The Somme 2 - Bullecourt
Thurs Nov 2nd.
Left Rollestone camp this morning at 4am and marched to Amesbury and left there by train about 6 am. Arrived at Folkestone at 2pm. Embarked on transport and arrived at Boulogne about 6pm. Camped in Rest Camp for night.
Caught train at Boulogne Railway Station and proceeded to Etaples Training Camp.
Thurs Nov 9th.
We go out each day about 3 miles from camp to a parade ground where we go through drill and bayonet fighting.
Thurs Nov 16th
Left Etaples today about 3pm by train.
Fri Nov 17th.
Arrived at Albert about 4.30pm and marched to set billet at Dernancourt about 1 ½ miles.
Sat Nov 18th.
Left Dernancourt about 2pm and marched about 6 miles to Montauban.
Sun Nov 19th.
Moved on today and rejoined the Battalion at Carlton Trench about 2 miles away.
Mon Nov 20th.
The Battalion is a small one now, numbering about 200. They made a charge a few days ago and lost very heavily.
Tues Nov 21st.
Left Carlton Camp today at 10am and marched back about 4 miles to Fricourt.
Sun Nov 26th.
Moved again today to a village about 5 miles further back named Ribemont.
Thurs Nov 30th.
The Brigade left Ribemont today to move further back. I have a touch of tonsillitis and am staying behind for a few days.
Mon Dec 4th.
Rejoined Battalion at Rainneville.
Thurs Dec 14th.
Have had a couple of falls of snow and a lot of rain. We are having an easy time. When it is fine enough, we go out on parade, but very often it is too wet.
Fri Dec 15th.
This village is the usual French village, very dirty and dilapidated, the only decent building being a fine stone church.
Sat Dec 16th.
Left Rainneville today and marched about 9 miles to Franvillers which is rather a big village.
Sun Dec 17th.
Left Franvillers and marched about 6 miles to Dernancourt, a fair sized village, also with a fine big stone church.
Mon Dec 18th.
The Brigade was inspected today by Major General Legge, G.O.C. 2nd Division A.I.F.
Tues Dec 19th.
Marched today from Dermancourt to Fricourt about 3 miles.
Wed Dec 20th.
Moved up about 3 miles to Montauban.
Thurs Dec 21st.
Moved again today about 5 miles to Switch Trench, the first reserve line, the 20th Battalion being in the front line.
Sun Dec 24th.
Went into front line and relieved 20th Battalion ( Le Transloy front ).
Mon Dec 25th.
Christmas day in the trenches. What a Christmas! Standing in rain and mud eating Xmas dinner consisting of muddy bread and meat. Hope to be under better conditions next Christmas Day.
Tues Dec 26th.
It is very quiet here in the trenches except for artillery fire but the mud and cold are awful.
Wed Dec 27th.
Relieved tonight by 18th Battalion and moved back to reserve line.
Thurs Dec 28th.
Shifted further back tonight to huts between Nametz and Delville Woods.
Are on our way back towards the front line again and moved today into dug-outs at Delville Woods.
Wed Jan 3rd 1917.
Moved up into Reserve line at Switch Trench.
Fri Jan 5th.
Moved up into front line again in the same position as we held before in front of Le Transloy. It is still very wet, with mud almost to knees. We are furnished with rubber boots which come up over the knees and are certainly more comfortable than the ordinary boots.
Mon Jan 8th.
Relieved by 27th Battalion.
Wed Jan 10th.
Are back again in E. Camp, the Vissen huts, between Mametz and Delville Wood.
Sat Jan 13th.
I have been on carrying fatigue since we came here, carrying material to the front line. It is rather tiring, as we have to walk about 8 miles each trip and do that twice each day.
Sun Jan 14th.
The 13th Battalion are camped near us and I have been over to see Jack King a couple of times and found him O.K.
Mon Jan 15th.
Moved away from E. Camp by train to Dermancourt.
Thurs Jan 18th.
I am going to a Musketry School at Pont-Remy. About 100 men from each Battalion of the Brigade are going. We left Dermancourt about 11 am, marched about 2 ½ miles to Mericourt and thence by train to Pontremy, arriving about 6.45pm and then marched to billet at Cocquerel about 2 ½ miles from Pont-Remy.
Sun Jan 21st.
We are having a fairly easy time at the school. Each day we fire 15 rounds at targets and do a bit of rapid loading and muscle exercises for a couple of hours and then return to billets.
Wed Jan 24th.
I have finished Musketry course and returned to our Battalion today.
Mon Jan 29th.
Left Dermancourt today and marched about 2 miles to Albert. Albert is considerably knocked about, but there are still a few French people here and more come back each week.
Wed Jan 31st.
Left Albert today and marched about 7 miles to huts at Bazentin near Contalmaison. The ground is frozen hard now and has been so for a couple of weeks. It is very cold but is preferable to the mud.
Thurs Feb 1st.
Moved up to first reserve line at Seven Elms, near Martinpuich.
Mon Feb 5th.
Relieved by 22nd Battalion and moved back about 4 miles to Shelter Wood.
Sun Feb 18th.
