Friday 5 December 2014

A Busy Ol' Summer.

With frosty mornings and icy winds to look forward to this seems a good time to look back over the last six months.  As far as summer's go this year has been one to remember.
It seemed to stretch endlessly into infinity,  reminiscent of my school holidays from long ago, when those precious school-free weeks ran out long before those wonderful summer days.

If I ever had a busier summer with a camera than this one I really don't remember it, and with seven projects in progress the cameras have been in constant use almost every day since early spring.  But if there is a better way to spend my time I can't imagine what it is.

Hathor's Restoration.
One of my regular weekly visits is the Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust's yard at Wroxham.  Here the pleasure wherry "Hathor" has been under-going major restoration.

"Hathor" was winched onto the slipway over twelve months ago.
On February 19th, with her hull fully restored, she was re-floated and work began immediately on her topside and interior. First stage was to repair the plankways and cabin sides.  Then her decks were lined with plywood and covered with hard wearing lino.  Work has recently begun refurbishing the cabins and saloon.

Each stage of "Hathor's" restoration has, and is being recorded.  As the summer finally faded away this grand old lady was beginning to look her best once again.
Lining "Hathors" foredeck with plywood.

Fitting the Hawk benches.
"Sam" enthusiastically watches proceedings..

The  North Walsham and Dilham Canal.
On the North Walsham and Dilham Canal the restoration continues apace.  The banks of the dry section between Spa Common and Royston Bridge are well on the way to being reconstructed.  This is due to the extended dry spell from June to August which allowed a fleet of tipper trucks  to haul in tons of high grade subsoil.  Day after day they emerged through the dust creating some wonderful shots for the camera.  On the North side of Royston Bridge the progress has been equally impressive as the reconstruction heads unerringly toward Swafield.

Tippers bring in high grade subsoil.
Trucks emerge through the dust
A section of restored banking.
In late summer, with the help of a friend using his "Phantom" drone, with a GoPro camera on board, we were able to shoot some stunning arial footage of the reconstructed banks.

A magnificent distraction on the canal was the brood of Swans that hatched near Spa Common.   They have been high on the filming agenda on my regular, weekly visits to the canal. We have a record of the day they hatched to the present when they are now almost full grown.
They were the subject of an earlier blog.  If you would like to see the brood click on the links below.

On September 26th as the summer was drawing to a close,  Doug Hamilton Cox, a retired Royal Engineer, walked the canal from Swafield to Tonnage Bridge.  We filmed the event which is intended to raise funds for the "Help For Heroes" charity.  Doug plans to walk every canal in the UK and raise £100,000.00. 
"Help for Heroes" Canal walk at Swafield lock.

Mist On The Marsh.
My labour of love continues to move toward completion, albeit very slowly.  All the documentary sequences are complete and most of the dramatised folklore is safely " in the can".   My undying appreciation for the cast, who with unswerving loyalty, have stuck with me and the project through some very trying times.  An extra special effort to complete this epic is scheduled for early 2015.
A clip from "Mist On The Marsh".

M&GN Dray.
While all this was going on, the M&GN  horse drawn dray was undergoing overhaul which I filmed whenever possible.  The film started at Banningham, where the hundred year old cart was renovated.
Dray off to Weyborne works.
This included the metal tyres being heated and fitted to the wheels.  From there the dray was taken to the sheds at Weybourne where the overhaul was completed.  Finally the dray was filmed arriving  at Holt station drawn by a magnificent shire horse.
Dray in the carpenters workshop.

Fitting the metal tyres.
The Dray arriving at Holt station.

Slipping "Albion"
On October 9th, in the dying weeks of our wonderful Indian summer "Albion" was being hauled out at Oulton Broad.  We arrived at Excelsior's yard to record the wherry being winched onto the slipway.
A brisk south-westerly rippled across Lake Lothing as "Albion" was secured to the cradle and hauled out of the water.
"Albion" almost out of the water.

Secured in the cradle.

