Officer in Waiting
4 May - 12 June
The Somme Again
13 June - 24 August
Dompiere & Mont St. Quentin
25 August - 6 September
7 September - 10 November
11 November - 28 Feb 1919
The WWI diary of Percy Smythe was transcribed by his daughter Betty Smythe.
Tues. 26. Boxing Day. The boat arrived off the Isle of Wight some time during the night, and moved in to Southampton before daylight. We disembarked about 10.30a.m., and were kept waiting at the railway till about 2.30p.m. for a train.
Got a newspaper from a lady who brought sweets and cigarettes for the soldiers. Switzerland has sent a note to the belligerents endorsing President Wilson's note. More of these blessed notes are expected from the Scandinavian countries.
Entrained on a Birmingham train and got a move on at last. Had a belated dinner in the train. Snow still lay upon the ground in places, the remains of a recent fall. Passed through Andover, near where Bert's camp is.
Arrived at a suburb of Birmingham about 7.30p.m., where motors were waiting to convey us to hospital. There were piles of hard snow heaped about, and the night air was sharp and keen. The town was all in darkness, and even the trains showed no light except a single shaft falling along the line in front.
We were taken to a hospital at Edgbaston. It was a fair-sized building, and had once been a university. Met Mitchell of A company 3rd battalion. Went to C10 ward. Wrote to Bert telling him of my whereabouts.
Wed. 27. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan, also to Viv and to Mum and Dad. It was visiting day today, and it made we feel quite lonely to see all the visitors coming to see other chaps. There was a bit of an entertainment by the patients in the afternoon, and then we had a spread for tea, with plenty of good things. After tea a concert party entertained us. They were not bad, but there was hardly enough variety and it grew a bit monotonous. One of the artists was an excellent whistler.
Thurs. 28. A lot of patients left this ward for convalescent homes this morning.
Fri. 29. Wrote a letter to Ida in French. Also wrote to Viola and Rita. Studied French this afternoon. There was a spread in C4 ward for tea. Continued French studies this evening.
Mitchell dropped in for a chat, and gave me the astounding news that sjt. Jim Voss had been murdered in cold blood. Someone crept into the billet at night and shot him in his sleep. It is thought that the bullet was meant for Nunn or Millard. Tom Avery and Horatio Nelson were arrested on suspicion, and were still under arrest when Mitchell came away. I can't imagine poor drunkard Nelson murdering a cat, but Avery, though not a bad sort in some ways, was certainly a bit erratic. Am very sorry to hear of Jim's death.
Sat. 30. There are hints in today's paper that Germany is willing to give up the captured countries, but wants to have East Africa restored to her. There also seems to be a possibility of Austria suing for a separate peace. A motion for the adoption of national prohibition is before the American government, and is to be decided early in the New Year.
Sun. 31. Anglican service this morning. Had hoped Bert or Mrs. Morgan might possibly come this afternoon, but was disappointed. The Allies' refusal to the peace offer was published in detail in today's paper. More peace notes have been despatched by the Scandinavian countries.
Here ends the year 1916, and the prospects for the coming year are anything but bright.
Monday, 1st. New Year's Day. The day was not celebrated here. Walked down to Selly Oak during the two hour's leave this afternoon.
Tues. 2. Studied French irregular verbs today. Walked down to Selly Oak this afternoon.
Wed. 3. Studied French irregular verbs. Finished revising "Butterfly in the Ditch". Took a walk up through Edgebaston this afternoon. It is visiting day, and, upon returning, I learned that visitors had come for me during my absence. Was awfully disappointed, and felt disgusted with things in general and my luck in particular.
Got a letter from Bert tonight, containing the sad news that cousin Minnie Graham died rather suddenly of heart failure after a severe illness. It must be a hard blow to them at Bonnie Doone, and especially to Ernie and Alfie, over in France. Bert also said he would arrange for a nice young girl friend of his to visit me, which explains this afternoon's affair. He did not mention her name or address, so I cannot write and explain my absence.
Thur. 4. A lot of us had to go before the medical board this morning, and most of us, including me, were marked to Dartford convalescent hospital. We may have to go any day. Wrote to Bert.
A chap from C9 ward came and told me about yesterday's visitors. They were mother and daughter, he thought, and were friends of a lady who came to see him, a Mrs. Guest. They were coming again on Sunday, they told him. Got Mrs. Guest's address from him, and went in to Birmingham this afternoon. Went without leave pass, so that I could stay late and come in over the back wall. A folded piece of paper served to get by the sentry at the gate, as he never troubled to closely examine the passes. Had no trouble finding Mrs. Guest's place, but she did not know Mrs. Parker's address. However, she rang up several different places, and eventually ascertained that Mr. Parker was working at Garner's Motor Garage, Moseley. Before leaving she insisted upon my accepting two shillings in case I should run short of tram fares. Took a car to Moseley and found Mr. Parker at Garner's.
He directed me to his home in King Edward's Rd. Mrs. Parker guessed at once who I was, but after being there a little while I ascertained that she and her daughter, Mrs. Vincent, were not the people Bert referred to in his letter. It appears that Mrs. Morgan wrote asking them to visit me. Spent a very pleasant afternoon at their place. It was such a nice change after the monotony of hospital life. Left about 6.30p.m. promising to come again if possible. Took bus to Edgebaston, scaled the back wall into the hospital grounds, and strolled carelessly in.
Fri. 5. Transcribed some of "Butterfly in the Ditch". Went out with Baker to Selly Oak this afternoon. It was raining and miserable out of doors. Bought a copy of John Bull. Bottomly expects the war to end soon and suddenly, possibly about Easter. According to the daily paper, Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia are on the verge of a bust-up. The young emperor, it appears, is eager to free his dominions from the yoke of Prussianism, and to save his empire from falling to pieces. He has appealed to the Pope to intervene on their behalf, and it is thought quite possible that Austria-Hungary may sue for a separate peace. Our prospects of an early cessation of hostilities seem to be brightening, but it is unwise to take anything for granted. I can't see much hope of the war ending before next November, at the earliest.
Sat. 6. Have not yet received any intimation about leaving here. Received a letter from Miss Tilley Pugsley, who happens to be the girl Bert wrote to. Replied sending her a pass to come in to the hospital tomorrow. Continued transcription of "Butterfly in the Ditch".
Went to Mrs. Parker's this afternoon, not taking pass. Mrs. Vincent took me to the pictures before tea, and then we had some music in the parlour afterwards. Left in time to catch the 7p.m. motorbus, and scaled in, arriving in the ward just before 8p.m., at which time the night-sister goes round the wards and reports any absent.
Sun. 7. Studied French this morning. Miss Pugsley and a girl friend arrived this afternoon. The former proved to be rather pretty, and very jolly and lively. The other girl was rather quieter, but was very nice. It was a pleasant two hours I enjoyed in their company. Arranged to meet Miss Pugsley at her place of business tomorrow afternoon.
After tea, Baker and I went out, intending to go to Selly Oak, but it was raining so we came back. Saw the night-sister, who is a sweet, but sad-faced and tired-looking woman, and persuaded her to allow me out till 9.30p.m. tomorrow night without reporting me absent.
Mon. 8. Sleet and snow were falling this morning, and the atmosphere outside is very cold. Have as yet received no warning of leaving. Continued transcription. Wrote to Bert and Mrs. Morgan. Went out this afternoon without pass. It was still snowing lightly, and the ground was covered with a mantle of white. Took tram in to Birmingham, where I had to wait some time for a Ladywood car. A strong gusty wind whirled the incessant flow of white flecks hither and thither, and made one shiver with the cold and shrink into the friendly shelter of recessed doorways. At last got a Ladywood car and went to Summerfield Crescent. It was now snowing heavily and blowing a treat. Looked about for Stone's factory, and then spotted the girls in a doorway beckoning to me. Went in and was introduced to Mr., Mrs., and Miss Stone. They were very friendly, and we sat around the fire talking for some time. Afterwards went up to the workrooms, which were full of nice girls. They were rather bashful, and so was I.
Leaving Stone's, Miss Pugsley took me to Miss Glover's place for tea. They had one boy recently killed at the Somme, and their only other son, Ernie, who was at home, had been the wireless operator on the Peel Castle when she was burnt. He and the captain were the last to leave the ship, and he was in the water for five hours before being picked up. The exposure undermined his health, so that he is now sinking into a decline.
Stayed there a while and then went to Miss Pugsley's place, and spent the rest of the evening there till after 8p.m. Miss Pugsley came in with me to the city. Avant partir d'elle, je l'ai baissée deux fois, et je l'ai embrassée bien affectioneusement. Eh bien, c'est bon à avoir des amies dans un pays Ètrange. Vive l'Angleterre! [Before leaving her, I bowed twice, and I kissed her very affectionately. Well, it's good to have friends in a strange country. Long live England!] Arranged to come to Stone's on Wednesday and afterwards go to the pictures with her. Went to Selly Oak and climbed over back wall into hospital grounds. The ground was covered with snow, and I was afraid the piquet might easily detect me against the white background. But it was so bitterly cold that they were probably all taking shelter inside somewhere, and I had no difficulty getting in safely. Arrived in the ward just before 9.30p.m. The night-sister had been rather anxious as to whether I'd turn up in time.
Have to leave for Dartford tomorrow.
Tues. 9. Up early, and drew kit. Packed up, discarded "blues" and donned uniform, and got all ready for departure. Left about 10.30a.m., and went in taxis to the railway station in Birmingham. Wrote a short note to Miss Pugsley on a leaf of my notebook, folded, stamped, and posted it. It began to snow lightly as our train moved away out of the station. Arrived at Euston station early in the afternoon. Went down a lift somewhere to a tube railway, which took us under London to another big station, where we were served with free cakes, coffee, and sandwiches at the Countess of Limerick's Buffet. This shows the irony of modern generosity. They provide free coffee and cakes for wounded and sick soldiers enjoying a good time in "Blighty", while the poor wretches who are suffering the hardships of the battlefield over in France have to pay for what they want at the canteens! It would be much more appropriate if they were to shift all the free buffets over to Picardy or Flanders.
Took South-Eastern train to Dartford, and walked about a mile to the Auxiliary Hospital. The huts were rather nicely fitted out, being heated with steam and having baths and lavatories with hot and cold water laid on. A fine recreation room was provided for reading and writing. After tea, continued transcription of "Butterfly in the Ditch".
Wed. 10. Wrote to Bert and to young Winter at the Birmingham hospital. Continued transcription. This afternoon I went down to the town of Dartford. Met Cpl. McAdam of the 24th. B'n. He told me that Captain McAlroy is in hospital with heart disease, and is booked for Australia.
Continued transcription tonight.
Thurs. 11. Have been marked for physical exercises for 20 minutes every morning, starting today. Wrote to Mum and Dad. Finished transcribing "Butterfly in the Ditch". Went to Dartford this afternoon, and bought a New Testament for one penny and a tin of boot polish for two-pence, leaving me with threepence.
Going back I met a lady who wanted to take a visiting list to the hospital matron, but found the road too muddy, so I offered to take it for her.
Wrote to Miss Pugsley tonight. Continued list of French exceptions. The matron has had my name included on the visiting list for Sunday, because I brought the list over.
Fri. 12. Letter from Mrs. Morgan asking me to stay awhile at her place while on furlough. Walked down to the town this afternoon. It became suddenly dark at about three o'clock, and a little snow fell.
Studied French irregular verbs tonight. Germany has sent yet another peace note to neutrals. The Allies have sent a definite answer to President Wilson's note, stating roughly their peace terms. Alsace and Lorraine to go to France, Belgium, Serbia, Roumania and Russian success between Riga and Mitan.
(Note: From here to March 26th the diary is in rough draft form, somewhat cryptic, and not always legible.)
Sat. 13. French irregular verbs. Delayed letter from Mrs. Morgan. A.D., went to town. Snow. Rather pretty. Got four letters this aftn. one from Bert, he has the driving band & flare, sent 6/-, can't get leave. One from Charlie Bodsworth, he is a sapper, in private billets, expects to go to France soon. One from Tilly Pugsley (to Birm. hosp.) hoping I'd come on Wed. enclosed 1/- in stamps. And one from Winter enclosing the two letters from Charlie B. & Miss P. A.T., arranged list of irregularities of Fr. irr. vbs. Commenced story "Pierre", with slight alterations.
Sun. 14. Wrote to Viv & Mrs. Parker at B'ham. Warned for visiting this afternoon. A.D. went in motor lorry to Dartford. We were divided up amongst different ones. Went to Mr. Goodwin's. Religious people. Had tea there. Afterwards went to chapel. Good sermon by a soldier. Supper provided. Promised Miss Goodwin to come on Tuesday. Walked back to hospital.
Mon. 15. Studied Fr. vocabulary. Marked for furlough on Wed., but dr. altered it to allow teeth to be done. Big batch marked furlough. A.D., went to Dartford & walked up to Crayton. Girls, Rose and Nell. Cashed P.N.'s Bert sent. B't. boot brush & vaseline. A.T., investigated fence for way in. Studied Fr. vocabulary.
Tues. 16. Covering of snow on ground. Went to dentist, but he was too busy to do teeth. Letters from Bert, Mrs. Morgan, & Miss P. The latter wrote very pleasing letter, perhaps a trifle flattering. All wtg. on Wed. & very disapp. Must stay there on furlough. 10/- note included. A.D., worked 20 minutes in kitchen cleaning stove & got priv. pass till 8.30p.m. Went to Goodwin's. Children not allowed go to pictures. Had tea there. Played "Pit". Very pleasant evening. Late back Come again Thursday.
Wed. 17. Letters from Bert, Mrs. M. & Miss P., and Mrs. Stone. Bert is on draft for France, leave any day. Charlie B. & Wal F. gone. Miss P. said Mrs. Stone may be sending money. Mrs. Stone sent 10/- note & 12 stamps. Wrote to Bert & Mrs. Morgan. Wrote to Miss P.
A.D., went for walk thro Dartford. Met Tom Gordon looking well, had rheumatism badly. Was in Dudley rd. hosp at Birm. Is in Orchard hosp now not far from my hut. Goes out on Fri. A.T., finished letter to Miss P.
Thurs. 18. Studied Fr. vocab. Letters from Bert & A.W.C. Assn. Bert not gone yet. A.D., wrote to Mrs. Stone, B'ham. Went to town, bt. ink, guide to London & sweets. Went to Goodwin's. Played "Pit". A.T., Mrs. & Miss G. went to class. Played bagatelle and pit. Got in on Tuesday's pass.
Fri. 19. Mopped floor. Studied London maps. List of places to see. postcard from Mrs. M. Returned to Hounslow. A.D., walk to Dartford. knocked up. To Mrs. Cooper's tomorrow. A.T., wrote to Mum & Dad, & to Mrs. Morgan. Explosions.
Sat. 20. Big explosion somewhere near Woolwich last night. Wrote to Tess saying coming Tues. aftn. Went to Dartford, bt. red polish, went to Mrs. Cooper's. Spent morning there. Played dominoes & Crown Ludo. Yng. people went to pictures. Pass examined coming in. Feared great loss of life at explosion last night.
Sun. 21. Bad night with indigestion. Horrible dreams. Sleepless towards morning. Stayed in bed. Unsigned telegram from Tess, saying shall welcome me anytime. No breakfast. Got up later, but feeling rather ill. Arranged abt. drawing deferred pay. Particulars of explosion in this mng's paper. 40 k. 100 seriously inj. Lay down most of mng. A.D., got kit, dressed, & went to Goodwin's, spending aftn. & evening there. A.T., chapel with them, back afterwards. Stayed till abt. 9 p.m.
Mon. 22. Up before 6a.m., & got all ready for departure. A.B., fell in 8.30, got away something after 10. Band marched with us to stn. Train to St. James' Park. March to offices at Horseferry Rd. Got leave pass & rly. warrants, & then had long wait in queue for pay. Got £10, including £6 overdraft, which will take 6 months to make up. £1-4-6 ration allowance. Got more underclothing. Dined at some club in H. rd. & went to Hounslow, to Mrs. Morgan's. Mrs. M. young-looking, tho grey. Lively, but cut up over Percy's death. Mrs. Cabourne came in. Eileen, her little dtr., of whom Bert was very fond. Shapeera died of wounds. Had a little tea.
Tues. 23. A.B., packed things in small bag of Mrs. M's. Arr. to meet Mrs. C. next Tues to go to "Little Bit of Fluff". Went to rly., back for rly. warrant, electric train to Euston. Met Millard, on leave. Shapeera dead. Missed 11.50 train to B. Left bag in cloak room & took tube to Strand. Nothing to rave abt. Went to barber's & had shave, hair trim, scalp massage, & shampoo. Bk. to Euston & ct. 1.50 train to B. Arr. there abt. 4.15, and went to Stone's. Stay with them a few days. A.T., went part way home with Tess. Stayed up late. Howard. May fainted.
Wed. 24. Slept till after 10. Not too well. Jack Thorpe & Mel Meredith dropped in. They came again in aftn. & we had music & singing. A.T., took May, Tess, & Alice Thorpe & Mrs. Stone to pictures.
Thurs. 25. Jack & Mel left this mng. A.D., went over to Parker's at Small Heath, & stayed till 7.
