Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
W. J. A. Allsop diary, 1 January-31 December 1917
MLMSS 1606/Item 5
[Transcriber's note: Wilfred Allsop had his 24th Birthday on 11 April 1917. During May he became a Despatch Rider. On leave in February he visited relatives living near Sheffield in England. He writes vividly of the devastation of some of the villages and of the horrific injuries to many of the wounded he carried as a Stretcher Bearer]
Private W.J.A.; Allsop
8th Aust. Field Ambce
Agenda Souvenir Journalier 1917
Monday 1 January
Christmas Comforts from the Sydney A.M.C. Comforts Depot and from the War Chest Funds were distributed today. They consisted of a parcel for each man and rich additions to the regular menu, Plum Puddings included. In the evening “The Nightbirds" gave us an amusing entertainment in the large recreation tents. It was such a great success that the Colonel wishes these men to extend the first half of the Program and give a night’s Entertainment to the troops of the 5th Division when they come back to this district shortly.
Tuesday 2 January
Striking a hospital tent in the morning and erecting it again in another part of the grounds. At 1 p.m. 10 of us went to the famous Caves near Naours where refugees used to hide in times of Invasion. These Caves contain about 300 rooms, one cave being ½ mile long. A whole Division of troops 20,000 could be accomodated here, horses, artillery etc. The names of John Norton & Eva Pannett are to be seen autographed on a stone just inside the entrance. Met “Ginger" Smith from Mosman.
Wednesday 3 January
Dentist’s at Vignacourt this morning and again in the afternoon to have the temporary filling removed because it was giving trouble.
Drizzling rain all day.
Thursday 4 January
Raining all morning.
Another trip to the dentist, and in the afternoon was included in a party to fill limbers at the quarry with stones for mending roads.
Friday 5 January
Water fatigue drawing water from the well and filling the carts. Last time we were on this job we had two oil drums and two kerosene tins on the rope, but all were missing when we were ready to start work. I was therefore asked to cut the tops off more drums and clean them out. Went into Vignacourt for tea and afterwards visited the local small Picture Show in company with three others from our unit.
The weather today was glorious.
Saturday 6 January
Dentist’s at Vignacourt this morning. Raining. Afternoon off duty.
Sunday 7 January
Beautiful Day. No duty. Church Service in morning and walk to Vignacourt in afternoon.
The village of Vignacourt is about 2 miles from Olincourt Chateau.
Monday 8 January
Finished with Dentist. Drizzling Rain. Afternoon carrying timber for new huts which are being erected in the grounds. Tea in Vignacourt, afterwards visited picture show. It was snowing heavily on our way home
Tuesday 9 January
On Piquet. Went into Vignacourt for tea and afterwards spent a very fine evening at a concert given by Tommies in the local Hall. It was a great success – a scream from commencement to finish. I doubt whether I have ever seen a better one. The new 5th Divisional Australian Band performed splendidly under Wellings.
Wednesday 10 January
On Piquet. In the evening we again went to the concert in Vignacourt
Thursday 11 January
A pleasant surprise came this morning when Connell & I were informed that we could go to Amiens on leave. This follows a special request we made to an officer a few days back. We travelled in by Motor Ambulance and arrived there when snow was falling pretty heavily. Had dinner at the Hotel Modern, looked through the wonderful Cathedral and walked all round the city. For a matter of curiosity we had a ride on the queer trams. Sent post card views of the city home. Amiens is a beautiful city and the trip proved rather a fine outting except that it was a bit short. Returned by Motor 4.30 p.m.
Friday 12 January
Quiet day. Misty rain falling. Went into Vignacourt for tea.
Saturday 13 January
Nothing doing in morning. Afternoon – Issued with any shortages in equipment required by the Bearers who leave for the front tomorrow, afterwards went into Vignacourt for tea. Another Concert by the Nightbirds took place in our recreation tent tonight & proved highly successful.
Sunday 14 January
Parade at 9.30 a.m. in full marching order preparatory to moving off. Marched out from Olincourt Chateau as snow was falling heavily and on arriving at Flesselles Railway Station we entrained. The fields on all sides were covered with snow 6 metres deep. Disentrained near Buire Station and marched to Ribemont. Here we are now settled in an old building previously used for storing grain etc. Cobwebs and rats are numerous.
Monday 15 January
We spent a very cold night. Not moving off today. A party of us walked to a local Mobile Workshop & watched the “Tommies" preparing to move a 15" gun. In the afternoon we went out for another walk to keep warm & after tea visited an amusement hall in Mericourt which is financed by the Aust. Comforts Fund. The performance consisted of a picture show, concert & Drama combined. “Some" Drama too.
Tuesday 16 January
Moving away tomorrow. Bitterly cold all day. We had nothing to do but move about and keep warm.
Wednesday 17 January
Up at 6 a.m., moved off at 9 a.m. Snow deep on the ground and has been falling all day. Marched through Buire, Dernancourt and Meaulte to the famous old Main Dressing Station at Becordel where we spent many a miserable day some weeks back. Sleeping here for the night.
Thursday 18 January
Managed to get a stretcher to sleep on last night. Snow was falling when we awoke this morning and it continued all day. We marched out from Becordel soon after 10 a.m. and reached Bernafay Wood at 1 p.m. On all sides snow is about 6 inches deep. This time we are to be quartered in Bow Huts which we built last month when here before.
Friday 19 January
Not doing anything all day. The snow is still thick on the ground, and, in order to have a wash we have to boil snow. Our present quarters are now quite comfortable. Merry time in the hut prior to “lights out".
Saturday 20 January
I wasn’t feeling too well today so did not go out with the others from “A" Section who were taken out to carry on with the building of a new A.A.D.S. some 4 miles to the right of our present No. 3 (or Battery) Post. Freezing cold and frosty – Ground still white with snow.
Sunday 21 January
Cold and snowing heavily. Water in our water bottles is frozen. Tea freezes in a short space of time. Canteen open – financed by officers.
Monday 22 January
Bitterly cold. Our boots get frozen and have to be warmed and softened over the fire before we can put them on. Went to a concert tonight in a big new Y.M.C.A. Hut near Montauban and it proved a very fine one indeed. Some really good artists are to be found in the Army.
Tuesday 23 January
So cold today that the wheels of the water cart were frozen to the ground and we had to loosen the hard ground with a pick. Today I have been on a job of digging an old German trench a bit wider so that it can be made into a dugout to accomodate bearers, at the A.D.S. The sky has been beautifully clear and Fritz aeroplanes ventured over. Later in the evening heavy shells came over, some killing and wounding 12th Fld. Amb. men a few hundred yards away from us. Tomorrow we go to the trenches for 7 days. I was hoping to be off to England on leave but unfortunately will have to wait another week.
Wednesday 24 January
Off duty all the morning. At midday the R.A.P. parties, which included our squad, moved off to the line, having got our feet washed with the new “trench foot" preparation on the way out. Our squad were some time in finding our post, after wandering dangerously near the firing line. I don’t think
think we will go for any more walks in that direction. Finally stationed in Windmill trench (practically the same as Needle Trench) quite close to where we were when last in action here, but this time we have a deep dug-out after the style of the Germans. Les Boeufs lies a little to our right. We were doomed to a rush of patients as soon as we took over.
Thursday 25 January
Fairly busy all night. This dugout is very warm and comfortable. It is occupied by infantry A.M.C. details and also as a trench feet hospital. The Primus Stove comes in handy for warm meals. Heavy shelling took place today but we only had a few cases to take down.
Friday 26 January
Not disturbed once during the night and all was quiet until we were relieved at 3 p.m. The weather is still extremely cold and snow covers the surrounding country. All the water is frozen into ice – condensed milk is frozen – in fact everything is. The tinned foodstuffs contain pieces of ice too. Returned to No. 4 post, the A.A.D.S. in Gun Alley on being relieved from the Regimental Aid post. Got into bed as soon as possible to keep warm.
Saturday 27 January
We were next for duty all night but luckily enough were not required to get out of bed. At 5 o’clock this morning a terrific bombardment opened up, indicating that the Tommies had hopped over the bags to our right. It seems that they have captured 2 lines of trenches and numerous prisoners. As a birthday present to the Kaiser and also in reply to our success this morning the Germans fiercely bombarded all points very heavily. The crest at our No. 3 post has been badly cut up. Some of our guns have suffered. German planes brought to earth in a fine sight. The weather today has been a bit too clear for our liking. Rather a large number of wounded came through.
Sunday 28 January
Another quiet night. Bitterly cold today and nothing warm to eat or drink. Only get out of bed whenever there is a case to be carried on.
Monday 29 January
Quiet again during the night so far as wounded were concerned but the guns and shells continued unceasingly. We still remain in bed until required for duty. Rations are very poor indeed and far from cheerful – One loaf of frozen bread between 7, a small tin of jam and a tin of pork and beans. No water obtainable anywhere – all is frozen into ice. Snow still covers the ground. Two German aeroplanes brought to earth.
Tuesday 30 January
Freezing cold. This being a clear day artillery on both sides are busy. Shells from Fritz have been raining in all directions. No improvement in the rations yet.
Wednesday 31 January
Icy again today and a heavy day for stretcher-bearers. The wounded came through in a continuous stream. When relieved at about 4 p.m. we had to carry a patient out in addition to our equipment and my word it was a lively trip. High Explosive shrapnel burst above us all the way. On returning to Bernafay Wood I was disappointed to learn that all leave has been stopped indefinitely. Should have gone today.
Thursday 1 February
Not doing anything in particular today. One section is required to assist back at Bellevue Farm Rest Camp, just a few hundred yards this side of Albert. Our unit is taking the place over. “A" section are therefore to go back to this Rest Camp in the morning.
Friday, 2 February
Set off at 8 a.m. – packs being carried on a limber. Arrived Bellevue Farm about midday. Some of the 6th and 2nd Field Ambulances are here. Our unit has not yet arrived from Vignacourt. Met Bill Bailey.
Heavy shells were thrown into Albert about 6 p.m.
Saturday 3 February
Managed to get a fairly soft job, that of loading motor ambulances every afternoon with patients for the Casualty Clearing Station. It only takes about ½ an hour daily.
The spare time I had today was occupied in strolling round Albert. Shells come over pretty frequently.
Sunday 4 February
Into Albert again this morning. Last night a Fritz aeroplane came across and dropped bombs round our camp. He
spe swept hospital tents with machine gun fire, but fortunately there were no patients in the tents. One chap was firing at the airman with a rifle and got into trouble for doing so.
Monday 5 February
We are now very comfortable in this camp. A good coal fire burns in the tent all day long. Still doing practically nothing, and again visited Albert.
Tuesday 6 February
Same as yesterday.
Wednesday 7 February
Unexpectedly informed that I could go on leave tonight, and was given about 15 minutes to get ready. Had to report at Albert Station at 6 p.m. to catch a train leaving at 9.30 p.m. We were fortunate in getting a hospital train. Tea is made on the “Kitchen Car" and served out whilst the train is in motion.
Thursday 8 February
Arrived at Le Havre 4 p.m. after passing the Portuguese Army on their way up to the front. Marched straight to the boat. Stayed on deck for an hour or so in the lifebelt box, then we managed to secure a cabin down below. I put on a sergeants coat and went in with them for some supper. Left Le Havre at midnight.
Friday 9 February
Arrived Southampton at sunrise. Luckily got off the boat early enough to catch the first train arriving at Waterloo Station London at 11 a.m. Tea & cake and French money changed on the platform, Com. Bank & A.I.F. Headquarters. Dinner at War Chest Fund rooms opposite A.I.F. Headquarters. Put up at Imperial Hotel Russel Square. Out for tea elsewhere and afterwards went to the Hippodrome Theatre to see Zig-Zag – Very Fine Indeed. It’s a treat in bed tonight with our heads sunk into the pillows, quite a change from that wretched France.