On November 24th "Albion" was re-floated after her routine maintenance was completed.  Once again we made our way to Oulton Broad in time for "High water".  The wherry was smoothly lowered down the tracks and into the water.  With the tender standing by, the bilges were checked for leaks before we set off for the lock.  The traffic was stopped as "Albion"  slipped under the road bridge and into Mutford lock.  The summer was finally behind us on this shoot, but even at this late date the sun followed us into the yacht station to round the year off nicely.
The skipper checking tide times.
The tender standing by.

Stopping the traffic.

Inside Mutford Lock.

I hope the above demonstrates why the blogs have been few and far between in recent weeks.  We will try harder in 2015.
Merry Christmas  and a Happy New Year!


Friday 11 July 2014

Cygnets Take to the Water.

In mid May a pair of young swans built a nest on one of Norfolk's more remote waterways.  For six weeks the Pen sat on the nest including a scorching hot spell in June.  Along with several others I kept watch over the pair in the hope there might be youngsters.  As the pen is a young bird there were no gaurantees there would be a sucessful outcome - it was simply watch and wait.

The Swans nest on the canal.
On my twice weekly visits to the area my first stop was always the swan's nest in the hope there would be something to film.   Several weeks went by without any significant change apart from the cob letting me know he had his eye on me. This was demonstrated from time to time with some slightly menacing hisses followed by some extravagant wing flapping.

On Monday June 23rd I made an extra trip to the nest site - Surprise! Surprise! there was a group of five fluffy little chicks inspecting the nest. 

Five chicks and one egg.
Mum gently turned the one remaining egg while the five cygnets squeaked continuously as they surveyed  the strange world they found themselves in.  It was sheer luck that I had arrived when I did, even better I was just in time to film the chicks entering the water for the first time. 

At the time of writing the chicks are just two weeks old and seem to be doing okay.  There are dangerous times ahead for them. An RSPB survey states that only half the cygnets born reach maturity, predators and pollution account for most of the fatalities. The chicks are on a secluded, private stretch of water and I believe they are relatively safe from human interference. Even so I have chosen not to disclose their exact location as I have long since lost my faith in many kinds of human behaviour. 

"Vaya con dios" little fellows.

To see a video of the cygnets please click the link below.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

I Shot The Band.

A few days ago we travelled with a local Norfolk band to the Welsh border to film one of their gigs.
Looking For Mango are a talented Norfolk five piece band who were signed up for the Ebstock Music Festival along with other bands from Cardiff and Liverpool.

We stayed overnight in a B and B in the pretty village of Whittington, a few miles from the event, and awoke  to the smell of bacon and eggs and the sound of torrential rain.
Whittington Castle, the view from our Band B

 We arrived at the Ebnal Hall venue where everyone was wearing wellies and carrying umbrellas.  Looking For Mango were booked to do two sets, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

By evening the programme was over running by an hour and a half. LFM started the final set at about 11pm.  The place was absolutely rocking with three hundred people or so bouncing and jumping to the band from Norfolk.  Filming was a challenge in the midst of a demented smoke machine, illuminated by an impressive light show from the overhead gantry.  
LFM attracted fans like a magnet as they played into the night - in the middle of it all the camera was bounced and barged around in front of the stage.  A great gig.

"Looking for Mango" are a band with a great sound, watch out for them at Norfolk venues.  You will not be disappointed.
"Looking For Mango" Sound Check.

Listen to "Looking For Mango" on the link below.

Follow them on Facebook.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Swallowtail Butterflies.

"Papilio Machaon Britannicus" is the posh name for a magnificent species of Butterfly, more commonly known as "Swallowtails".
From late May to early July these large, beautiful insects take to the air and fly strongly over the Norfolk reed beds.

We took our cameras to How Hill near Ludham in search of these fascinating creatures.  Through two of the hottest days of the year we waited, in company with other enthusiasts, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive "Swallowtail".

"Swallowtail Butterfly" (Photo courtesy Tony Hisgett)

The British "Swallowtail" is a rare sub species that is only found in and around the Norfolk broads.
For five short weeks in summer the "Swallowtails" emerge, mate and lay their eggs on stems of Milk-parsley (Marsh Hog's Fennel).

Milk-parsley, a distant relative of the humble Parsnip, is the key to the "Swallowtails" life cycle and ultimate survival.  The plant grows in the Norfolk wetlands and is the essential food plant of the "Swallowtails".