Fri. 26. Bitterly cold. May have skating tomorrow. Bookam and other card games. Beginning to feel better. Went with Tess to Glovers. Albert, Evelyn, Peggy & another one. Tea there. To school, amusing girl, & another teacher.
Sat. 27. Packed things. Walk. Met Aussie Twin. Trouble with motor. Shortened belt, fuses blown. A.D., left with Tess for Small Heath. Got Dress Circle tickets for "The Arcadians" for Monday. Looked round city, went thro Art Gall. Barnyard scene. Light & shade effect. Straw & hens. Portrait of Chamberlain. Very lifelike. Booked seats at Pr. of W. for 4 of us. Out to Small Heath. Skating in full swing. Left bag at Glover's. Bt. skates, 4/6. Got 1/2 hr. bef. dark. Managed all right. Fine sport. Called at Glover's. Come for Evelyn & Lena at 9 tomorrow. To Mrs. Pugsley's. A.T., Tess and I went to Will Pugsley's. Met Gert & Walter Parker. Played nap. Wd. not play for stakes. Tt. them euchre. Pleasant evening. Home late. Set alarm at 6.40.
Sun. 28. Up by alarm. Had bkfast alone. Went out wrong way, to Avon. Back to Park. Skated till nearly 9. Not many there. Ice cracking. Bk. to bkfast. Lena & Gert called. We went to park. Evelyn tried skating, but feet too small for the skates, & heels too high. They went sliding. Gert came down. Pool became crowded towards midday. Work of art dodging. Up and down in mob. New Zealander. Sliding pretty to watch, all sorts & sizes, mix-ups & falls. Only Austn. on skates. "Canadian". urchins. Girls & "glad eyes". Clever fancy skater. Will & Walter came later, after Lucy, Tess, Gert, Lena, & Evelyn had gone. Tried sliding again, but fell & brot down others. A.D., went to Park, Lucy to come after S.S., abt. 4 or later. Pool more crowded than ever. 2 prs skates for youngsters. Great sport. Many "glad eyes". Obliged to spk. to three girls. Two of them bolted and left the other one with me. Talked to her awhile. Nice, sensible girl. Arranged to meet her at 7p.m. Could not find Lucy in the crowd. Boy fell thru. ice. Melting & cracking. Wet in places. Skating extended to far end. Off at dark. One boy with skate disappeared. Met by Tess, ragged for being late. Lucy saw tkg. to girls & went away. We went to Gert's for tea. Arguments abt. going to ch. Cdn't get away to meet girl. ----- on night work. Picked home, furniture, etc. Confidences. Home late.
Mon. 29. Up early. Bkfast with Tess. Ragged for girl affair last night. Went to park & had an hr's sktg. Bk. to bkfast., & then went round to Jas. Cy. Co. Peggy Gower took me rnd wks. Various processes of cycle mkg. Foreman showed me rnd. Enamel baths. Electro-plating, coppering, etc. Transfers. Lining. Making Mills bombs. Turning, drilling, machining etc. req. no skill, worked with set stops. Mostly women, boys, & old men on machines. Automatic machines, cutting, turning, boring & machining pieces from bar of metal. Processes of makg. aeroplane bombs. Wind vanes. Striker same as Hales rifle grenade. Souvenir bomb money box. Shell dept. 4.7 inch. Rough cast. Turning down body. ditto nose. Turning inside. Furnace & hyd. press for shaping nose. More turning down. Cutting out base for base plate. Cross grain. Adding wt. to nose. Cutting slot for driving band. Waving . Belgian & Fr. girls. Hlyd. press for putting on dvg.band. Turning grvg. band. Weighing shells. Complete aeroplane bomb.
Came back with Peggy & her sister. A.D., Went skating till 4p.m. Just getting into the way of it nicely. Left Small Heath, tram to Stone's. A.T., the 4 of us went in to the Pr. of W. "Arcadians". Beautiful scenery in Arcadia. "Simplicitas". House in London. Pretty frocks. Arrival of the Arcadians. Beautiful & artistic gowns. Morose jockey. "I gotta motta". Race won. Lies. Simplicitas retransformed. May laughed almost into fits & Americans behind. Very tickled. Trans. broke down. Walked part way. Home late. Went to sleep in chair. Bed 2a.m.
Tues. 30. Packed boxes. A.D., left with Tess & May for stn. Ct. 2.35p.m. train from B'ham. Slept a little in train. Left bag at Euston stn. Went to Pic. Cir. to meet Mrs. C., as arranged, for Criterion. Booked seats. Waited about some time. Not sure of time. Steak & chips at Jermyn's Court, 3/-. Wattle. Waited in Circus. Very cold. Rembd. Traf. Sq. Went there & wtd by monument till nearly 8. Bk to Pic. Cir. Waited a while longer. Went into Criterion without Mrs. C. "A little bit of Fluff". Girl next to me very amused. Play very good. "Tully". Complications. Met 19th. B'n chap. Stayed at his hotel at Paddington.
Wed. 31. Slept in. Went to Russel Sq. Br. Mus. closed. Bk. to Strand. Dinner. 2/11 Went thro. United Services Museum. Naval & Military relics. 36 inch mortar bomb. Over 1 ton wt. Various guns, old fashioned rifles & revolvers of all sizes & shapes. Spears, battleaxes, swords, etc. from all ages & countries. Gr. Gold-chased revolver. Models of ships. Zepp. relics, etc. Lt.-col. Wolseley's diamond-studded sword & sheath from Mehemet Tewfik, khedive of Egypt. Other jewelled weapons. Diamond star. Scintillating all colours, red, blue, orange, green, purple, violet, heliotrope. Medals, decorations, etc. Chinese bells. Upstairs, Nelson relics, etc. Forks with knife edge, one gold. Wood from "Victory". Nelson's manuscript & log, etc. Large diagram of Waterloo. De Wet's helio of Boer War. Old uniforms, etc. Medals, decorations, etc. U-`boat war on the world.
Out at 4p.m. Walked down by Parl. Hse. & Westminster Abbey. Can't compare with Amiens Cath. Over Lambeth Bgr. Crippled girl. Good view of P.H. from Blackfriar's Bge, but getting dark. Bk. to Traf.Sq. Went out to Hounslow Bks. to Mrs. Morgan's. Bert quarantined for three wks. Vern applied for leave from Feb. 7th. to marry "Mary" in Ireland.
Thurs. 1st. Resurrected Mrs. M’s skates & Mrs. C & I went to Whitton Pk. snow falling heavily. Nobody else on the ice. Rough on main part, but fine & smooth towards dangerous end. Ice cracked & creaked ominously. Pond covered with snow. Had abt. 1 hr's skating. Went rnd isd., tried ice. went on, ice began ckg. broke thro. deep water. got to edge of ice, broke it away to shore. Water very cold. soaked thro. We came home. Got rigged in Mr. C's clothes, etc. Arr. to meet Mrs. C. at Playhse. Went to Victoria stn. Tate Gallery closed. Tea at Vict. stn. ref. rooms. Went to Playhse & booked seats.
Walked up the Strand. Met Mrs. C. at Playhse & we went in. Gladys Cooper in "The Misleading Lady". Story. Acting fine.
Friday 2. In uniform again. Went to town. Booked for Cooks tour tomorrow. Also for "High Jinks" tonight. & thro Nat. Gall. No wtg. pictures. Most of gall. closed. "Reverie" in Tate. "I. of W" ...... Paul's. Dinner in Strand. Wreaths on Charles 1st. statue. Went to Hyde Park. Serpentine frozen, but no sktg. Ducks, geese, Swans, & various wildfowl. Went to Round Pond in K. gdns. Ice rather rough. Snow trampled hard. Many people on. Tea in Strand. Bt. war post-cards, "Tanks", etc. Had photo taken. Met Mrs. C. at Adelphi at 8 instead of 7.30 as arr. "High Jinks". Nerve Tonic. Complications similar to in "Fluff". Pretty dresses, nice singer. Long play. Bt. music.
Sat. 3. Up early. ct. 7.15 train & went to N.Z. club. Wtd. till 9.45 horse bus. To Horse-ferry rd. H.P. & W. Abbey. Very cold drive. To Tower. Bloody Tr. where Princes murdered & Raleigh confined. St. John's chapel. Interesting historical places. Armour, weapons, etc. Crown jewels. Fine gold. Diamond-studded crowns. Large diamond in one. Model of Cullinor. Portcullis, spikes above & below. Guy Fawkes' cell. Axe & block. Thumbscrews & other torturing instruments. Model of rack. Place where Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Raleigh, and others were beheaded. Left Tower & went to St. Paul's. Tame Pigeons. Bldg not particularly beautiful. High Dome. Crypt. Graves of Nelson & Wellington very plain. Florence Nightingale . Wellington's funeral chariot. made of metal of captured guns. Large and massive & richly carved. Graves of various historical notables. Holman Hunt's picture. Replica. Fine shading. Dark. Left St. Paul's & drove back to Horseferry Rd. 1p.m. Dined at War Chest Club. Started off again at 2 p.m. P.H. closed on acc. of preps. for opening Parliament next Wed. Place where Charles 1st. was beheaded. Statue memorial to Oliver Cromwell. Went into W. Abbey. Stone decaying & crumbling. Graves in floor. Tombs of old sovereigns. Effigies. Bas-relief crumbled & fallen away in places. Graves of Queen Anne, also William & Mary. Mary Queen of Scots, James 1st. & others. The former two completely sand-bagged. Chapel of the Order of the Bath.
Elizabeth & Mary in one tomb. Casket containing remains of the princes found many yrs after their murder. Richard 1st. " Heart sent to Holy Land". Many tombs sandbagged. Grave from which Cromwell & his friends were removed. Coronation chair of Queen Mary. Real one damaged by Suffragette bomb. Some fine sculptures covered with dust. Fine ornamentation. Rosaces not up to much. Bldg. can't compare with Amiens cath, tho it cost infinitely more. One of the few places not destroyed by the fire of 1666. Left there & drove to Hyde Park. Rotten Row. Albert Memorial. fine piece of work. Statue groups representing Europe, Asia, Africa, & America. Others rep. various industries, etc. Basreliefs of noted men of world history. Statue of Albert. Sculpture washed by rain. Missed the bus. Went to Albert Hall, opposite. Concert 1//2 hr. gone. Ticket free. Went in. Hmie (?) large circular hall. Large organ. Beautiful singing. Great choir. Lady who bt. ticket. Cdn't keep awake. Afterwards took bus to Traf. Sq. Went to Globe to book for Mon. nt., but not playing. Bt. grapes & apples at C. X stn. America breaks with Germany. Went home. Met Mrs. Sargent. In to Mrs. Caborn's for awhile.
Sun. 4. A.B., took skates to Whitton Park. Fine mng. Abt 20 or 30 there. Ice swept of snow. Smooth in places. 4 tog'r. Girl in black. Bk. to dinner. Went again with Mrs. Caborn. Sleeting & snowing. Ice wet and very slippery. Soon covered with snow. Girl learner. Children snowballing. Snow fight with two nice girls. Awfully jolly fun. Cold hands. Snow in ears, eyes, nose, & mouth, & down neck. Pockets full of it. Baissai une fille avant je partais. [Bowed to a girl before I left] Arranged to try and come again after tea. Left at dark. Still snowing. Home abt. 6p.m. Mrs. M. refused to hear of going down again. Evening in. Met Nurse friend. Took her to train. Nice moonlight night. Everything beautiful & white with snow. Snow piled on trees, hedges, fences, pillars, & even on telephone wires. Missed good time with girls at park.
Mon. 5. My birthday. Am now 24. Getting beastly old. Went to Regent's Park. Skating on pond, & in Bot. gdns. Tempted to join them. Went to Zoo. Many depts. not as good as Sydney. Some better. Leopards & small cats very interesting. Monkeys amusing. Two small polar bears. Giraffes queer-looking animals. Zebras, hippos, rhinos, & elephants. Many Australian exhibits. Cockatoos, galahs. No quarines. Many animals affected with cold & kept to boxes. Out 1.45p.m. Bt. biscuits in Camden Town. Went to Globe to see "Peg o' my heart". Pretty comedy, but not musical. Peg a delightful & lovable character. Afterwards bt. a Fr. textbook & Hugo's journal at Penton St. Went to Paddington. Mrs. Sargent leaving by 6.30 train for Bristol. To see her in fut. if poss. Mrs. M. & I had tea at Lyon's, &, after discussion, decided on "Under Cover". Wanted to see "Bluebell in Fairyland", but not showing at night. "Mother Goose", 7.15p.m., too early for us. Went to Strand, 6/- seats. Detective play. Very interesting, & quite exciting. Home late. Parcel of things from B'ham
Tues. 6. Up at 8. Letter from Viv. Cap. Mac. not for Aust. Returning to B'n soon. Major True in Eng. at C.O.'s school. Viv will send his address if poss. Clytie wanted to come as V.A.D. Viv gets leave soon. All leave stops on 18th. inst. Packed up. Left abt. 10. Everything still covered with snow. Went to Waterloo & left luggage in clk. room. Went to Strand & got photos. Not too bad, but cd. have been better. Bt. shvg. brush & paste. To Waterloo stn. No time for lunch. Got luggage & entrained. Left for P. Downs. Snow everywhere. sleepy. Arr. Ludgershall abt. 3 p.m. Marched to camp. Allotted to huts. Tea & sandwiches at S.A. hut. Furlough ended. Have had a good time. Spent abt. £11-10. Photos to May & Tess, & Mrs. Morgan. Wrote to Mrs. Stone, & to Bert. Small stove in hut. straw mattress & 4 blankets. Very cold.
Wed. 7. Put on extra underclothes bef. retiring, but still slept cold. Pipes frozen. No wash. Melted icicles for shave. Bright sunny day. Before M.O. for classification this mng. Sent to No. 3 platoon, No. 31 hut. Issued with more underclothing, & deficiencies. Wrote to Mum & Dad, & again to Bert, giving him address to come or write to. Food scarce. Supper of soup.
Thurs. 8. Fine sunny day again. Snow thawing slowly. Freezes hard every night. Route march & drill this mng. Insp. by general. Late off parade. Got 2 packets of letters today. 8 from Mum, 18 different correspondents. 5 from Clytie 4 from Vera B. 2 from Elsie B. 2 from Jean, 2 from Doris, 2 from Miss Prigg, 1 each from Bert, Viola, Ida, May Webb, Kitty W., Ettie C. Elsie M. Flo Mc., Mrs. Hopper, Mrs. Newland, & V. & W. Keats. Many were Xmas cards. Photos of Jean & Clytie, the one of C. I was hoping for. Photo of Bert's (N) mother, sister & niece. Jean sent Xmas parcel. Mrs. Tanner been very ill. Ida don't like to leave school. V.B. says Beard enlisted & in France. Arthur coming Mark Foy's. Elsie B. says J. E. mad on girl, careless of ch. Home news:- Garden fine. Cottage comfortably furnished. Rec'd diary Viv sent, & my Poz. letter. Got gas stove. Hainsby left wife.
No parade this aftn. Read letters. Saw Lt. Ross abt. app. for Off. Trg. Sch. He wd. find out particulars by 8.15., but forgot to do so. See him at noon tomorrow. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan.
Fri. 9. Route march this mng. Saw Lt. Ross at midday. Not much hope. Fill in app. form. Another classification exam for some this aftn. Others off. Wrote app. & filled in particulars. Met Lt. Blumer. Lost sight of left eye by bomb near Ypres last Oct. Booked for Australia. Pleased to be out of it. Got doctor's certificate & handed in app. Advisable write Major Thew. Wrote him in triplicate, one to Morley's Hotel, Traf. Sq. one to C.O.'s school, Aldershot, & one to 24th B'n. Read Ides of March. After "lights out" read on by light of coal stove till finished book, well after midnight.
Sat. 10. Noncom's separate route march this mng. Studied French.
Sun. 11. Another pkt. of 10 letters. 5 from Mum, 2 from Clytie, & one each from Mrs. Morgan, Vera B., & J. Elliott. Jack wrote cheering letter, photo enclosed. He had refused to take oath to take up arms, & was threatened with 6 mths. gaol. Mrs. M's card I missed at Dartford. Home news:- Children busy with their exams. Ida good at English. May continue school. If gets lvg. cert. can attend Uni at night. Garden in great trim with vines all over veranda, etc. Rec'd my last diary with Albert views etc., and also the badges & buttons. Pozières letter read out in school.
C.E. ch. par. Met Creech, of 7th rfcts. 3rd. B'n. Studied Fr. A.T., service in Salv. Army hut, with accordeans.
Mon. 12. Route march in mng. Snowballing motor drivers, etc. A.D., Classification. Left at B1 A.3. Letter from Mrs. Morgan tonight, enclosing one from Viv. He had spoken abt. O.T.C. to Cpn. Ellwood, who undertook to send a recommendation at once to C.O. of 6th. Tr. B'n. for me. Mrs. M. said Bert & co. isolated again for another 3 wks. The night I left, Mrs. C., Mr. Lee, & the Dr. went skating by moonlight till midnight. See what I missed! She is sending me a wrist watch as a birthday present. No word of where Vern is.
Wrote to C.O., 6th Tr. B'n. asking him to send me the recommendation.
