. About 11 pm the Battalion arrived, also poor old Reg. He is well and I was pleased to see him.
January 17th 1917. It is freezing hard now. What used to be mud and slush is now a hard solid mass.
January 18th and 19th 1917. We had drill, like old times.
January 20th 1917. My mate and I went to Amiens today. We had a lovely bath and afterwards a fine dinner. Next we visited the Cathedral. Well this is simply grand, it is beyond all words. The town is much like Marseilles, but much cleaner and prettier.
When we landed back we finished the day by going to the Vaudeville show, run by the Australian Comforts Funds. It was a lovely day.
January 21st 1917. We were today inspected by General Smythe. He is temporally in command of our Division and is a V.C. , real great chap.
January 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th 1917. It is still freezing, 40 degrees below zero.
January 29th 1917. We marched to Becourt today. En route we passed through Becordal, now a mass of ruins.
January 30th 1917. It is snowing again. When washing the water just simply freezes in your hair before you have time to comb it. It freezes on your face also, and if one leaves hot tea for a few minutes he will find the thinnest of thin crusts of ice on it. This sounds a fairy tale, but you have no idea how intense the cold is.
We went for a march up old Sausage Gully this afternoon and over to the big crater. Where used to be guns and dead is now peaceful and a big railway running right through it.
January 31st 1917. Snowed again today.
February 1st 1917. Today we moved up to Cinque Ports at Bazetin le Petit. There is absolutely nothing left of these places now, especially the famous Delville Wood, now a mere few stumps. This is a bonny little camp.
February 2nd 1917. We went over to have a look at a Tank that had been abandoned. They are formidable looking things all right. Fritz tries very hard to shell this camp but it is well out of reckoning.
February 3rd 1917. Still freezing. All the water in the shell holes has ice 2 or 3 feet deep. We have been having some great sport skating, sliding etc. This weather over rules all the laws of frost taught us at school. They say there cannot be a frost when there is a wind. Last night there was a plentiful supply of both, yet the frost was one of the worst we have had.
February 4th 1917. We heard today of America's decision to come into the matter. This will, I think, make a big difference.
February 5th 1917. We moved off to Pioneer Camp at Contalmaison.
February 6th and 7th 1917. Still freezing. This is getting awful. The cold is terrific.
February 8th 1917. We moved, via Martinpuich, to the trenches. All helmets had to be whitened to correspond with the snow, and when we go out on patrol or to mend our wires ( which is very often of late ) we have to wear a big white night shirt, right down to our boots. I ask you to imagine me.
February 9th 1917. Snowed again last night. I had a look round. In front of our front is what is known at the Butte de Warlencourt. It overlooks our position and is in his possession, there fore we cannot move round an inch by day.
February 10th 1917. There was a very heavy bombardment last night. At last the thaw has set in. It rained heavily during the night so everything is lovely and muddy.
February 11th 1917. There was a very heavy fog last night, and this morning we were put on salvage again. It is marvellous the ammunition and goods being abandoned by Fritz.
February 12th 1917. Foggy again so on the same job. We tried to dig a trench. On reaching a depth of six feet, we found the earth frozen hard. All on top of this is slush about as thick as treacle.
February 13th 1917. About mid-day Fritz blew up a big bomb dump of ours and at 4 pm brought down one of our planes. It fell in a crumpled mass from about 600 feet. When we went across the bodies were in a fearful state. At8 pm we were relieved and went out to Scotts Redoubt Camp. On the track out we stopped at the Soup Kitchen. These are run by the Australian Comforts Fund and distribute a mug of hot coffee, soup or cocoa to the troops as they come out of the trenches.
February 14th 1917. Was spent in having a general clean up after last night's wander through about 3 feet of mud.
February 15th 1917. There was a tremendous bombardment last night. The floors of the huts shivering even away back here. I was made a full Corporal today and placed in charge of "D" Company Signallers. This is "No Bon " at all.
February 16th 1917. We heard the result of that big bombardment was very successful.
February 17th 1917. We shifted to Acid Drop Camp.
February 18th to 21st 1917. Nothing but rain. Today, Reg and I had a look at old Pozieres. It is marvellous to see it now as it is one mass of huts.
February 22nd 1917. We moved up the trenches to the left of Le Sars,it was, on account of the mud, a terrible trip in.
February 23rd 1917. Quiet.
February 24th 1917. Quiet all day. At about 8.30 pm we discovered that Fritz was evacuating his trenches in front of us, so we started to follow him up with patrols.
February 25th 1917. 1. am The Battalion moved forward and took Fritz's old front line. He is still on the move. On arriving in the trench, we found the fires burning in their braziers. Others were already kindled but on examination we found them to contain sticks of dynamite. There were traps in every direction.
February 26th 1917. Moved forward again last night. We are laying telephone cables all over the place. Tired, I am just settled. In the afternoon we laid a wire to our forward outpost. Whilst doing this an aeroplane came quite low and started firing on us. The bullets were landing too close for my liking. At 8 pm we were relieved to Scotts Redoubt Camp.
February 27th 1917. We went for a bath today.
February 28th 1917. It was a glorious day. Another one of our planes was brought down and an enormous ammunition dump went sky high.
March 1st 1917. Another lovely day.
March 2nd 1917. Four more big towns were captured today, or at least, last night. The advance in these parts is still going on steadily.
March 3rd 1917. We moved to Cirque Ports Camp today at Bazentin-le-Petit.
March 4th 1917. We went up to our old position in front of Warlencourt, Last time we were here this was our front line, now it is supports.
March 5th 1917. where we are living is in a 50 foot dugout and we are quite close to Eaucourt l' Abbye, now absolutely in ruins.
March 6th 1917. Snowed heavily again last night and now the mud is just awful.
March 7th 1917. Moved again to Gird Trench ( close supports ) The people from whom we took over, left us with broken lines, so was out all night fixing these up.