The fragility of the species was dramatically illustrated at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire during the 1950's.  There the wetland habitat was reduced from over 100 hectares to less than ten due to agricultural activity over many years. As the water table dropped scrub land overwhelmed large tracts of the marshes around Wicken Fen.   Slowly the Milk-parsley disappeared and the Cambridgeshire "Swallowtails" became extinct.  Parts of the fens were flooded in an attempt to re-introduce the species  with Norfolk stock.  The project failed as did subsequent attempts leaving the Norfolk Broads as the last outpost for one of Britain's most spectacular butterflies.

For the moment the  Norfolk "Swallowtails" seem to be holding their own and are reasonably safe as long as the Milk-parsley survives.  By mid July most of the eggs have been laid and a few weeks later the caterpillars are soon feeding on their precious food plant.  The young caterpillars are very unspectacular in their appearance, resembling bird droppings to fool would be predators. The caterpillar or larva will moult three times before it pupates.  The adult caterpillar assumes a very colourful striped appearance after it's final moult.  

Caterpillar After 3rd Moult (Courtesy Wikimedia)
The caterpillar's defence against predators is the osmeterium, a horn like organ situated just behind the head.  This is deployed if the larva is threatened, giving off a pungent smell, similar to rotting pineapples.

The Osmerterium (Courtesy  Wikimedia)

In spite of this bizarre deterrent large numbers of larva are taken by birds and spiders long before the they transform into pupa.  Caterpillars that do survive make their way down the stems of reeds or similar plants, camouflaging themselves with green or dark brown colouration to suit their surroundings.  Here they overwinter waiting for the warm summer sun when they will emerge as exotic butterflies.    

"Swallowtail" Pupa (Courtesy Wikimedia)

At How Hill, after many hours of waiting, we were rewarded with several "Swallowtails" fluttering across the meadow and alighting on the thistles to refuel with nectar.  They remained just long enough for us to capture precious seconds of their extravagant display before they made off across the marsh and out of sight.  

The "Swallowtail" is protected by the Wildlife and Countryside act.

"Across my dreams, with nets of wonder
I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love."
                                     Dolly Parton

Monday 16 June 2014

Disappearing Norfolk.

The tide of progress sweeps inexorably across the country, with it come the luxuries and advantages we all enjoy and prize so highly.  Unfortunately these improvements come at a price in the form of change to the places we love. Like every other English county, Norfolk is not exempt from this trend.  Due to this state of affairs I have become a man with a mission - the mission to record as much of disappearing Norfolk as time will allow.

Many years ago in the East end of London I was in conversation with a market trader.
When he learned I was from Norfolk he began speaking very slowly in his native "Cockaneese" so that I might understand everything that was being said to me.  He informed me, with unnecessary and patronising delight, that Norfolk was one hundred miles from London and every mile took you back one year. A form of time travel.

His barbed comments were intended as a joke at my expense.  I looked around the litter-strewn market-place and noted the mangy old mongrel cocking his leg up against a "fruit and veg" stall.  I compared this to the green fields back home stretching out under the big Norfolk sky, and I wondered just how long we must wait for the missionaries to reach our part of the world to save us.

"Street Market" courtesy Stephen McKay

The market trader was right, Norfolk, at that time, had escaped the rigours of rampant progress and  it dawned on me just how lucky we were.  At this exact moment the campaign to plough up the A11 at the Norfolk border earned my everlasting and undying support.

Fast forward forty years and how things have changed. Improved road links and faster trains have brought the long awaited progress to Norfolk and accelerated change to this part of the kingdom.

I cannot imagine how we managed all those years ago without a McDonald's or Witherspoon's.  We had to make do with old coaching inns and village pubs.
For so long we were denied the magical experience of giant supermarkets where customers are processed like peas.  Instead we had to endure the corner shop where the friendly old shopkeeper would ask if your mum's Lumbago was any better or enquire if we were we going on holiday that year.  We exchanged our ancient country lanes for wider roads and dual carriageways.  These enabled  us to dash from one place to another without seeing anything of interest in between and take out large numbers of wildlife while doing so.