Tues. 13. Phys. jrks. in the snow. Letter from Bert & pkt. of Aust. mail, 3 from Mum, 2 from Mrs. Tanner, & 1 from Vera Billingham. Bert isolated, can't get over. Mrs. T. said Les on a submarine, P14. Angus & Sommer's mill had been burned down. Mr. T. working there now. Postcard from Vera. Home news:- Dad had bad cold but well again at date of last letter, Dec.2. Coalminers out on strike, few trains, no gas, much inconvenience caused. Arguments for conscription.
A.D. all cpls. & l.cpls. for burial party. To Tidworth, funeral, dead march, freezing wait at graveside, bk. abt. 4.15, very tired and cold.
Wrote to Vera B. and Clytie.
Wed. 14. Platoon & section drill, twos and threes. Wrote to Elsie Bellingham, Jean Mc.Phee, & Viv. Short route march this aftn. Wrote to Mum tonight, in answer to her 16 letters.
Thurs. 15. Snow fast disappearing. Platoon drill & jerks. Manuscript copy of "Pierre" returned, with note saying now dealing with type-written copy. Wrote to Miss Prigg & to Mrs. Tanner. Studied French.
Fri. 16. More platoon drill & jerks. Met Rupe White. wndd in arm. Letter from Mrs. Morgan. Watch not perfect. Will send soon. Applied for leave on Sunday. Off parade this aftn. Studied French. Take over hut corp. No parades. 2/6 bet re war loan. 500 millions. Xmas parcel from Jean McPhee, the one mentioned in letter. Balaclava, 1 pr. sox, patent gloves, 2 h'chiefs, envelopes & writing paper. [Wee Mc. butterscotch & spearmint (from Miss Preston)] Tin cont'g 3 pr. bootlaces, tooth powder, soap & facecloth. Bulletin. Rain. warm night.
Sat. 17. No frost or ice this mng. Foggy. Sloppy. Transfer parade. Studied French. Wristlet watch from Mrs. M.
Sun. 18. Got leave pass. Set out for Dorrington. Thro Tidworth, towards Bulford, 3 mls. Lift in civ. car 5 mls to Bulford. Walked 3 mls to Dorrington, & found Bert's hut. Looking well, fatter than when I last saw him, shaved off moustache. We went to 6th Tr. B'n Hqrs. Got Rec. signed by Lt.-col. Fitzgerald. Had dinner at Bert's hut. Got dvg. bnd. & flare. He got pistol, bayonet & 5 flares from officer. Met Sjt. Wilson & Hackett (Lcpl) of Lewis guns. Both instructing. Left abt. 1.30p.m. Bert came with me as far as Bulford. Threatened with clink for not saluting two officers. Walked all way home except 1 ml. 4.30p.m. Feet very sore. Gave in rec. Forgot to hand in pass.
Mon. 19. Marked A.W.L. Certif. of presence. Classif. par. this aftn. up one. To Tidworth. Left films. Bert's watch. Studied French tonight.
Tues. 20. Letter from Tess. Hall to hosp with mumps. Hut to be quarantined from tonight. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan and to Doris Mc.Phee.
Wed. 21. Under quarantine. Meals bro't to hut. Wrote to Ida in French and to Viola & May Webb. Also to Ettie Cunynghame.
Thurs. 22. Wrote to Jack Elliott O.T.C. app. to be rewritten in duplicate. Went to Tidworth tonight abt. Bert's watch. Not ready yet.
Fri. 23. Wrote to Kitty Winters. Also to Tess Pugsley.
Sat. 24. Studied French vocabulary. Went to Tidworth tonight. Got Bert's watch, 4/6. Films not back yet.
Sun. 25. Commenced writing correlations of difficult Fr. words. Salv. Army mtg. tonight, desc. accordion, oil lamps, unvarnished boards. Few present. Old choruses. Wrote plot of long story, "Paradise".
Mon. 26. Cpl. Foster back. Germans withdrew 3 mls on Ancre & still withdrawing. Packet from Mrs. M., notebook, & letter. Letter from Viv. Preparing for raid. Wrote to Viv. Letter from Bert with 10/- note. May be isolated for another 3 wks. Will make another try for O.T.C. Went to Tidworth tonight, but films not back yet. Cont. Fr. correlations.
Tues. 27. Our line advanced 2 mls on 11 mls front at Ancre, taking Serre, Miranmont, Pys, Butte de Warlencourt, & another village. Hut captured. On parade this aftn. Short route march. Cont. corrs.
Wed. 28. Further advance on Ancre. Liguy & other villages taken. 2 mls. from Bapaume. Success in Mesop. 15 mls. beyond Hut. Paraded to adjt., Capt. Hutchinson, re O.T.C. Education. Letter from May Stone with photo. Very nice of her. Also 2 Aust. letters, from Mum & Mrs. T. Herrick going Goulburn. Dan Ryan left J.D. for Tumut. Check roll this aftn. Many caught. Met Paddy McBride. To Tidworth tonight, but shops closed. O.T.C. app. returned, "not suitable". Sent it in again, asking why.
Thurs. 1. Puisieux, Thilloy & another village taken. 1½ mls from Bapaume. 30 mls beyond Hut. Garden fatigue this aftn. To Tidworth tonight & left Bert's watch at jeweller's. Got films. 2 blank, 1 fogged, 1 of church at Albert, 1 of French woman & child, 1 of 2 offcrs writing at table, "Paddy & Mac", 2 of football team. Cont. corrs.
Fri. 2. Letter from Bert. Out of quarantine & on draft. Will try to get over. Cont. corrs.
Sat. 3. Another case of mumps. cheers. "no argument". 28 more days isolation. British half way to Baghdad. Germans resisting on Ancre. Cont. corrs. Wire from Bert saying can't come tomorrow; on guard.
Sun. 4. German plot to incite Mexico & Japan against America revealed. America very angry. Cont. corrs. To Salv. Army mtg. tonight with Eggleston & Lindfield. Snowing.
Mon. 5. Ground covered with snow. Melted later. China likely to join Allies. On fatigue; not wanted. Wrote to Mrs. Hopper & to Mrs. Newland; asked for photos of Elsie & Bert. Wrote to Bert.
Tues. 6. Chinese president alone opposed motion to break with Germany. Plot to assassinate Mr. Wilson discovered. Germans attack British at Somme & French at Verdun but fail. Early parade. Different states sep'd. Nominal roll. Met Mr. Lamrock. Arm still not too well. Short route march. Letter from Tess enclosing photos. A.D., coal fatigue. Studied corrs. Wrote to Mum & Dad and to Doris McPhee.
Wed. 7. Icy cold wind. Water on ground freezing. Parade dismissed this mng. Wrote to May Stone & to Mrs. Morgan. Studied corrs. On coal fatigue this aftn. Washed clothes tonight.
Thurs. 8. Slight snowfall during the night. Cold wind. Water pipes frozen. British troops have arrived at Lajj, 27 miles from Bagdad. To Tidworth tonight & got Bert's watch.
Fri. 9. Strong, bitter cold wind, and snowstorm. Fell in for parade but we were turned back when we reached the parade ground. British are within 14 miles of Baghdad, and Russians are hurling the Turks back from the north. Mr. Lamrock said Howie & Dev over here at trg. bns. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan & commenced letter to Mr. Harward. Snow-fighting this afternoon. A.T., went for walk over to Tidworth.
Sat. 10. Roser has mumps this morning. Another 24 days isolation. Our troops have occupied Baghdad, & are pursuing the Turks beyond, while the Russians are advancing rapidly from the north. Glorious news this, for Baghdad is a very important railway centre. The Turks must be demoralized and completely routed. Finished letter to Mr. Harward. Off parade for pay this morning. To Tidworth this evening, & left Bert's watch again. Also left mine for a new glass.
Sun. 11. By today's paper, Baghdad only "believed" captured. Studied corrs. To Salv. Army mtg. tonight.
Mon. 12. Baghdad captured in blinding dust storm. Irles taken on the way to Bapaume. Inspection parade in diff. states. Insp. by Gen. Murray. 6 mil. medals awarded. Wrote to Mrs. Desmond Humphreys (Rita), asking if she would criticize stories for me. Got paraded to orderly room to see abt. app. for O.T.C. Officer explained why not much hope. He will enquire. Rumours of new division. To Tidworth tonight, & got my watch. Also got new cover for it. Bert's not done yet. Letter from Bert. Abt. to fall in to go to France when departure postponed. New division stunt. Trg. bus. to be used. No word of Vern yet.
Tues 13. Lecture on venereal diseases by Dr. Hagen on the scientific side of the question, & Archdeacon Somebody on the moral side. Very interesting. Also a short lecture by Col. Knox on the shortage of food & the need for rigid economy. The waste of bread must cease. He said the conditions are much more serious than the papers are permitted to say. Letter from Mrs. M. Thinks Bert has gone to France. Commenced rewriting "Pierre" this evening.
Wed. 14. Route march this mng. instead of phys. jerks. Another advance of 1 ml. on 3 ml. front just to left of Bapaume. Grevillers taken. Letter from Viv. He has been at the Somme where the "advance" has taken place. Plenty of alarms, stand tos, reconnoitring patrols, etc. Lcpl. Harrison & Cpl. Bruce were killed while out patrolling with him, & Cpl. Sneddon was seriously wounded in the leg. Viv has heard nothing of Verne since he went on leave. Has rec'd the two letters from the Irish girl. This aftn. N.S.W. men formed into a battalion to be the 61st. Going to Wareham on Sat. 6th Div. to be composed & reinforced entirely by men who have seen service. 6 wks. or 2 mths. training. Many promotions probable. No chance of getting back to 24th. Given charge of a section in No.2 company. Only temporary organization. P.C. from A. Hopper. Drvg. in London. Cont. writing "Pierre".
Thurs. 15. Russians have taken Hermanshab on way to Baghdad, 200 mls. Germans reckoned to be retreating 15 mls. at Lorne (Somme?) on wide front, Arras to Cambrai. China has severed relations with Germany & seized 6 Hun ships in Chinese ports. One of the old 3rd B'n. A Co. chaps this mng. gave me partics of the death of Sjt. Gordon, Bert Newland, Percy Morgan, & Fred Archer. Less than 10 yds from a corner. Shell buried some. Fred blown to pieces. They tht. it was Gordon. Bert digging out, when another shell came & got him. A chap came along & said Perce Morgan killed. He was quite cheerful & happy while they were digging him out, after being buried up to the neck. Short note from Bert this mng. Just abt. to leave for France, the heads having again altered their minds. Wrote to Viv. To Tidworth this evening. Got Bert's watch. Bt "Inf. Trg". Cont. "Pierre".
Fri. 16. Startling rumour of Russian revolution. Newspaper came to hand, with satisfactory account. A democratic govt. has taken control & the people, the army, & the navy are with them. The Czar has abdicated, & his brother, Gd. Duke Michael, is made regent. War is to carry on as usual. I think it will be a good thing, undermining autocracy & destroying German power in the country. Two leading pro-Germans were shot. Tas, S.A., W.A., & Q. troops left this mng for Wareham. Walked over to Tidworth this evg. Even'g paper says Germans burning and blowing up Bapaume. Warned for departure to Wareham tomorrow. Packed up.
Sat. 17. St. Patrick's Day. Fell in abt. 8.15, got away abt. 10. Marched to Tidworth & there entrained for Wareham, arriving there abt. 3p.m. Marched thro. town to camp. Saw Cpl. Ellis, & sjts. Carrol & Hines. Smith T.C. Jenkins, and Jack Bubb are also here. Told off to huts. A.T., strolled up thro town. Studied Inf. Trg.
Sun. 18. Our troops have captured Bapaume, burning. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan, Arthur Hopper, Tess Pugsley, & to Mum and Dad. Met young Tommy Smith. A.D. strolled thro town towards Corfe Castle. Very little food today. Went to Wesleyan ch this evg. Studied Inf. Trg.
Mon. 19. Muster parade. Heard another mob cheering. newspaper. Short route march. Dental parade. News! Great victory at Somme. Advance on 45 ml. front to max. depth of 10 mls. Cavalry harassing retreating enemy. Bapaume, Peronne, Chambres, Roye, & Noyon taken, besides 60 villages. Huns burning & destroying everything, & poisoning wells. British 50 mls. beyond Baghdad. Put in app. for O.T.C. Very little food all day today. Met yng. ......... the parson. A.T. went for walk thro Wareham. Had meal at restaurant. Studied Inf. Trg.
Tues. 20. Raining. Short route march. Transferred to A. Co. B'n organized into platoons & sections. Discipline. Further advance at Somme, 40 more villages taken.
Wed. 21. French only 5 mls. from St. Quentin. British 8 mls. from Cambrai. Aust. troops first to enter Bapaume. Met Jack Bubb and Stan Martin in Wareham this evening. Jack is acting R.S.M. Early parade bef. bkfast tomorrow, at 7.
Thurs. 22. Up at 6.30 2 in. of snow on ground. 1/2 hr. parade. non-coms separate. A.B., route march, snow-fight in field. Non-coms par. sep. this aftn. A.T., walk towards Weymouth. Snow falling heavily tonight.
Fri. 23. Early mng. par. Non-coms sep. Two letters, one from Mrs. Morgan, one from Bert. He had not left, but was to go on day of writing. Mrs. M. about to visit Pennell's sister at Ringwood, & thinking of spending a few days at Wareham.
On inlying piquet tonight. Ct. for road piquet. Ducked off.
Sat. 24. Got sjt's mess fatigue today. Finished early. Letter from Mrs. Desmond Humphreys. Small chances of success during war. Well-known writers have difficulty. Too busy to criticize stories. A.D. walked towards Corfe. Wanted by colonel while away; probably re O.T.C. app. This evg. met Goldsmith of my s'n in 24th, who left us while at Delville Wood camp.
Sun. 25. Ch. par. at Cong. ch. in town. A.D., walked towards Poole. Met Tommy Ricketts in Wareham. He had two stripes up. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan. To Cong. ch. tonight. Saw Sam Gordon there.
Mon. 26. Early mng par. for men cut-out till 14th Ult. Non-com's class to continue. Word of command practice this mng. Arthur Hine said Cpn. Abbott remarked that I had a very good word of command. Looked for acco. place tonight. Hotels no good; private places full up.
Tues. 27. No non-com's early morning par. Nice letter from May Stone. Wrote to Mum & Dad.
Wed. 28. 1 man per s'n. to get 2 day's leave every 48 hrs.
Thurs. 29. .......................
Fri. 30. Letter from Mrs. Morgan & from Bert. He is in France somewhere, & expecting to rejoin 3rd. B'n. soon. Mrs. M. may come to W. for one day, to meet Tommo. Can go to Ringwood per bike.
Sat 31. Route march by roundabout way, bk. thro' Wareham. A.D., walked out to Corfe Castle, abt. 5 mls. Blt. on top of hill. Turret wall, with loopholes. Walls very thick. Dungeon, triangular, open at top, low entrance. Martyr's Gate. Broken tower with circular stairway. Main tower in ruins, one wall, & small part of another, remaining. 3 floors. Thick creepers. Remains of chapel. Small moat-bed. Great lumps of masonry at bottom of hill, one piece in creek, several on other side. Castle very old. King John's favourite residence. Wareham attacked & destroyed in 8th century, but Corfe untouched. Queer old village. Stone houses with roofs of thin slabs of stone. Walked back. Got home very tired abt. 5.30 p.m. A.T., studied French.
Sun. 1st. April Fool's Day. On. sjt's fatigue this mng. Studied French. A.T., to Cong. ch.
Mon. 2. Inspection by Brig. Antill today. Heavy snowfall this evening, abt. 4 inches.
Tues. 3. Pres. Wilson's great speech to American congress last night. America to declare war on Hohenzollerism. Money & munitions for Allies. Co-operation in every way. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan tonight. Asked her to send some French books I want. Also wrote to Bert.
Wed. 4. 30 hrs. Easter weekend leave each. No train travelling. Letter from Mrs. M. Viv had left a short note regretting her absence on two occasions when he had called. Evidently he's on leave. Mrs. M. was only in at 44. I hope his furlough is not spoilt for want of a home to go to. Wrote to May Stone tonight.
Thurs. 5. On cook-house fatigue. Another letter from Mrs. M. Viv had turned up again, on his way to Ireland. He is to be back on Saturday evening and wants me to come up if possible. Wrote out app. for 2 day's leave.
Fri. 6. Good Friday. Fine spring day. Ch. par. at C. of E. Wrote to Mrs. M. saying might be able to come on Sunday. Afterwards Mr. Smith paraded me to Cap'n Hamilton, who recommended leave. B't a belt full of badges from Webster for 3/-, all the money I had. Took the badges, etc. off, and then sold the belt for 6d. Borrowed 12/6 off Rupe White to pay train fare to London. Got a register card indicating that a reg. letter awaits me at the depot post office. It is probably from Viv, or Bert. Went for walk around circular route, returning via bridge which Royalists defended against roundheads in Cromwell's time.
Sat. 7. Another beautiful day. Spring seems to have arrived at last. Route march this mng. Paid Rupe White back the 12/6. Got reg. letter. £1 note from Mrs. Morgan. 2 day's leave app. turned down by adjutant. Will have to depend on getting a rly. travelling permit with the 29 hrs. Easter weekend leave. Otherwise the trip to London will be "finish". Summer time goes ahead 1 hr. at 2a.m. in the morning. Set watch on tonight.