March 8th 1917. We shelled Fritz terribly all day. Here we have the Butte-de-Warlencourt on our left, La Coupe Geurle in front, Ligny-Thilloy and Le Barque on our half right. On the Bapaume - Albert Road are the ruins of a complete Fritz train. The state of the land here and the dead lying round is terrible.
March 9th 1917. Snow again last night. We shelled heavily Loupart Wood. About 3 am this morning a dense fog came up and at 7 pm we moved up to Malt trench ( front line supports ). Owing to the fog the night was as black as pitch, so we lost our direction. When at last I landed I was mud from head to foot.
March 10th 1917. Nothing much doing today. Four of our aeroplanes were bought down.
March 11th 1917. Whilst investigating some old dugouts, we came across a series of old tunnels built for defence about 100 years ago.
March 12th 1917. News came today of the fall of Bagdad. Tres Bon news this. 6 pm we moved to the front line. 9 pm. Discovered that Fritz was evacuating his trenches in front of us again. We moved forward and captured Warlencourt trench without any resistance. We are now pushing ahead to try and harass him.
March 13th 1917. After a lot of manoeuvring, we got Grevillers, but not without a good few casualties. The people on our left have captured Loupart Wood. Both these places were taken this time and not voluntarily evacuated by him. He is putting some fearfully heavy stuff into us now.
March 14th 1917. We moved back to supports at Eaucourt L'Abbye.
March 15th 1917. Marched out to "6 Camp at Bazentin-le-Grand". Here every point one looks at is simply desolation, ruin and graves everywhere.
March 16th and 17th 1917. Bad news, up to the lines again. We moved up to Eaucourt L'Abbye. Bapaume and Le Transloy, two of Fritz's most vulnerable points, fell last night. This is the result of our capture of Grevilles.
March 18th 1917. 8 am Moved to Le Barque, where we stayed till 11 am then moved up to the main Albert - Bapaume Road, via Bapaume to Favresuil and on until we were stopped, or at least, came in contact with fritz about Beugnatre. We finally got a check near Vaulx-Vrancourt.
It is just terrible. These and all the surrounding villages are in flames and to complete the destruction, a charge of explosives was put in the cellars of each house. It is a vary pretty sight as every village for miles around is in flames.
Bapaume was totally destroyed and left in flames. In fact it is still burning furiously. We are now over three miles past Bapaume. All the main roads here have big craters in them so as to block traffic, his favourite ruse is to blow up the intersecting Cross Roads and thus destroy four directions at a time.
All the trees lining the roads have been wilfully cut down about a foot from the ground and allowed to fall across the roads and buildings. All the fruit trees have been ringed, thus destroying them forever. Everywhere is wanton destruction and ruin.
Rumour has it that a big attack has been launched at Arras.
March 19th 1917. We ran visual stations last night. Have been running telephone wires out all over the place. 3 pm Moved forward about a mile. Reg arrived back from school today.
March 20th 1917. Out all last night on broken lines. It rained heavens hard so got drenched to the skin. 4 am Moved forward another mile and launched an attack on the Hun at Ecoust St Longatte.
The other half of the brigade did likewise on Noreul. This proved to us to be a veritable death trap. It was just bristling with machine guns, heavy casualties were soon obtained. In fact we could still see the civilian population leaving town. We had no artillery support save one battery of guns, a little different to Mouquet Farm where we had 750 odd concentrated on a 250 yard front.
You can also see from this that Fritz is not altogether having things his own way, although we were unable to take the village and had to retire to a point 8 kilometres from Baupaume ( an advance of about one mile on the day ) and looking down into the three villages.
During the day I got a bullet clean through my water bottle and lost all my water. 8 pm We were relieved and went out via Baupaume. It is raining heavens hard and I am dog tired. A couple of us felt the same, and as the town of Baupaume was still burning and looked warm, we broke away from the Battalion and camped in one of the buildings which was not on fire, although all around us was on fire. This dried us and we had the best sleep we have had for weeks.
March 21st 1917. We followed the Battalion on to Malt Supports near Le Barque where there is now a camp. A week ago this place was "No mans land". Still raining heavily and plenty of mud up to ones knees.
March 22nd 1917. We spent the day in putting duckboard paths and boarding the floors of the tents.
March 23rd and 24th 1917. Drill and raining.
March 25th 1917. Sunday. Had Church Parade, which was conducted by Captain Chaplain Lambell of St Stephen's Church Richmond.
March 26th 1917. There was a big explosion of a timed mine laid by Fritz, in the Baupaume Town Hall last night. At the same time, the place at Beugnatre in which our headquarters were camped, went up also. We moved to Mametz Wood Camp, arriving there at 3.30 pm. This camp is on the site of the old town of Mametz, now completely wiped off the map. The old Church is now marked for guiding purposes only with a sign board 2 feet by 1 foot " This was Mametz Church " and the only remains of it is one piece of sandstone.
March 27th, 28th and 29th 1917. Terribly cold and snowing. During these days we had parades as usual.
March 30th 1917. 9.30 am. We moved via Ericourt ( disappeared ) to Becourt Camp. This is a lovely camp, like a big village and on the site of what was once Becourt Farm ( now gone ).
March 31st 1917. Went for a walk into Albert today. Things are just about normal down here now. In the evening we went to the Vaudeville Theatre run by the Australian Comforts Funds. It was a great show.
April 1st 1917. Sunday. We had a big Church Parade and followed by an inspection and presentation of medals by General Birdwood, then a march past. In the afternoon we went for a bath. These are really insults to the name. They consist of a 1 pound jam tin with perforated bottoms through which about a pint of water trickles. One then soaps himself and two minutes after another pint of water is let loose. If one misses this second lot, he has to wipe the soap off with his towel. Then a "clean " change of clothes is issued. This really disheartening because now one has just got rid of all the old " Intruders " out of his shirt ( now 3 to 4 or even 6 weeks old ) so one has to start and exterminate the new breed.
