The Somme - Pozieres

Fri Apr 7th.

We left Boeseghem about 8.30am and marched about 16 miles to a village named Outtersteene, where we billeted for the night. On the way we passed through several villages and a large town named Hazebrouck, which was lined with people who gave us a great reception. At the entrance to a village named Morbecque, we marched past General Joffre and staff, who were standing with an English General and also Brigadier General Holmes.

Sat Apr 8th.

We left Outtersteene about 11am. The whole 5th Brigade are marching out here together and make a long line about a mile in length. Arrived about 4.45pm just outside the village of Erquinghem.

Sun Apr 9th.

Went into Erquinghem today and had a good day out. This place is shelled occasionally but no great damage has been done. We see a good many aeroplanes up here being fired at and at night, when everything is quiet, we can hear the rifle and machine gun fire quite plainly, as the trenches are only about 4 miles away.

Mon Apr 10th.

We are all ready this evening to move off again which we expect to do any time after sundown.

Tues Apr 11th.

We left our camp last night about 8.30pm and marched on about 3 miles where we are billeted again in reserve. The Germans shell around here and several shrapnel shells have burst near here this morning. We are now just outside Armentieres.

Wed Apr 12th.

It has been raining the last 2 days and the place all round is very muddy. We have done nothing since we came here, and we are not allowed out, so we stay in the house all day.

Thur Apr 13th.

I was on a fatigue today out in the trenches and had a good look through them. They are fairly good, although there is a lot of water lying about, but the bottom of the trench os boarded, so there is something solid to walk on. On the way out to the communication trench we passed through the village of Bois-Grenier which has been knocked about a lot and there isn’t a building in it that hasn’t been smashed up some of them broken up completely.

Sun Apr 16th.

We left the billets last night about 8pm and got into the trenches about 10pm where we relieved the 17th, the 18th being relieved by the 20th. The part of the trench where we are is about 400 yards from the enemy’s trench, but further along to our right, they are about 50 yards closer. It is fairly quiet here except for a few shells in the daytime.

Tues Apr 18th.

It is fairly quiet here except for an occasional burst of artillery fire but there is very little rifle fire.

Wed Apr 19th.

It has been raining ever since we came into the trenches and it is very miserable as we are not allowed in the dug-outs at night and have to stand out in the rain.

Thurs Apr 20th.

We were relieved last night again by the 17th, are back in same billets.

Fri Apr 21st.

(Good Friday). It is fine again now and we have had a chance to get our clothes dry.

Sun Apr 23rd.

(Easter Sunday)

Mon Apr 24th.

We came in last night to the trenches again and got in about 9pm.

Wed Apr 26th.

It is a bit livelier now in the trenches as the Russian Guards are in the enemy trench opposite us. When we were in before, the Saxons were opposing us and they are a good deal quieter than the Russian Guards. They have bombarded our trenches a good deal during the last few days but we have only had a few casualties.

Fri Apr 28th.

We came out of the trenches last night and while we were on our way out, our artillery started to bombard the German trenches and it lasted about 1 ½ hours during which time about 1500 shells were fired. We were ordered to have our respirators ready, as it was a gas attack by the Germans and that was what started the bombardment.

Wed May 3rd.

We came into the trenches last night and relieved the 17th. Our platoon is in supports this time and we have to do the fatigues for the company.

Sat May 6th.

Last night about 7.45 the Germans started a heavy bombardment on the trenches held by the 20th Batt. On our right, which lasted about 2 hours and then they followed it up with an infantry attack on a part of their line but were repulsed. The 20th lost heavily in the bombardment and a good bit of their trench was smashed up.

Sat May 13th.

We were relieved last night again by the 17th having done 10 days in the trenches.

Fri May 19th.

There is plenty of work to be done now. New trenches are being dug in several places and the existing trenches strengthened. We are in such a position here that we could be cut off from either flank and preparations are being made to defend the place in case the enemy attack. This point of the line being further advanced than the rest of the line, it will be difficult to hold, if the Germans do take up the offensive.

Sat May 20th.

We have had a couple of fires near here within the last few days, some buildings being set alight by German shells.

Mon May 22nd.

We came into the trenches again today. This time we are in local reserves, 3rd line trench.

