Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Fuljames diary, 5 June-3 October 1917 with 2 letters, 29 October 1917? and 18 April 1918 / Harris John Foljambe Fuljames
The diary of L/Cpl. Harris Fuljames covers six days from 5-10 June and then 3 October 1917. He is at Messines and gives a description of the fighting during this time and his thoughts on the events. The first letter to his mother describes his time at the Somme, Ploegsteert, Messines and Ypres. The second letter is written from Hospital at Brockenhurst, U.K. where he is recovering after he had, as he says, "the misfortune to be blown up with a shot in the first stage of the big German advance". The New Zealand Roll of Honour states that he died on 27 June 1918 and is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, U.K.]
Written by late 22962 L/Cpl. Harris John Foljambe Fuljames, 3rd N.Z. Machine Gun Coy. but a true Australian.
Don. Mrs. Deane 30.5.19
June 5th 1917
Today is a scorching hot day, and we have just had orders that we are going up to the line to get ready for the big push, at 10 P.M. so I strole down to the village to get a good supply of cigarettes and tobacco for it is rotten to run out of these, after having a good feed of pork and eggs I get back a few minutes before we start on our march which is about five miles, after marching for a few howers steady
we arrived at our destination which is situated just behind the enemies front line, we go to bed at 1 A.M., no blankets no over coat, only an oil sheet and had a good nights sleep.
June 6th 1917.
We have just been told to keep under cover all day and that we go into action early tomorrow morning. the day is terrible hot and here in the trenches it is stiffling, and we canít get out of them to get a bit of a breese because we are under direct observation of the enemy.
June 7th 1917.
We have been awakened at 2 A.M. and told that we advance at 3. after gitting a few odds and ends together that we take with us in our pack not very many I can tell you. At five minutes to 3 we get orders to stand by our guns and to open up just at the tick of 3. I have never experienced anything like it in my life and I hope I never do again. Well (Macines) is
about a hill
about 200 feet high and it was mined by us in about a dozen places the biggest mine contained some hundreds of tons of gun cotton, and at the tick of three these started going off as well as the artillery, which is almost wheel to wheel, the earth quaked and trembled, if any one had been there that didnít know anything about it, they would have thought the world was
coming to an end, behind us was a sheet of flame from our Artillery, and in front the mines roared and blazed like great furnaces at white heat which made me shiver when I thought of the poor beggars that were going up in them, after we were going for about five minutes the enemies artillery got on to us, and made it very hot one of our officers and
an amunition carrier were killed
and by a bursting shell, such a nice officer he was liked by all of the boys who were terribly cut up when they heard about it.
After we had been firing for an hower, we had a bit of a spell, for the chaps that were not at the gun were in a little dugout filling belts as hard as they could go.
Well we all got our guns ready to go forward I donít know what
time it was I hadnít time to look but it was somewhere between 6 A.M. & 10, we went forward some places we stuck to the trenches and some places it was blown in and we had to get out in the open, where the shells were falling thick and fast. I never thought we would get through it. as we were advancing through his barrage in a long string a shell landed in amongst
our chaps killing the first three and wounding the next one. Well on we went having in all about a little over a mile to go over country that was one (mass) of shell holes. I had a very heavy load and had to fall out for a spell but I caught up to the mob before they got to their destination. My word the heat was terrible and the dust, my eyes are sore yet, what with the dust and the tear gass we were nearly
Well when we got to our destination
the we were having a spell when the Germans counter attacked and we had to get our guns into position any how three of us got into a shell and started to dig a position in pretty quick time just as we had compleeted it a hun plane came over and saw us, and of course signaled to his artillery which opened on us straight away. three or four
of the first shells landed arround our hole the 4th landed on the edge and burried the three of us. I forced my way up and called out to the other two to go for their lives. I was first out and the next second a shell landed in the hole and one chap was wounded and the other was torn to pieces, our tripod was blown away and all my equipment. About 4 P.M. the same day he made another
attempt to counter attack. this time we got another tripod and got our gun mounted and he was repulsed.
All night we stood by our gun.
in the night was fearfull cold and the ground damp so one couldnít sleep, the ground is full of small beetles and they crawled over us all night.
June 8th 1917.
To day we are being shelled by the gunners all day it lasted until dark
and then it began worse than ever as he countered attacked which lasted for about three howers.
June 9th 1917.
We are to be relieved in the morning by No. 5 Coy. after 48 howers and no relief and very little to eat. I have been unable to keep diary
as on account of the intense shell fire which has been going on since the advance started. I have to go out and get water for our guns, for this we have to walk about a mile under shell fire all the time. the dead are beginning
to smell owing to the hot weather.
I didnít see very much of the tanks because when it started it wasnít propely light but I saw two going over with the Australians in the afternoon.
On our objective the Huns had concrete Machine Gun positions which our artillery couldnít get on to so the tanks got on top of them and crushed them in.
June 10 1917
We have just been told to get ready to hand over to the other Company at 10 A.M. that makes it all told from the time we went in until we came out (53 howers).
Today is October 3rd and I believe we go in to the line for tomorrow to make a name for our selves. we have been properly equiped for the ocasion I hope it doesnít last as long as the Massines.