April 2nd 1917. It has turned awfully cold again.
April 3rd 1917. 8 am. It started to rain again and then snow. In half an hour everything was covered about 6" deep. Both Reg and I were recommended for our commissions today, but Reg came out top as he is older than me and is now off to the school.
April 4th 1917. Snowed again, even heavier than yesterday.
April 5th 1917. A contrast from yesterday. It was a lovely spring day.
April 6th 1917. Good Friday. The second in France. It was a glorious day again. Reg left for England today to train for an Officer. 11 am a squadron of enemy planes came over and bombed positions nearby. Went to Albert in the afternoon.
April 7th 1917. Another great day, close by is a hill. When one stands on it with his back to Albert, in front lies ruin and behind everything is normal. On one's left is La Boisselle, Ovillers-la-Boisselle, Pozieres, both Bazentins in front and Mametz, Fricourt and High Wood. On your right, Becourt Wood is the hill on which you are standing. In the wood here the daffodils, daisies, lilies and primroses are coming out in great profusion.
April 8th 1917. Sunday. A big Church Parade ( Brigade ) was held. I was not to good all day.
April 9th 1917. Snowed all day and rained in between. We were inoculated again.
April 10th 1917. Snowed again. The cold is intense. Was off duty all day and in bed.
April 11th 1917. Still feeling very off colour. Had an exceptionally heavy fall of snow last night, some 12 to 14 inches. We had some great Fun.
April 12th 1917. News of the great Arras push still continues to come through. It is great, some 1100 prisoners and 150 guns.
April 13th 1917. Moved forward to a spot near Vaulx-vrau-court, a distance of about 15 miles. We were pretty tired too. When we stopped in Bapaume, we had a lovely drink at the Australian Comforts Fund. The spot in which we are at present, is where we were fighting on our last visit. Now it is one mass of camps.
April 14th 1917. Spent today in improving a support line. ( making dugouts etc.) In the evening, we had quite an enjoyable time with a gramophone supplied by the Australian Comforts Fund.
April 15th 1917. The Hun this morning launched a surprise attack on our front line, causing us to evacuate it and a number of field guns.
Through a very clever manoeuvre of one of our Colonels, we got behind a couple of Battalions of Huns and cut them off. We fired from behind with machine guns and in front with field guns ( point blank ).
Some 300 prisoners were taken so you can imagine the casualties we inflicted on him. There are dead Germans and pieces of him everywhere.
I was today confirmed a full Corporal. 6 pm. we moved up to a point North of Vaulx and dug in for the night.
April 16th 1917. It was awfully cold all night and day. Fritz shelled us some all day.
April 17th 1917. We had an awful night last night. It rained all night and we got flooded out. So today we moved across to an old ruined house in Vraucourt, and are now quite comfortable. Shelling was rather heavy by both sides today.
April 18th 1917. There was a terrific bombardment all last night. I was very crook all day.
April 19th 1917. We are very comfortable here. We found two walls of a room in an old ruined house with a roof on it. After a lot of patching we made the remaining two walls complete, and have now fitted up a table and four chairs ( salvaged from the wreckage ) and a lovely little stove. So things are homely.
April 20th 1917. Fritz shelled our back yard last night. Great news still continues to come from Rheims, where 10,000 prisoners and 100 field guns have been captured.
April 21st 1917. Fritz gave us a very heavy bombardment with shrapnel today, so we returned some particular hurry up to him.
April 22nd 1917. We went back to Biefvillers-les-Bapaume today and practiced Manoeuvres. We were very tired when we returned.
April 23rd 1917. There was a terrific bombardment on our left last night. It was a glorious day. Still news of our repeated successes all along the line continues to come through.
April 24th 1917. There was a heavy frost last night, but the day has been beautiful. We had a look round the village today. It is in a disgraceful state, especially the Church which is completely ruined.
April 25th 1917. A violent bombardment took place last night. Artillery was very active all day.
April 26th 1917. We moved back to Favreuil today. Here there is a very large Hun cemetery. From all the crosses he has scratched the name of the regiment and the date of death so as not to give us any idea of his casualties.
April 27th 1917. Reveille at midnight. We practiced night manoeuvres till 7.30 am and at 9 am returned to Vraucourt.
April 28th 1917. A terrific bombardment last night.
April 29th 1917. We moved to Biefvillers-les-Bapaume and set up camp.
April 30th 1917. Reveille. We practiced night manoeuvres till 7 am. This turns out to be practice for a very important charge we are to make on and around Bullecourt at a very near date. In the afternoon we went for a walk into Bapaume. 10 pm. we had to move forward to front line supports.
May 1st 1917. We are now in a sunken road. ( Not so comfortable as billets eh )
May 2nd 1917. All day our artillery, from 18 pounders to 15 inch pounded Bullecourt, Hendecourt, Reincourt-les-Cagnicourt and the famous Hindenburg Line all of which we can see quite plainly from here.
We are to attack the whole of them tomorrow morning at 3.45 am. There is to be a big affair and it is on a 15 Division front. About sunset we brought down a Hun plane. When the occupants were passing us, one who could speak English, called out to us that they would be waiting for us in the morning. How they get to know these things I do not know.
May 3rd 1917. At last a day of adventures. 1 am. We moved forward to the front line, where we extended at 3 am. and proceeded to move off across "No man's Land ". Previous to this we had to hand in all our overcoats, spare gear etc, and go over with two water bottles and bear fighting equipment with extra ammunition and bombs.
We had not gone across " No Man's Land" more than 50 yards when Fritz spotted us, our attack was no longer a secret, so he shelled us terribly, causing terrible casualties.
3.45 am our bombardment opened accompanied by Fritz as well. All the furies of hell could not be worse. 4 am. some how or other something has gone wrong. Instead of being 5th wave we are all mixed up with the 1st wave and are now in our own as well as Fritz's barrage. Men are literally being wiped out as they advance. Some blown clean off the earth.