The advent of the credit card, a simply wondrous event that allowed us to buy things we did not need and could not afford.  Laptops and mobile phones have acquired the status of an extra limb, giving us rolling news and instant internet access.  Oh for the days when the only tablets needed to sustain life were issued by the family doctor not PC World.

Along with progress came the inevitable interest of property developers, the sprawling acres of Norfolk farmland were ideal for housing developments.  Bricks and tarmac spread across large tracts of the county like a cancer, eating up pastures and woodland, destroying the habitat of the wildlife that was once so abundant in Norfolk.  There are some species of British butterflies and birds that my Great grand children will, in all probability, never see.

"Honey Bee" Courtesy Jon Sullivan

Some species of these seemingly insignificant little creatures like Bull Finches, Bees and Bats are already tottering on the edge of extinction. A casual shrug of our sloping shoulders does not excuse us. We must all take some responsibility for not taking greater care of this little patch of England that was entrusted to our keeping.

Visitors to Norfolk fall in love with our county, most are attracted by the slower pace of life.  As more folk settle here the very things that made this county so attractive and unique are gradually diluted and lost.  Improving road and rail links will only serve to accelerate this process.

The Norfolk of my childhood no longer exists, it has simply melted away, almost unnoticed.  Many might say it is a good thing.  Modern drugs and medicines have increased our chances of a long and healthy life span, far greater than our grandparents could have hoped for.  Better housing,  nutritious food, the benefits are endless.  Alas, for everything gained something is lost, this is the nature of progress.

For just one day I would love to be transported back to my school days. Perch on a farm gate and watch the ploughman pull a furrow. straight as an arrow without the aid of GPS.
Creative commons Attribution Licence

Friday 23 May 2014

War Diary Part Three.

In the spring of 1917 Walter's battalion made a ten day march to Arras to reinforce the British offensive.
After the action Walter's company was relieved but Walter and others were left behind and had to find their own way back.

Early in 1918 Walter caught up with his brother George.   Walter marched beside him to his camp.

The Battle for Arass  (Imperial War Museum)

Sun 14th Jan

Fritz shelled camp with long range guns - rush for old German dugouts 200 yards away where we slept for next few nights.  Several chaps from my tent (signals) were wounded on carrying party - one killed.  Fortunately I was absent having to report to Headquarters at Millencourt for duty as a tailor, (some mistake).  Long tramp with full kit but perhaps I was lucky.

Stayed at Corps headquarters that night and tramped back to Bazenten next morning.

Wed 24th Jan

Battalion came out of line.

Thur 25th Jan

Back to Albert and billeted in a corner cafe near cathedral.

Mon 29th Jan


Thur Feb 8th

Mericourt after long march.

Mon 12th Feb

Relieved French in trenches on Peronne sector.

Tich and I turned out of our cosy little cubby hole by corporal Saint who wanted it for a bomb store.   While looking for a fresh cubby for us (we following) he was struck by a shell and blown to pieces - but beyond concussion Tich and I were all right.  Very little of poor old Saint was found to bury.

Trenches in a very bad state of repair and working parties every night cutting fire steps etc.    Ground frozen hard and work was very hard.

Sat 17th Feb

Thaw set in - trenches in terrible mess.  Was lucky in leaving trenches for a signals course at Foucaucourt.  (Bon time).

Mon 5th Mar

Rejoin battalion at Proyart in signal section.

Fri 9th Mar

Marched to Warfusel - Lammoste and billeted in French huts - decent village and being lighted with gas was quite a novelty after seeing nothing stronger than a candle for months.

Had a good time.

Mon 12th Mar

Back to signals course at Mericourt - Sur - Somme,  billeted in French huts with Reay and Finlayson.

Sat 17th Mar

Fin and myself on guard.

Sun 18th Mar

Church parade in Chateau grounds, Divisional headquarters.

Thur 29th Mar

Rejoined battalion at Warfusel.

Fri 30th Mar

This day we learnt that our division (the 50th) were flying division and command on the march that day passing through Villiers Breloneux and after long days march arrived that evening at Camon-dosey, little town - dead beat and didnt go out.