No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital,
April 8 1918
My dear Mother
Just a few lines to let you know I am at present in a hospital in England, have only been here about a week. I had the misfortune to be blown up with a shot in the first stage of the big German advance. My word she a hot shop and a good place to be out of at present. how this accident of mine hapened we hadent time to conseal our guns before he came at us about eight deep. I opened fire at a range of about four hundred yds. I didnít last long but while I did, I made it as hot as mustard for them. I managed to put through about 2000 rounds and it
was at such close quarters that I think some of them got a double issue, anyhow I was stooping down for another box of pills when a 5.9 landed under the tripod the first thing I knew was a terrible pain at the back of my head and neck and as if someone had taken hold of my heart and stopped it from working it is an awful feeling and then I remembered no more until some one rolled me over to see if I was still in the land of living. when they discovered I still had a kick in me they lugged me to a dressing station and from there to here it took me a week to get from the front line to here. the old gun got the lot to it self it hasnít been seen since and I had my left hand on one handle holding it down when she went up. Now what do you think of that for luck. I believe Iíll get
No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital,
through yet donít you. I am going to swing the lead over here as long as I can. No more war for me if I can help it. it makes me feel cold when I think of going
for back again. I have a lovely little camera with me. I have had it for nearly eight months and I had some lovely war pictures some nearly cost me my life to get them and they were all blown up with the gun. I had them in my pack with my few belongings, when I got to the hospital I only had what I stood up in no p hat no putties and I hadnít had a shave or a wash for about two weeks, so you can imagine what I looked like.
I hope you will excuse my scribbling and mistakes for I am a bit shaky on it.
I donít suppose it will be long before they patch me up again.
I will be getting two weeks leave after this so I will probably be sending for some more money soon.
Well Mother I am not in much of a mood for writing so I think I will wind up for the present. I will write again soon and let you know how I am getting on.
Hoping you are all keeping well.
I remain your loving son Jack
Best love & Kisses xxx
(Au revoir Mon Chere)
Some French what
Lance/Cpl. Harris John Foljambe Fuljames
3rd N.Z. Machine Gun Coy.
but a true Australian.
Don. Mrs. Deane 30.5.19.
Oct. 29th 19[17?]
My Dear Mother
I promised to drop you a few lines and tell you the way things are going in France and I always like to keep a promise. Well I am staying with one of my gunner friends father he has a hotel in London and he asked me to stay with them for a few days so I came
to day and they are treating me well and want me to stay for some time but worse luck I can only manage a couple of days.
Well Mother I said in my last letter I would tell you all about the scraps I have been in. Well the first one I was in was the Somme this was a great scrap I canít describe it to
you here because it would take all my pocket book. the next one was (Ploguestert) which was a winter scrap it was rather rough but there was one worse than this which will come after this one. Messines this one was in beautiful weather.
The Labassy fight was pretty hot for it rained for four days
and we had no cover and when we came out we were just about done when we did and then came the Ypres which lasted for about two weeks. this is the worse scrap that I was ever in the poor old N.Z. were mown down in in hundred and the poor beggars are still lying there they couldnít burry them.
I knew of forty chaps that went out to burry the dead and after the first four howers they had thirty casualties so they had to give it up. the poor devils were held up for hours by Machine Gun fire and they kept on trying to take it. they knew if they didnít they would put some one else in to do the job.
I saw one officer try to
capture a M.G. (Concrete) position by himself he only went a little way when he went down. I thought he was done but he crawled in at night shot through both knees by M.G. I saw one Tommy officer that lay in a shell hole for five nights with his leg blown off. I saw them carrying him out I donít know if he is still alive.
The 1st Company lost heavily most of these Chaps were either drowned or smothered in the mud really Mother you canít imagine what it is like.
Well Mother you will think the first part of this letter is a bit rough well my mate just brought in a drop of Old Scotch and it has made me a little merry, and it is just beginning to wear
Well Mother I want you to tell Bertie that I will write to him very soon. I am getting a very bad hand at letter writing. Your letters are about the only ones that I do write. Now when I first came over here I used to write to half the girls in N.Z. but I have given it up now. You know a new broom sweeps clean.
Well kid I will be able to tell you something about the old world when I come back again. I have been all over France and Belgium England and Scotland. I went all over the Edenborough Castle and took photos from the top but I donít expect them to be much good because it was snowing very heavy most of the time
and now I am getting to the end of my teather. I have only one more day to go and then I will have to go back to France and that will be the hardest thing I ever did. I would give any thing to be able to go home to you for I am tired of this life. Mother dear I think I will have to close now. No doubt
you will wonder why I am writing on this paper well I am just taking the first chance and there wasnít any writing paper about.
By by Mother
Best love to all
I am your Loving
L/Cpl. Harris J. Foljambe Fuljames
3rd N.Z. Machine Gun Coy
but a true Australian.
Messines has been spelt Macines or Massines
Ploegsteert has been spelt Ploegsteen or Ploguestert
La Bassee has been spelt Labassy
[Transcribed by Judy Gimbert for the State Library of NSW]