As the lines advance, they are just dissolving like ice in front of a fire. We have now reached his wire entanglements which our artillery has completely destroyed. Casualties are heavy. A few minutes past four. We have no Officers left. Casualties are increasing and we are now just pouring into the famous Hindenburg Line. 4.15 am. Getting rather strong resistance. The trench is full of dead Fritz's.
The English on our left and the Australians on our right have failed, so our position is precarious, but are holding on and fighting on all four sides. 7 am. after two hours bombing, we have succeeded in getting him out of a couple of posts.
There are 26 of us opposing heaven knows how many. 7.15 am. Fritz is causing us to retire. Our supply of bombs has given out but more are on the way.
An Officer from one of the other Battalions and I crawled out over the top and took all the bombs and ammunition from the dead and wounded lying around. We also got a Lewis gun which we are now using against him. As fast as our men get up to snipe they are killed.
The Officer has just been killed leaving me in charge of about 5 men. All the others are killed. Ours is a very important post now as we are not only protecting the flanks but the whole Battalion from being cut off, also saving the only means of communication. We are up level with Reincourt ( at out 2nd last objective ) but do not think it advisable to go any further. 7.30 am We have a new supply of bombs and about 15 more men and are pounding him with mortars. 7.35 am. He is retiring. 9.30 am Fritz is launching an enormous counter attack on us ( about the sixth since we got into the trench ) We are sniping and bombing for our lives. The attack seems to be coming on three sides.
The Australians on our right are recovering and are now advancing while the Tommies on our left are retiring even from their old front line, a fine lot these.?
Noon. The right has failed again but with persistent and hard fighting are now gaining ground inch by inch. 3.pm. Gas shells are now being fired at us. Have been rushing round bandaging wounded and putting on their gas helmets.
Fritz is attacking again. We are now practically wiped out. 4.30 pm. We have now held this position for 12 hours and have consolidated. We have succeeded in clearing the old Hun from behind us, so breaking the square and giving us a path back to Headquarters.
I have to go back at the orders of an Officer who has just turned up, to Headquarters with a dispatch and to explain things to the C.O. We had to go back over the newly captured ground ( over 2300 yards ) where dead and wounded lying around is something awful.
Fritz is sniping the wounded and stretcher bearers as they go out. On arrival at Headquarters, I was kept there for a rest. 9 pm. Fritz is shelling us awfully and the English are retiring on our left. We had to help them back into their line. Midnight ? The terrific bombardment still continues. How I am living at the present moment is nothing short of a miracle. All our own guns have opened on us in response to the S.O.S. signal on our left. The casualties are terrific. We are now under our own fire and our men are getting our shells from the rear and Fritz's from the front. We have now about 70 left out of about 1090 men. Our fate now seems inevitable, just to wait here till we are all finally killed or wounded.
May 4th 1917. On an average of about every 1/2 hour our phone wire is being broken and we have to go out to mend it. All the Headquarters section are gone. We have "Stood To" all night. The men in the front line were relieved at 4 pm. Out of our 1090 men there are now a full Muster of 53 Officers, N.C.Os and men. Reinforcements are arriving this afternoon.
May 5th 1917. 2 am. We were relieved to the Ecoust - Noreul Road Supports. A dispatch from General Head Quarters came today congratulating us for our brigade was the only one left out of 15 Divisions that had obtained its objective and held it. 10 pm fritz counter-attacked the front line but lost heavily.
May 6th 1917. We stood to all day today.
May 7th 1917. The Gordons ( Scotties ) attacked Bullecourt today. The bombardment is terrific, but they were successful. Fritz shelled us all day with 9 inch stuff. 10 pm we were relieved to Faveuil amidst plenty of rain.
May 8th 1917. We were drenched to the skin last night and are still wet. We moved to Le Sars. After arriving here I was informed that I was to proceed to England on leave.
Heard today that Jim Marshall was killed and found out after that I buried him. He was blown to bits.
May 9th 1917. 5 am we walked to Albert to catch the leave train which left at 2.45 pm and arrived at Boulogne at 11.15 pm. Whilst passing through Amiens we saw some refugees from Lens. The country side is looking great in its spring hue now.
May 10th 1917. We stayed the night in rest Billets and at 10.15 am caught the boat which left at 11 am and arrived at Folkestone at 1 pm. En Route, we were escorted, along with hospital ships, by destroyers and a dirigible balloon. From Folkestone we took the train and arrived in London at 4 pm. After a bath and a brush we went to the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly to see " A Little Bit of Fluff". It was great.
May 11th 1917. Took my mate to see the Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and a general tour around. In the evening we went to see "Three Cheers" Harry Lauder's Revue. It was not bad and he was much better in this than he was in Australia. At 11 pm. we caught the train for Edinburg. It was very crowded.
May 12th 1917. Arrived at 7 am. Spent the day touring round. In the evening we went to see "Goldman's Ltd" at the Theatre Royal ". This is supposed to be the best show here. All I say is heaven help the worst. "Nuf sed"
May 13th 1917. We took a taxi for the day ( Three pound ten shillings and seven pence ) and toured round all the suburbs and hills. Such scenery I have never in all my life seen. No wonder they call it "Bonny Scotland" 10.pm. caught the train for London.
May 14th 1917. Arrived London 6.30 am. During my wanderings I met some chaps I knew. They are now Officers. Being old mates they made me go up and stay with them at their place of abode, the Carlton Hotel no less, one of the highest in London. Here one is waited on from head to feet.
In the evening we went to see "Cheep" a Revue at the Vaudeville Theatre.
May 15th 1917. We all took a taxi through the St. James Park. It was a lovely sight and drive. One place here, the Queen Victoria Monument in front of Buckingham Palace, is very interesting because on your left is Piccadilly, then comes Pall Mall, Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, Westminster and Victoria, all forming a half circle around you.