Saturday 10 February
Switched on the lights & discovered that it was 10 a.m. Ordered breakfast in bed. At 11 a.m. set off and first visited The Houses of Westminster including the House of Lords & House of Commons. Then we went into Westminster Abbey, St. Pauls and The Tower of London. We saw the burial place of The Duke of Wellington, his £20,000 gun carriage of 18 tons. The tomb of Nelson & the bit of needlework by his sister. Wolseleys grave and that of Lord Roberts. Kitcheners sword & the letter he wrote asking for 300,000 men. Roberts’ revolver. The Gun Carriage used at King Edward’s funeral. Crown Jewels. Place of execution of Anne Bolyn. Ancient Armour etc. etc.
Pictures at night.
Today we also saw Wellington’s uniform.
Sunday 11 February
After breakfast started out for a few bus rides, walked round Buckingham Palace – Whitehall, Hyde Park and other notable places. In front of Buckingham Palace is the famous statue of Queen Victoria.
Trafalgar Square decorated with notices in connection with The Victory Loan.
Monday 12 February
In morning went to Whiteleys and had a few Bus rides round Paddington. Ride in tube from Charing Cross to Kings Cross. In afternoon went to a performance at The Colliseum. This is a magnificent Theatre of marble and about 24
dozen boxes. At 9.45 p.m. caught train to Berwick from Kings Cross.
Passed York & Newcastle arrived Berwick just over the border at 8.30 a.m. (over).
Tuesday 13 February
8.30 a.m. Now in Berwickshire near the sea coast after crossing the Border Bridge. Jean waiting at the station with a motor car. Travelled 9 miles to Ayton. Looked round the grounds and the village of Ayton during the day.
This is rather a pretty spot – snow caps the surrounding heights.
Wednesday 14 February
Walked to Ayton Station. Train to Berwick and then on to Edinburgh arriving there about 10 a.m. Walked under Arthurs Seat – through Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. Went into St. Giles Cathedral – passed John Knox’s house. Dinner at Jenners. Afternoon trip to Firth of Forth in Motor Bus. Its a pity the day has been foggy especially on account of the views from Edin. Castle and the Forth Bridge. Saw portion of the fleet lying at anchor. Returned to Berwick by train just after 5 p.m. and motored out to Ayton.
Also saw Scotts Memorial.
Thursday 15 February
Walked to Ayton Station in time to catch train for Berwick. Left Berwick 8.24 a.m. and travelled to York then across country past Sheffield & Derby to Birmingham arriving there at 7 p.m. Met by Uncle Harry & Bessie. Tram to their house at 238 Willow Av. Edgbaston.
The country round Sheffield is full of ammunition works. Saw where 2 Zep. bombs had dropped. Leaning tower near Sheffield.
(Aunt Emma Morris
Friday, 16 February
In morning went for walk with Bessie round the neighbouring country & the town of Bearwood. After dinner motored out to Pelsall and after calling at 2 places in Mill Rd. Sheffield stayed at Ridding House for the night.
(Mrs Eliza Harrington
(Mr. Geo. Harrington
Before motoring to Pelsall we went all through Birmingham for a look round.
Saturday 17 February
Morning walked round Pelsall with Uncle George Harrington. Called on Mr. Tom Lloyds and at Harrington’s Bakery. Saw all the old houses where father was born and lived etc. The cemetery, but didn’t go inside.
Dinner Tea at Uncle Charlie Allsop’s brought here by Madge. Called at Auntie Lunt’s in afternoon. Bessie took me back to Harringtons.
Sunday 18 February
Went to the Wesleyan Chapel with Harringtons & Edgbaston people afterwards had dinner at Uncle Charlie Allsop’s, called at Auntie Lizzie’s and had tea at Auntie Lunts. Returned to Uncle Charlie’s for a few hours then back to Ridding House with Bessie & Madge. At Auntie Lunts place there must have been 15 people this evening. A crowd also gathered at Uncle Charlie’s.
Monday 19 February
Left Ridding House at 9.30. Caught 10 o’clock train to Walsall. Changed Walsall thence to Birmingham. Auntie Emma & Eric came in to Birmingham. Auntie Eliza & Uncle George came to Pelsall station also Kathleen. Delayed by fog & missed the train to London from B’ham. Walked round to the North Western Station (Snow Hill) and then the train here was ½ hour late. Arrived London 3.15 p.m., raced to A.I.F. for blankets & tin hat. Off to Southampton on 2nd train. Need not have hurried and probably would have been given a few more days in London. No boats at Southampton so we were put into a Rest Camp after straggling some 4 miles out of the city.
Tuesday 20 February
Too tired to get up in time for breakfast. I went into Southampton for a few hours this morning. Passed the remainder of the day in writing at the Salvation Army Hut opposite on in the Y.M.C.A. Hut.
In the evening, though no leave was granted we all found a way of getting into Southampton.
No boats to France yet.
Wednesday 21 February
Still at the Rest Camp and no signs of moving. Spent the day as I did yesterday and went into Southampton again in the evening.
Thursday 22 February
In the morning we were passing the time away in the Salvation Army and Y.M.C.A. Huts. At 3 o’clock everyone in the camp had to fall in and we were marched down to the boat. Great crowds watched us march along the streets singing. The singing soon stopped when we arrived at the wharf. We five remained on deck. Moved out from the wharf at 8 p.m.
The huge hospital ship Aquitania was in port when we left.
Friday 23 February
I had a little sleep on deck during the night. The trip was very smooth. We reached Le Havre at 3 a.m. disembarked at 8 a.m. and marched to a rest camp some distance from the wharf. Issued with tickets to provide meals, and allotted huts to sleep in. Sea planes were flying over the harbour as we came in and two airships were busy in the air all day. The huge sheds for housing these machines are next to our camp.
Saturday 24 February
Reveille at 3 a.m. Straggled in a mob to the railway and scrambled on to the first train to be seen. This was very amusing. Luckily the train happened to be the right one.
In the train all day making back for Albert.
Sunday 25 February
Arrived Albert 4 a.m. walked to the Bellevue Farm Rest Camp and found our unit still there. Rumours current relative to the Germans having fallen back before Bapaume.
While I was away arrangements were made between the Field Cashier & our unit to put me into the 56th Batt. as Pay Sergeant, so I have to go out there tomorrow.
Monday, 26 February
Left at midday per motor ambulance for Bernafay Wood, ascertained from Divisional Hd. Quarters the whereabouts of the 56th. Went there & found that the position has been filled by a man from the Batt. Good Luck for me because I don’t like the idea of going to this unit.
Interviewed the Field Cashier & then returned to our own unit.
Tuesday 27 February
Writing letters to make up for lost time.
Meals here are better now than before we left for leave.
Aeroplanes busy today in connection with the mysterious German retirement.
Went into Albert in the evening.
Wednesday 28 February
Today we witnessed a very fine sight. Large bodies of cavalry passed on their way to the line. The 1st Dragoon Guards, Mounted Machine Gun Corps, and Indian Cavalry were among the number, Lancers too were in the line.
Thursday 1 March
Left for trip to Heilly at 12 o’clock to take dirty clothes from our baths to be washed. Heilly is 11 Kilometres from Albert. Passed the Detention Camp where defaulters are imprisoned. Saw the posts to which men are chained daily for No. 1 Field Punishment. This is true, and a disgrace to any Nation professing to fight for liberty.
Friday 2 March
At midday took party of eye patients to Becordel. Lt. Col. Williams who used to be a Major in our unit came down from the front line shot through the lungs. He is in a serious condition.
Went to Pierrot Show in Albert after tea. This place is financed by the Aust. Comforts Fund.
Saturday 3 March
Frosty and bitterly cold this morning. Left for Heilly at 9 a.m. with General Service Waggon & clothes to be exchanged. From Heilly I went into Corbie and returned to Bellevue Farm by motor lorry which was drawing a 6 inch howitzer along. Corbie is about 18 Kilos from Albert.
After tea went to picture show in Albert.
Sunday 4 March
Very cold again today. Caught for a job – cleaning out a gutter. News to hand that Lt. Col. Williams died last night at 9 p.m. Party to go from this unit tomorrow to be present at his funeral.
This afternoon I was burning off rubbish.
Church service in the grounds of the camp at 3 p.m. The 5th Div. Band attended.
Monday 5 March
Marched off to Edgehill – between Dernancourt and Buire – and witnessed the burial of Lt. Col. Williams. A party of about 26 from our unit attended. Bob Troup the batman who left Aust. with Lt. Col. Williams fainted at the graveside & Capt. Irvine & Major Donald were deeply affected.
Pierrot Show in Albert after tea.
Tuesday 6 March
Taking down 10 large tents all day. Worked up till 9 p.m.
We have now moved to another part of the grounds but are even more comfortable than before. There are ten of us in a large tent. A good coal fire burns all day long. Toast and various other additions which are made possible with a good fire, are making us quite fat. The tent presents a very homelike appearance with deck chairs, forms, and stretchers surrounding the fire. The smoke from the coal makes us as black as niggers.
Wednesday 7 March
Up very early to continue with the work of getting the tents away. This kept me busy all day.
Thursday 8 March
Took another load of clothes to the baths at Heilly. A bitterly cold blizzard was blowing all day and we felt pretty uncomfortable sitting up on the front seat of a general service waggon. Snow falling heavily.
Friday 9 March
Saturday 10 March
Trip to Heilly.
Sunday 11 March
A beautiful day. Had nothing to do but stroll round Albert. Shells seem to have ceased coming over this way.
Monday 12 March
Went to Heilly with clothes for the laundry. Concert in Albert after tea.
Tuesday 13 March
Doing odd jobs all day. Germans have again retreated – this time to a distance of a mile.
Wednesday 14 March
Light rain all day.
Kit inspection at 9 a.m. afterwards went to Heilly again with clothes to be exchanged at the Baths.
Went to “Anzac Coves" Concert in Albert at night.
Thursday 15 March
Doing nothing all day except for a Gas Helmet Inspection at 2 p.m. Rumours that 40 bearers have to be kept in readiness for the line. Doubtless something big is expected. It is commonly know that Bapaume is to be attempted within a day or so.
Friday 16 March
Trip to Heilly with clothes – met Carter from Brighton who has just joined our unit. 20 men to leave at 7 a.m. tomorrow. My name is not on the list. Heavy bombardment opened up in the evening
Saturday 17 March
The bombardment continued all night. Bapaume fell at 4 a.m. The 30th Batt. were the first Australian troops to enter the town. The 8th Brigade & the 29th Tommy Division took it. Le Transloy has also fallen. Concert in our camp tonight.
List of 30 names read out including mine. These have to leave for the line at 6 a.m. tomorrow.
Bapaume is in flames so also are the surrounding villages.
Sunday 18 March
Up at 6 a.m. Left Bellevue Farm at 7 a.m. marched to Meaulte Railway Siding and entrained here. On arriving at Bernafay Wood we were put into a hut where we remained all day.
The quietness here now is very remarkable. No guns are to be seen anywhere. We do not go out to the line until tomorrow. Observation Balloon taken up to Delville Wood, along the road. Men walked along the road holding the ropes while the balloon floated along in the air.
Monday 19 March
The greatest day in our Military life to date. I was one of 4 volunteers to proceed into Bapaume at 7 a.m. Travelled there by Motor Amb. through Longueval, Contalmaison, Pozieres & Le Sars. Round Pozieres 8 “Tanks" are lying damaged. Le Sars is one long street of Ruins. Before leaving Bapaume Fritz lit fires in nearly every third house. The destruction there is astounding. Our guns played havoc. Fires are still burning – 2 mines were exploded by Fritz in the main street. Heaps of debris block up every street. There isn’t one sound building in the town. In the centre of the town there was once a statue in memory of French fallen heroes in 1870. Well Fritz has removed the bronze figure & has put up an iron piping instead making it resemble an antiaircraft gun. German shells are dropping in the town. We are forming a dressing station in ruined premises.
Tuesday 20 March
Slept in a double bed in the cellar of a ruined residence at No. 7 Rue de Republique. There is a terrace of fine places here, all smashed about. We are now busy clearing out the debris of Nos. 3, 5 & 7, the bottom floors of which are to be used as a dressing station. The second floor and the attic,
are being in a sad condition, are quite unsafe. Our flags are now flying in the front garden. Shells are still coming over. The stories of how the 30th Battalion troops of the 8th Aust. Brigade entered Bapaume & raced after souvenirs are very amusing. They marched out wearing women’s hats, mens top hats, straw hats & German head gear. The guns are coming up in pursuit of Fritz and its a fine sight to see caterpillar tractors drawing the heavy guns along the Albert-Bapaume Road. Infantry are moving slowly with mounted troops out in front as scouts. Some of these are coming in wounded.
