<< December 1917 – February 1918 >>
TUESDAY 1ST JANUARY, 1918
Was a holiday and more football.
WEDNESDAY 2ND JANUARY, 1918
I am detailed to attend a machine gun demonstration at Camiers where on a sandy beach backed by a good bank for cover we witness a crossfire where not a yard of beach was left unmarked by indirect and crossfire.
THURSDAY 3RD JANUARY, 1918
I am to be Orderly Officer for one week.
FRIDAY 4TH JANUARY, 1918
Company parades and Battalion had its photo taken. Colonel McConaghy is taking over command of our Battalion from Major Oatley.
SATURDAY 5TH JANUARY, 1918
We practice advance guard scheme.
SUNDAY 6TH JANUARY, 1918
Agnew and I take a walk into Etarples for a bath.
MONDAY 7TH JANUARY, 1918
C Company goes to the Riffle Range.
TUESDAY 8TH JANUARY, 1918
Very heavy snow and bathing parade postponed.
WEDNESDAY 9TH JANUARY, 1918
Advance guard scheme.
THURSDAY 10TH JANUARY, 1918
Bathing parade for the Battalion. Hot showers and change of underclothing.
FRIDAY 11TH JANUARY, 1918
I fall in for Paris leave and go by train from Etarples at 8.35 am. Arrive in Paris 3.45pm. and put up at Hotel Modern.
SATURDAY 12TH JANUARY, 1918
Draw my pay at Pepienere Barracks. If I should draw the whole picture from this diary I should refer back to my first visit to London where I met for the first time a very charming cousin, Dorothea Murray Prior, her life was being taken up in looking after her mother, Aunt Nora, who was losing her eyesight. Dorothea mentioned to me that her sister, Ruth, was working with the YMCA at Harfleur which camp I visited when attending our Bullring camp at Le Havre. Now that I am on leave I prefer the homely company of Cousin Ruth so I visit Le Havre.
SUNDAY 13TH JANUARY, 1918
Take train to Le Havre and put up at Hotel Modern.
MONDAY 14TH JANUARY, 1918
I had difficulty in finding a suitable cab horse for a drive round the city with Ruth. Ruth was well informed as regards her relations and mine but also she could speak French very well.
TUESDAY 15TH JANUARY, 1918
I take 7.20am train for Paris arriving St. Lazare by noon.
WEDNESDAY 16TH JANUARY, 1918
I met up with a young American Doctor of American Army. He was proud to belong to the Southern States. We visit Polies Bergeres that evening.
THURSDAY 17TH JANUARY, 1918
Take train at 9.10am arrive Etarples 2.30 pm and walk back to camp having had a very interesting break.
FRIDAY 18TH JANUARY, 1918
Captain Cromby is attending a Court Marshall so I am in command of C Company for the day, and it is very certain that we soon return to the front.
SATURDAY 19TH JANUARY, 1918
Brigade held its day of sports. C Company had to march 12 kilometres to reach the ground.
SUNDAY 20TH JANUARY, 1918
MONDAY 21ST JANUARY, 1918
TUESDAY 22ND JANUARY, 1918
Our Brigade assembles at Le Turn – Halengen Crossroads. General Birdwood addresses the Brigade and hands out some decorations. The General’s address was to convey to us the news that The Army Command had decided to let Fritz kick the ball off “that is” make the first attack in the coming spring weather. His words were not encouraging. Obviously we must be weak if our armies could not attack. There was a perceptible fall off in morale in some of the ranks. Rations had been severely shortened during late Winter and now we had to await the German attack. All this seemed to be not quite right but “C’st La Guerre”.
Sergeant Jim Larkings had returned to our Battalion this day. He had been away for some months at the training Battalion after recovering from wounds. Larkings was a tough chap well used to axe work and fighting. He was to be my platoon Sergeant until again wounded.
WEDNESDAY 23RD JANUARY, 1918
THURSDAY 24TH JANUARY, 1918
Battalion and Brigade inspections. I am detailed to attend camouflage school near Bologne at Wimmera camp.
FRIDAY 25TH JANUARY, 1918
Return from Camourlage School to Billets.
SATURNDAY 26TH JANUARY, 1918
Our valises are packed to go by limber to our next destination.
SUNDAY 27TH JANUARY, 1918
MONDAY 28TH JANUARY, 1918
All baggage is sent on ahead – we retain only one blanket.
TUESDAY 29TH JANUARY, 1918
We leave La Motte Farm and Frencq, entrain at Samer and detrain near Demmel, then march into Kemmel for the night.
I hear we are to relieve the 1st Battalion and that H. A. Beckett (a school mate) is a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion and his Company is in the Catacomes of Wyschate about 2 miles on. I decided to walk over in the evening and pay him a visit. Some shells were falling about and after a talk over some rum I realised that I had come without leave. A walk in the evening was one way to keep warm.
WEDNESDAY 30TH JANUARY, 1918
C Company moves up to local reserve position in a pill box close by Whyschate and where on the previous night I had contacted A’ Beckett. It is ration party for me this night to the front line posts.
THURSDAY 31ST JANUARY, 1918
Foggy weather. C. Company supply ration party again for front line. I have not noted in my diary who the other Officer was. Captain Crombie had charge of the Company. It was about that time that Lieutenant Jack Evans came into the picture.