In the evening we saw Gaby Deslys in "Suzette" at the Globe Theatre. It was lovely. Afterwards we returned to the hotel for supper.
May 16th 1917. A surprise of surprises, I met Jim Wiles today at A.I.F. Headquarters. We went round all over the place together. Dining and lunching at the Maison Lyons. In the evening we went to "Chu Chin Chow" at his Majestys.
May 17th 1917. Got my photos today. It rained all day so my friends and I spent a day at home on the Music Room at the Carlton where I am staying tonight. In the evening after having dinner we attended the Royal Opera at the Garrick Theatre and saw the "Tales of Hoffman ". It was great.
May 18th 1917. Spent a very fine day in going out to see Mrs. Morison at Southgate. She gave us a very nice time. We have an invitation to their place on Sunday so am seriously thinking of accidentally missing the train. Tomorrow I am going to a banquet at the Savoy Hotel. Had a great time.
May 19th 1917. This afternoon we visited the Kew Gardens. They are Tres bon. Quite enjoyed myself. In the night I was at a dinner held by a few of my old mates from Australia and who had all met in London.
May 20th 1917. I accidentally missed the train this morning so had another day in London. In the afternoon we went out to Mrs. Morisons and had a real enjoyable time.
May 21st 1917. Caught the 6.50 am train for Folkestone where we waited all day till 3 pm when we caught the boat to Boulogne without any excitement arriving there at 5 pm.
May 22nd 1917. 8 am Caught the train to Etaples where we waited in camp for the rest of the day.
May 23rd 1917. 4.15 am we caught the train to Albert arriving there about 3 pm and walked to where the Battalion was billeted at Millencourt, a very pretty little village.
May 24th 1917. Oh ! What a difference, that infernal drill again. The scenery around here is lovely. We are in a hollow surrounded by trees and cultivated hills. The weather is A.1.
May 25th 1917. Marched to Senlis for a bath this morning and drill in the afternoon.
May 26th 1917. We had a rifle competition this morning. All the prizes came to our company. In the evening I walked across to Bouzincourt to see about Jim Marshall.
May 27th 1917. Church Parade in the morning and Oh! today we had a fine dinner, quite a change for the army. Roast beef (very red in the centre) roast potatoes ( Hard 1/4 inch from the skin ) boiled something, I think it was called cabbage; anyhow we will let it go at that and a rice pudding at least 1 inch black from the bottom of the Dixie. In the afternoon we played the Cyclist Corps football and got beaten.
May 28th 1917. Battalion sports today. It was very hot but had a good time.
May 29th 1917. Very Cool.
May 30th 1917. Cool again. I was Regimental Orderly Sergeant for the day. The remainder of the Battalion had a sports meeting and a game of football. Once more we were beaten.
May 31st 1917. Just plain and simple drill.
June 1st 1917. Oh! Eureka ! Broke for a week and got paid today.
June 2nd 1917. We walked into Warloy this evening. It is pretty place but a long way.
June 3rd 1917. Played the 24th Battalion football and got licked, 5 points to 21.
June 4th 1917. Marched to a neighbouring river ( Ancre ) and had a dip. Tres Bon too.
June 5th 1917. It has been hot all day. In the afternoon we had a thunderstorm.
June 6th 1917. Some more of those infernal manoeuvres at the scene of those awful battles of Theipval, a distance of 8 miles. It was a march too and as hot as possible.
Just past Albert the ground is all one immense swamp just filled with skeletons of Germans who were drowned when the British and French broke the banks of the canal in 1914, thus saving Albert but flooding old Fritz out. Around Theipval there are dozens of corpses and skeletons still lying in the shell holes. It is an awful disgrace.
June 7th 1917. The most violent thunderstorm I have ever experienced broke over us at about 1 am. There is a bombardment going on up the line. News of the great Messines push came today.
June 8th 1917. The heavy bombardment still continues. We had a day at the rifle range. This work is most tiring.
June 9th 1917. Drill again.
June 10th 1917. We had a couple of terrific thunderstorms again today.
June 11th 1917. News from Ypres still comes through very good.
June 12th 1917. A heavy bombardment last night and a thunderstorm by day.
June 13th 1917. Night manoeuvres. We took the village in which we are billeted. Only one casualty, a man ran into an old draft horse and sustained a black eye.
June 15th 1917. Marched to Varrenness, a distance of 10 miles. On arriving there we found the Hun had blown up the line so had to wait till 5 pm when we entrained for Bapaume, arriving at 8 pm. Then we marched to Reincourt-les-Bapaume near Villers-au-Flos. We are now under canvas.
June 14th 1917. Marched to Avelouy, 5 miles from here and had a bath in the lake. It was lovely.
June 16th 1917. Oh! The joyful news. I was today informed that I was to proceed to Blighty ( England ) for 6 months on the staff.
June 17th 1917. 5 am. Walked about 2 miles to Bapaume where I got a lift on a motor transport convoy to Albert, about 19 kilos. When passing through the remains of Le Sars. A Taube dropped a bomb on the convoy, killing and completely destroying two motor lorries. 2 pm. caught the train for Bolougne arriving about 6 pm. and walked up one of the steepest hills to St. Martin's Wireless Camp. I can tell you it was hot too.
June 18th 1917. We are still waiting here. Had a terrible storm all day.
June 19th 1917. Caught boat to Folkestone and then train to London.
June 20th 1917. Wandered at large round London and went to the Opera "Louise" in the evening.
June 21st 1917. Proceeded to Amesbury and then by car to Rollestone Camp, an awfully out of the way place.
June 22nd 1917. Nothing doing, nobody loves us yet. Went to the pictures in the evening.
June 23rd 1917. Still having a holiday.
June 24th 1917. This morning we walked over to Stonehenge and witnessed the only Service held each year. In the afternoon we walked across to Figheldean, where there still exists the old chestnut tree so world famed in "The Village Blacksmith"
June 25th 1917. Even here we got that infernal drill.