Wednesday 21 March
Slept in the double bed again last night. Today has been spent in getting straight and cleaning out the buildings. Tonight all stretcher-bearers were cleared out of Bapaume and I went with a party along the Rue de Peronne to the village of Beaulencourt. When working out from Bernafay Wood through Delville Wood this village was opposite us in Fritz’s lines. Now it is nothing but a heap of ruins. All fruit trees have been cut down. We sleep in a German Dugout tonight running under a heap of bricks which once was a house. Trees along the Bapaume-Peronne Road have been cut down. Mine craters are also along this road.
Thursday 22 March
At 9 a.m. we were divided up into various parties resulting in two of us being sent to a relay post back along the road to Bapaume, so that I am now half way between Bapaume and Beaulencourt in a little ruined house. A Red Cross flag is on the front door and between the 6 of us we take turns in carrying patients through to Bapaume Dressing Station as they are brought to us from Beaulencourt. From our front door we can see Delville Wood and all the important heights upon which Fritz’s shells used to fall round us at one time. Prince Frederick, third son of the Kaiser came through today so also did his aeroplane which we brought down. Drew rations for all our bearers in the line, from the A.S.C. now in Bapaume.
Friday, 23 March
Slept down in the cellar last night. This morning after breakfast I took a stroll round the villages, or one time villages of Reincourt and Bancourt out in Fritz’s direction. Both these places have been levelled to the ground & fruit trees have been cut down. The extensive scheme of barbed-wiring in these districts serves to indicate that Fitz’s original intention was to put up a stern fight rather than to retreat as he is now doing. The weather lately has been sunny and clear but the bitterly cold March winds are blowing in a gale.
Saturday 24 March
Bitterly Cold Again.
Aeroplane dropped a note in Bapaume asking how the Prince is. (The one who was captured by us.) He has since died. Have just finished building a new fire place and chimney in this “shanty" of ours. Rats are pretty numerous.
Sunday 25 March
A glorious day.
German observation balloons can be seen in the distance. Big explosion occurred in the Town Hall cellars Bapaume today. Fritz apparently left mines which are exploded on the 8 day clock system. About 40 men are imprisoned underneath and their voices can be heard from the surface of the ground. Men are working for their very lives in trying to rescue the others below.
Monday 26 March
Great contest in the air resulting in a severe loss to our air service. 9 German planes & 6 of ours had a battle in which 5 of ours came to earth & only one Fritz. Two of the planes came down in flames. More explosions have occurred in Bapaume. 3 of us are now sleeping on the ground floor instead of the cellar using stretchers to keep us off the cold tiles.
One of our posts along this Bapaume-Peronne Road has been cut out & the men are now in at the Main Dressing Station, Bapaume, erecting tents etc. 15th F. Amb. have moved up from Bernafay. Probably our post will soon be cut out as there is no work to do here.
Tuesday 27 March
Snowing & cold outside.
More explosions in Bapaume. Other cellars have gone up into the air, one being a Staff billet. Here a number of German Prisoners had just been examined and had been taken about 20 yards from the cellar on their way elsewhere when the explosion made them turn round. They burst out laughing when they heard the facts. Orders reached us tonight saying that we have to evacuate this post and report to Capt. Marshall at the Collecting Station Beaulencourt tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock. So we have to break up the happy home.
Wednesday 28 March
My eyes are sore after sitting round the smoky fire last night. Left the “shanty" at 9.15 a.m. and reached Beaulencourt at 10 o’clock. Le Transloy lies only a stone’s throw further up the road. Big log fire going all day in the old ruined house we have patched up. No orders have yet been issued relative to moving further on. Sleeping on old wire mattrass tonight. Observation balloon was taken past here today. It used to be in Delville Wood & now it has been transferred to a position nearer the front.
Thursday 29 March
Rain came through the roof on to our bed all night. Got up at 11 a.m. Orders that all men must shave today. 58th Batt. hopped the bags the other night & captured 2 machine guns, 2 searchlights etc., a very successful raid. The 2 machine gun crews who were captured were taken to Bapaume for examination. On passing the Town Hall these Fritzs laughed at the sight of dead bodies being carried out from the ruins. Australians on the roads rushed them with picks & could only be kept off by a strong guard. The Aust. demanded a chance to get at the Germans in order to nail them to the crucifixs & riddle them with bullets.
Left in party of 6 & moved off to Bancourt after tea, arriving there wet through. We are here to take casualties from the 55th Batt.
Friday 30 March
Awoke this morning & was surprised to hear the birds chattering. It is the first time for 18 months. The country round about here is quite green, so different to the other side of Bapaume. Went to Beaulencourt for rations – not ready in the morning so we had to return again in the afternoon. Only one stretcher-case came through last night and two of our chaps took him on. On coming to the big mine crater the whole lot, stretcher case included, slipped in.
It is rumoured today that the 8th Fld. Amb. go out of action on the 5th ulto.
Every village here is strewn with bottles which give the impression that Fritz is a bit of a drinker.
Saturday 31 March
Up at 10 a.m. Cold wind blowing all day.
By getting up late we save a meal and therefore make the most of the very short rations. There isn’t really enough for two meals a day.
Went up to Beaulencourt for rations this afternoon.
All 8th Field Ambulance bearers are now coming to Beaulencourt, leaving the 15th Fld. Amb. to work out from Bapaume.
The 14th Field Amb. are going out of action in two days time.
Agenda Souvenir Journalier 1917
Sunday 1 April
April Fools Day. A Balloon went up from Villers Au Flos & Fritz immediately flew across and brought it down in flames. The Airmen came to earth in parachutes. This is the balloon we saw on the 28th ult.
Connell & I were today ordered to go to the front line with the 55th Batt. for the purpose of ascertaining whether provision has been made out there for bringing wounded away. There is to be an action tomorrow morning. We walked all day carrying blankets & passing through these villages:- Haplincourt,
Breakfast was the only meal we had today.
Returned to Bancourt in the evening and are now quartered in the old church ruins. All the above named villages are wrecked in a frightful manner.
Monday 2 April
Out of bed at 10.30 a.m. Bitterly cold wind blowing all morning which later on turned into a snowstorm.
Walked into Bapaume for canteen goods without success. This afternoon two of us went up to Beaulencourt for the rations. Today there is a vast improvement in rations. Not only has Capt. Marshall given Connell & I a tin of Glaxo & Arrowroot on account of yesterdays exertion but Col. Shepherd, O.C. of our ambulance has sent his bearers extra bread, butter etc. (a motor amb. full). The attack came off this morning resulting in a success. We have taken all the villages we were asked to. Wounded are now pouring into Bapaume.
Tuesday 3 April
Raining & windy. In the evening two of our observation Balloons which had been put up for the first time in Grevillers suffered badly. Fritz flew across in precisely the same manner as on the 1st inst. and dropped fire bombs on both, bringing them down in flames. It was a wonderful & brilliant feat. However we knocked the plane out nearer the front line so the loss has been evened up a bit. The other Fritz who was responsible for Sunday’s feat was also brought to earth. 500 wounded from our 54 & 55th Batts. in the recent fight, but Fritz’s losses were heavier. The 8th F. Amb. went out to assist the 15th with the stretcher-bearing. 6 German counter-attacks have been repulsed. Heavy gun firing is going on in the direction of Arras.
Wednesday 4 April
At various stages today the weather has been wet, snowy, & fine alternately. Last night the Australians took another village. All through the night and throughout today the heavy guns have been booming up the line a bit. According to Div. Hd. Quarters America has declared war on Germany. When we went to Beaulencourt today for rations we were informed that the 8th Fld. Amb. are to be relieved tomorrow morning and tomorrow night will be spent at Bernafay Wood. Pioneers are in this village (Bancourt) now getting timber from the ruins to make dug-outs in the front line. They are also pushing on with the light railway. All day Fritz has been dropping “heavies" into Bapaume. About 100 German prisoners were taken last Monday.
Thursday 5 April
Beautiful day. Pushed the “spider" back to Beaulencourt, with all stretchers and blankets we have been using in Bancourt. Early in the afternoon we commenced a long tramp back to Bernafay Wood arriving there between 5 and 6 p.m. The whole of this country is now desolate, and not a sign of life of any kind was to be seen as we came through, passing our old firing line (Sunray Trench) and the old posts we occupied for weeks. This is the track which runs through Delville Wood. In the old “No Mans Land" shell damage is something frightful. The remainder of our Amb. are staying at Bernafay tonight and will be coming on to Bellevue tomorrow. I continued on to Bellevue tonight by train. Bombs dropped round camp. Balloon replaced at Villers Au Flos today.
Friday 6 April
Slept in a ward last night. The remainder of the bearers came down by road carrying everything, and arrived here soon after midday. I have been busy throughout the day in patching up two little brick huts which a few of us intend occupying. After tea Connell & I strolled into Albert. This town is gradually being inhabited by civilians again. Fritz flies over every clear night and drops bombs. He got 13 staff officers recently. Met Bill Bailey again in Albert. The men who remained in camp while we were in the line have arranged a dinner to welcome the bearers back. This is to take place tomorrow night. The French people at the farm have been busy killing & dressing a pig for the occasion.
Saturday 7 April
Mild Day. Making & fitting a stove for a coal fire in our huts. An oil drum serves the purpose well, with piping to take the smoke out. 13 of us occupy these huts and are getting quite comfortable. Stretchers to sleep on. The dinner passed off very well and so did the concert given by the “Nightbirds" later in the evening. “The Nightbirds" is the name given to the 8th F. Amb. concert party. Officers provided the pig for the dinner tonight. In response to words of thanks expressed by one of our sergeants at the concert, Col. Shepherd said the 8th has put up a record above all other ambulances on the Somme during the past 6 months. He is surprised at the way some of us have gone through it all.
Sunday 8 April – Easter Day
A Glorious Day. Put on to incinerator as a permanent job.
Monday 9 April
Showery. On incinerator. Papers today report that The German Prince Charles Frederick died of wounds at Rouen hospital, but, as I said some days back, he died just after leaving our hands.
Tuesday 10 April
Up at 5.30 a.m. Walked to Mericourt-Ribemont railway station. Caught train here for Amiens at 8.10 a.m. Arrived Amiens soon after 9. 10 men and a Lance Corporal have leave daily. Dinner at Hotel Univers. Town Hall decorated with flags including a large one in honour of America’s recent decision. Photos taken of group of 10 and also our stretcher squad. Snow falling all day. Met Arthur Preston in the Hotel Univers. Left Amiens at 7.30 p.m. travelled to the Albert Road by tram (Woman driver & conductor). For the remainder of the distance of about 30 Kilos (19 miles) we walked & rode on motor lorries at different stages, arriving back in Bellevue Farm Camp at 11 p.m.
Wednesday 11 April
On incinerator. Inoculated at 11 a.m. which brought a fair sized lump on to my left arm. This made me feel off colour for the rest of the day. Snow falling in big flakes. All are delighted with the wonderful news in today’s “Daily Mail" relative to the great push at Arras. 11,000 prisoners captured.
24th Birthday today.
Thursday 12 April
Very cold. During the night the snow has frozen. Trouble about the missing horse. It came back riderless during the morning. Someone has apparently taken it in order to ride as far as Mericourt, and there catch the train, leaving the horse to return by itself.
Friday 13 April
Lance Corp. Marlow went to Beaulencourt to Div. Headquarters where Gen. Birdwood presented him with the Military Medal ribbon. The Tanks have so far been something in the shape of a failure, 6 out of 12 were hit yesterday by direct shots. Others got caught in Fritz’s wires. 4th Division got fearfully cut up at Bullecourt.
All this news comes from Gen. Birdwood.
Before breakfast this morning we were tramped off on a Route March for half an hour. We are wondering what officer has gone mad. Snowing heavily in evening.