Sat 31st Mar

Continued march going through Amiens and arrived at village of Bertangles.

Mon 2nd April

Continued march and arrived at Beauval, nice little town - bokoo

but luck out, no brass.

Tues 3rd April

March and arrive at village of Fortel after passing through Doullens.

Wed 4th April

Marched and arrived at village of Framecourt.  We stayed here and on Good Friday marched a few kilometres to Petit Horwain for manoeuvres attack on railway station - I did duty as sig.

Sat 7th April

Marched and arrived at Monchcaux.

Sun 5th April

Marched and arrived at Givenchy- Le-Noble and billeted in large Chateau courtyard - all racehorse stables.

Easter Monday

Stand to all day for a big stunt at Arras.

Tues 10th April

Marched and arrived at Wanquotin,  few kilos from Arras.

Wed 11th April

Continued march and were halted in centre of Arras about 10pm when it was snowing quite heavily.  After tinkering about for an hour continued march and about midnight reached old German trench called HUN LINE where we kipped in Fritz's dugouts which were best system of dugouts I had seen.  All connected and well ventilated - were in front very thick.   This position was recently captured by British.  We were all dead beat and very thankful our long march was ended.

Sat 14th April

In reserve at Telegraph Hill where there were two British disabled tanks, one named Charlie Chaplin which carried two 3 inch guns.

Dis-abled British Tank (Imperial War Museum)

Sun 15th April

Front line at Wancourt.  Large gun (probably naval) doubtful whether British or German destroyed a large part of our trench. Luckily no casualties.

Thur 19th April

Relieved but Lt (Butcher) Brown messed things with result half a dozen of us left behind from company.  We went on our own following railway through Wancourt which was being heavily shelled.  That night slept with R.A.M.C. in dugout dressing station.

Road To Wancourt. (Imperial War Museum)

Fri 20th April

Not finding company we reported at transport at Arras on the way passing Butcher Brown having breakfast with R.T.A. officers.   From transport with water cart rejoined company at Telegraph Hill in dugouts.  That evening saw British ammunition column going up under heavy shell fire.

Sat 21st April

Back to Arras and billeted in caves  -  very large - lavatories and even streets, the whole place lit by electricity.    Saw Fritz plane bring down an observer balloon in flames - the occupant escaping by parachute.

Sun 22nd April

Church parade in caves (gives some idea of size)  Stood to all day.

Mon 23rd April

St George's Day rosettes issued (red and white).  Evening alarm and we rushed to reserve line.

Tues 24th April

Our Brigade made attack on Wancourt tower.  Stiff fight very heavy bombardment - Fritz used thousands of flares - many casualties in our Brigade.

Thurs 26th April

Entrained at Arras railway siding (very desolate) for Mondicourt.


Sat 9th Feb

In line with A company sig station in German Pill-box.  Just after we arrived Fritz dropped shell clean on top of Pill-box which rocked about like a ship at sea.

Sat 16th Feb

Whitby camp - bokoo rum punch (hot milk rum and sugar).  Had double dose with A company and then went to my own company where I got best part of (diru?) full of QMS Jarvelund after this lot I felt a bit lively and went to postmans dugout across road for a registered letter I was expecting and which I got alright.

Wed 20th Feb

33rd division passed our camp and I was soon on lookout for Brother (George) who I found after running about a mile to the head of the column.   Walked beside him on march till he reached  camp and then dashed back and  we were to go up the line that night.

Fri 22nd Feb

Back to Whitby camp.

Sat 23rd Feb

Entrained at Ypres for Wizerous from here we marched about 12 kilos to Boisdingen where I rejoined D company.  Billeted in an old airforce camp.

Tues 26th Feb

Reveille 4.30 marched to rifle range which was being used by Australians - back to billet and then back to range in afternoon.  Stan Reay and I were sentries on road in rear of range we had to prevent anyone passing for fear of richochets.  Afternoon we had to carry danger flags back to hut on range.  By then battalion had moved off so we strolled back on our own and had tea in a YM and then back to camp at 8pm.

Sunday 2 March 2014

War Diary Part Two.

Due to unforseen circumstances my film making activities have been seriously curtailed at the moment.
To keep the blog active it seems a good time to publish more extracts from uncle Walter's war diary.