June 26th 1917. Walked across to Shrewton. This is not a bad little village.
June 27th 1917. We set out for Weymouth, arriving there about 5pm. After a brief walk round, we went out to the school of Instruction at Wyke Regis.
June 28th 1917. It is very pretty out here. One can see Portland Island at one end of which is a big boat on the rocks.
June 29th 1917. Had an examination today, came out fairly well.
June 30th 1917. Went into Weymouth. It is great here. The Promenade is the best I have seen.
July 1st 1917. To Weymouth again. In the evening we went to the Garden Pavilion, there a glorious orchestra rendered some very classical Music. It was a glorious night.
July 2nd 1917. Very hot.
July 3rd 1917. There was some very heavy firing at sea.
July 4th 1917. Went to look at the Wyke Regis Church. It is very pretty and was the one attended by Royalty when this was the Royal Watering Place. The chimes are really worthy of mention.
July 5th 1917. Lovely day. Nothing doing.
July 6th 1917. Walked over to Portland and Chisel Beach. The wreckage here is terrible. Collections of boats that have been smashed for years.
July 7th 1917. Walked to Weymouth. A lovely day.
July 8th 1917. We took a couple of boats and went for a row. Quite an enjoyable afternoon.
July 9th 1917. Drill again as usual.
July 10th 1917. Went across to Portland. Since the big tidal wave this is no longer an island, because of the sand bank thrown up. A railway and road now run across. Portland was a big convict settlement and has enormous Quarries.
July 11th 1917. Again there was heavy firing out at sea.
July 12th and 13th 1917. Examinations today. Did well.
July 14th and 15th 1917. Had the week end in Weymouth. Quite an enjoyable time. Took a motor boat and went for quite a long spin.
July 16th and 17th 1917. Examinations. ( Final ) So far am going strong.
July 18th 1917. A dense fog today, lasting till 3 pm.
July 19th 1917. Exams. Still going strong.
July 20th 1917. A big boat with a lot of our mail was wrecked near here today.
July 21st 1917. It turned out that the boat yesterday was torpedoed.
July 22nd 1917. Spent the day in Weymouth. In the morning we attended the service at the Wyke Regis Church. It has a lovely choir.
July 23rd 1917. One of our men got the measles so we were all isolated.
July 24th 1917. Walked over to see "Sandsfoot Castle". It is very pretty and hundreds of years old and now in ruins
July 25th 1917. Stayed in camp all day.
July 26th 1917. In the evening went to the Gardens in Weymouth and saw the "Sequins" Concert Party.
July 27th 1917. Spent the day in cleaning up to return to Rollestone.
July 28th 1917. We returned to Rollestone. Raining again.
July 29th 1917. Stayed in all day.
July 30th 1917. Rain, Rain again. Did nothing, saw nothing and stopped in all day.
July 31st 1917. Ah ! Furlough. 10am. Went to Amesbury, caught the train to London. It still rains. I am stopping at Strand Palace Hotel, the Strand, London. In the evening, saw "Chu Chin Chow" at His Majesty's.
August 1st 1917. Caught the 11 pm train to Edinburg, arrived at 7.30 am.
August 2nd 1917. The weather is lovely. Caught the 3.15 pm. train to Aberdeen. The journey up here is lovely. It takes four hours. The line runs along the coast and the sea is constantly in view.
We passed through mines without ends; then cuttings; then tunnels then on the top of a cliff, then into a tunnel again. The rocks on the coast are very rugged. There are enormous towering brown rocks with the ocean breaking into spray all over them. Islands, large and small are of every conceivable shape, some flat and some like great needles towering out into the sea.
Then on the other side great hills, even mountains rise up. Oh ! it is lovely. We pass over the world famous Firth of Forth Bridge, ( The Firth was full of war vessels ) over the Tay Bridge and through Dundee, finally landing at Aberdeen, a very much wiser and tired man.
I stayed at the Palace Hotel. In the evening I went to the best theatre there. Well, if this is the best, all I can say is , heaven help the worst.
August 3rd 1917. Had a good wander round. Everything is built of grey granite. It has a curious and most glorious effect. 2 pm. Caught the train to Loch Lomond. It was a most interesting ride to Glasgow.
August 4th 1917. Went to that heaven on earth, Loch Lomond. Oh ! of all the places I have seen, this is the best. No words will ever describe it. 6 pm. Caught the train to London.
August 5th 1917. Arrived in London. 6 am. Very tired. I went out to see Mrs. Morrison today. Had quite a nice day.
August 6th 1917. Bank Holiday, a great day in London. In the morning we took a taxi to Hamstead Heath. I never in all my life saw such a crowd. All the Cockneys, 'Arries and 'Ariets with their merry go rounds and the like. In the afternoon we went to Hyde Park and oh the crowd there, all sorts of shapes and sizes.
In the evening we went to see the great play "Romance" in which Doris Kean has made such a hit. It was some thing glorious.
August 7th 1917. Had a glorious day round London in general. In the evening went to the Savoy Theatre and afterwards to the Savoy for supper.
August 8th 1917. In the evening went out to my mate's Place at Waddon, near Croydon. Had a real good evening. Spent the afternoon at the Kew Gardens, where we got some fine photos..
August 9th 1917. This morning we went out to view Windsor Castle. It was very fine indeed, the scenery is great. The Alhambra Theatre was on the books for the evening where we saw Violet Lorraine in "Round the Map", a lovely performance.
August 10th 1917. The inevitable has happened. Leave is over so we returned to camp to hear that we had all passed for our Instructor's Certificates, the highest an N.C.O. can get.
August 11th 1917. Spent the afternoon developing the photos of our leave. Went to the pictures in the evening.
August 12th 1917. Went for a walk to Amesbury and then home again through Lark Hill. Rained all the way.
August 13th and 14th 1917. Drill as usual.