Saturday 14 April
Glorious day. All leave to bearers from this camp has been stopped thanks to two men getting drunk in
Armiens Amiens yesterday. They were run in by the Military Police.
Excitement caused by news of the Arras Offensive. 13,000 prisoners reported in papers.
Our little hut it a picture of comfort. The fire seldom goes out.
Route march this morning before breakfast, as yesterday.
Sunday 15 April
Gas helmet parade before breakfast in lieu of route march.
Orders have come through from the A.D.M.S. saying that all bearers are to be held in readiness for the line at a few minutes notice. The Australians have been pushed back at Lagnicourt but after a fierce counter-attack, retook the positions, inflicting a heavy hiding on Fritz.
Still on Incinerator.
Put through tear gas to test our box respirators.
Showery all day.
Monday 16 April
Short march this morning before breakfast. This incinerator job is a very soft one allowing us practically the whole day to ourselves. This time is spent near a good fire, reading or writing.
Showery again today and very cold.
No further orders are on relative to moving.
Tuesday 17 April
Nothing exciting today. Raining continuously all day.
Wednesday 18 April
Showery and snowy. Route march before breakfast. 24 Batteries of howitzers parked nearby pending transfer to positions in the line. These consist mainly of 6 inch and they came down from the famous action at Vimy Ridge near Arras. The thunder of guns continues incessantly.
Thursday 19 April
Guns booming in kettle drum fashion all day.
Circulars posted up re the Australian Federal Elections.
Friday 20 April
Guns still line the roads nearby prior to moving up the line.
Saturday 21 April
Football match in afternoon.
There is now very little to do at the incinerator so our time is spent in reading books. Our hut is full of them – obtained from Red Cross Stores.
Sunday 22 April
Football matches in afternoon against the 14th Fld. Ambulance. They came in Ambulance waggons. The ragged outfit of our side was very amusing – Some played in pyjamas.
Monday 23 April
“Anzac Coves" concert in Albert after tea. I was particularly impressed by one item – a song sung by a chap in evening dress. He was singing and pretending to be writing the subject of the song in letter form.
“The Mountains of Mourn".
Tuesday 24 April
Leave to Albert forbidden except by special pass. This comes about because Anzacs have not been saluting officers in this city. Army Hd. Quarters is here, hence the new ideas.
Wednesday 25 April
Football matches. Rugby, Soccer & Aust. Rules.
Thursday 26 April
After tea practising football for tomorrow’s match V Reinforcement Camp. 3 hours football so am feeling pretty stiff.
Supper tonight of cocoa toast & eggs – fruit & cream.
Friday 27 April
The football match after tea tonight resulted in a win for us.
Saturday 28 April
Another Football Match this afternoon.
Sunday 29 April
At 9 a.m. I went to assist Major Wooster in the Polling Booth. Voting in connection with the Aust. Commonwealth Federal Elections takes place today.
Got another chap to take my place after midday because of the Aust. Rules Football Match V Div. Supply Column. Well, this time we got beaten.
Monday 30 April
Notice posted up re Horse sports which are to take place next Saturday.
Aust. Rules Football Meeting.
Went to “Anzac Coves" concert in Albert at 7 p.m.
Late this evening a flock of aeroplanes flew over in Fritzs direction possibly on a bombing expedition. It was a pretty sight – the planes being detected only by the buzz of the engine and the moving lights in the sky.
Tuesday 1 May
Training for football match after tea.
A repetition of the aerial movements again tonight.
Wednesday 2 May
The usual “before breakfast" march.
Football after tea.
Thursday 3 May
Same as yesterday.
Friday 4 May
Incinerator and helping Transport men to burnish chains of the harness for tomorrow’s show.
Foot sports today resulting in 3 wins.
Saturday 5 May
Still on incinerator.
In the afternoon we were watching an Aust. Rules Football between the 26th A.S.C. and the 15th F. Amb. We are due to play the 15th tomorrow.
Went to pictures in Albert tonight.
Orders out late tonight telling all bearers to be ready for action at a moments notice. The 15th F. Amb. have gone out in cars.
Sunday 6 May
Fine but windy.
Claude Le Quesne paid me a surprise visit.
Football match in evening V Rugby team resulting in a win for us.
Match V 15th F. Amb. postponed.
35 to 40 casualties in the 7th Field Amb. in the last day or so’s fighting, and 15 casualties in the 14th F.A. 9 of the 7th F.A. have died.
Monday 7 May
Orders have come through telling us to prepare for the line. Will be going out there tomorrow or Wednesday.
15th F. Amb. have had over a dozen casualties.
Tuesday 8 May
Raining all day.
Moving tomorrow. 15th F. Amb. transport arrived to take over Bellevue Farm from us.
Wednesday 9 May
Lovely Day. Moved off at 12 a.m. by motor lorries to the big Main Dressing Station at Vaulx, travelling up the straight road from Albert to Bapaume then out to the left of our previous posts. Nearly all the Aust. Ambulances are here and they have suffered terribly. Over 300 casualties in the stretcher-bearers. Fritz has been deliberately shooting them. Met Harry Reynolds, Coffey, Bill Bailey & Totton. All reports say its like Hell out near the Hindenburg line. Dressing Station shelled this morning – men raced away down the hillside. D.D.M.S. congratulating the stretcher bearers on their recent work through Barrages. 1 Driver & 2 horses of 14th Fld. Amb. killed this afternoon, 2 other bearers brought in wounded. Party of B. Section left for A.D.S.
Thursday 10 May
Rather warm weather.
Last night while we were in bed Fritz again threw about 15 shells round our Dressing Station. It was funny to see some chaps spring out of bed and run. Gas alarms through the night at intervals also kept us awake. Moving cook house this morning. Shelling has been Heavy today, numbers of shells dropping in our camps. Over 20 casualties – 2 Motors (Amb.) smashed up. Each time shelling commenced we galloped away as fast as our legs would carry us. At 7.30 p.m. our stretcher-bearers left for the line. Shelled heavily all the way. Finally took up position in a sunken road just a few hundred yards from Fritz’s lines. Its like Hell out here carrying from the Hindenburg Line across the open chased along by “whiz-bangs". Bullecourt stands to our left & Quent to our right.
Friday 11 May
Glorious day but a little too warm. In the early hours, just after midnight the fearful hammering of guns and shells was terrible. Fritz attempted an attack this afternoon after a heavy artillery preparation, under which we shivered from head to foot, but he got such a frightful hammering in return. The chaos on the battlefield was perfect Hell. We carried through barrages of heavy fire and fumes. Dead bodies are in an awful mess and are smashed up by shells. Then the sun makes things pretty ripe. Shelled heavily again as we were being relieved, the sunken road dressing station being in danger. Returned to Main Dressing Station late tonight. This has been the worst day of my life.
Casualties in our Amb. today number 8 including Lyn Palmer & MacDonald.
Saturday 12 May
Arrived at M.D.S. 2.30 a.m. The Dressing Station has been shifted back from Vaulx to within 1½ miles of Bapaume, as a result of the shelling. Slept out in the open till 9.30 a.m. The sun is again very warm. This afternoon Samuels came & asked me if I could ride a Motor Bike. A little headwork told me it might mean a good job so I said “Yes". A few spins up & down the road were highly successful without any spills.
Sunday 13 May
Warm again today. All stretcher-bearers left for the line this morning. Every available man was sent, but I have been left behind as a Despatch Rider on the Douglas Bike. Up to the present I have not missed one carry in the line & have been out every time. Having done as much as anyone in the unit and considering that very few of the original 8th are here now I think its my turn for a sweet job. Whether it will be permanent or not its hard to say, but each Amb. is supposed to have 2 Despatch Riders. All runs today were successful. Shelling of the roads was heavy. Fritz observation Balloon brought down.
Heavy thunderstorm broke out just before midnight.
Monday 14 May
Showery but otherwise very warm. Successful day on the motor bike. Fritz threw a few shells on the road near our camp. The chief event of the day was a brilliant piece of work in the air to Fritz’s credit. A plane flew over us at about 7000 ft. high – Our guns fired at him but didn’t seem to hit him. However he pretended to be knocked and fell over & over sideways until he came very low. Meantime we were all yelling with delight. Suddenly the plane righted itself and made off home followed by our battleplane.
The opinion has been advanced that this plane intended to dive at one of our balloons by means of the joke.
Tuesday 15 May
Cloudy & warm.
Heavy gunfire continues at highest pitch.
The plane which ventured over yesterday on that tricky expedition was brought to earth out near the front line by one of our battleplanes.
Wednesday 16 May
Showery all day.
Tommy Ambulance arrived to assist on this part of the front. The Daily papers are full of talk about the Bullecourt fighting where the Australians are still repulsing all German attacks and are also smashing The German Divisions up.
This is said to be the heaviest fighting of the war to date.
Casualties in the Field Ambulances are growing, our unit being the luckiest with about 15 (none killed), i.e. at the present front Bullecourt.
Thursday 17 May
See the 22nd May.
Friday 18 May
2 Australians have escaped from the German lines where they have been imprisoned for 6 weeks, since the first Bullecourt fighting when our 4th Division suffered heavily. 12 Tanks were knocked out that day.
Saturday 19 May
These two men have valuable information and their escape is causing deep interest.
Tuesday 22 May
Lovely weather, a little on the warm side, has been prevailing since the 17th inst. My Despatch Riding continues with success. We are to move to Bapaume tomorrow. It is believed that all Australians except the 5th Division (ours) are leaving this front to go up Armentieres way. The 5th are being left behind for a while as reserve to the Tommies.
Papers now daily report on the severe fighting which is going on at Bullecourt. This is our sector of the front.
Wednesday 23 May
Preparations for moving all morning. Marched out at 3 p.m. a distance of 1½ miles to Bapaume to the same place we occupied when first entering Bapaume last March. Now living in a tent. Twilight lasts till about 11 o’clock. When “Lights Out" is blown on the bugle the sun hasn’t gone down by that time.
Thursday 24 May
The boys are busy digging and decorating gardens round the premises.
A new Seaside Rest Camp has been opened at the north of the River Somme. 72 men from the 8th Brigade are to go fortnightly, our allottment being three.
Walked round the Bapaume fortifications after tea.
Friday 25 May
D.R. as usual.
In evening went to see the “Curios" at a hall in Bapaume. It was an exceptionally fine performance by professional artists. Every item was splendid.
Saturday 26 May
Weather continues fine.
The premises we are now occupying are the cause of much comment. Gardens etc. are looking first class.
Exp. Force Canteen next door to us – Comes in handy for morning and afternoon tea.
Fritz threw shells round our end of the town and inflicted many casualties on the 29th Batt. Stray pieces of steel flew into our yard.
Sunday 27 May
Fine and cloudless day.
Church parades in the Church Army Hut two doors away.
Despatch Riding duties continue smoothly.
Leave to Amiens has reopened – parties of 8 may go daily.
No word yet about leaving this part of the front.
Monday 28 May
Fine all day until the evening when a heavy rainstorm broke out. By a successful manouvre I managed to secure a new uniform outfit today.
Tuesday 29 May
D.R. Duties as usual.
Today the Military Police are busy on the roads stopping motor cycles in an endeavour to trace certain new machines which have been pinched.
Wednesday 30 May
Tomorrow our party is due for a trip to Amiens.
4 German Prisoners today escaped from the Prisoners Compound in Bapaume.
The A.D.M.S. inspected our camp today & was so impressed by the gardens we have made all round the tents and throughout the grounds that tomorrow he intends bring General Tivey along.
Met Bill Cannon today.
Thursday 31 May
Perfect Day – Cloudless and followed by long twilight lasting till nearly 11 o’clock.
Left Camp at 7 a.m. by Motor Ambulance bound for Albert. Car broke down a mile from our destination but we luckily managed to catch a lorry and so finish the journey in time to catch the 8.15 a.m. train to Amiens. Arrived Amiens before 10 o’clock. After the usual procedure of haircut bath etc. we had a good look round the city by 8 p.m. when we caught the return train to Albert. As no train proceeded on to Bapaume tonight we sat on the roadside near Albert and waited till we got a lift in a Flying Corps motor. Back in camp soon after midnight.