Sun. 8. Easter Sunday. Ch. par. in Cong. ch. A.D., muddle with leave passes, only a few granted. Went to B'n. Ord. Room, &, after some scouting about, managed to get pass & warrant for reduced fare. Ct. 6.12p.m. train from Wareham, arriving Waterloo abt. 10.30. All in at 44. Viv there as large as life, and looking well. Stayed chatting some time. Learned definitely of Vern's marriage. He has been wounded slightly, as per wire to Mary while Viv was there. If he can score a "Blighty" out of it, it will be O.K. for him. Mary's people are very wealthy, and have five estates near Londonderry. Mary is, according to Viv, very young, pretty, & spirited. By his accounts of the Irish people, they must be very queer indeed.
We went in to Mrs. Morgan's later. There was a photo of Verne and Mary in wedding garb. It was a nice picture. Mary looked very nice and very Irish, but Viv said it was not a good photo of her. Verne looked very well. Viv was in the fighting for the town of Bapaume. It took place just outside the town. Wal Snaddon has died from his wound.
Went to bed at something after midnight.
Mon. 9. Viv gave me a letter which Verne had written to me to the 24th B'n. In it he told me all about the wedding, & asked me to write to Mary. Also got a small packet with a piece of the wedding cake. Viv rang up Wandsworth hospital, & learned that Verne was there. We arranged to take five seats at the Globe for "Sweetie", for Mrs. M., Mrs. C., Miss Johnson, Viv and I. Went to Hammersmith, whence we took taxi to the hospital at Wandsworth. Verne looked well and cheerful. He had got a small piece of H.E. in the right leg below the knee. It did not seem to bother him much, but he could not walk. He was wounded in the attack on Doigines, when the 55th. & 56th. attacked, the former losing only 11 officers & the latter only 10. Mr. Wilson, late of our old 7th. rfcts. of the 3rd. Bn., now of the 55th., was in a bed just opposite, having been wndd. in same battle, by a bullet thro the leg. It is more serious than Verne's, as the bullet grazed the bone. His nibbs explained how it was that Bert and I had not heard from him. He did not know my address in England, so wrote to the B'n., and Viv was away at the school so could not send them on. He did not think of addressing care Mrs. M. With Bert he made the mistake of addressing the letters to his own trg. bn., the 14th, instead of the 1st., and that's why they did not turn up.
While at the hosp. Viv rang up & booked 5 seats at the Globe. Had to take stalls, as the D.C. was full up.
We left at 1.45, took a bus, which, being too slow, we hopped out at the first taxi stand. There were only two there, and we found that they were both engaged. Hailed several that came along, but to no avail. At last got one at 10 past 2, chatted the dvr. to make haste, and arr'd at the Globe just on 2.30. The stalls Viv had booked had been given to others, so they let us take a box at the same price. It was rather close to the stage, & the paint showed up plain. "Sweetie" was a very pretty musical comedy. Mlle. Gaby Deslys played the leading part. Her French accent was delightful, and her playing excellent, but the many varieties of monstrous hats and startling gowns were almost bewildering. I was not too particularly struck on her dancing, which so many admire, and which I think bordered on the vulgar.
When the play was over a snowstorm was in full swing outside. So much for our self-congratulations that Spring had come at last.
We got to a restaurant & had tea. Great news by the evening papers! The British have started a big new offensive from south of Arras to south of Lens, advancing to a maximum depth of 21/2 miles on a 12 ml. front, and capturing, besides a number of villages, the important & almost impregnable Vimy ridge. Things are looking up for us. No voluntary retreat on the part of the Huns this time!
Made for Charing Cross Stn. Met Miss Johnson's father & mother there. Mrs. Morgan & Mrs. Caborn left for home, & the Johnsons went their way. Viv and I strolled down around Parl't Houses and the Abbey. Took a tube to Euston & got Viv's things from the cloakroom. He gave me a pair of Fox' puttees he had to spare. He seemed rather glum, & almost morose. No doubt the prospects of going back "there", especially after so brief a holiday, would be enough to make anybody feel glum.
We parted at Charing Cross, he going on to Hounslow. Went to Waterloo & took 9.50p.m. train to Wareham. Got a compartment without any Aust'ns in it, as they are too rowdy for my liking as travelling companions. Got into conversation with a woman who was going to Southampton. She seemed very nice and sensible, and we discussed almost every possible subject, except the war.
Tues. 10. Got to Wareham abt. 2.30a.m. Went to camp & got to bed, but had to be up again at 6.30 for phys. jks. Further success at Arras, many prisoners taken. Shd. have been warned for non-com's school before going London. Wanted by Colonel yesterday. Saw him this aftn. Questioned re O.T.C. app. Seems favourably impressed. Will let me know results. Commenced letter to Mary, Verne's wife, tonight.
Wed. 11. There were to be sports today, but were put off on account of the bad weather. Cont. letter to Mary tonight.
Thurs. 12. Finished letter to Mary. Wrote to Verne and Mrs. Morgan.
Fri. 13. Another big advance on the Arras front, as great as the first. The number of prisoners taken in this battle now number 13,000, besides many guns, some of them big, and machine-guns. Wrote to Bert. Letter from Mrs. M. enclosing one from Mum. Mrs. Caborn has got measles. Mum's letter dated Feb. 25th. Eric is at Fort St., but she does not say whether or no he got a bursary. Elsie, Jim, & Mrs. Maloney have been to see them. Thorman's may come to live at Ramsgate.
Sat. 14. Studied French. A.D., went to Y.M.C.A. to see abt. the French classes. There met the cpl. who criticized "At the Shrine of Mars" for me while coming from Malta to Egypt in the "Bornu". He looked much fatter, & had been reduced to the ranks for a.w.l. Got "Faust" at the Y.W.C.A. library. Read a little of it this evening. Some of the verses are very beautiful.
Sun. 15. The B'n is on Bde. duties this week. Warned for guard. Drew equipment & rifle from store. Cleaned rifle. Mounted guard at Bde. Detention Enclosure at 6p.m. Rowdy prisoners. Read Faust till well after midnight, when the candle burnt out & left me in darkness. Goethe's play is much finer than I had anticipated, and some of the songs contained therein are almost dazzling in their beauty.
Mon. 16. Turned in after midnight & slept soundly till 6a.m. Finished reading "Faust". The end is very incomplete, but possibly there is another part to it.
Paid today, 5/-. Very windy miserable sort of day. Off gd. this evening. Started letter to Mum & Dad.
Tues. 17. Big French offensive started between Soissons & Rheims. On fatigue today. Finished letter to Mum & Dad.
Wed. 18. French have gained great initial successes in their new offensive, which is now extended from Rheims to Auberive. Nice letter from Mary today, enclosing a photo of her in a thick heavy woollen costume. She is sending another better photo of herself, and also one of the bridal photos. Also a parcel. She may be over to visit Verne soon.
Thurs. 19. On hospital fatigue today.
Fri. 20. Sent with fatigue party which was not required, so had no job today. Sent 4/- to Hugo's Language Institute for "Idioms Simplified", "Genders S'fied", & three monthly volumes of "Hugo's Journal". Wrote to Mrs. Morgan. Received parcel of cakes, biscuits, sweets, etc. from Mary. They were very acceptable.
On inlying piquet this evening.
Sat. 21. Received today the other two photos from Mary. One being the bridal photo I saw at Hounslow, the other being one of herself, in which she looked very charming.
On rly. piquet this afternoon. Went with Watterson to the Empire this evening. The show was not up to much, tho one or two items were not bad. There was no vulgarity, which probably accounted for the small number of soldiers there.
Sun. 22. A l'église ce matin. J'ai reçu trois lettres une de Bert, une de Tess, une de Arthur Hopper. Toutes trois été à envoyées à Perham Downs, et donc elles ont été en retard en arrivant ici. Il-y-avait aussi une de Clytie.
[Church this morning. I received three letters one from Bert, one from Tess, one from Arthur Hopper. All three had been sent to Perham Downs, and so they were late in arriving here. There was also one from Clytie.]
A l’église ce soir. [Church this evening]
Mon. 23. Matinal exercice encore ce matin. Ce soir J'ai écrit à Verne, lui demandant de m'informer quand Marie sera arrivée, ainsi que j'obtienne permission. J'ai écrit aussi à Tess à Birmingham.
[Morning exercise again this morning. Tonight I wrote to Verne, asking him to inform me when Mary arrives, so I can get leave. I also wrote to Tess in Birmingham.]
Tues. 24. J'ai reçu aujourdhui le pacquet de livres de Hugo. J'aurai maintenant beaucoup d'étude pour me faire silencieux et occupé pour longtemps de l’avenir.
[Today I received the parcel of books from Hugo. Now I can study a lot to keep me quiet and occupied for a long time into the future.]
Wed. 25. Le jour d'Anzac. C'est un congé pour nous pour tout du jour. Je m'ai promené cet après-midi par la route circulaire. Etudiais le francais. Ce soir, après "Des allumées eteint", j'avais allumé l’éléctricité, et donc le serjent d'or-donnance, Caporal Seymour, prenait mon nom et numéro, et a dit que je serai arraigné demain devant l'officier Malheur, mais je ne le crains pas.
[Anzac Day. A full day's leave. I walked this afternoon by the ring road. Studying French. Tonight, after "lights out", I turned on the electricity, and so the serjent at arms Corporal Seymour, took my name and number, and said that tomorrow I will appear before the officer, bad luck, but I am not afraid.]
Sivell était saoul et faisait beaucoup d'ennui aux autres. Ensuite Watterson est entré, aussi "zig-zag", et il parle en haut beaucoup, et il rage, et mugit, et continue à répéter incessanment, "L'officier d'ordonnance! Prenez-moi à l'officier d'ordonnance! Je ne crains pas l'officer d'ordonnance. Qui est-ce qui disait qu'il me prendrait à l'officer d'ordonnance? Il n'y peut ...ner maintenant à l'officer d'ordonnance. Venez en dehors et nous combattons. Venez en dehors. Je veux voir l'officer d'ordonnance, Qu'il me prenne à l'officer d'ordonnance." Ainsi il a continuà a rager jusque nous étions bien las d'entendre les mots, "L'officer d'ordonnance." Enfin, cependant, il devenait tranquille, et nous pouvions dormir.
[Sivell was drunk and made a lot of trouble for everyone. Then Watterson came, also "zig-zag" and he was talking at the top of his voice, raging and bellowing, and continued to repeat incessantly, "The ordinance officer! Take me to the ordinance officer. I do not fear the ordinance officer. Who was it who said he would take me to the ordinance officer? There can ... now the ordinance officer. Come outside and we fight. Come outside. I want to see the ordinance officer, take me to the ordinance officer."So he continued to rage even though we were tired of hearing the words, "the ordinance officer." Finally, however, it became quiet, and we could sleep.]
Jeudi. 26. Lettre de Mrs. Morgan. Elle pense que c'était sarcasme quand je l'ai addressée comme "Ma chère amie". Verne a obtenu permission pour un mois, et a parti en Irelande.
[Thursday. 26. Letter from Mrs. Morgan. She thinks it was sarcasm when I addressed her as "My dear friend". Verne got leave for one month, and went away to Ireland.]
Vendredi. 27. Smith a été envoyé é l'hopital avec rougeole, et notre cabane a été placé sous quarantaine. Nous devions nettoyer tout le cabane et écarter nos effets en dehors jusqu'il était désinfecté. J'ai reçu une lettre de May Stone et un paquet contenant onze lettres d'Australie. D'Australie il-y-avait quatre de Vera Billingham, et une de chaqu'un de cellesci:- Elsie Billingham, Lorrie Maloney, Clytie, Jean, Vera Webb, Rita and Maggie Elliott. La lettre de lettre est trés interressante et contient huit pages. Elle parait d'avoir devenu plus vieille dans ses pensées et sa manière depuis la fois derniè re qu'elle m'a écrit. Elle dit que Eric n'a pas gagné un "bursary", mais il pourra essayé encore au fin de cet année. Vera Webb restait chez nous. Vera Billingham travaillait encore à Neutral Bay. Elle dit que Will Hopper s'a marié. La lettre de May Stone est fort interessante et amusante. Les jamelles célestes ont laissé toutes deux. Will Glover est mort. Maggie Elliott à m'écrit une jolie lettre. Elle dit que Bill Jackson est revenu à Sydney avec une balle dans l'épine. C'est une mauvaise blessure, mais il se guéarit très bien. La garde-malade Jackson est maintenant une boiteuse complète avec des rhumatismes. Maggie a deux beaux enfants, un garçon et une fille, et Mattie a maintenant trois enfants.
[Friday. 27. Smith was sent to hospital with measles, and our hut has been placed under quarantine. We had to clean and put all our belongings outside the hut until it was disinfected. I received a letter from May Stone and a package containing eleven letters from Australia. There were four from Vera Billingham, and one each from: - Elsie Billingham, Lorrie Maloney, Clytie, John, Vera Webb, Rita and Maggie Elliott. The (?) letter is very interesting and contains eight pages. She seems to have become older and wiser since the last time she wrote me. She says that Eric has not won a "bursary" but he can try again at the end of the year. Vera Webb is staying with them. Vera Billingham is still working at Neutral Bay. She said that Will Hopper is married. The letter from May Stone is very interesting and fun. The heavenly twins have both left. Will Glover died. Maggie Elliott wrote me a nice letter. She says Bill Jackson has returned to Sydney with a bullet in the spine. It's a bad injury but he is fine. The nurse Jackson is now lame with rheumatism complete. Maggie has two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, Mattie now has three children.]
Nous avons en beaucoup de querelles ici aujourdhui. Les ordonnances de la mess ont éfait beaucoup de trouble par diviser l'alimentation et surtout le pain fort inégalement. Ainsi quand je me suis mêlé pour faire égal distribution, ils étaient plein de dépit contre moi. Grenfell et Oliver aussi etaient bien en côlère, parce que Emblem leur donnait toujours plus que leur juste portion. Il-y-avait beaucoup de querelles tout l'a-près-midi, mais les autres étaient contents que je me suis mêléé, parce qu'ils recevront à l'avenir meilleure portion de pain etc. Photo prise ce soir chez Churchill.
[We have a lot of bickering here today. The mess orderlies have a lot of trouble dividing the food and especially the bread equally. So when I got involved to make an equal distribution, they were full of spite against me. Grenfell and Oliver also were very angry because Emblem always gave them more than their fair portion. There was much bickering the whole afternoon, but the others were glad that I'm involved, because they will now receive a greater portion of bread etc. Picture taken this evening at Churchill.]
Samedi. 28. Route march ce matin. Je suis prévenu pour l'école au "bull-ring" pour lundi. J'ai écrit à Arthur Hopper.
[Saturday. 28. Route march this morning. I am put down for "bullring" for Monday. I wrote to Arthur Hopper]
Dimanche. 29. Pas de parade à l'église ce matin à cause de la quarantaine. J'ai écrit à Marie en Irelande et à Maggie Elliott. Je me suis promené le long de ma route favorite cet aprés-midi. Le printemps vient rapidement maintenant. Les arbres et les haies bourgeonne beaucoup, et ils seront converts des feuilles prochainement. Il faisait un jour glorieux, bien chaud.
[Sunday. 29. No parade to church this morning because of the quarantine. I wrote to Mary in Ireland and Maggie Elliott. I walked down my favourite road this afternoon. Spring is coming fast now. There are a lot of buds on the trees and hedges, and they will be converted to leaves soon. It was a glorious day, warm.]
Lundi. 30. Au "Bull-ring" aujourd'hui. Nouvelles règles de marcher, turner, former en quatres, etc. Exercices physiques, et pratique en combattre avec baionette cet après-midi.
[Monday. 30. The "Bull Ring" today. New rules for marching, turning, forming into four, etc. Physical exercises, and combat with bayonet practice this afternoon.]
Mardi. 1. Au "Bullring". Le temps fait bien chaud maintenant, trop chaud pour les exercices.
[Tuesday. 1. The "Bullring". The weather is very hot now, too hot for exercise.]
Mercredi. 2. Dans la ville ce soir j'ai acheté trois livres, numéros un, deux, et quatre, de la série "Australie dans la grande guerre". Numéros un et deux contiennent des photos de Poziéres, avant et après la guerre. Une photo montre le mur cassè qui était tout ce qui restait au matin du gros bombardment, quand nous étions ordonnés à quitter la trenchée et nous abriter dans las cratères d'obus.
[Wednesday. 2. In the town tonight I bought three books, one, two, and four of the series "Australia in the Great War". Numbers one and two contain photos of Pozieres, before and after the war. A photo shows the broken wall that was all that remained after the big morning bombardment when we were ordered to leave the trenches and shelter in the shell holes.]
Jeudi. 3. Deux lettres, une de Mum et une de Vera Billingham. Mum dit que Eric aime beaucoup l'école de Fort St., et il aime surtout à apprendre le français. Vera dit que Eric Wade est maintenant un "warrant officer”. J'ai écrit à Mamon ce soir, et commencé une lettre à Vera Billingham.
[Thursday. 3. Two letters, one from Mum and one from Vera Billingham. Mum said that Eric loves Fort St school, and he especially loves to learn French. Vera said that Eric Wade is now a "warrant officer". I wrote to Mum this evening, and started a letter to Vera Billingham.]