August 15th 1917. Had a fearful rainstorm today. In less than 15 minutes, the lower parts of the camp were flooded about 6 feet deep in water.
August 16th and 17th 1917, Drill. Nothing worth noting.
August 18th 1917. Nothing doing all day, raining. Went to the camp Vaudeville Show in the evening. Just about passable.
August 19th 1917. Walked across to Bulford this afternoon. It was a very pretty walk.
August 20th 1917. The Duke of Connaught reviewed out troops today, taking the whole of the day waiting for him.
August 21st 1917. News came through of the success at Len, Ypres, Verdun and Italy.
August 22nd, 23rd and 24th 1917. Drill as usual.
August 25th 1917. All had to move into tents until huts were fumigated.
August 26th 1917. Went down to Rollestone Manor today. It is a fine old place. The people were fine too.
August 27th 1917. A small batch of reinforcements arrived today. They were a scraggy looking lot too.
August 28th and 29th 1917. Drill. Nothing worthy of mention.
August 30th 1917. We all moved back into the huts today. It is warmer here I can tell you.
August 31st 1917. Received a big mail today. We received word that an out going and an incoming mail was sunk.
September 1st 1917. Went for a walk to Winterborne-Stoke. This is a very pretty little village.
September 2nd 1917. The Anniversary of the "Southland" We went down to Rollestone Manor, and Church in the evening.
September 3rd 1917. Nothing doing.
September 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th 1917. I have been ill all this time. A touch of that trench fever again. It's rotten, I can tell you.
September 8th 1917. Took a slow walk to Tilshead ( about 8 miles ) This is the quaintest little village I have struck.
September 9th 1917. Rollestone Manor in the afternoon. Had a good time.
September 10th 1917. Every sign of Autumn is now evident. Temperatures are lowering ( not that they are ever very high ) and the glorious shades of the trees and plants is really worthy of a mention.
September 11th and 12th 1917. Raining and cold.
September 13th and 14th 1917. Drill.
September 16th 1917. Walked across to Figheldean. I described this place last visit.
September 17th to 21st 1917. Lovely week, but nothing to report other than drill as usual.
September 22nd 1917. Spent the afternoon in the Cathedral, City of Salisbury. It is a very old and quaint place, but the Cathedral is very fine. It ranks among the most historic of England.
The spire is the second highest and it boasts of being the only Cathedral entirely built in the one period.
It is really a majestic and massive style. This is built after the style of Amiens Cathedral.
September 23rd 1917. Stayed home all day.
September 24th 1917. Got a lot of letters from home and from the boys in France. They have been in the recent Ypres stunts, which must have been marvellous. Saw Jim Wiles today.
September 25th 1917. There are rumours that we are going to move from this camp.
September 26th to 29th 1917. There has been one continual fog these days. It has not even lifted for an hour.
September 30th 1917. Spent the day at the Manor and wandered through their beautiful orchard. There was fruit in any quantity.
October 1st and 2nd 1917. Nothing doing.
October 3rd 1917. The Head Sig. Major "Some one " came and inspected us today.
October 4th 1917. We had a very violent storm today.
October 5th 1917. News of another big push at Ypres. My word our boys have paid the penalty this time. They are nearly all gone.
October 6th 1917. Went to Lark Hill Cinema in the evening.
October 7th 1917. Spent the day at the Manor. This is our second home. Had an awful storm which lasted for 12 hours.
October 8th 1917. I was detailed to attend a school of Instruction at Boyton near Codford, a very pretty village. I left Amesbury at 10 am and after changing several trains landed there at 6 pm.
October 9th 1917. Rained all day. This place is completely surrounded with steep hills and is very pretty.
October 10th 1917. Very cold and frosty.
October 11th 1917. Very cold and frosty.
October 12th 1917. Still cold. Had the exam today. I got 99%. Excellent paper.
October 13th 1917. Our camp has been shifted so today I had to find them at Fovant ( about 2 miles from Dinton ) Oh! the scenery is just lovely. We are in a basin with a heavy wood in the rear and enormous hills round us.
These hills are of chalk and every unit that has been here has cut their badge in the side of the hill by removing the green turf and filling up with white chalk. The Australian one is built on the scale of being 1,000 times bigger than our hat badge. Then there is a map of Australia twice the area of this big badge. They are a real work of art. In the evening we walked down to the Vaudeville at Hurdcott.
October 14th 1917. Walked over to Breadchalk, a pretty village, with a lovely old Church. We attended here in the evening. The village is built in a hollow and wooded hills all round
When the Church bells chime, it is with marvellous effect. It sounds as if hundreds of bells were ringing at the one time.
October 15th to 19th 1917. Nothing exciting doing. Drill as usual.
October 20th 1917. There was a terrible air raid in London last night. One bomb dropped right on Piccadilly.
October 21st and 22nd 1917. Quiet today. Drill as usual.
October 23rd 1917. News came of the downing of five of the Zepps that raided London. Also of another big push at Flanders.
October 24th and 25th 1917. Nothing of importance.
October 26th 1917. I went to London for the weekend and stayed at The Howard Hotel, Strand. I saw "Theodore and Co", the musical comedy. It was lovely.
October 27th 1917. Went round to Piccadilly to see where the bomb dropped last week. It made a big hole in the middle of the road and broke every pain of glass for a radius of 200 yards. No property was very much damaged. In the evening we went to the Alhambra and again "Round the map". It has been altered somewhat.
October 28th 1917. Round London in general. Spent Sunday in the Rotten Row, some style, eh? Caught the 4.05 pm train back to camp arriving at11.45 pm.
October 29th to 31st 1917. Nothing of importance.
November 1st 1917. My arm has again broken out where I was wounded. It is a source of constant annoyance.
November 2nd 1917. We had our school photographed today. Rumour says we are going back to France next week.
November 3rd 1917. Camp closed. A general mobilisation of all troops in camp have been ordered. So everything is upside down. The Italian retreat still continues. War news in general is very poor except on the French front, where the enemy has retired 1,000 yards.