Sent souvenir paper knives home.
Met Stuart McKern & Chas. Jarvis in Amiens.
Friday 1 June
Military Medals have been awarded in connection with the Bullecourt business. Only two are deserving cases, one being Lce. Cpl. Marlow who is receiving a bar to a medal already won. Much dissension exists in the unit rendering the decorations valueless. I now repeat my previous impressions with regard to awards viz. that 9 out of every ten are useless. They certainly are not looked upon as honours. Far from it. The best men get nothing at all. Gen. Tivey inspected the camp yesterday & was delighted.
The Australians (now out of the line are undergoing special training & sports are included.
Saturday 2 June
Four more Military Medal awards. None of these men have
not done anything to deserve distinction.
Sunday 3 June
See Friday the 8th.
Monday 4 June
Tuesday 5 June
Wednesday 6 June
Thursday 7 June
Played in cricket match against the transport section and scored 13 runs.
Friday 8 June
Trip down to Albert today on the bike
Since the 2nd inst. nothing of any note has been occurring, other the daily cricket matches.
We are now a reserve division in the 3rd Army. All units have orders to make use of afternoons by playing cricket.
Despatch Riding duties continue
Saturday 9 June
Cricket match in accordance with daily programme.
Thanks to the energies of one of our Sergeants to whom the motor bike was lent for a much desired joy ride, he came back with the frame broken, hence the cancellation of all future favours
Sunday 10 June
Doing nothing all morning.
In afternoon I was playing in a cricket match against the Divisional Ammunition Park – Scored 3 runs.
Monday 11 June
Heavy thunderstorm broke upon us just after midnight and the rain seemed to come straight through our tent. Everything was wet through. About mid-day the weather cleared. Our Division, the 5th, are due to take Bapaume over again, so that the moving picture men can exhibit the move before the Aust. Public. This was to have been done today.
Capt. Riley & Les Townsend mentioned in despatches. The former is a dentist and deserves no distinction.
Tuesday 12 June
Wednesday 13 June
Thursday 14 June
Friday 15 June
Since Monday nothing of any note has occurred other than a couple of route marches, one being over a distance of about 12 miles. Cricket matches are still on the afternoon program – my best score to date is 29 not out.
The weather continues warm.
2 trips to Buire today on the “Triumph" Motor Bike a total distance of about 120 Kilos or 75 miles. Met Harry Reynolds & Ron Wolff.
Tomorrow we move to Senlis back near Warloy about 3 miles to the West of Albert.
New “Douglas" Motor Cycle has arrived to replace the broken one.
Saturday 16 June
Very warm - Quite a record for France – That wet heat.
By mid-day our unit had been relieved by the 5th F. Amb. and the last of our men had left
by. I rode the new Douglas motor cycle.
Our new camp is on a hill overlooking Senlis & the country is very picturesque. The hillsides are a mass of colours due to the wild flowers.
This little village is quite intact – untouched by shell fire or the any other signs of warfare
Sunday 17 June
Busy all morning cleaning the bike.
Out all the afternoon. My sleeping quarters are in the Armstrong Hut used as the Orderly Room. 4 of us sleep here on bunks and live very well.
Monday 25 June
I have omitted to set down events day by day because nothing has happened of any interest for some time. I do a daily run into Albert for papers. Another regular run is that which carries returns to the A.D.M.S. (Asst. Director of Medical Services) 5th Aust. Divisional Hd. Q. This means a daily run or perhaps even three runs a day, through Warloy, Contay Herissart to Rubempre. The country looks splendid climbing up and
Tuesday 26 June
down hills, on a bright day of course. Then I often have to run to Edgehill C.C.S. either through Albert and Dernancourt or on the return from A.D.M.S. branching off at Warloy and running through Henencourt and Warlencourt, Aveloy, Mericourt, Ribemont, Bray, Bellevue Farm, Acheux, Belle Eglise and numerous other villages are amongst the daily trips. Also, I have twice been to Amiens on duty.
Wednesday 27 June
Apart from Duty we get a day off whenever we like, to visit Amiens. Parties go every day in Motor Ambulances to Albert Station thence per train to Amiens.
Football matches are also regular events. In Rugby Matches our team never meets with defeat.
Thursday 28 June
Occasionally the distance covered in one day reaches a total of 120 miles.
Saturday 7 July
Extract from Routine Orders for today No. 376.
No. 6777 Private Allsop W.J.
Transferred from A Section Bearer Sub Division and detailed for duty as Motor Cycle Orderly.
This formally makes me the Official Despatch Rider in black & white. The other chap F.H. Prist is now the spare man.
Thursday 12 July
5 Division Sports at Henencourt Wood and inspection by King George. I was round there on the bike and had a good view of His Majesty.
This Australian turnout was a magnificent display and our Ambulance Waggon secured first prize
Tuesday 24 July
During most of the time we have been in this Camp I have been acting as Postman in addition to the Despatch Rider Job, so my time is fully occupied
Thursday 26 July
This camp at Senlis has been one long holiday. A little work is perhaps done in the morning, but the afternoons are free. I, however, am liable to be called out at any moment. My time is fully occupied, as the other bike has be detailed for duty with the A.D.M.S. Office at 5th Div. Hd. Q., Rubempre.
Football and Cricket matches take place every
Friday 27 July
afternoon – In the former game we never seem to get beaten.
Concerts are held occasionally at night by our own Concert Party.
Recently a two days event was carried out, consisting of a Brigade Route March to Corbie and back
Sunday 29 July
Tomorrow we move up North to a village called Racquinghem near the town of St. Omer.
Monday 30 July
At mid-day we moved off, but I struck trouble less than ½ a mile from camp – water in the petrol. Was delayed some time but picked the others up before they reached the entraining point
Left Senlis late at night, the bike having been tied to the wheels of a G.S. Waggon on one of the trucks. We travelled up in Cattle Trucks passing Amiens, Boulogne & Calais, reaching
From Senlis we entrained at Aveloy Railway Siding – through Bouzincourt.
Tuesday 31 July
St. Omer this morning. I followed a Ford Ambulance out
on to Racquinghem. This Amb. was carrying our Colonel. I was given orders and directions as to where the different parties were to be billetted and then had to see that these instructions were carried out.
Returned to St. Omer and arranged for Daily Papers.
Now living in a barn
Saturday 4 August
These 4 days were passed in fine weather. Runs included the Daily trip to St. Omer for papers – 3 or 4 trips to Blaringhem where the 5th Div. Hd. Q. are situated with the A.D.M.S. & Signallers office included.
Brigade Head Quarters are at Wardreques.
Sunday 5 August
Raining fairly heavily. In addition to the usual paper run and the trips to Brigade & Divisional Hd. Q. I had another run to Hazebrouck this afternoon passing through Blaringhem Steenbecque & Morbecque on the way there & returning through Morbecque, Steenbecque, St. Venant, Boesingen, Aire & Wittel. Had a look round Aire plus a first class tea. In Morbecque I visited a few friends made during our stay there last year.
Hazebrouck was shelled on August 1st with long range guns.
Monday 6 August
Paper run to St. Omer as usual.
Tuesday 7 August
Fine. In workshop. The 5th Divisional Supply Column all day from 7.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. We had the bike to pieces and replaced parts which require renewing. Bombs were dropped on Morbecque last night
Wednesday 8 August
Fine. Brought Bike out of workshops at mid-day. She is now running like a new machine.
Sunday 19 August
2 runs to Bailleul. In the 2nd run, at Pradelles 5 kilos from Hazebrouck I smashed into a Flying Corps Cycle & Side Car. He was on his wrong side of the road & neither of us had lights due to aircraft overhead. 3 bombs were dropped not far from the road I was taking. My bike had the front wheel badly mangled, the headspring broken & front fork slightly bent. The other party had their turnout completely wrecked. I walked to Strazeele, got a lift from this village to Bailleul & delivered my message, then rang up for an ambulance to come up to convey me home.
Monday 20 August
At 4 a.m. whilst I was asleep on the floor of the 5th Canadian Mobile Bact. Laboratory at Bailleul one of our car drivers entered and woke me up. We travelled back via Pradelles, picked the bike up and dropped it in the workshops at Blaringhem – then returned to our unit in Racquinghem in time to hear Reveille blowing. I made up my report of the accident and gave the names of three witnesses from a British Machine Gun Unit
Wednesday 22 August
Bessie 21 years on 22nd Aug.
Wednesday 29 August
Inspected by Sir Douglas Haig at Blaringhem.
Thursday 6 September
There has been little or nothing to report for some time, hence the vacant pages. There has been the usual daily paper run to St. Omer a distance of 10 kilos. At times there might be two runs a day to Bailleul with swabbings for the Laboratory. Called at the Estaminet in Strazeele where we had such a good time whilst en route from Armentieres to the Somme last October. The weather has been very changeable – Perhaps fine for a few days then wet for a few days. Every fine night the sky is ablaze with fire works & Fritz drops bombs on the various towns and
Friday 7 September
villages. Fights between the Portuguese & Australian troops are frequent. Some have been killed. These Portuguese troops are hated by everybody. They are small vicious little good-for-nothings and are quick to flash a knife, but the Anzac knows how to deal with them.
St. Omer is a nice place over-run by these W.A.A.C. girls from Eng. (The Womens Army Aux. Corps.) Aire is also a nice place. The fruit in the orchard surrounding our Orderly Room Tent is now ripe & of course we get a good share, though only by pinching it at great risk.
My bike is now in the Workshops at Morbecque being overhauled.
Saturday 8 September
On clear nights Fritz comes across to different villages
bu with a supply of bombs, though none are dropped near us.
He generally waits for moonlight nights and the time to expect him is 9.20 p.m.
Monday 10 September
Paper run to St. Omer.
To Blaringhem, Ebblinghem thence St. Momelin via St. Omer
Tuesday 11 September
Paper run as usual.
To A.D.M.S. Blaringhem, 8th Brigade Sigs. and 31st Battn.
Wednesday 12 September
To Blaringhem thence Ebblinghem and return via Blaringhem
To Blaringhem, 8th Bgde. Hd. Q. and into Racquinghem on Duty
Thursday 13 September
Paper run to St. Omer.
Blaringhem and Wardriques
Friday, 14 September
St. Omer run.
3 times to Blaringhem and another to 8th Brigade Hd. Q.
Saturday 15 September
Paper run St. Omer.
3 times to A.D.M.S. Blaringhem.
To Aire and 8th Bgde. Hd. Q.
Sunday 16 September
Another long rough trip to St. Momelin via St. Omer.
8th Brigade Hd. Q.
Monday 17 September
Trips to Arques, 8th Brigade Sigs. and A.D.M.S. at Blaringhem.
At mid-day I set off following two motor ambulances. We passed through Hazebrouck, St. Sylvestre, Eecke, Godewaerevelde and Boeschepe to Remy Siding just over the Belgian Border 2 Kilos from Poperinghe.
5 C.C.S’s opposite us. Met Bill Bailey & Rupert Cooke
First impressions of this camp give us the opinion that we are taking over a very comfortable home.
Tuesday 18 September
To A.D.M.S. Reninghelst.
8th Bgde. Hd. Q. at Abeele on the border.
To 1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q.
Our Camp is the 5th D.R.S. or Divisional Rest Station – Really a hospital to take cases which can be cured in a few weeks.
Wednesday 19 September
The finding of the Court on my “buster" of 19th August is that the costs are to be paid out of Public Funds, no responsibility being attached to me
To A.D.M.S. Reninghelst 3 times and once to Anzac Hd. Q.
Thursday 20 September
To A.D.M.S. Reininghelst twice
A long run to Belgian Battery Corner near Ypres.
To K. Supply Column and Anzac Hd. Q.
Our Bearers left for the line today. Things are pretty hot and traffic enormous near Belgian Battery Corner where I was today
Friday 21 September
To A.D.M.S. Reninghelst twice.
2 trips to Poperinghe and one to Anzac Hd. Quarters
Whenever daily papers come up to Poperinghe a woman calls each morning, so there is no need for me to make special trips for them.