In Part two, 1917, Walter trains as a signaller and gets home on leave to England for Christmas.
There are suprisingly no entries in the diary recording his time at home.

The entries seem to suggest that Walter was becoming "battle hardened".  No longer the quiet young Norfolk lad who left "Blighty"  twelve months earlier.

Walter was quite mobile in 1917 - although the front line was fairly static the battalions were moved quite frequently to reinforce the line.

Please note the extracts from the diary were written almost one hundred years ago and may not be considered "Politically correct" by todays standards.

Sat 12th May 1917
Manoeuvres - reveille 4am.

Mon 14th May
Manoeuvres cancelled - rain.

Tues 15th May
Manoeuvres with live ammunition through a rifle bomb being fired with an ordinary cartridge.  The bomb fell short of the target and dropped among some of my company,  men who were in the supposed front line causing several casualties.  The 4th Northumberland Fusiliers also had some casualties.   The wounded coming down on limbers made it look almost like a real stunt.

Wed 16th May
Manoeuvres -  enemy 6th Northumberland Fusiliers in wood which we had to attack.

Thur 17th May
Marched to a small village
Fri 18th May
March to small village of Ayette - badly smashed about - we bivouacked.
Vaults in cemetery so knocked about as to expose skeletons.

Sun 20th May
Reveille 3am back in line, fortunate in being put on details with Sheardown where we ran a signal station to Brigade H.Q.
In evening cycled with a message to Brigade a few miles away.

Mon 28th May
Cycled with a message in evening to CO of our battalion which were lying in cubby holes at St Leger.  By an overland road got there all right but lost my way coming back in the dark and what with falling in old trenches and getting myself and cycle mixed up with barbed wire.  I had a devil of a time and got back to Ayette about midnight.
Wed 23rd May
Details shifted to Moyenville.

Sun 27th May Whit Sunday
On guard - battalion out of line.

Mon 28th May Whit Monday
March to Monchy (not to Monchy - le - Preax) where we had to build bivvies for ourselves.
Tich and I found a lot of old corrugated iron and made a bivvy and later we made an extension to accommodate Murchi.  I was on fatigue in evening filling in old trenches to make roadway for our field kitchens.  While at Monchy we had a very heavy hailstorm - largest hailstones I have ever seen.

British Army field kitchen
Wed 30th May
Manoeuvres where (Butcher) Brown very much amused Tich and myself by getting very excited over finding an old German telephone position fixed at the top of a high tree in a wood.  It was a well concealed position and was reached by steps that were cut in the tree.

Thurs 31st May
Reported sick with bad legs and was sent to hospital at place called Goury - had good time here.

Tues 5th June
Discharged hospital and had to walk right back to Monchy.  It was evening when got to Souastri.   Here we met a Northumberland Fusilier padre who gave us some cash and we went and got some tea at Y.M.  Concert party that evening "Blue Diamond" (Durhams) so we stayed and then continued our journey to Monchy.  Feeling whacked we crawled under a stack for the night.

Wed 6th June
About 9am we reported to battalion - companies out on manoeuvres.

Fri 8th June
Our company proceeded to Mercatil for duty on ammunition dump.  Where we worked in two shifts day and night loading up lorries with shells as required.  We were complimented on the amount of work we did.   Good time at Y.M. when off duty.

Wed 20th June
Whole of our division under canvas near Boyelles.

Sun 24th June
In the line - signal station - Murchi and I came right back to Mercatil for a reel of wire and stayed in Y.M. before going back.

Thurs 28th June
At Hinen in blanket bivvies - I was with Murchi and Tich and Daver were in the next bivvy.
Wind up at midnight as Fritz was dropping gas shells in next camp.

Mon 2nd July
In line - signal and gas guard.

Tues 10th July
Under canvas at Neuville Vitasse.

Sun 15th July
Working party at Wancourt.

Wed 18th July
In line.

Fri 27th July
Out of line and in old trenches at Neauville Vitasse.

Wed Aug 1st
In line.

Sat Aug 4th
Canvas camp at Neauville Vitasse.