Vendredi. 4. Lettre de Bert. Il ne dit pas si il est dans le troisième bataillon ou non. Il a été au front. Mrs. Morgan l'a informé que Viv a gagné le crois militaire. La lettre était écrit le 24 April. J'ai obtenn ce soir les photos prises par Churchill. Elles ne sont pas très bonnes. J'ai fini la lettre à Vera Billingham.
[Friday. 4. Letter from Bert. It does not say whether he is in the third battalion or not. He was at the front. Mrs. Morgan told him that Viv won the Military Cross. The letter was written on April 24. This evening I got pictures taken by Churchill. They are not very good. I finished the letter to Vera Billingham.]
Samedi. 5. Cet après-midi je me promenais par le chemin vers Lulworth. Au pont il-y-avait quelques enfants occupés d'essayer à attraper les poissons. Elles se faisaient amies de moi tout de suite. Après avoir essayé vainement d'attraper des poissons, qui était bien savants, nous nous en sommes allés pour cueiller des fleurs, beaucoup de lesquelles il-y-avait dans cette voisinage. En-suite nous sommes revenu chez nous. Elles étaient bonnes jolies pétites, Gertie, âgée de dix ans, Nellie. âgée de dix ans, environ, Aussi Oswald, qui était venu avec elles.
[Saturday. 5. This afternoon I walked to Lulworth. At the bridge there were some children busy trying to catch fish. They made friends with me right away. After trying vainly to catch fish, which were very smart, we went to pick flowers, many of which were in this area. Afterwards we came home. They were pretty little children, Gertie, aged ten, Nellie, aged ten years or so, also Oswald, who had come with them.]
Dimanche. 6. L’église parade ce matin au carré. Il faisait très froid et le vent souffloit fortement. Nous etions contents quand la service avait fini. Lettre de ma tante Lydia aujourd'hui. Promenade par la route circulaire ce après-midi. A l'église ce soir.
[Sunday. 6. To church parade this morning at the square. It was very cold and the wind blew strongly. We were happy when the service had finished. Letter from Aunt Lydia today. Walk through the ring road this afternoon. At church tonight.]
Lundi. 7. Nous avons marché quelque distance ce matin, puis dans un champ plein de "heather", ou nous sommes restés une heure ayant des exercices en l'ordre étendu. Après avois diné nous sommes allés par un différent chemin et avons en de la pratique d'attaquer. Selon le journal d'aujourd'hui, le francais ont gagné une nouvelle victoire, en enlevant le "chemin de dames" et tout la crête. Les américains ont produit une grand nouvelle invention, une armure puissante qui peut resister la force des torpilles. J'ai commencé une lettre à Rita.
[Monday. 7. We walked some distance this morning, to a field full of "heather", where we stayed for an hour having extended exercises. After eating we went by a different path and did attacking practice. According to today's newspaper, the French have won another victory, recapturing the "chemin de dames" and the whole ridge. The Americans have produced a great new invention, a powerful armour that can withstand the force of the torpedo. I started a letter to Rita.]
Mardi. 8. J'ai fini la lettre à Rita et écrit une autre à Mrs. Morgan.
[Tuesday. 8. I finished the letter to Rita and wrote another to Mrs. Morgan.]
Mercredi. 9. Aujourd'hui nous qui sont sous la quarantine devions quitter notre cabane et nous en aller au camp de tentes. Lettre de Mrs. Morgan cet après-midi, avec une autre qu'el m'avait addressée au troisième battaillon novembre dernier, et qui avait été renvoyée. Dans sa lettre il-y-avait une liste d'officiers Australiens. D'abord j'ai pensé qu'elle était la liste des blessés montrant le nom de Verne. Mais, en y voyant le nom de Viv je recevais un coup de peur. Ensuite j'ai lu la lettre et était bien content à savoir qu'elle n'était qu'une liste de ceux-la qui ont gagné la Croix Militaire.
[Wednesday. 9. Today we are under quarantine had to leave our hut and go to camp tents. Letter from Mrs. Morgan this afternoon, with another she had addressed to the third battalion last November and had been returned. In his letter she had a list of Australian officers. At first I thought it was the injured list showing the name of Verne. But upon seeing the name of Viv I received a shot of fear. Then I read the letter and was glad to know it was just a list of those who won the Military Cross.]
Jeudi. 10. Aujourd'hui nous avons en une longue route marche, par la route envers la ligne de cols au sud. La campagne parait très belle, les arbres et les champs tous verts, et beaucoup de fleurs fleurissant partout. Nous avons reposé dans un champ de "furze" et "heather" pour diner, puis nous avons revenu par une différent route, arrivant au camp à quatre heures, environ.
[Thursday. 10. Today we have a long route march, along the road that passes the south line.The country seems very beautiful, trees and fields all green and many flowers blooming everywhere. We sat in a field of "heather" for dinner, then we took a different route, arriving in camp about four o'clock.]
Vendredi. 11. Nous avons en un jour très paresseux, en reposant dans un champ vert et en ne faisant rien. Nous avions une parade à la nage cet après-midi.
[Friday. 11. We have a very lazy day, resting in a green field and doing nothing. We had a parade to swim this afternoon.]
Samedi. 12. Parade au dentiste ce matin. J'ai écrit à May Stone et commencé une lettre à Clytie cet après-midi. Ce soir, pendant à la ville, j'ai rencontré Sam Gordon, du vingt-quatriènne battaillon et pendant nous nous partions, un autre homme du vingt-quatriènne battaillon se rapprochait de nous, et il nous a dit qu'un homme qui venait de venir en Angleterre avec permission lui a dit que Viv et Mr. Pittard étaient tous deux bien quand il a laissé le battaillon. Cela était bonnes nouvelles pour moi, en vérité.
[Saturday. 12. Parade at the dentist this morning. I wrote in May Stone, began a letter to Clytie this afternoon. Tonight, in the town, I met Sam Gordon, from the twenty-fourth battalion and just as we were leaving, another man from the twenty-fourth battalion approached us and told us that a man who had come to England on leave and said that Mr. Pittard and Viv were both well when he left the battalion. This was really good news for me.]
Dimance. 13. Anniversaire du jour de naissance de Viv ou Viola, je ne sais pas lequel. Promenade ce matin au haut colline au sud, environ quatre milles d'ici. J'ai ascendu le colline, du haut de lequel on peut obtenir une grande vue de la terre et de la mer. De la j'ai marché ça et la le long de la ligne de collines. La paysage, à quelques endroits, était bien jolie. J'ai returné au camp très fatigué à environ deux heures et demie.
Fini la lettre à Clytie et Ècrit à Viola et à Viv. Commencé une lettre à Vera Webb.
[Sunday. 13. The birthday of Viola or Viv, I do not remember which one. This morning I walked up the south hill, about four miles from here. I climbed to the top of the hill which had a great view of the land and the sea. From there I went around it and along the line of hills. The landscape in some places was very pretty. I returned to camp very tired at about half past two.
Finished the letter to Clytie, Viola and Viv. Began a letter to Vera Webb. ]
Leudi. 14. Parade paresseuse ce matin. Presque rien à faire. Après diner nous devions quitter le camp de tentes et retourner à notre cabane, la quarantaine était achevée. Fini la lettre à Vera Webb, et écrit à Dad, avec salutations pour anniversaire de naissance.
[Monday. 14. Lazy parade this morning. Almost nothing to do. After dinner we had to leave the tent camp and return to our hut, the quarantine was over. Finished the letter to Vera Webb, and wrote to Dad with birthday greetings.]
Merdi. 15. Selon le journal d'aujourd'hui, nos troupes ont gagné l'entier village de Roeax, Bethmann-Holweg doit faire une harangue aujourd'hui dans le Reichstag, à faire savoir les termes de paix d'Allemagne. J'ai ecrit à Bert aujourd'hui, aussi à ma tante Lydia.
On nous a payés cet après-midi. J'ai reçu quinze shillings. Deux lettres de Mrs. Tanner. Netta en N.Z. pour congé. Reg Morris dans l'armie maintenant. Tom est en France. (494 la hymne de Sanky)
[Tuesday. 15. According to the paper today, our troops have won the whole village Roeax, Bethmann-Hollweg must now make a speech in the Reichstag, to make known the hopes for peace in Germany. I wrote to Bert today, and my Aunt Lydia.
Got paid this afternoon. I received fifteen shillings. Two letters from Mrs. Tanner. Netta in N.Z on leave. Reg Morris is in the Army now. Tom is in France. (494 Sanky hymn) ]
Mercredi. 16. Hollweg a refusé à exposer les aspirations de guerre d'Allemagne, mais il parait presque certain qu'ils ont l'intention à garder les pays qu'ils ont vaincu. Les socialistes les menacent d'une révolution. Italie a commencé un grand offensive et a avancé quelque distance. Les affaires de Russie semble d'etre moins embrouillées maintenant. Aujourd'hui j'ai reçu quatre lettres, une de Viv, de date le dix Mai, une de Viola, et deux de Maman. Les dernières trois ont été renvoyées du bataillon par Viv. Viola enseigne maintenant dans l'école a Rockdale. Dad a eu un mauvais froid. Mr. and Mrs. Tanner ont visité Maman.
[Wednesday. 16. Hollweg has refused to explain the plans, but it seems almost certain that they intend to keep the places they have defeated. Socialists threaten a revolution. Italy began a large offensive and advanced some distance. The affairs of Russia seems to be less confused now. Today I received four letters, one from Viv, dated May 10, one from Viola, and two from Mom. The last three have been referred to the battalion by Viv. Viola now teaches school in Rockdale. Dad has a bad cold. Mr. and Mrs. Tanner visited Mom.]
Viv dit que le vingt-quatriènne bataillon venait d'attaquer, il ne dit pas ou, mais probablement à Bullecourt. Capitaine Godfrey, Lieutenants Sellick, Gow, et Viv n'etaient pas touchés du tout pendant toute l'action, quoique le bataillon aient payé beaucoup en morts et en blessés. Pittard était sévèrement blessé. Ellis, Cap. Ellwood, Joe Scales, Morcom, Salmond, Clifford, et Keig Ètaient aussi blessés. Cap. Ellwood aura probablement gagné une décoration pour son bon travail. Lt. Fethers, en outre d'antrai, était tué. C'est ce qui avait les souvenirs de Viv a Salisbury, et ne les envoyait pas à Mrs. Morgan. Le bataillon ont fait très bon travail tout ensemble. Quand ils laissaient les tranchées, le troisième bataillon occupait leur place, mais Viv n'a pas en l'occasion à voir Bert, ou à apprendre s'il est bien.
[Viv said that the twenty-forth battalion attacked, it does not say where, but probably at Bullecourt. Captain Godfrey, Lieutenant Sellick, Gow, and Viv were not affected at all during all the action, though the battalion have a lot of dead and wounded. Pittard was severely injured. Ellis, Cap. Ellwood, Joe Scales, Morcom, Salmond, Clifford, and Keig were also injured. Cap. Ellwood will probably win a medal for his good work. Lt. Fethers, also went in and was killed. This is who had the souvenirs from Viv in Salisbury, and sent them to Mrs. Morgan. The battalion did a very good job all together. When they left the trenches, the third battalion was in place, but Viv did not have the opportunity to see Bert, or to learn if he is okay.]
Lettre de Verne ce soir. Il sera chez Mrs. Morgan Mardi le 22nd. et désire que j'obtienne permission pour cinq ou six jours pour le rencontrer à Londres. La blessure n'est pas encore guèri tout à fait.
[Letter from Vern tonight. He will be at Mrs. Morgan's on Tuesday 22nd. and wants me to get leave for five or six days to meet him in London. His injury has not completely healed.]
Jeudi. 17. L'anniversaire du jour de naissance de Viv ou Viola, je ne sais pas lequel.
[Thursday. 17. The birthday of Viola or Viv, I do not remember which one.]
Vendredi. 18. Je suis prévence pour la garde ce soir à les overes d'eau. Ecrit à Mr. Goodwin à Dartford et lui dire que je pense venir peutetre chez lui la semaine prochaine pour visite. Je n'ai pas allé à parade ce matin, et nous avons travaillé tout le matin à faire la cabane jolie et propre pour dimanche.
[Friday. 18. I'm on guard duty tonight at the water works. Wrote to Mr. Goodwin in Dartford to tell him that I'm thinking of perhaps coming next week to visit. I did not go to parade this morning and we worked all morning to make the hut nice and clean for Sunday.]
Quatre lettres aujourd'hui, une pièce de Clytie, Ida, Maman, et Marie. Clytie a un "camera" et elle a essayé de prendre de photos à nous en envoyer, mais chaque fois qu'elle était à Kogarah il faisait mauvais temps. Marie demande pourquoi je ne peux pas les visiter à Trentagh. Maman dit que Sid Butcher était tué au front. Son frère Jack était blessé et a été renvoyé en Australia incapable pour plus de service dans l'armie. Leur mère était tué par un malheureux accident. Elle tombait d'une voiture et s'est cassée ce cou. La lettre d'Ida contient onze pages, et était écrit dans plusieurs de parties, du 17 janvier au 19 mars. Elle fait bien à l'école en français et en anglais. La lettre est très intéressante, et plein de betises.
Je suis de service ce soir à les oevres d'eau à la garde.
[Four letters today, one each from Clytie, Ida, Mum, and Mary. Clytie has a "camera" and she tried to take pictures to send us, but every time she was at Kogarah the weather was bad. Mary asks why I can not visit Trentagh. Mum says Sid Butcher was killed at the front. His brother Jack was injured and was returned to Australia no longer able to serve in the Army. Their mother was killed by an unfortunate accident. She fell from a car and broke her neck. The letter contains eleven pages from Ida, and was written in several parts from 17 January to 19 March. She is doing well in school at French and English. The letter is very interesting and full of mischief.
I'm on guard duty tonight at the water works.]
Samedi. 19. Ecrit à Mrs. Morgan, lui disant que je peux peut-être arriver chez lui avec permission lundi prochain. Trois lettres aujourd'- hui deux de Maman, qui ont été en retard en arrivant ici, et une de Vera Billingham. Nous avons laissé la garde ce soir à sept heures environ. Acheté des cartes postales, et écrit une à Lorrie Maloney et une à Jean McPhee.
[Saturday. 19. Written to Mrs. Morgan, saying that perhaps I can get there next Monday on leave. Three letters arrived here two from Mum, which were late arriving, and Vera Billingham. We had guard duty tonight for seven hours. Bought some postcards and wrote to Lorrie Maloney and John McPhee.]
Dimanche. 20. A parade de l'église ce matin. Après, nous avons travaillé à finir de nettoyer le cabane pour le concours. L'inspection était faite par un colonel anglais, qui a donné le premier prix d'une livre à cabane 33. Notre cabane était seconde. Nous avons gagné le premier prix d'un pouding pour le meilleure cabane et le plus propre de la compagnie.
Lettre de Mrs. Morgan, avec une de Bert, écrit le deux mai, et une de Viv, écrit le six mai.
Après diner promenade à travers Wareham à l'entour par la route circulaire. C'est très belle maintenant. Les branches des arbres se rencontrent en haut, en formant une jolie voute de brillantes feuilles vertes. Il a commencé à pleuvoir un peu avant je suis revenu.
A l'église ce soir. Preche par notre chapelain du soisante - premier bataillon.
[Sunday. 20. To church parade this morning. Afterwards we worked to finish cleaning up the hut for the contest. The inspection was made by a British colonel, who gave the first prize of a book to hut 33. Our hut was second. We won the first prize of a pudding for the best cabin and the cleanest of the company.
Letter from Mrs. Morgan, one from Bert written on May 2, and Viv, written on May 6.
After dinner walk through Wareham around the ring road. It's very nice now. Tree branches meet at the top, forming a beautiful arch of bright green leaves. It started raining a little before I got back.
At church tonight. Sermon by the chaplain of the seventy-first battalion.]
Lundi. 21. Les brittaniques sont enlevé à les allemands une ville de la ligne de Hindenburg près de Bullecourt.
Je me suis preparé pour aller à Londres avec permission ce matin, mais la permission n'est pas encore arrivée.
[Monday. 21. The British have taken a German town on the Hindenburg Line near Bullecourt.
I am preparing to go to London this morning on leave, but permission has not yet arrived.]
Young Robson told me tonight that the leave grants had come down from brigade, and would probably be issued tomorrow. Bought some drawing materials at Wareham and commenced a drawing.
Sunday 27th. "God has given and He has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord for ever." God's will be done. It seems hard, incredible, but our beloved Bert has gone from us to God's glorious realms of eternal joy. He will be happy in Paradise, but oh what a lot of sorrow is caused to those who are left behind. Yet God knows what is best for us, and will work all things together for good, though we cannot hope to understand the motives that underlie His will. We can only submit patiently and look forward in faith and hope to that grand day when we shall all be re-united in the kingdom of our Saviour.
Poor old Mum will feel it keenly, for Bert was always so specially good and considerate to her. He will be mourned and missed by many, for he was loved by all who knew him.