November 4th 1917. Everything is ready for emergencies. All standing by waiting. Noon. All restrictions have been lifted.
November 5th to 9th 1917. Nothing of importance. Very wet and cold.
November 10th 1917. Stayed home and did some photos. In the evening went to a Vaudeville Show.
November 11th 1917. Took a walk to Tisbury ( 5 miles distant ) of all the walks I have been, this is one of the prettiest. The roads lead over a series of small hills which form the basin of three enormous ranges of very high hills.
The whole of this country side is dotted with clumps of forest, trees and numerous roads leading in all directions. Then on top of the highest of these, smaller hills lies Tisbury. Autumn which is now at hand has lent one of the most beautiful schemes. The sides of the roads and hedges are lined with lovely colored berries and ferns of all descriptions, stag and many others, we prize and doctor up.
November 12th 1917. Quiet today. Had a lovely sunset tonight. everyone was out to see it.
November 13th to 16th 1917. Been very busy preparing a big squad for the final classification.
November 17th 1917. Took a car into Salisbury and had a grand day.
November 18th 1917. Walked up to Dinton, a village four miles from here, had tea and returned home.
November 19th 1917. Quiet today.
November 20th 1917. Held a meeting tonight to decide on a proper and big mess for the Headquarters N.C.O.'s. It promises to be a great success.
November 21st 1917. News came through of the great push between St Quentin and the River Scarpe. Already we have advanced 5 miles on a 36 mile front. Operations continue so the communique says.
November 22nd to 27th 1917. These days have been very stormy with fearful gales.
November 28th 1917. The news of the Cambrai Battle comes through. It is hourly getting worse.
November 29th and 30th 1917. Nothing to report.
December 1st 1917. Went to the Vaudeville Show tonight. Had rather a decent day.
December 2nd 1917. Did some photography.
December 3rd 1917. Very cold.
December 4th 1917. Still cold. Our new mess opened today. It is some class.
December 5th 1917. There was a terrible frost last night. It tried to snow today.
December 6th 1917. The awful struggle around Cambrai still continues.
December 7th 1917. Reports still come through re this awful struggle. Seems to be getting worse.
December 8th 1917. Still wet. News very bad from all fronts.
December 9th and 10th 1917. News still bad from all fronts.
December 11th 1917. Better news. We hear that General Allenby entered Jerusalem.
December 12th 1917. A nice day for a change. A lovely sunset tonight, just like a series of enormous shell bursts.
December 13th and 14th 1917. Very quiet.
December 15th 1917. Went across to Tisbury. Had a lovely day.
December 16th 1917. We awoke to find it raining and blowing. At 10 am it started to snow, and within half an hour was 6" deep. In the afternoon it turned into a terrible blizzard.
December 17th 1917. Cold and snowed again.
December 18th 1917. We were skating, or at least trying to, on a nearby pond, which had 23" of ice on it.
December 19th and 20th 1917. Heavy frost and fog this morning. One cannot see more than three yards in front of him. It did not lift all day.
December 21st 1917. Another freeze today. Fog still continues.
December 22nd 1917. It rained today so at least we have got rid of the snow.
December 23rd 1917. Frost again. Everything is as hard as iron.
December 24th 1917. Cold and work as usual. We had a grand concert party here tonight.
December 25th 1917. Xmas Day. And a day it was too, cold but lovely. We did not get out of bed till 11 am. After dressing we went down to the mess for dinner. The tables were gloriously decorated and layed. Cost about 10 pounds to do it and only seat 40 persons. We sat down at 1.30 pm, After a nice address by the Commandant and waded though an eight course dinner, after which we toasted all to be toasted.
Finally rising from the table at 4.30 pm, some going eh? This is not all. At 6 pm we started off again and had a three course tea. The manager of the Vaudeville Theatre ( he was invited to dinner ) reserved the first three rows in his Theatre. It was a present from him to us for the good time we had given him. The show was lovely, so in return we invited the whole Company of Artists to our mess for supper and evening. Supper was served at 9.30 pm during which time we had songs and dances, after each course ( 6 in all ). Finally at 1 am we all retired after having a glorious day.
December 26th 1917. Boxing Day. We arose at 10 am and made a cup of cocoa and then went down to lunch. In the afternoon we took the Vaudeville Artists ( very nice people) to the sports. It was awfully cold so we bought them back to the mess where we had a nice musical afternoon and dinner at 5.30 pm. Also they invited us to the performance which was a change of programme in the way of songs.
They came in again at 9.30 pm for supper. We had a dance and musical evening. Then the party broke up at midnight, tired but happy.
December 27th 1917. At noon I got leave for 6 days to London, and arrived there at 3.30 pm. Went with my pal out to his place at Croydon and in the evening to the local Theatre, the Palace. A lovely place and saw the pantomime the "Sleeping Beauty ".
December 28th 1917. Had a look over the Interior of Parliament to day. The carving was some thing to be proud of. In the evening went to see the "Maid of the Mountain " at Daly's Theatre, which is one of the prettiest I have seen. It is all inlaid cedar.
December 29th 1917. Wandered round London in general for a good look round. In the evening went to see "Pamela" at the Palace. This is a beautiful piece. Had supper at the Trocadero, the best in London.
December 30th 1917. Cold and wet. At about 4 pm. one of London's black fogs came down on the city. It is astounding the density of it. The street lamps are of no use whatever and one has to grope round in pitch blackness. You have no idea of it. Went out to Mrs. Morrison's today and this greeted us on our return.
December 31st 1917. We woke up to find the roofs and all were covered with snow. Had a look at the Royal Albert Hall. It is enormous place. It seats about 8 to 10,000 people and there are boxes galore.
It has one of the finest pipe organs in the world. Went to see "The Boy" at the Adelphi in the evening and finally saw the old year out at the Trocadero. My word it was gay too.
Near the end in 1918, click here
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