I have been selected as one of a raiding party and we, the party selected, marched back about 10 miles to Baizieux for training.
Fri Feb 23rd.
I have had warmer weather which thaws the ground and makes it muddy again.
Sat Feb 24th.
We are having a fairly easy time of it here. The raiding party consists of Capt. Shaler, Sergt. Johns and about 50 other ranks and our principal exercises are route marches and football.
Mon Feb 26th.
I have heard rumours that the Germans are retreating on part of the home front where the Australians are holding the line, and our chaps are following them up.
Received orders this morning to rejoin our Battalion and left Baizieux about 1 pm, arriving at Martinpuich about 12 (midnight) a distance of about 15 miles.
Wed Feb 28th.
Moved up to front line and rejoined battalion near Butte de Warlencourt. Owing to the Germans having retreated the raid was not carried out by us.
Thurs March 1st.
The Germans have been driven back about a mile during the last week in this section. Part of the 19th Battalion took part in the advance, but had few casualties.
Fri March 2nd 1917.
Were relieved last night by 17th Battalion and came out to Bazentin, about 5 miles.
Fri March 6th.
Moved into 1st reserve trenches behind Flers.
Sunday March 11th.
Were relieved tonight by 30th Battalion and moved round to reserve behind Warlencourt.
Mon March 12th.
The Germans have retreated again about 1 ½ miles.
Tues March 13th.
We have moved again and are now in the trench which was our front line 12 days ago.
Fri March 16th.
Moved up to front line and relieved 17th Battalion. There are no trenches here. Groups of 4 men with N.C.O. take up positions at intervals along the line and either dig in or shelter behind any available bark. The post of which I am in charge (having been promoted to Corporal some time ago), is sheltered by a heap of rocks.
Sat March 17th.
We were very excited this morning when our Scouts came in and reported that the Boche had evacuated their line in front of us and we received orders to advance immediately. We moved up about a mile and then discovered a few of the enemy about 800 yards on our left front, opened fire of them with rifles and machine guns and made them scatter but they were too far off for a direct hit. Part of C Company have moved up further but our platoon is in reserve. The Germans are retreating in good order and destroying everything that they cannot carry away. Each night a line of fires can be seen where he is burning villages and dumps etc. and they are still on the move and everything points to them moving back a long way. We are just on the left of Bapaume, which is a very large town through which portion of 8th Brigade marched this morning. The town is burning still. The country in front of us is very open and patrols of cavalry are moving about all day.
Sun March 18th.
Were relieved tonight by 22nd Battalion and are now billeted in tumble down houses in Grevilliers which, 2 nights ago was very lively with shells and machine gun fire, but is now quiet.
Thurs March 22nd.
We are all busy now repairing the roads. They are not damaged much here except for mine craters at intervals.
Mon March 24th.
The 7th Brigade attacked this morning and captured Lagnicourt and about ½ mile beyond took a number of prisoners. The 19th and 20th Battalions were in reserve and we moved up tonight and took up position in reserve from 26th Battalion as they had suffered very heavily.
Tues March 25th.
Relieved tonight by 52nd Battalion and moved back to Bazentin about 12 miles.
We are now camped in huts at Fricourt, and fairly comfortable. We go out on parade each day for about 4 hours and sometimes have a game of football.
I have been admitted to Hospital at Becordel with influenza. The 2nd Division are expected to go in the line any day.
Have heard that 2nd Division have moved up and relieved 4th Division. The Germans have made a stand at a strong point known as "The Hindenburg Line", and by all accounts it is a very strong position. The 4th Division attacked and broke through the line but were driven back with very heavy casualties. They followed up behind the Tanks, a new invention which, in this instance, have proved a failure.
I have just been informed that the Germans came over on Sunday morning near Noreuil, and were repulsed with very heavy losses by portions of 5th and 6th Brigades.
Discharged from Hospital and went into details camp at Albert.
Rejoined Battalion near Vaulx about 4 miles behind the line.
We have been practicing a big attack which we are to launch on the Hindenburg line. It is a big scale and will be carried out on a long portion of the line.
Tues May 1st.
We moved up into reserve line early this morning.
Wed May 2nd.
I have been making preparations for our attack on Hindenburg line before Bullecourt. It is to be a big affair on about 1 ½ mile front and we are on the extreme right flank.
Thurs May 3rd.
Attacked at 4am. At that hour our artillery started firing, the idea being to follow up behind our own artillery barrage, but the enemy commenced at the same time, which proved that they knew all about the intended attack. The result was that there was considerable confusion, the shells falling so thickly that it was almost impossible to see where you were going through the smoke. I went about 30 yards and have a dim recollection of falling into a huge shell hole and was immediately wounded in face, right arm and chest. Lay stunned for a while until our chaps retreated, when I found that I could walk and struggled out. I have a since heard that our lads suffered very heavily. They retired to first reserve, which was a railway embankment. They were quickly reorganised and again went over, capturing portion of the line which they were afterwards compelled to abandon.
Tues May 8th.
I am in 10th General Hospital at Rouen, and am marked up to go across to England. I have heard that very heavy fighting occured round Bullecourt, which is still in German hands.