It was last Tuesday that I got the news. Not being on parade I was going on with some drawing when the mail came. There was a letter for me, and, upon recognising Viv's handwriting, I feared the worst, as he would not have written again so soon under any ordinary circumstances. Opening the letter I found it was even as I feared. Viv had ridden over to look up Bert after the 3rd. came out, and was informed that he had been killed on May 5th., in the trenches to the east of Bullecourt. After several unsuccessful counter attacks, the Germans had put over a heavy bombardment, and during the shelling Bert crossed over. Death was instantaneous, and it is a comfort to know that he died painlessly and without a moment's warning, without any of that instinctive dread of penetrating into the Great Unknown.
It must have been a terrible blow to Viv, especially as he had never had an opportunity to meet Bert since he left Australia.
It seems hard to realize that he is gone from us. We had looked forward so hopefully to all getting back home after the war, but now the homecoming will be marred by Bert's absence. Poor little Elsie, she will feel lonely and desolate.
I do not grieve for Bert for he is much happier than any of us who are left behind. He is parted from us for a short time, a very short time, indeed, for life at best is but a brief span. He is the first of our happy family to cross the border, and the rest of us, as we follow in our turn, will have someone waiting there to welcome us.
Mrs. Morgan takes it to heart a great deal. She thought the world of Bert, and especially since her own boy was killed she has looked upon Bert as a son. And now he too has gone to the land of eternal peace and happiness. God's will be done.
Went to London by the 1.10p.m. train on Tuesday, having obtained my leave pass. Went out to Chelsea and looked up Arthur Hopper. He is much taller and somewhat thinner than when I last saw him at Taree. He showed me a photo of Will's wife, and then I remembered having often seen her photo in Will's studio, and he used also to tell me about her.
It was getting late when I arrived at Hounslow. Vern had been out but had to report back again.
Wrote a long letter to Mum and Dad next morning, trying to comfort them in their bereavement. Verne came out in time for dinner. He spoilt his chances of getting an extension of leave by overstaying his month's leave by one day. He gave me £1 to help me over my financial difficulties, and I went down to Dartford in the afternoon. Spent a pleasant, though quiet time there. It was cheering to have the young people about, and Gladys, too, is quite a nice and entertaining girl on closer acquaintance. Mrs. Goodwin's brother, who had just gone to France when I was there in January, is feared to have been killed, though there is no certainty about it. His name has not been in any of the casualty lists, but his letters, which always came regularly and frequently, ceased abruptly. Another soldier in the same regiment wrote to a friend of theirs saying that he saw Mr. Creig lying on the ground badly wounded in the side, and that shortly afterwards they were forced to retire, leaving him to his fate. Of course a man wounded and covered with dirt and blood may very easily be mistaken for another, but the cessation of letters has caused them terrible anxiety and suspense. They are also afraid for the mother, who is old and feeble and already in a very poor condition of health. What a world of sorrow and anxiety this war has brought upon the world. Yet we know that God in His wisdom and mercy is working all things together for good.
We sang some of the grand old hymns in the evening, and did not retire until midnight.
On the Thursday Roy and I arose early and went for a walk as far as the heath. Stayed for dinner, and then left by the 2.30p.m train to London, and caught the 4.25 train to Birmingham, arriving at my destination about 8p.m. Spent a quiet evening at Stone's. Mal Meredith is in France, and they hear from him regularly, though Jack Thorpe never troubles to write. He was still in camp in England when last they heard from him, and may have been sent back to Canada. May played some of Mal's music for us. Some of the pieces were very pretty.
Did not see Tess until Friday morning. She has had a lot of trouble lately as her mother has been very ill. There are changes in the workrooms, the "Heavenly Twins" and others having left, and new hands having come on. Alice and Minnie are still going strong, but Alice has not been at all well lately.
May and I went to see Mrs. Wheatley before I left. She is a fine spirited old lady, and very enthusiastic over her work in the Salvation Army.
After dinner May came in to the station with me. Left by the 2.35p.m. train. They have been awfully good to me, and have asked me to come again soon, if possible.
Arrived home at Hounslow about 8p.m., and planted some shrubs for Mrs. Caborn.
Commenced a letter to Viv yesterday morning. After dinner Mrs. Morgan and I, with Eileen, went out to Hampton Court, the one time residence of Henry VIII. The gardens, with their wealth of flowers and leafy lime trees, were very beautiful, and it was a glorious spring afternoon. There were also some delightful fountains splashing playfully in the sunlight.
Had enquired at Twickenham about the trains, and found I had to take the 9.50p.m. train from Waterloo last night. This afternoon's paper reported a big raid by enemy aeroplanes in S.E. England, 76 persons being killed and 174 injured. Left Hounslow about 8.30p.m. Met Williams on the Waterloo station, and we went down together. On the way down I read a very remarkable article in the Strand by Sir Oliver Lodge, one of the world's leading scientists, telling how he had proved, by scientific means, the existence of the spirit after death.
Arrived at camp about 3a.m. this morning, and slept till breakfast time. Finished writing Viv's letter. Suddenly discovered to my surprise and chagrin, that my six days' leave does not end until noon tomorrow. Must have been half dopey not to have noticed it before. In reality I only had 4½ days, whereas I might have had six days. Letter from Vern, written before he left Ireland.
Walked out to Corfe this morning in a persistent drizzling rain, getting rather wet from the knees down. Had a very nice dinner at a hotel there for 2/6. It rained much heavier coming home, and the macintosh cape did not afford too much protection. Went to the Congregational church after tea. Wrote to the A.I.F. Hqrs. asking for my old pay-book, and enquiring about Bert's. Also wrote to Elsie Maloney.
Monday 28. Did not go on parade this morning, my leave not being up until noon. Two letters, one from Jack Elliott, and one from some enquiry association, asking for particulars of poor old Tom Board's death and burial. Jack Elliott seemed to be in a depressed humour when he wrote. He had been sentenced to four month's gaol for refusing to take the oath to bear arms, but had only served ten hours. Poor Jack, in prison! He must have felt it very keenly, for he was always such an upright and good-living fellow. I admire him for his heroism in suffering for his convictions, though his opinions on this question do seem rather erratic to me. And I love him, poor old Jack, as a pal, for he was always so true and genuine.
Wrote to Else Billingham and Mrs. Tanner, and sent the required information about Tom Board to the Enquiry Association.
On parade this afternoon. This evening's paper reports a great success by the Italians. They have taken 25,000 prisoners since May 24th., are now only 12 miles from Trieste, and have almost surrounded the fortress of Hermada.
Met Thompson, of the 3rd. B'n. M.G. Section, tonight. He was over on furlough in December, and remained in England suffering with gonorhea. He told me that Reg Morgan has been killed. Am very sorry to hear that, as Reg was such a decent fellow. Bob O'Mara died at Buire of pneumonia, or meningitis, the last of five brothers to go.
Tues. 29. Shooting at the rifle range today. Acting as instructor.
Wed. 30. At the rifle range again today.
Thurs. 31st. Instructing at rifle range. Letter from Mrs. Morgan. She is staying at Norwood and expects to be coming to Ringwood soon.
Fri. 1st. At the range again today. Five letters tonight. One each from Mum, Rita, Mrs. Tanner, and Miss Prigg, and one from the Red Cross Inquiry Dept. thanking me for the information about Tom Board. The other four letters were written in the latter part of March. They had just received the photo I had taken in London while on furlough.
Left one of my badges at the jeweller's this evening to have it made into a broach.
Sat. 2. At rifle range this morning. Met Mr. McDermid, of 3rd. B'n. in Wareham today. He is now a captain, and has been sent over here to the 63rd. B'n. He was in the line when Bert was killed, but could not give me any details, he having been in a different company . He advised me to write to Captain White at Dorrington, as he was O.C. of "A" Co. at the time. Went shooting with Strahan & Field this evening. Got nothing.
Sun. 3. Ch. parade to Cong. ch. Gordon's birthday. Wrote postcards to Clytie, Mrs. Tanner, Miss Prigg, Les Tanner (on submarine P14), Arthur Hopper, and to Captain White, 3rd. B'n., Dorrington, asking for details of Bert's death. Wrote to Mary. Spent the afternoon going on with the drawing I started some days ago. Cong. Ch. this evening.
Mon. 4. At rifle range. Glorious summer day. Commenced letter to Mrs. Morgan this evening. Letter from Vern. Mary safely thro' operation, but left very weak.
Tues. 5. According to this morning's paper Vern has been awarded the Military Cross, and I'm glad for his sake and Mary's. I only wish Bert could be here to enjoy the pride and satisfaction of knowing that both our officer brothers have been thus distinguished. Sent a birthday postcard to Gordon, and one to May Curtain, at Corowa. Finished letter to Mrs. Morgan.
Wed. 6. ---------------
Thurs. 7. Finished the regular musketry practices today. Only odd details left to shoot. Lettercard from Clytie, and a letter from Winnie Fishwick in answer to the one I wrote her from France some time last year. She had just arrived back in Sydney from the West.
Fri. 8. Odd details shooting musketry today. Fired with them, with varying success at various ranges. Scored one possible, five bulls at 200 yds. There has been a great new British offensive south of Ypres, where heavy bombardments and frequent raids have been reported every day for the last week or more. Nineteen mines, comprising 450 tons of ammonal, were exploded under the German positions. It must have been an awful spectacle. The advance was made on a 10-mile front, the whole of that salient being cut off. The slaughter of Germans must have been immense, as they knew the attack was coming off, and had probably massed large reserves in Messines and Wytschaete, both of which villages were blown up. The tanks took part in the battle, and, by all accounts, the artillery preparation beggars all description. One report states that the Hill 60 mines were exploded, but no advance seems to have been made there.
Sat. 9. More details of yesterday's victory are to hand today. The Australians and New Zealanders were in it, and the Irish, Northerners and Southerners, fought shoulder to shoulder. No counter-attack has been attempted so far, although the aeroplanes have reported large reserves of Germans massing.
Finished our 19 musketry practices today, about 12.30p.m. Completed my drawing this afternoon. It comprises four pictures merged into one another, in the top right corner being a clouded sky with rays of light slanting down upon the centre, where a vacant circle is represented as surrounded by a frame. Opposite, in the bottom left corner, is a group of three angels flying in mid-air and holding up towards the centre a basket of flowers. In the top left and bottom right are a rose bush in bloom and a landscape respectively. The centre circle I have left vacant to receive an enlarged photo of Bert. It will be a nice memorial to send home to Mum and Dad, for which purpose I have expressly executed it. Dear old Bert, if we could have only kept him, but then, God knows what is best.
Went up town this evening, and left Bert's photo to be enlarged. Bought a mount, also some watercolour paints. Pasted the drawing on to the mount.
Began to try my hand at a watercolour painting, enlarging from a photo that Webster took of the pool in the wood, on the way to Corfe.
Sunday, 10. We are to leave here for some place on Salisbury Plains this week, probably on Wednesday. It is said that this camp is to be taken over by Americans. Continued painting today. We are battalion for brigade duties this week. On detention guard this evening. Wrote to Winnie Fishwick and to Mrs. Morgan. Also wrote to Vern.
Monday 11. Continued painting today. Off guard this evening. Finished, with a fair degree of success, my first serious attempt at a colour painting.
The moving orders have been cancelled.
Tues. 12. Short letter from Captain White, of 3rd. Bn. He says he saw Bert after he was killed, a whizz bang having burst right on top of him. They tried to get what things he had in his pockets, but could not do so. Cpn. White and Bert were old friends, having both been in the same section at Mena. I suppose it was foolish of me, but I had still hoped that there might have been some mistake. But this letter now removes all shadow of doubt.
Got the enlargement of Bert's photo this evening, and fixed it in the centre of the drawing, with a black border all round. Finished writing letter to Mum and Dad. Enclosed a will, also a paper signing over to Mum all my share of the property and effects left by Bert.
Wed. 13. Route march this morning, by the circular route through Holme Lane. The lane is very beautiful now, being a long continuous archway of bright green leaves, oak, chestnut, walnut, beech, holly, with an abundance of pink-blossomed rhododendrons on either side. The leafy canopy was so thick as to make it comparatively dark underneath.
On camp Q.M.S. fatigue this afternoon. According to tonight's paper King Tino of Greece has been compelled to abdicate, and the crown goes to his second son, Alexander. This is a great victory for us, and a blow to Germany.
Thurs. 14. Bullring this morning. The bayonet practice, with the ring and knob stick, was very good and very interesting.
Received a back letter from Bert, written from France on March 29th. He was then expecting to rejoin the 3rd. B'n. at any time. Poor old Bert, generous as ever, he had enclosed 7/- in postal notes, in case I should be short of cash.
Fri. 15. The Lewis gunners were called out today. Was told off as an instructor.
Sat. 16. Borrowed Webster's camera and went out and took a few photos this afternoon. We developed them afterwards, but spoilt them in developing.
Sun. 17. Church parade this morning. Spent the afternoon painting. Went to Congregational Church with L/cpl. Lewis this evening. Bought some wrappers at canteen and packed my pictures to send to London, as we are to leave Wareham some time this week. Wrote to Mrs. Caborn, asking her to keep them for me. Wrote to Cpn. White, of 3rd. B'n thanking him for his letter and sympathy.
Mon. 18. Raining today. Lecture for Lewis gunners in one of the huts.
Have been rather anxious lately about Viv, not having heard from him for some time. And it has just occurred to me that the absence of Australian mail might have a terrible signification. My home mail has been going to the battalion, whence Viv sends it on to me. If he were not there to re-address the letters, they would be returned to the base, and would thus take a long time to find me. Of course he could easily be away at a school, but if so, why has he not written? I do hope and pray to God that he is all right. Perhaps I shall hear news of him soon.
Went out with Webster's camera this evening and took some photos. The light, however, was very poor. Developed them afterwards, and found that three were spoilt in the taking, and one in the developing. The other two were pretty good.
We leave here on Wednesday on our way to Salisbury Plains.
Tues. 19. Handed in our blankets today, except one each for tonight. The tables, forms, etc., were also taken and packed away. We are to leave here at 6a.m. tomorrow, marching 17 miles the first day, 9 miles the second, and 13 the third, a journey of 39 miles to a place called Foban or Fovent or something like that. It is about 10 miles from Salisbury, and is close to the village of Wilton. They say it is a good hut encampment, the only drawback being that they have mess huts, and therefore there will be no tables or forms in the living huts, and no convenience for writing, studying, etc.
Printed a few photos this afternoon. On fatigue after tea, so could not go up town.
It was nearly midnight when we went to bed. Webster and I turned in together.
Wed. 20. Reveille at 4a.m. Breakfast soon after, and then we packed up ready for departure. Got most of my things into the white kitbag, which, with our blankets, were handed in to go by transport. Started off on our journey about six. Many people of Wareham turned out to see us off as we were marched away through the town. No doubt they will miss the Australians, -- and their money. At one place a girl was crying, and some fellow made an indecent remark as to the probable cause of her grief. But we learned afterwards that she was the wife of one of our lance-corporals. Wareham was soon left behind, and the long column of about five thousand men wound slowly along the yellow metal road between fields of purple heather-bell. The sky was overcast, so that it was not so hot marching as it might have been.
The scenery in places was very pretty, the road passing through archways of leafy trees. We marched through a few small hamlets and villages on the way to Blandford. The people of Spettisbury turned out to regale us with flags and banners, which formed a motley of gay colours along the roadside. We halted for two hours for lunch three miles from Blandford, and then covered the last part of the day's march to the town, passing through it to a big park on the far side. Blandford seemed a fair-sized township, and the streets were lined with rows of curious spectators as we went through.
We only came fifteen miles today, instead of seventeen. Bivouacked in the park just out of the town, which was placed out of bounds, so we could not go and have a look around. Adjoining our bivouacking ground was a deer park containing a herd of about a hundred head of deer. There were some big thickly-leaved trees in it also, so, as it had been raining intermittently during the afternoon, and still looked threatening, Ryan and I took our belongings and made our camp under one of the sheltering trees. Then we escaped along the thickly wooded bank of a stream which flowed through the grounds, and scaled out on to a road, which we followed along some distance to a small village. There was nothing much to be seen, however, so we made back to camp and turned in.
Thurs. 21. Up at 4a.m., breakfasted, and moved off at about 6a.m. Had to go 11 miles today instead of 9, to make up for the two we didn't do yesterday.
We formed up on a small flat hilltop two miles short of Shaftesbury, which was also placed out of bounds. The surrounding country was very hilly and cleared for pasture land.
As soon as we had dinner, I lay down on my overcoat and waterproof and slept soundly until awakened for tea. After tea, climbed up to the top of the big hill just on our right. From the summit could be seen the range of hills running across Purbeck near Wareham. Corfe Castle was cut off from view by an intervening hill.
Came back and turned in about 9 o'clock. It seemed somewhat ironical when the camp bugles blew "lights out" at ten o'clock, for the sun was still looking over the treetops on the western hills and casting an orange glow on all around. Some irrepressible wag shouted, "Put that light out over there in the west!" Then we settled down for the night.
Fri. 22. Left our camping ground about 6 a.m., and moved off through the outskirts of Shaftesbury. It was sunny today, and warm, but the march was not too strenuous. At 10a.m. we stopped for lunch at a place where there was plenty of shade from large leafy trees that over-shadowed the road. We had come 9 miles, which left us only 4 miles from our destination, Fovant. Continued the march at eleven o'clock, and soon saw signs of large military encampments, occupied mainly by English conscripts who were too young to be sent to France. On the side of a long steep-sloping hill on our right was worked a huge design in chalk, representing the badge of some English regiment, I forget which. It was a deer, with a scroll underneath. Farther on were other huge badges decorating the long hillside; the London Rifle Brigade, with its wreath surrounding a Maltese cross; the R.A.M.C. badge; the Australian rising sun, and many others with which I am not familiar.
