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.