Sun Aug 5th
Five days C.B. for washing in a shell hole.    (Confined to barracks)
(Punishment) Pulling horse drawn roller over cricket pitch and digging large pit to bury refuse.

Sun 12th Aug
On pass to Arras with Murchi.  Had photos taken by Frenchman who lived in a cellar near cathedral ruins.

Mon 13th Aug
Battalion in line - details.

Tues 14th Aug
Played cricket in morning and afternoon went to Arras.

Wed 15th Aug
Signals course at Boyelles - division signal school.

Fri 24th Aug
Y.M. at Boisleax-au-Mont,  pictures of Battle of Arras.   That evening saw the first Yankee troops - engineers.

Wed 29th Aug
On guard at school.

Mon 10th Sept
Sent to divisional sig stn at Wancourt for instruction.

Wed 12th Sept
Station moved nearer line to a small ruined village called Guinappe.  Station fixed at a wayside shrine where we were shelled by heavies and so we went farther back in the village.

Mon 17th Sept
Back to divisional school by motor lorry.

Sun 7th Oct
Rain all day.

Mon 8th Oct
Rain all day.

Tues 15th Oct
Guard - in afternoon the whole school started on the march for Achut-le-Petit.  The camp we should have taken over was occupied so that night we put up in a large barn which had been used for a theatre.   About 2am shifted into camp.

Wed 16th Oct
Entrained from Miriamont and arrived at Cassel where we marched to divisional details at a place called Bollezelle, very large camp here and signal school was lodged in a large marquee.

Wed 24th Oct
Rough weather - marquee blown down at about 2am.  Had to walk about till daylight when it was a scramble claiming kit.

Sat 1st Dec
Left Bollezelle for Eperleques Chateau - were billeted in Nissen huts in the grounds.
While here on the 13th and 14th was granted leave.  Marching to the railroad at Walton and entrained for Boulogne and after a splendid fortnight left home at 10-30pm on Boxing night.

Wed 26th Dec Boxing night
Thorpe 10.30pm  with  Jack Mace his wife and Albert Jex who were all going to London.

Thur 27th Dec
Liverpool Street Station 3.30am - stayed in waiting room till about 5am.  Then went and had a bit of breakfast in cafe just outside station.  After breakfast we got in a van, kind of laundry van which took us over London Bridge to the railway station where Jack and I left Violet and Albert who had to catch trains.  Jack and I went to his billet in Shepherds Bush where we had breakfast.   Jack couldn't get day off so I knocked about on my own till noon when I took my kit to Victoria station - and then went back and had dinner with Jack.  Had a look round town in afternoon and met Jack at night on the underground at Victoria station.  At night went to Oxford theatre and saw "The Better Ole".   Afterwards having supper at Lyons cafe,then 11.30pm.   Left Jack at 12.30am outside Victoria Station and went to Y.M.C.A. hostel nearby where I had ordered a bed for the night.

Fri 28th Dec
Caught boat train from Victoria Station it was snowing heavily when reached Boulogne - stayed at rest camp that night at Boulogne and met men of 4th Northumberland Fusiliers.

Sat 29th Dec
Left Boulogne - made meal of cake I brought from home.  6pm that night arrived at St Omer where we slipped out of station and had an hour or two in town - billiards and a drink or two.
9pm arrived at Walton reported to area commandant who put us up for night and told us our division was near Ypres.

Sun 30th Dec
Drawed rations from RTO and had breakfast at esterminet at Walton. 
Troops at an Estaminet (Bistro)
  Marched to signal school 8 kilometres stopping half way at an esterminet we knew and finished other cake and also had a few drinks - 4pm arrived at school.

Mon 31st Dec
Left school to rejoin battalion and detrained at Paperinge - air raid on.

Tues 1st Jan
Rejoined battalion at Potize - camp - tents, just through Ypres.

Wed 2nd Jan
Working party digging trench up line - went up by light railway.

Thur 3rd Jan
Battalion back to Paperinge by bus.

London buses used for troop movements

Sat 5th Jan 1918
Cap Off - 7 days No 1 for outstaying leave - in the mush in cellar beneath Battalion HQ.  All prisoners daily working parties up line.