Passing through Fovant, which is a very small and insignificant place, we arrived at last at our camp, and were not sorry when we were allotted to our huts, and could have a rest. The huts are very similar to those at Wareham, with bed-boards, palliasses, and three blankets each, as usual. Lay down on my bunk and slept till tea-time. Large mess huts are provided for the camp, but this is not nearly as convenient or satisfactory a method of dealing with the meals as we had at Wareham, where every hut was its own mess, and tables, forms, and necessary utensils were provided.
We are to parade tomorrow for inspection by Lord Derby.
Letter from Mrs. Morgan, sent to Wareham on off chance of catching me there. Had received picture all right. Vern going Perham, after 2 weeks leave at Cork. Wrote to Mrs. M. giving new address, to Base P.O., also giving address, & wrote p.c. to Clytie & letter to Viola & commenced one to Ida.
Sat. 23. Muster parade this morning in full marching order. Marched off to a Tommy camp a couple of miles away, and were there briefly inspected by Lord Derby. The whole morning was taken up with this useless business, and we felt it more than any of the previous three days marching. And I'm sure Lord Derby did not want to see us, any more than we wanted to see him, which was very little. One of "B" Co's men collapsed when we got back to our camp, and was taken away to hospital unconscious.
Cpl. Babb and I have been warned for Lewis gun school at Tidworth, commencing Monday. We leave here for Tidworth tomorrow. If Vern is at Perham Downs I shall be able to meet him soon, as Tidworth is only about a mile from Perham.
Looked through the company mail this afternoon, and was glad to recognise Viv's handwriting on one for me. It was written on the 16th inst., and he was at some school, which explains why I have not had any home mail readdressed by him. The battalion has had quite a long rest, but they are expecting to go in again soon. Viv has now got his captaincy all right. He intends to increase his allotment to Mum. He is a company commander now, so is doing well. Also got a letter from Mary. She is quite well again after the operation. Finished letter to Jack Elliott.
Packed up this afternoon and fell in at 4p.m., four of us from "A" Co., fourteen from each battalion of the brigade. Marched off to a railway station about a mile away, and there entrained for Tidworth, arriving there about 8p.m. Were told off to barracks, which are very comfortable, roomy, and well ventilated. A good supper was provided.
Walked over to Perham Downs to look up Vern. After walking about from place to place and enquiring here there and everywhere, I at last found him in his quarters. Stayed there till after 9.30p.m. discussing various things. Vern expects to leave for France some time this week. He is going to make over his share of Bert's property to Mum. He is also thinking of writing to Major Anderson, our brigade major, whom he knows personally, about my chances of a commission. I forgot to ask him about how he won the Military Cross. Before leaving, I arranged to come over again on Wednesday evening.
While enquiring at one of the orderly rooms, I had met a 24th B'n man who knew Viv, C.S.M. Garrick, and he told me how Viv got the Military Cross. It appears that during the great retreat of the Huns last March Viv took out a patrol in daylight to try and locate the enemy, who had fallen back some miles. When they found them they hopped into a Hun trench, and the occupants fled. They then held the trench all day against the enemy, until a company of our boys came up at night and took over from them.
Tues. 26. Continued with the Lewis gun work today. There was a paragraph in today's paper saying that the mails that left England on May 31st for Australia and other places were lost. Ship torpedoed probably. These mails are almost certain to have included my letter to Mum and Dad after hearing of Bert's death, also quite a number of others I wrote during the latter half of May, including one each to Clytie, Viola (with birthday greetings), Vera Webb, Aunt Lydia, Dad (with birthday greetings), Elsie Billingham, Mrs. Tanner, the one I wrote to Elsie Maloney referring to Bert's death, and a postcard to Lorrie Maloney and one to Jean McPhee. Besides these letters of mine, the lost mails must have included Vern's and Mrs. Morgan's letters of sympathy home just after the news of Bert's death, Mrs. Morgan's letter to Elsie Maloney, and Elsie's photo, which she returned. It is also more than likely that Viv's letter home after hearing of Bert's death was also lost. This is extremely unfortunate, and means that probably none of our letters of condolence and sympathy reached home.
Wed. 27. Went over to Perham this evening and stayed late. Vern told me all about Mary and her home and people. He has applied for leave for Friday and will probably go in the afternoon, so I shall not see him again before he goes to France. Got back to barracks just before midnight.
Thurs. 28. According to today's paper, the ship with the Aust. mails was the Mongolia. She struck a mine off Bombay. Feeling pretty miserable today, probably not too well.
Fri. 29. Examined today, in mechanism this morning, and stoppages this afternoon. Got through pretty well. On miniature range this evening. I only had one grouping practice of five shots, and got a good group.
Made a discovery this evening while reading a war correspondent's account of the recent advance on Lens. In my diary of about a year ago, almost exactly to the day, in the end of June, 1916, I wrote an account of a strange phenomenon I witnessed while out putting up wire entanglements in front of our trenches. Some stunt was in progress up to the left, and shells from our guns were bursting about the enemy lines and in No-man's-land, throwing up great showers of blazing sparks like spray from an angry sea dashing over the rocks. I have often wondered since what sort of shells they were, but have never found out before today. The war correspondent's account in today's paper of our smoke shells bursting at night, supplies the explanation of that strange and weird spectacle. These smoke shells are used in raids to provide cover from view for our men. Probably they contain the same substances as the smoke bombs, which I have seen exploded in daylight. They burst into a shower of small burning particles, which continue to burn and give off a large volume of smoke for some time.
Sat. 30. Greece has severed diplomatic relations with the Central Empires. It looks likely that she will soon be in the war on our side, now that she is rid of the traitor, Constantine.
Had shooting practice with the Lewis gun on the range this morning. I did fairly well. Our sjt-instructor told me I got a first-class pass in the Lewis gun examinations.
Left the school at Bhurtpore Barracks soon after dinner, and marched to the railway station at Tidworth, where we entrained for Dinton. Had to change three times on the way, at Ludgershall, Andover and Salisbury. Marched up the long steep hill from Dinton to Fovant.
which housed the headquarters of Australian forces in the United Kingdom. AWM.
Letter from Mrs. Morgan and one from Vern, which he had written before I saw him at Perham. Got another letter from Vern later, about getting four days' leave. He also said he had written to Major Anderson as he said he would.
Wrote application for four days' leave, but Robson tells me they will not grant more than one "special" leave. Will just have to wait my turn for the ordinary 48 hrs.' leave.
Sunday 1st. Anniversary of that memorable day when the "Big Push" began in Picardy, last year. Tried my hand at a seascape painting this morning, but got disgusted with it as I could not blend the watercolours properly. Tore the blessed thing up and returned to my French studies. Have completed an abbreviated summary of Hugo's French Grammer Simplified, and am now doing one of "Francais par Vous-meme", as I'll not be able to carry the whole of my book-lore when we go to France.
This morning Robson gave me the reply to my inquiry re my application for O.T.C. It was as follows:- "This correspondence is quite out of order. If this N.C.O's. application is to be considered he will be notified in due course.
Capt. & Adj't.
The rotter! Just another example of how ignorantly officious some of the heads like to make themselves. If the colonel had got my paper he would have at least given a decent answer. Such is life. Letter from little cousin Flora. She scored a merit certificate at school. She must be quite a big girl now compared to when I last saw her.
Mon. 2. Inoculated today, exempted from duty for 48 hours. The Russians have at last started a big offensive, according to the papers. Wrote to Viv this evening.
Tuesday 3. The Russians have attacked on a wide front and captured a village and three lines of trenches, besides 10,000 prisoners. It is to be hoped they can keep on advancing and do as well as they did last summer. Finished abbreviated summary of "Le français par vous-mÍme."
Got job of orderly corporal today.
Wednesday 4. List of prisoners by Russians now stands at over 18,000 for the first two days' fighting. This is a good beginning at any rate.
Had nothing much to do today.
Thurs. 5. Got eleven letters today, three from Mum, two from Vera Billingham, and one each from Mrs. Tanner, Miss Prigg, Jean McPhee, Mr. Harward, Elsie Billingham, and Lorrie Maloney. Nearly all of them were written in April. At home they had just got word of Vern being wounded, and had got his letter saying he was married. Mum has been trying to get some money banked for us boys, and had £80 in at date of writing. Lorrie Maloney and his mother have been down to Sydney for the Easter show, and were out at our place.
Vera Billingham had just gone home for her holiday, but she did not take kindly to the quiet life after the city. Eric Wade is in the A.F.C.
Jean's letter included a couple of snapshots, one of her and Miss Preston and Mrs. Skinner, and the other of Isobel half hidden amongst the thick leaves of a tree.
Wrote to Mum and Dad, and commenced a letter to Vera Billingham.
Fri. 6. Volunteers were called for to rejoin their former units. I put in for it, but they say that those who did not put their names in on the former occasion will not be allowed to go. Did not put in before as I had been expecting to go to the O.T.C.
Out with the company today. It was a field day, and we practised the attack under the new organization upon two lines of trenches and a strong point.
Finished letter to Vera Billingham.
Sat. 7. Instructing on the Lewis gun this morning. Slept the afternoon away. Another air raid on London today. A squadron of over twenty German aeroplanes flew over London at a comparatively low altitude, dropping many bombs, and doing a good deal of damage. This is the largest air raid made on England up-to-date.
Sun. 8. Church parade this morning. Commenced letters to Elsie Billingham and to Aunt Lydia and little cousin Flora.
Went to Congregational Church this evening.
Mon. 9. Field day. The battalion marched away to a plateau beyond the line of steep hills across the valley from our camp. We had to practise an attack on a 400 yards front over a distance of about 1200 yards. I was on the right flank with my Lewis gun crew, and we had to advance over rough country covered with gorse and wild raspberry and strawberry plants.
We repeated the manoeuvre again in the afternoon, over the same ground.
Tues. 10. Repeated yesterday's manoeuvres again today over the same ground. Put in an application for two days' leave from next Monday midday.
Wed. 11. Repeated the same stunt this morning. A few generals and others were out there to watch us carrying it out. Letter from Mrs. Morgan. Both good and bad news in this evening's paper. The Germans attacked and occupied our positions on a 1400 yds. front and to a depth of 600 yds. in the sand dunes adjoining the Belgian coast, forcing our troops back across the Yser River. On the other hand the Russians have made a considerable advance and have taken the town of Halicz, which is a very important key position on the way to Lemberg.
Went to the pictures with Babb, Hughes, and Oliver.
Thurs. 12. Inoculated today; exempted from parade. Finished letters to Elsie Billingham, Aunt Lydia, and cousin Flora. Wrote Mrs. Morgan, saying expecting leave on Monday. The Russians are still forging ahead, and have occupied Halusz.
Fri. 13. Another field day, but we had things fairly easy, practising patrol work and advance guards.
Letter from Mum, written April 10th. She had been reading about all the fighting of that time, and was wondering where we boys were, and how we were faring. There seemed to be a strong note of anxiety in the letter.
This evening we had to go out for some night operations, which consisted of taking over trenches, and afterwards being relieved by the 62nd. B'n. The trenches, in the flat land this side of the ridge of hills opposite the camp, were shallow, and overgrown with weeds and grass. To make it more realistic, somebody was over on the hillside firing flares over our lines, and drums were beaten to represent machine guns. The whole thing reminded one of a lot of school children playing at soldiers. And if such an operation were carried out in the same way over in France, I reckon the heads responsible would be court-martialled and cashiered. It was a fine example of military inability and ignorance.
Got back to camp some time after midnight, and were provided with tea and biscuits.
Sat. 14. Letter from May Stone blowing me up for not writing. However, it was May's turn to write to me, and I had been wondering why she was delaying so long.
Seymour said my leave would come through all right on Monday, or, at latest, Tuesday. Wrote to Mary at Trentagh.
Sun. 15. On a brigade fatigue job this morning before breakfast. Did not go to church parade.
Wrote a letter to the War Office suggesting a new kind of Lewis gun reduced in size, and pointing out the many great advantages to be derived from it. Went to Congregational Church this evening.
Mon. 16. On the Lewis gun today. Taught my crew most of the stoppages, and got them practising changing parts. Cannot get my leave now until Thursday. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan informing her.
Tues. 17. Sold again. Cannot get my leave until next Monday. Through gas tent today. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan about leave. Feeling ill this evening.
Wed. 18. Raining today, so field day cancelled. On Lewis gun. Commenced letter to May Stone.
Thurs. 19. Our battalion colours, black and green vertical oval, were issued this evening, and being out of cash, I undertook the job of sewing them on for the boys at 6d a pair. Got plenty of trade and worked on till the lights were switched off at 11p.m.
Fri. 20. Had our field operations at a new place and beyond Dinton today. Made seven or eight shillings altogether sewing on colours. It came as a welcome lift up when funds were low.
Night operations tonight, consisting of bayonet work, patrols, working parties, etc., on parade ground. No. 4 platoon got somewhat boisterous once or twice, and once the captain called out to them to stop whistling. Someone deliberately whistled again, and, being unable to find out who the offender was, the captain said the whole platoon would be put on a week's C.B.
Sat. 21. Lewis gun drill this morning. Those who put in to rejoin their former units are warned to hold themselves in readiness, and no leave is to be granted to them. And my turn was to come on Monday!
Instead of putting the platoon on a week's C.B., the captain has stopped their leave for a week. Bright specimen of a company commander! Punishes the whole platoon for one man's offence. It does not affect me, though, for I could not get my leave in any case, on account of going on draft.
Finished letter to May Stone. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan telling her I can't come on Monday. Wrote to Viv telling him I'll be rejoining the 24th B'n.
The C.O. has got all the N.C.O's. of the battalion on a map sketching stunt. We have to go to a certain locality between the Tisbury Road, the Dinton railway line, and a small stream flowing into the Nadder river, north of Fovant.
Cpl. Babb and I went out there this evening, with a couple of girl friends of his, Lou and Ester Somebody. We went out along the Tisbury road and sketched a bit of that part of the locality. Needless to say, we did not do very much.
Sun. 22. Babb and I went out immediately after breakfast, this time following up the streamlet on the right of the sector to be sketched, roughly mapping it as we went. Then we worked along the railway line to the left, mapping it and the river as we went. It was difficult country, being hilly and crowded with detail, but was rather pretty, and the job was very interesting. Arriving at the Tisbury road on the left of our sector, we went back diagonally towards the rear, to get the lay of the ground in the centre. Met a girl there, and stayed talking to her until it was time to get back for dinner.
Spent the afternoon drawing my map from the rough sketches taken on the ground, and spent the evening writing the report and giving the dispositions for defending the position. I put a brigade in to defend the sector, which had a frontage of about a mile, making the railway line the firing line, and fortifying the whole position so strongly with entanglements and shell-proof tunnels as to make it practically impregnable. Also placed a large number of Vickers and Lewis guns in commanding positions where they could bring a truly murderous enfilade or cross fire to bear on all the approaches. It was really a brigadier-general's job planning such a defence, not a lance-corporal's, and it was rather absurd giving us such a task, especially in such limited time.
Mon. 23. Went out to our new manoeuvring ground beyond Dinton, and practiced wood fighting in a thick wood with a dense undergrowth of raspberry bushes, briars, and various other plants. In places it was so dense that we could not get through.
Five letters today, one each from Mum, Viola, Ida, Clytie, and Mary. The home letters were dated May 16th., and Clytie's was May 31st. Until that time they knew nothing of Bert's death. They had just heard that Bert and I were going into the 61st. B'n., (Bert was to have joined us, but at the last moment the heads altered their minds and sent him to France) and their hopes and fears after reading of the Bullecourt battle were centred upon Viv. What a terrible blow it must have been when the news did come through of Bert's death. Wal Frazer has been slightly wounded. An uncle of Clytie's has been dangerously wounded. Mary said Vern went over to France on July 5th. without getting the week's leave he applied for. He had written from Le Havre, and was expecting to remain there for another couple of weeks. Ida's letter was written in French. She was very busy studying for the half-yearly exam. Viola told me she had consecrated her life to the service of Jesus Christ. That is good news indeed. It is like a ray of glorious heavenly light shining through the darkness of sorrow. Poor girl, it is sad that such a sorrow should be awaiting her so soon afterwards, but any way it will help to bear her up through the time of distress.
Wrote to Mum and Dad, and to Viola, and commenced a letter to Ida in French.
Startling news from Russia this evening. Their Galician army, which advanced so splendidly recently, is retreating pell-mell, whole armies deserting and leaving the way open to the enemy. Everything seems to be disorganised and upside down as a result of treacherous German propaganda and the work of extremist traitors at home. The whole country is faced with disaster, and unless Herensky can manage to pull her through it will mean a considerable lengthening of the war.
Tues. 24. We who are warned for draft were off the battalion parade today, in order to undergo a dental and medical inspection. Finished letter to Ida. Letter from Mrs. Morgan. She was disappointed I could not come. Yesterday was the anniversary of Percy's death at Pozières, and that awful hell of shellfire. Rev. Wilson, she says, is, according to the paper, wounded.