Saturday 22 September
To A.D.M.S. Reninghelst.
To Poperinghe thence A.D.M.S. Reninghelst.
The evenings now are very favourable to aircraft and Fritz has been across frequently with bombs, several dropping near our camp. The C.C.S. referred to in the press lately, where bombs were dropped killing about 60 Germans, is over the road from us.
Sunday 23 September
To A.D.M.S. Reninghelst.
Head Quarters later in the day moved to Dickebush so my next run was to this place via Westoutre La Clytte and return via Ouderdom & Busseboom
To 29th Battn. L29 Sheet 27.
More Bombs from Fritz & shells into Poperinghe.
Monday 24 September
3 trips to Dickebush via Reninghelst and Ouderdom, and one trip to 29th Battn. Hd. Q.
A repetition of Bombs from Fritz.
The bearers are having a very rough time in the line, the casualties being heavy in all ambulances
Tuesday 25 September
Twice to 5th Divisional Hd. Q. (A.D.M.S.) at Dickebush
To 1st Anzac Corps Head Quarters
Dickebush is not a choice place for motor cycles – At one spot I have to plough through mud & water about a foot deep.
Wednesday 26 September
To A.D.M.S. Dickebush and return via Scottish Lines, Busseboom
To Anzac Hd. Q.
Another run to Dickebush.
To St. Momelin via Steenvoorde, Cassel, Arques, & St. Omer returning at midnight via Arques, Cassel, St. Sylvestre, Caestre, Flerte, Meteren, Berthen & Boeschepe.
Part of 5th Div. Hd. Q. is stationed at Walker’s Camp Dickebush whilst the other part is at Scottish Lines Busseboom.
Thursday 27 September
To 5th Mobile Vet Section
To Dickebush and all the batteries of the 7th Aust. Artillery Brigade
To A.D.M.S. Dickebush
The third run as above was undertaken with the object of finding out the owner of a horse which we had to shoot yesterday and drag inside our front gate. Now we want the other party to come and bury it. I managed to find the owners after a bit of Sherlock Holmes strategy
Met Metcalfe from the “Royal".
Friday 28 September
To 5th Div. Workshops
To A.D.M.S. Dickebush
To “K" Supply Column
To Dickebush again
Saturday 29 September
To A.D.M.S. Dickebush
To Anzac Hd. Quarters
To Advanced Dressing Station on the Menin Road through Ypres. Ypres is a pitiful sight – smashed to the ground. It is one of those old fashioned towns surrounded by a wall and ditch, with gateways leading out on to the main roads. In peace time Ypres must have been a beautiful place, but now it is much more knocked about than Bapaume. There isnt a building with a roof on it, and there are only a few walls of buildings left. It reminds one of acres of scattered bricks. The one time Church is now practically wiped out.
Sunday 30 September
To A.D.M.S. Dickebush
To 2nd Div. Rest Station at Hillock
To A.D.M.S. Dickebush
To Scottish Lines Camp near Busseboom
These notes are those with which I armed myself for the Court of Enquiry re accident
Routine Orders 396 of 28th July 1917 for 3rd Army Area
10 miles per Hr through towns or villages and 25 m.p.h. elsewhere.
When passing lorry parks or stationary transport reduce speed to 10 miles per hour.
Routine Order 410 of 12th August.
1.066 Headlights – Lights to be extinguished if enemy aircraft are in vicinity or when held up at level crossings. These lights may be relit about ½ mile from the crossing
[Drawing not transcribed]
Tuesday 2 October
At 7.45 a.m. set off for trip to A.D.M.S. on the Menin Road about a mile further out than Ypres. Returned by 9 a.m., travelling via Poperinghe both ways.
Todays runs also include 14th Fld. Ambce. Busseboom – Poperinghe and the 6th Brigade Artillery at Ouderdom.
To “K" Supply Column at Abeele.
The weather has been hot and tiring denoting rain although there are no signs of clouds about.
The moon being still bright “Fritz" came over again on his bombing expedition (or egg-laying competition, as the boys term it)
Wednesday 3 October
To 28 A.S.C.
To A.D.M.S. at Scottish Lines Busseboom three times
To “K" Supply Column.
To 1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q. Signallers
Thursday 4 October
To 8th Brigade Post Office on the border of France & Belgium
To A.D.M.S. Scottish Lines twice
To “K" Supply Column
Friday 5 October
To A.D.M.S. Scottish Lines twice
To “K" Supply Column
To A.D.M.S. again
Saturday 6 October
To A.D.M.S. Scottish Lines Busseboom twice
To “K" Supply Column
To 56th Battn. Hd. Q. Reninghelst
To The Advanced Dressing Station on the Menin Road out through Ypres
To 28th A.S.C.
The run to A.D.S. Menin Road is by no means a pleasure. Traffic is thick and the roads are very bad. It is also a great distance from us, this A.D.S.
Sunday 7 October
To A.D.M.S. Scottish Lines Busseboom 3 times
To 28th A.S.C. twice
To 8th Brigade Post Offic
To “K" Supply Column
Monday 8 October
To “K" Supply Column
To 2nd Anzac Corps Rest Camp Hillock
To A.D.M.S. Office Scottish Lines 3 times
Tuesday 9 October
To “K" Supply Column & 5th D.S.C. Workshops
To A.D.M.S. Scottish Lines Busseboom
To Do. and thence to all the Battalions of the 8th Brigade up near Ypres.
Coming home tonight I met with a slight accident due to a loaded Ambulance Car stopping in front of me. Resulted in smashing of the front wheel of my bike. One of the lorry wheels passed over the instep of my left foot. Only slight
Wednesday 10 October
Cycle in 5th D.S.C. Workshops as a result of yesterdays accident
Thursday 11 October
No Duty – I’m taking things easy Never attend any parades. In fact I haven’t done so since I first took over the bike in May last
Friday 12 October
The Bike has been repaired and Samuels – the former rider, has taken it over temporarily.
Saturday 13 October
No Duty today.
Raining and dull.
It was cold enough
for tonight for a fire so we made ourselves comfortable and had a game of cards
Sunday 14 October
To “K" Supply Column 3 times today and once to Steenvoorde, passing through Abeele and past a fine big aerodrome
To A.D.M.S. office at Lille Gate Ypres along the main Poperinghe-Ypres Road
Filled in the evening by playing cards near a good fire. It has been a lovely day but got cold towards dusk.
Monday 15 October
Run to Anzac Hd. Q. Signallers and again to D.D.M.S.1st Anzac With returns to A.D. M.S.Office 5th Div. Hd. Q. Lille Gate Ypres going via Poperinghe, Brandoek and Vlamertinghe – Continued on to Advanced Dressing Station up the Menin Road. Along the main Pop.-Ypres Road the traffic is thick – Lorries, artillery and troops. Never have I seen such a busy road
To 1st, 2nd & 4th Div. Rest Stations. Two of these are on the main Poperinghe-Reninghelst Road & the other is on the way to Boeschepe. Whilst I was at the 4th D.R.S. Fritz flew over and dropped a salvo of bombs in a paddock not more than 150 yards from me. The searchlights had him beautifully
Tuesday 16 October
Fine in the morning but showery towards dusk.
1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q. Sigs. twice
A.D.M.S. Ypres via Busseboom Ouderdom & Vlamertinghe.
Wednesday 17 October
5th Div. Workshops (Hillock)
A.D.M.S. Ypres – through Busseboom & Ouderdom & Vlamertinghe
3rd Aust. Field Ambce
5th Div. Workshops again
1st Anzac Corps Head Quarters
Sgt. Roberts & Briggs evacuated “gassed"
Cards again tonight as usual.
Saw two Fritz planes brought down. Our young 19 year old pilot descended & took the hat and gloves from one Fritz.
Thursday 18 October
Lovely Day with occasional showers
A.D.M.S. (5th Aust. Div.) at Ypres
Again to Ypres
Ouderdom & Vlamertinghe on each occasion
2nd Can. Adv. Medical Stores
14th Field Ambce. (Dickebush)
This has been a busy day & the roads were slippery.
In Ypres shelling by Fritz was in progress & my second run to this place was very lively. Assisted to bandage up a wounded man who was hit by piece of shell just about 20 yards in front of me. Other shells fell round me on the road.
Friday 19 October
7th Field Ambce. at Reninghelst
5th Div. Workshops Hillock
4th Div. Rest Station Reninghelst
Spent the evening till 10 p.m. playing cards in front of a warm fire
Whittaker sent through C.C.S. gassed.
Saturday 20 October
To A.D.M.S. Office at Lille Gate Ypres passing through Busseboom, Ouderdom & Vlamertinghe
To “K" Supply Column
To 7th Field Ambce. at Reninghelst
Sunday 21 October
To “K" Supply Column
To 1st Anzac Corps Headquarters.
To A.D.M.S. Ypres via Poperinghe
Note Though in most cases I only mention A.D.M.S. when in reality I mean 5th Div. Hd. Q., it may be stated here that I have to take returns to the Asst. Director of Medical Services. This is the all important factor of each trip, but in addition I also have despatches for The 5th Div. Paymaster, The Veterinary Officer, The Engineers, etc. & various despatches to be sent via D.R.L.S.
Monday 22 October
To 1st Anzac Corps. Hd. Q.
To 14th Field Ambulance
The Signal Service consists of 2 parts – The Telegraphic or Telegram Department and the Despatch Rider Letter Service. In the first case the messages, written on telegram forms, are sent by wire. In the second place the papers are marked D.R.L.S. and are delivered by Despatch Riders who have regular runs throughout the day.
Tuesday 23 October
Wet and dull weather.
2 trips to A.D.M.S. Ypres via Busseboom, Ouderdom & Vlamertinghe on each occasion
The roads today are very muddy making motor-cycling an unpleasant job. I’m splashed from head to foot with mud to say nothing of the state of the bike
Cards after tea.
Wednesday 24 October
Cold winds – dull and showery
To 1st Anzac Corps. Hd. Q. Sigs
To A.D.M.S. 5th Aust. Div. Hd. Qd. at Ypres via Poperinghe and Vlamertinghe
Playing cards after tea
Over Ypres the aeroplanes were very busy about midday. The air was thick with them. A few German new planes of the huge variety were over and ours tried unsuccessfully to attack them. Men came down in paraschutes from their balloons.
Thursday 25 October
Run to Ypres and another to 1st Anzac Corps. Hd. Q. Sigs
Major Mackenzie and Tilsley came through C.C.S. severely wounded
Cards after tea
Friday 26 October
Raining all day.
Only one trip – to 1st Anzac Corps. Hd. Q.
Joe Connell died in B2 Ward No. 17 C.C.S. this afternoon just as I was entering the door to see him. He was wounded through the abdomen. Our boys had been relieved and this squad were about to carry a patient down with them when a shell burst close by. This chap carried with me when I was in the stretcher-bearers, he at one end of the stretcher & I at the other end. His name appears elsewhere in this diary
Cards after tea
Saturday 27 October
Showery and Dull.
Twice to The A.D.M.S. Office Lille Gate Ypres by the main Poperinghe-Ypres Road
To 1st Anzac Hd. Q.
Our Bearers came in from line. Frank Moore Killed – two others wounded in the baths in Ypres. Shells were falling while I was in Ypres.
Went to Joe Connell’s funeral.
Total Battle Casualties in this unit in the present engagement 46.
7 Killed – 22 wounded
16 gassed – 1 shell shock
68 Casualties in France to date
Sunday 28 October
Fine but muddy on the Roads.
Scottish Lines Busseboom (The 5th Div. Hd. Q. having moved back to this camp).
To 1st Anzac Corps. Hd. Q.
To Bac St. Maur & Erquinghem via Boeschepe, Berthen, St. Jans, Bailleul, Steenwerck & Croix Du Bac – returning by the same route, but completing this return journey in the record time of 16 minutes. This trip to our old area was made with the object of interviewing old friends.
To Lille Gate Ypres via Poperinghe & Vlamertinghe with chain for the Douglas Bike. Fritz was shelling Ypres heavily.
Monday 29 October
Lovely Day but very cold early this morning
Twice to A.D.M.S. & Signallers Office at Scottish Lines Busseboom via 15th Field Ambulance.