They tell me that Captain Prior announced on parade today that my map-sketch was the best in the company and was highly commended by the colonel.
Wed. 25. Shooting practice with Lewis guns today. According to paper reports it looks as (if) there is about to be a big attack on the British front, as the artillery is thundering as never before from the coast to Artois, and raids are being continually carried out. Lets hope it will be the great and decisive advance for which we have waited so long.
Letter from Mary with a photo of Vern taken while at Cork. It is a fine photo. In his last letter to her, dated July 16th., he said he had just received orders to rejoin his battalion that day, so probably he will be in this big advance which seems to be pending.
Thurs. 26. Cpl. Babb is promoted to Lewis sjt. and I now am in charge of the L.G. section. Bought Webster's Ensignette camera from him for 15/-.
Fri. 27. Field day today, up on the plateau over the steep hill over to the south. Wrote Miss Prigg this evening. Wrote to Mr. Harward. Another night stunt tonight, in the form of a massed attack at the flat ground in front of the rifle range.
Sat. 28. The departure of the Anzacs is postponed till next week, on account of some of them not being dentally fit.
Wrote Mrs. Morgan. Asked her to send to Viv the parcel Jean sent for Bert.
Got leave to go to Wilton this afternoon, and managed to borrow a bike from the R.Q.M.S. It was the first time I mounted a bike since leaving Taree about 2½ years ago. Bought some Ensignette film spools at Wilton. Went on in to Salisbury, which seems a fair city. Did not have time to see much of it, not daring to stay too long as there were a number of military police about, and my leave was only to Wilton.
Had a look through the cathedral. It stood in lovely grounds, in which lounged many folks, especially young women and girls looking fresh and cheerful in their clean white frocks. The building itself appears to be a fairly old structure, and contained quite a number of effigies over tombs. There were many memorial plates let into the walls and floors, and some were so old that their inscriptions were in the old style of spelling. A couple of verses on one of these plates, which was a memorial to a Mrs. Mary Cooke, was as follows:-
WHAT DVTIES MOST COMMEND A VERTVOVS WIFE TO GOD,
TO HUSBAND, & TO PARENTS DUE
THESE, (FAME REPORTS), SHE PRACTIS'D ALL HER LIFE,
AND BIDS POSTERITY BELEEVE IT TRVE
AND THAT HER DOWRIES & SWEET GVIFTES OF MIND
TO HER, LEAVE PRAISE, TO HERS, LEAVE GREIFE BEHIND,
ONE SONNE SHEE HAD WHICH WAS TO HER SO DEERE
THAT WHILES SHEE GAVE HIM LIFE, SHEE DEAD LIES HEERE.
There were some fine coloured windows in the building. Did not have time to have a proper look around. Left Salisbury somewhat after 4 p.m. and rode back to camp at Fovant. It was up hill nearly all the way, and required some pushing.
While away, the other N.C.Os. were taken out to a locality near Dinton, of which they had to make a map sketch and make dispositions of outposts, piquets, and patrols. Well, that was something I escaped.
Sun. 29. Church parade. Wrote letter to Mary and card to Lorrie Maloney. Commenced letter to Jean McPhee. Received a returned letter, one I had written to Bert on May 16th. I had concluded it with, "Trusting....you are safe in God's keeping", little knowing that even then our dear old Bert was safe for ever in the blessed keeping of our Father.
Mon. 30. The Rumanian army has advanced 19 miles through the Austrian lines. Usual field operations today. There was intermittent rain during the day making things rather uncomfortable. Coming home, as we were passing the corner where the "Anzac" policeman has his beat, someone cooeed and others began to sing, "We don't want to lose you, but we think you ought to go", and as punishment for this gibe at the detested military police the whole company were ordered to march at attention the rest of the way to the camp, and the colonel ordered that we were not to be paid tonight.
According to the evening papers, the Russians have now lost the whole of Galicia and are retreating into Russian territory. Thus all the fruits of their brilliant advance of last year have been lost as a result of internal rottenness and treachery, and lack of discipline in the army.
Went to pictures with Babb, Robson and Levy. Finished letter to Jean McPhee, and wrote to Clytie.
Tues. 31. Raining today. Indoor work all morning. Got paid, 6/-. Lectures this afternoon. There is to be a big attack stunt tomorrow, in which this battalion acts as advance guard.
News has just come to hand by the evening papers that the long-expected attack in Flanders has begun. The British attacked in conjunction with the French on their left, on a wide front north of the river Lys, probably from Armentières to Ypres. All the first objectives were taken, and numbers of prisoners had already come in at time of report, 11a.m., the attack having begun at 3.50 a.m. this morning. Let us hope that this will prove the great and victorious advance through Belgium that will drive the Huns back into their own land and prepare the way for the peace that everybody is longing for. I wonder if Viv and Vern are in this attack, and how they are faring?
Wednesday 1st. The war has been going three years today, and still the end is not in sight.
Reveille at 5a.m. today. Fell in before 7 and marched off through Dinton to the place we were attacking. The defenders were the 69th. B'n., and had white bands around their hats. During the morning it rained intermittently and we got very wet about the knees and elbows, having to kneel and lie down a good lot in the wet grass. The rain ceased during lunch hour, 11a.m. till 12.30 p.m., and I had a good sleep on my waterproof sheet.
Directly we recommenced operations, however, the rain set in again, and continued steadily for the rest of the day. We got back about 6p.m., somewhat wet and tired.
According to this morning's paper, yesterday's attack took place on a front of over fifteen miles, north and south of Ypres, and all objectives were taken to a depth of from 1 to 41/2 miles, ten villages, including Hollebeke, having been taken. This is not a bad start off.
Not feeling too well this evening. Arguments with Ritchie and Cp. Levy about religion until long after the lights went out.
Thurs. 2. A counter attack compelled the British to withdraw from one of the captured villages near Ypres, St. Julien.
Raining this morning, so we were kept on indoor work. Sjt. Babb having gone on leave, I am now acting platoon commander.
Wrote to Viv this evening. Went to Prayer Mtg. at Congregational Ch.
Fri. 3. Took a photo exposure of the badges on the hill opposite. Light very poor. Bt. a card for Mum's birthday, and several other cards.
Sat. 4. Third anniversary of Britain's entry into the great war. Exposed the remainder of the film in the camera this evening. Sent birthday postcard to Mum. It was a nice card, with some very beautiful verses on it. Also wrote card to Mrs. Tanner. Developed roll of films, but they were no good, all having been over-exposed.
Sun. 5. Church parade. Took an exposure of the wooded valley to the north of our camp. This afternoon I went out and took four more, two of the river Nadder near the railway bridge on the right of the sector we had to map a fortnight ago, and of the bridge itself, and one of a passing train which happened to come along just then. After tea, got Ryan to finish the spool with a snap of me.
Went to Congregational Chapel.
Developed the roll of films afterwards. They were rather overdone, and got scratched in the process. Am improving, however.
Mon. 6. Field operations in full marching order today. It was no joke manoeuvring up and down those steep high hills and deep gullies with so much weight to carry. Took some prints this evening from the last spool of films. They would have been all right had it not been for the scratches and marks. However, it may be possible to paint them out on the negatives. Went out and took some more photos this evening, one each of Ryan, Giles, and I, one of the Nadder, and two of the bridge. Developed them afterwards, but they did not fix properly, retaining yellow stains.
Tues. 7. Field operations beyond Dinton. Got leave to come away early, borrowed a bike at the R.Q.M. store, and went in to Wilton. Bought three spools of films, some printing papers, and developing and fixing chemicals. After returning to camp, got some gaslight papers from Webster and tried some printing, but they did not turn out much good.
Wed. 8. Brigade operations today, this battalion taking the defensive. Up at 5a.m., in order to get an early start on. It was raining intermittently, and after we had got into our defensive positions and waited there some time, an order came along cancelling the whole affair. We returned to camp and had wet day parades in the huts. Letter from Miss Prigg. To Prayer Meeting at Congregational Church this evening.
Thurs. 9. We had to do the brigade stunt today instead of yesterday. From defending in the open we retired into a wood and carried on with wood fighting. Before the day was out the umpire had placed the whole of "A" Co. out of action. The day finished with a heavy shower of rain about 4.30p.m., and we were not sorry to turn camp-ward.
Letter from Vern, specially requesting me to visit Trentagh if at all possible, and offering to send a few pounds if I can get off.
Fri. 10. Four letters today, and three of them surprise packets. One from Myra Lang, whom I met at Mrs. Tanner's once when Les and Sam were there, one from Ettie Cunynghame, who had not written for so long that I had begun to wonder if anything serious might have happened. She had had a great deal of sickness and had been under treatment by quite a number of different doctors. She had been operated on, but was still not fixed up when she wrote. Her trouble was ulcers in the intestines. Another surprise letter was from Beattie Bostock. She is anxious for me to write to her. Says that why she ceased writing was because she thought there was an understanding between Vera Billingham and I, and also because Beard did not like us corresponding, though he never asked her not to write. I thought Beattie had quite forgotten me ages ago, for her letters were discontinued within a few months of my departure from Australia. She says she no longer attends the Church of Christ, as she does not consider herself good enough to take the sacrament, but attends sometimes the Methodist, and sometimes the Church of England. I am very sorry she has forsaken our little church. Perhaps Beard has influenced her in this direction. The fourth letter was from Jack Elliott. He still has some bitter thoughts for those who are running the war, and does not seem to be able to see into the heart of things. His arguments savour a good deal of pacifism, as it is preached by the traitors, pro-Huns, and fanatics of this country. He only sees the wickedness of all this slaughter, without considering all the righteous self-sacrifice and suffering that has taken place, and I am inclined to fear that my pal has allowed himself to be influenced too much by the literature of the anti-conscriptionists and unpatriotic peace propagandists, who are not men enough to come and fight for right and liberty and justice, and who are so mean-spirited that they do their utmost to hamper those who are honestly trying to win the war. Well, anyway, Jack is a good lad, so I must overlook his little eccentricities.
The Anzac draft are to leave for Perham Downs tomorrow morning. Handed in our equipment and underwent a final medical and dental inspection this afternoon.
This evening I went out and took a photo of the hillside with the chalk badges, one of the camp from the hillside, and one of portion of the Rising Sun badge taken from near the letter "i" in "Australian", and showing part of the central crown. Paced the width of the badge, and found it to be between fifty and sixty yards.
The draft is to leave at 11.30a.m. tomorrow.
Sat. 11. Packed up. Posted Kodak developing box and some of the gear to Mrs. Morgan, having too much to carry. Had early dinner, said goodbye to Fovant Camp and our 61st. B'n. mates, and marched down to Dinton, the band accompanying us. Left by the 1p.m. train. Took a snap of Salisbury as we passed through. Detrained at Ludgershall and marched to Perham Downs, where we were put into bell tents for the time being.
Strolled over to Tidworth this evening, then out along the Andover road, and back through Ludgershall.
Wrote to Mrs. Morgan.
Sun. 12. Church parade. Strolled over to Tidworth this afternoon. Took a photo of the village and barracks, and another of a picturesque little cottage built of stone with a thatched roof.
Mon. 13 The parade this morning consisted of a little squad drill, messing about doing nothing particular and getting more tired than if we had been bayonet fighting or some other strenuous exercises. I got very fed up with it, so in the afternoon dodged off and lost myself in a wood about half a mile away. Spent the time reading over some of my "treasure" letters, and looking over my store of photographs.
Got paid later, 4/-. Two more of these small pays and then the overdraft will be cleared and I'll draw 15/- a pay again.
A night parade was ordered for this evening. A considerable number of the men did not turn up for it. I started off with them, but it soon came on to rain heavily, so, when a favourable opportunity presented itself, I slipped away into a wood, returned to camp, and went to bed.
Tues. 14. Route march today towards Andover. We took lunch with us and made an all-day job of it, getting back about 5p.m. Interviewed the company commander, Lt. Parsons, about leave. No possibility whatever of getting several days' leave, and he could not even grant one day unless I had £1 in my possession or to my credit in the pay-book, I had neither, but one of the boys lent me a pound for the time being, while I got the application recommended.
Developed roll of films tonight, but they were underdone, probably because the water was too cold.
Wed. 15. Had to interview the major about leave this morning. He sent it on with his recommendation.
We moved out of the tents into huts today, so things are now much more comfortable.
Letter from Mrs. Morgan with a pound note. She had written off to Fovant upon receipt of the Kodak box. From the tone of the letter I think that she must have been hurt that I had not written from Fovant.
Lecture for N.C.O's. and officers this evening on the use of the compass and protractor. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan. My leave application was returned tonight, rejected by the depot commandant.
Thurs. 16. The letter Mrs. Morgan wrote to Fovant came today. Wrote to her saying leave not granted. Also wrote a card to Viv. Lecture again tonight.
Fri. 17. Wrote to Mum and Dad. Commenced letter to Jack Elliott. Went to see "Raffles", at Garrison Theatre, Tidworth. Took a 3d. seat and enjoyed it well. It was a detective play.
Sat. 18. Brigade and division drill this morning, practising for an inspection on Monday, when the Duke of Connaught is going to review us. Took a stroll to Ludgershall this afternoon, and in the evening went to the cinema show at Tidworth. In addition to the pictures there was a turn called "The Wild Anzac". A man in Australian military uniform did some really marvellous work in the way of juggling with balls, bayonets, plates, bottles, etc. He balanced three bayonets on his chin, one on top of the other, and gradually lowered himself until he lay flat upon his back on the floor. Then, still keeping them balanced, he gradually rose up to his feet again. He kept three bayonets going in the air, catching them by the handles each time. He did the same with the three bottles, squatting down on his haunches and beating time to the music on the floor with the bottles as they came round. He also kept four plates going in the air, two to each hand. But his last feat was by far the most remarkable of all. Taking a large lighted metal lamp, with glass chimney and globe, he fixed it on two sticks about the size of side-drum sticks, and balanced the lot on his face, one stick resting on his forehead and one in his mouth. While thus balancing the lamp he spun two plates on the top of two more sticks, held them balanced in his left hand, and with his right hand he kept a couple more plates going in the air. It was really wonderful.
Sun. 19. Church parade this morning. Went out this evening through Tidworth and as far as Shipton, a small village in the direction of Salisbury.
Mon. 20. Most of the late 6th. div. men were sent up to the draft camp today. They say that all the 3rd. div. men have been recalled from the 6th. div., the former having recently suffered heavy losses from gas.
We took rations with us on parade this morning, and practised brigade drill, marching past, etc., until 10.30a.m. Then we had lunch and afterwards moved off to the place where the Duke of Connaught was to inspect us. We were kept waiting there some time, but at last the Duke arrived in a car, and he just stood at the flagstaff while the division marched past in column of battalions in mass. It seems a useless lot of fuss and foolery, this inspection business. I suppose, if the truth were known, the Duke of Connaught was no more anxious to see us than we were to see him, which was precious little.
Got a letter from Mrs. Morgan this afternoon saying that Viv had come over on his furlough on Thursday. He had lost all his things, including many souvenirs and his new clothes, getting from the boat to the train. That was rotten luck, indeed.
Put in another application for leave, asking for two days. Had to borrow £1 from Fred Riddel and 4/6 from Beattie in order to have the two days required. Attached Mrs. M's letter to the application. It was recommended by the company commander, Mr. Parsons.
Finished letter to Jack Elliott, and put in some straight talk concerning the war questions which he raised.
Went to Garrison Theatre at Tidworth, and met Robbie Laidlaw at the door. He had only recently come over from the 24th. B'n. to go to a school of Bayonet Fighting and Physical Training at Tidworth. He will no doubt get a job as an instructor for six months or so in one of the training battalions. He told me that he had received a letter from Miss Burke asking for my address. Somebody told him that Jack Maher was at Etaples, and that he vowed he would never get any nearer to the firing line. We went into the shilling seats. It was the same play as on Friday, "Raffles", but was worth seeing a second time, especially as I had missed some of the wit through being right back in the 3d. seats.
Tues. 21. Had to parade before the major concerning leave application this morning. He recommended it without asking any questions. Walked out to Shipton after tea. Night operations tonight. We acted as an outpost defensive line, and were attacked by the draft company.
According to today's paper the Italians have made a big attack on the whole front with great success, and the French have also made a great attack on an eleven mile front at Verdun, also with complete success.
Wed. 22. Wrote to Mrs. Morgan saying may be up on leave tomorrow.
Thurs. 23. Equipped this morning, ready for draft camp. Leave granted from 5p.m. until Saturday midnight.
A Hun aeroplane raid has been a bit of a failure. Four big Gotha machines were brought down. This ought to make them think seriously.
Tried to get my leave pass early this afternoon, but they would not give it because the M.P's. have been so obnoxiously officious about it lately. Left my belongings in the orderly Room, got the pass just before 5p.m. and went over to Ludgershall for the 5.30 train. Met a nice girl while waiting at the station, and travelled with her as far as Andover, where she lives. She works for the Canteen Board at Ludgershall, and I arranged to meet her there on Monday evening. She told me her name is Dorothy Jewel.
It was a slow train to London, and did not arrive at Waterloo until after half past eight. It was nearly ten when I got to Hounslow, and Mrs. Morgan had ceased to expect me.