Tuesday 30 October
Twice to 5th Div. H.Q. (A.D.M.S. etc.) at Scottish Lines Busseboom
To Poperinghe Railway Stn.
To “K" Supply Column
To Anzac Hd. Q.
Concert & Dinner tonight to Bearers
Went to Picture Show in Poperinghe tonight
Wednesday 31 October
One run to A.D.M.S. etc. at Scottish Lines Busseboom.
To 1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q. Signallers
Thursday 1 November
2 runs to A.D.M.S. Scottish Lines Busseboom.
To 5th Div. A.P.M. (Ouderdom).
To 30th Battalion (Ouderdom).
I saw an impressive scene today at Ouderdom railway siding – A great procession of Tanks was making its way to the railway platform. I counted 40 of them as they made their way across the fields towards the Railway.
Note: It transpires later that these tanks went to Cambrai front.
Friday 2 November
Dull – Muddy and Slippery roads.
2 runs to A.D.M.S. and other branches of the 5th Div. Hd. Q. at Scottish Lines Busseboom.
To “K" Supply Column.
To 1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q.
Airman flying over the C.C.S.’s today doing fancy moves in the air. He dropped 4 messages to the nurses who were out looking at him. This is a daily occurrence and doubtless essential to the successful prosecution of the war.
Saturday 3 November
Fine – Roads slippery.
To 1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q. Signallers & to the 5th D.S.C. Workshop for repairs to bike lamp.
To “K" Supply Column.
Football match against the 55th Battn. resulting in another win for us
Sunday 4 November
one two runs today.
To A.D.M.S. at Scottish Lines Busseboom
& To 5th D.S.C. Workshops.
14th Brigade of our Division have moved down Estaires way.
Went to Pictures in Poperinghe after tea
Monday 5 November
Trip to 1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q. Signal Section.
5th Div. Hd. Q. (Sig’s. A.D.M.S. & Paymaster) at Scottish Lines Busseboom.
Writing & Cards after tea.
Tuesday 6 November
Dull & showery.
The usual love making performances by aeroplane this morning.
Run to “K" Supply Column & A.D.M.S. Office 5th Div. Hd. Q. Scottish Lines Busseboom.
Joy ride, notwithstanding the bad roads, to Proven in search of Will Lindsay. I passed a huge aerodrome & watched the numerous planes preparing for flight. 27 in all flew up as I was looking on – One dashed to the ground before rising to a height
off the gr. The Plane was damaged but the pilot escaped.
Went to the “Duds" Pierrot Show in Poperinghe – a really fine affair.
Saw Bill Bailey.
Wednesday 7 November
Fine & Sunny but the roads are dangerous.
Trip to A.D.M.S. Office at Scottish Lines Busseboom & 15th Field Ambulance.
To 5th D.S.C. Workshops for another saddle spring.
Booked seats in Poperinghe for some of the boys – at the “Duds" Show. This reminds one of a 1st Class performance in London. Everything was perfect last night when we were there, and the Hall was packed
Met Norman Broadbent
Cards and writing after tea.
Thursday 8 November
Fine all day – Showery towards evening.
Run to A.D.M.S. at Scottish Lines Busseboom – calling in Poperinghe to book seats as I did yesterday.
The D.D.M.S. Col. Manifold inspected our camp today accompanied by Sir Alex McCormack who is now Consulting Surgeon to A.I.F. Previously he was Consulting Surgeon to the British Army.
Sunday 11 November
Showery and dull all day.
Trip to 8th Bgde. Hd. Q. at Steenvoorde and thence to 1st Anzac Corps Hd. Q.
After dinner started off on a long run through Boeschepe, Berthen, St. Jans to 5th Div. Hd. Q. at Bailleul. From there I had to call at 8th Bgde. Hd. Q. in Locre – thence to deliver despatches to our Major Bond at Dranoutre where he has put up for tonight en route to the Main Dressing Station on the Wytschaete road. Our “B" Section is here, having left Remy Siding as the Advance Party. We go on the 14th inst. I returned to Remy Siding via Locre, Westoutre & Reninghelst. At night Fritz came over dropping bombs.
Monday 12 November
Cleaning the bike all the morning. After Dinner set off on a long round passing through Boeschepe, Berthen, St. Jans, dropped returns at A.D.M.S. Bailleul and other despatches at the Paymaster’s & Signallers – Continued on through Dranoutre, Daylight Corner, Lidenhoek & Suicide Corner to the Main Dressing Station midway between Kemmel & Wytschaete. Returned to Remy Siding near Poperinghe.
Passchendaele fell to the Germans this morning & our bombardment this evening is terrific as a prelude to a strong Counter Attack.
Tuesday 13 November
Fine Day but the roads were greasy.
Run to the new Tommy Ambce. that has taken over Waratah Camp, the 49th.
After dinner I went to Bailleul by the same route as yesterday and returned by the same road.
Today a terrific bombardment opened up – quite the worst I ever remember.
After tea a party of us went to a splendid Pierrot Show given by the 4th Canadian Div. under the name of “The Maple Leaves". It even beats “The Duds". The chap who dresses as a girl takes the part admirably, in voice, actions and dress. He makes a very pretty & attractive Girl. I will never forget this show. The band too, was A1. A number of nurses were present.
The remainder of our unit go tomorrow.
Wednesday 14 November
The weather today had every indication of being bright
but when we awoke, but at 9 a.m. a heavy mist fell and remained all day. Before 8 o’clock I set off to the Main Dressing Station half way between Kemmel & Wytschaete passing through Reninghelst, Westoutre, La Clytte & Kemmel. My next job was to run back & meet the main body on the road. I met them half way between Poperinghe & Reninghelst. Got returns & despatches from the clerks and proceeded via Reninghelst, Westoutre, Mont Adaigne, Mont Noir & St. Jans Cappel to Bailleul. Had dinner at 5th Div. Hd. Q. then continued on to the C.C.S. at Oultersteen. From this place I returned to the M.D.S. via Vieux Berquin, Neuf Berquin, Estaires, Steenwerck, Neuve Eglise, Wulverghem & Lindenhoek. In Estaires I met numbers of old friends made 16 months ago. Our Bearers are now in the line. This M.D.S. is a safe & rather comfortable place.
Thursday 15 November
Misty – Roads greasy.
In the morning I had a run back to Remy Siding via Kemmel, La Clytte, Reninghelst and Poperinghe, returning by the same road.
At 8 p.m. to A.D.M.S. in Dranoutre via Lindenhoek and Daylight Corner. Travelling without a light on greasy roads is by no means easy work
Canteen opened today.
Guns last night were carrying out a terrific bombardment.
Amentieres can be seen from a hill close by.
Friday, 16 November
Fine but the sun was very weak – Roads Greasy.
Cleaning bike in morning & run to Lindenhoek.
After Dinner to 5th D.H.Q. at Dranoutre by same route as last night
Tuesday 20 November
Put in for leave to Paris applying for 4 days as from the 24th inst
The usual 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. wires in connection with casualties I took to 14th Brigade Sigs.
The A.D.M.S. run today had to be continued on to 1st Anzac Corps. I have to do the run for 8 days then the other ambulances take their turns. Leaving Dranoutre I passed through Bailleul & Meteren and Flete and dropped the returns at D.D.M.S. Offices. Came back by same route.
Wednesday 21 November
Fine but showery.
Early morning and night wires as usual.
Repeated the long run to D.D.M.S. 1st Anzac Corps at Flete and incidentally put in a word with regard to my Pris leave.
Took wire to 14th Bgde. Sigs.
Thursday 22 November
Early morning run with casualty wire to the 14th Bgde. Sigs.
At midday set off to 5th Div. Hd. Q. thence to Anzac Hd. Q. at Flete. Here I learned that my Paris leave has been granted and I am to leave tomorrow morning. Called at Bailleul Station to ascertain time the train leaves.
On returning to camp I immediately set about preparing for departure in the morning`e
Night wire trip cancelled so I turned into bed early.
Friday 23 November
Called at 6 a.m. and left by car for Bailleul at 7 a.m. arriving there in good time for the train which moved out at 8.30 a.m. Travelled via Hazebrouck, St. Omer, changing at Calais to 2nd Class on another train. From Calais to Boulogne we were in the dining car amongst the heads (Generals etc.). At Boulogne we resumed our seats in the other carriage & had an amusing time on the journey via Abbeville & Amiens to Paris with a French Soldier who spoke English well. Arrived Paris 8.30 p.m. – rounded up by the M.P’s and conveyed in a motor bus to the British Commandant’s Office to report. After the usual cries of dissent from the 20 rowdy Anzacs on account of all the red tape meted out we eventually were free – So Harry Price & I went by Taxi to Hotel Violet at Rue du Faubourg Poissonniere just off the main central Boulevardes, having been recommended here by others from our unit.
Saturday 24 November
Corp Nunn transferred to our Hotel so we three are now together.
Fine today – like yesterday. Some job getting to sleep last night in a soft bed. After an apology for a breakfast we set off round the village by Tubes Trams Busses Taxis etc. Saw Eiffel Tower, Trocadero and all sights round about the Place Concorde, crossing the Concorde Bridge & along the Quai D’orsay, Jardin Tuileries, Grand & Petit Palais. Saw round the Bastille quarter reaching there by underground tubes. Walked round the main Boulevardes to Boulevarde Montmartre. At Rue du Faubourg Montmartre we had dinner & tea every day. The Opera building at B’de des Capucines and other interesting places occupied our time during the afternoon. In the evening we had Promenade tickets at the Folies (Bergere). In France there are only really 2 meals Breakfast at 1 p.m. & Dinner 6.30 p.m. – The early morn. (meal) is called little breakfast – Only a cup of coffee & bread & butter.
Sunday 25 November
Today St. Catherine’s Day is a great carnival day in Paris, but the excitement took place yesterday in the streets and we of course joined in the fun. Fine weather prevails. Visited the big wheel – Blighty Corner – Pathe Freres Gramaphone Rooms. Politeness of the French People is very marked.
Sunday night here is very lively It seems to be a great amusement night and the city is crowded. Quite a merry time at the Alhambra
Called on Paul de Longchamps, 14 Rue de Washington off B’de Haussmann.
Australians are well liked in Paris and eyes are upon us everywhere we go
Monday 26 November
We had a look through the Gallery of War Pictures in The Jardin des Tuileries – well worth seeing. Visited The Invalides where we saw German implements of war
e captured at the Marne & Somme. Zeppelin L49 which was brought down recently – German Fokker & other types of aeroplanes. Guynemer’s Plane is also on show. He was killed recently – France’s greatest airman. The plane is decorated with flowers. Saw Hotel de Ville – the leading Banks – The Matin Printing Office – Madeleine (Church) – Notre Dame (Church), Arc de Triomphe (2), many different Theatre Buildings & practically all the monuments. The Tube railways are good & run on a splendid system. Busses & Trams likewise, but the Taxis are not up to London standard.
Saw Napoleon’s Tomb at The Invalides
Tuesday 27 November
Beautiful Day. Sightseeing again – Impossible to name all we saw. Visited the American Club and yarned with the Yanks. Paid a very amusing visit to the Musee Grevin (wax works) – a very fine display.
After tea we went to the Olympia – This, too, was very funny especially the bicycle turn.
Paris is a gay city and in many respects more attractive than London, though the meals are not up to the English standard, the customs being different entirely. Today I tasted a few snails as a souvenir dish.
Wednesday 28 November
Fine still. Caught train at 9.10 a.m. at Gare Du Nord travelling 1st Class, Dinner between Abbeville and Boulogne. American War Correspondent yarning to us in the carriage. At Calais we had a couple of hours to wait so we strolled round the town a bit and had tea at the Church Army rooms. 3rd Class to Hazebrouck. Here we were informed that the train would not be going any further tonight so we tipped an M.P. and he put us in a 1st Class carriage of the train which leaves tomorrow morning at 6.46 a.m. for Bailleul. This constitutes our bed for the night
Thursday 29 November
Fine. Continued in the 1st Class carriage to Bailleul then made our way back to the Main Dressing Station near Wytschaete by lorries and on foot arriving at our camp by 10 a.m.
Resumed Despatch riding duties and had many runs to do throughout the day including A.D.M.S. at Dranoutre and to Locre.
Friday 30 November
One long trip today calling at A.D.M.S. Office Dranoutre then to 15th Field Ambce. and on to the 5th Canadian mob. Lab at Bailleul – Thence to 5th Div. Workshops outside of Bailleul where I learned that a new Douglas Cycle is waiting for us. Returned to Dranoutre, then on to Locre and back to the Main Dressing Station.
Guns were active in the evening indicating that a move of some sort was taking place.
We later on learned that
a move of the 3rd Aust. Div. had hopped the bags.
Saturday 1 December
Very cold indeed today.
Took the Triumph Cycle to the workshops at Bailleul and returned with the New “Douglas" machine. This was the only job I undertook throughout the day. With a good fire going in the hut I wrote a number of letters on the Paris trip
Sunday 2 December
Bitterly cold and windy. Light snow fell during the night – the first fall this winter.
Doing nothing today
Monday 3 December
Frosty – all water is frozen – Bitterly cold.
Went by Amb. Car to Dranoutre and walked the remainder of the distance (9 kilos) to the workshops.
Worked all day cleaning the engine of the Triumph Cycle. Returned to camp at night per motor lorries passing through Locre & Kemmel
One of the houses in Bailleul was last night levelled to the ground by a German bomb
Tuesday 4 December
Frosty and bitterly cold.
Assisting in the cleaning of a motor ambulance during the morning.
After dinner went in a car to the 5th Div. Workshops near Bailleul, calling at the 2nd Aust. Casualty Clearing Station near Steenwerck on the way. Rode the motor bike back to camp.
After tea took the usual Casualty wire to 15th Brigade Sigs.
Fritz was over early this morning dropping bombs
Wednesday 5 December
Heavy frost through the night and bitterly cold today. Cleaning the bike all the morning. At midday dropped returns at A.D.M.S. Office Dranoutre then continued on through Bailleul to 1st Anzac Hd. Q. at Flete where I dropped the 5th Div. Returns. Came back by the same route.
German Balloon drifted over our lines today dropping circulars written in French & German detailing the great German success in Italy
Thursday 6 December
Frosty & bitterly cold.
Big run to 1st Anzac Corp. after dropping the usual returns at Dranoutre. Took a new course today from Dranoutre to Bailleul via Neuve Eglise road & Ravetsburg.
German Planes busy tonight – one came under the concentrated flares from our searchlights & an antiaircraft shell got him. It was a pretty sight to see him fall in flames. Many bombs were dropped
(For 7th see next page)
Saturday 8 December
Fine, but roads very greasy. Cold outside.
Run to A.D.M.S. Dranoutre thence to 1st Anzac Corps at Flete.
Night casualty wire at 6 p.m.
Our unit today played the 14th Fld. Ambce, at Locre – Rugby League. Resulted in a win for us as usual 20 to Nil.
Lt. Col. Makin reported back from sick leave to England. He is our new O.C. & not a bad sort.
(for 8th see previous page)
Friday 7 December
Dull & cold.
Early morning (6 a.m.) trip with Casualty wire
Run to Adv. Dressing Station at Khandahah Farm
Nothing else to do today
Heard the sad news of Reg Cannon’s death. His head was blown right off last night.
Had a look over the RE8 aeroplane which landed on rough ground near our camp & was considerably smashed.
The bow hut in which I am living is very comfortable. We have a fire going all day long.
Sunday 9 December
Drizzling rain all day.
Today happens to be Prust’s turn for the Corps. run.
Fortunately I was not required for any trips today other than the 5 p.m. Casualty wire which I took to 15th Bgde. Sigs. on foot.
It is expected that we are to move on or about the 15th inst. for a month’s spell near the sea coast.
Monday 10 December
Muddy after yesterday’s rain but the sun was shining all day, hence very considerable aerial activity. Fritz attempted to bring down one of our balloons but the M.G. bullets from his plane didn’t take effect. The balloon men came down in paraschutes. 6 Gothas came over this afternoon & dropped a few bombs. This evening the sky is clear & German machines are buzzing in the air. Searchlights are hunting for them.
My last run to Corps. Hd. Q. today. Went as usual to A.D.M.S. at Dranoutre thence to Flete via Bailleul & Meteren
We move to Boulogne way in a few days time
A Fritz balloon came over dropping newspapers to say how they have won the war.
Tuesday 11 December
Fine but very cold.
2 trips to 53rd Battn. in search of an R.C. Chaplain to come & bury a body which is now lying at our M.D.S.
A number of Spanish gentlemen called to have a look round our Dressing Station. This being the first place a wounded man comes to from the line our visitors were deeply interested in the up-to-date conveniences we have here.
General Birdwood passed by on another trip to the line. He invariably wears the Aust. Hat, unlike other “heads" who prefer the red facings.
Our guns nearby were very busy tonight and so was Fritz. Many Shells came over
5 p.m. Casualty wire.
Wednesday 12 December
Cloudy & Sunny & Showery alternately. Very cold in early morning & at 4 p.m.
One trip today – to our Horse Transport at Daylight Corner through Lindenhoek
About 20 Gotha Planes flew over this afternoon – Huge planes, the iron cross being easily recognised. They didn’t do any damage. Saw one of these planes hit but it descended in Fritz’s lines.
I took the 6 a.m. & 5 p.m. Casualty Wires to 15th Brigade Signallers.
Trench Mortar accident at 14th Brigade – premature explosion – 6 killed & an officer badly wounded.
Thursday 13 December
Misty – Greasy Roads
Dark at 4.30 p.m.
Working at the bike all morning.
After dinner I took the A.D.M.S. Run and continued on to Bailleul via Ravetsburg
Took the 6 a.m. casualty wire and another this afternoon to 15th Bgde. Sigs.
1st Div. Troops are now arriving to relieve our 5th Division – 14th Brigade & 14th Field Ambulance moved today for a destination near Etaples. The 8th Brigade & our Ambulance move on the 17th inst. (Monday)
Monday 17 December
Up early this morning. Snow falling fairly heavily
Moved off at 10 a.m. following the motor ambulances through Neuve Eglise, Bailleul, Flete, Caestre, Cassel, Arques, St. Omer, Lumbres, Longueville, Bournonville, Cremarest to Wirwignes some 6 or 7 kilos North of Desvres & 11½ kilos East of Boulogne. I was first of all our unit who moved today to enter the village.
Billets are pretty rotten as a whole but the orderly room is in a two roomed cottage. We sleep in one of these rooms where there is a double bed. I have a mattrass on the floor. Travelled 80 miles today – Snowing all the time
Tuesday 18 December
Roads covered with snow. Rest of our unit arrived at about 4 a.m.
Run to Desvres thence to Samer and return via Questrecques.
Another run to 5th D.H.A. later in the day.
Tonight I sleep on a mattrass which I have taken off the bed, there having been two on the bed previously.
This mattrass plus 5 blankets, a thick “Tommy Warmer" coat and the water proof motor coat are sufficient to make a warm bed.
Wednesday 19 December
Snowy – ground Frozen. Beautiful sunny day followed by bright starry night.
A busy day on the bike. Visited La Capelle, Bellebrune & Cremarest and ran along practically all the roads within a radius of 10 kilos.
Trip to A.D.M.S. Sigs. etc. at Samer.
Then after tea I had to run back to Desvres to look for our horse transport which is coming here by road
Thursday 20 December
Snowy and frozen ground.
Sun shining all day – Beautiful weather but rather cold.
I took a day off and this afternoon two of us went for a long walk through Cremarest and Bellebrune to La Capelle. At this place we had a fine meal. Only French Forestry troops live here & civilians, of course.
Returned through the Boulogne Forest to Wirwignes and hopped straight into bed.
Friday 21 December
Snow still lies on the ground and frost also formed through the night. The ground is frozen & so are the water holes.
Making a fire all the morning.
After dinner I was sent to a village 26 Kilos the other side of Desvres – a total distance of over 32 Kilos each way. Took 25 minutes to go there and 20 minutes to return.
Run to Samer after tea to A.D.M.S. Signallers and the 5th Div. Workshops.
It has been very cold today and my ears feel it most.
Saturday 22 December
Weather as yesterday. Beautiful but cold.
Off Duty today. We take the runs one day on then one day off
Leave to Boulogne is allowed daily.
Strolled up to a very small village to the east of the Boulogne Forest between Cremarest & Bellebrune after tea. Black Watch are billeted in these villages.
Saw Deer in the Forest
Tonight we were helping to milk cows at the place above mentioned. Had a fine humerous evening
Sunday 23 December
Frost and snow – a continuation of what we have been having for some days past. Sunny & pleasant.
3 trips to Samer, visiting A.D.M.S. Sigs. 5th Div. Workshops, A.P.M., Canteen etc.
Another run (Joyride) to the place we were at last night. French Officers here from Calais on a shooting expedition. Saw the Deer being skinned & Dressed
Monday 24 December
Off Duty today. Today and the next two days are general holidays for the troops. The snow & ice are beginning to thaw. Preparations for tomorrows spread are on a large scale. Turkeys, Geese & Fowls, Vegetables etc. from Boulogne are being bought out of Canteen profits & Reg. Funds. About £80 is being spent
Christmas Eve tonight.
We strolled up to see our friends near Cremarest. Very pleasant evening and a beautifully clear night.
Tuesday 25 December
Only one run today – To A.D.M.S. at Samer.
Christmas Dinner in the big tents passed off A1. Plum Pudding turned up alright too.
Concert in the big tents from 5 to 7
Afterwards my friend Fred Williams and I went for a stroll
It was as clear as daylight tonight and occasional snowstorms fell.
The usual “matter of form" greetings arrived from Douglas Haig Birdie etc.
Wednesday 26 December
Off Duty today – loafing & writing.
Snow fell all day with occasional spells of sunshine. The snow is nearly a foot deep in places.
Bombardments with snowballs took place all day too & I was in the thick of it. The Officers were given their share
Thursday 27 December
Cold – Snow on the ground.
2 runs to Samer to 5th Div. Hd. Q.
After tea went for a stroll as usual to the farmhouse north of Cremarest
Friday 28 December
Snow falling – Bitterly Cold
Doing nothing all day but writing a few letters. After tea likewise.
Saturday 29 December
Cold – Snow on the ground.
One run today – To Samer visiting A.D.M.S. Paymaster & Signallers
After Tea went for a stroll as usual
As a result of the Field Bakery near Boulogne having been bombed the other night there is now a shortage in bread, the issue being one loaf to six men
Sunday 30 December
Cold – ground still white with snow.
2 trips to Samer via Questrecques (A.D.M.S.) Signallers & other branches of 5th Div. Hd. Q.
After tea strolled up to visit our farmhouse friends
Monday 31 December
Cold – similar to yesterday, but followed by a beautifully clear and starry night.
Trips to Desvres & Samer
Evening – same programme as last night.
L/Cpl. H.V. Berry
[Map drawn of area and villages around Bapaume]
A.S.C. – Army Service Corps
A.D.M.S. – Asst. Director of Medical Services
D.D.M.S. – Deputy Director of Medical Services
Exp. Force Canteen – Expeditionary Force Canteen
C.C.S. – Casualty Clearing Station
D.S.C. Workshops – Divisional Supply Columns Workshops
D.R.L.S. – Despatch Rider Letter Service
A.P.M. – Assistant Paymaster
Quent now known as Queant
Aveloy – Avluy
Wardreques – Wardrecques
Boesingen – Boeseghem
Wittel – Wittes
Godewaerevelde – Goewaersvelde
Dickebush – Dikkebus
Westoutre – Westouter
Flerte – Fletre
Poperinghe – Poperinge
Reninghelst – Reningelst
Brandoek – Brandhoek
Vlamertinghe – Vlamertinge
Dranoutre – Dranouter
Locre – Loker
Flete – Fletre
Wytschaete – Wijtschate
Oultersteen – Outtersteene
[Transcribed by Judy Gimbert and Patricia Ryan for the State Library of New South Wales]