Tues May 30th.

Things are getting a bit lively now and artillery bombardments by both sides are getting quite common. We have lost a few men out of the battalion since we came in this time, but so far none of our company have been hit.

Sat June 3rd.

We’re relieved again today by the 17th Batt.

Tues June 6th.

We still go out each night to work in the trenches. They are beginning to look very well and are quite different altogether to what they were when the Tommies left them. Last night when we got out we were told that the fatigue was off for the night and we stood to arms till daybreak, as the 7th Brigade bombers were to go over and bomb the German trenches but it didn’t come off after all.

Wed June 7th.

Our artillery opened up last night at 11.30 and shelled the German trenches for an hour doing some damage. We heard that a raiding party went over but with very little success.

Fri June 9th.

Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State of War, has been drowned off Orkney Island by the sinking of H.M.S. Hampshire.

Tues June 13th.

According to the papers the allies are doing some splendid work now and some terrific battles are raging with heavy losses on both sides. The Battle of Verdun (150 miles south of us) between French and Germans has been raging for 4 months and the result still hanging in the balance. The Russians on the Eastern front have been advancing and have driven the Austrians back through Galicia about 40 miles, on a front of 90 miles and have captured over 100,000 prisoners and are still advancing. The 3rd Battle of Ypres has been in progress for 10 days now and the Canadians have suffered very heavy losses. Very little is heard of the Italians, but owing to the rough state of the country and the advantages being in favour of the Austrians, the Italians have been pushed back a bit.

Sun June 18th.

We shifted into the trenches again last night and relieved the 17th Batt.

Mon June 19th.

Further success has been achieved by the Russians and they have captured about 152,000 Austrians now and a lot of guns and munitions captured. The Canadians have recaptured the trenches they had lost at Ypres. The Italians have again advanced with success. At Verdun the French have now taken up with the offensive and in German East Africa, the enemy have been driven back and are almost conquered.

Sat June 24th.

We are to be relieved shortly by the 4th Brigade (4th Division) and will go for a short rest and then perhaps take over another part of the line. This, being a fairly quiet part of the line, is where new troops are usually brought first to get used to fire. At times it is lively enough and there are often artillery bombardments. Our artillery has been opening up a good deal lately at night and shell for about an hour and then sometimes it is followed up by a small raiding party who go over and get into the German trenches and bomb them out and usually capture some prisoners. The Germans took the bombardments quietly for a while but the last few nights our artillery opened up, Germany opened up too and sent them over thick and heavy so he has evidently had enough of it.

Sun June 25th.

Constant artillery fire from both sides all afternoon.

Mon June 26th.

Last night the 5th Brigade raiding party raided the enemy trenches. The artillery and trench mortars opened up about 11.30pm and shelled the trenches opposite our brigade for about an hour and then the raiding party consisting of about 80 men went over. They came back with 3 prisoners. Our casualties were 1 killed and about 10 wounded.

Wed June 28th.

We were relieved last night by the 14th Batt and marched about 5 miles to a small village named Fort Rompu.

Sun July 2nd.

We are likely to leave here at any time now, but don’t know where we are bound for.

Fri July 7th.

We are still billeted at Fort Rompu and I understand the order to move has been cancelled for the present. In the meantime we are being instructed in new bayonet fighting.

Sat July 8th.

Received orders tonight to be ready to move off in the morning.

Sun July 9th.

Left Fort Rompu this morning about 8.45am and marched about 15 miles to a place named Pradelles, about 3 miles from Hazebrouck, a big town through which we passed on our way up to Armentieres, 3 months ago.

Mon July 10th.

Left Pradelles at 10am and marched about 10 miles and camped at Ebblinghem. On our way we passed through Hazebrouck, a fine big town. The only other large town we passed through on the way was Steenwerck, which we passed on the first day’s march.

Tues July 11th.

Left Ebblinghem at 9.45am and marched about 11 miles to Wiizernes where we entrained and left there about 6.30pm. Passed close to a large town today on the march, named St. Omer.

Wed July 12th.

Arrived at a small station named Saleux, near the town of Amiens, in the Somme Valley about 4am. and then marched about 11 miles to a town named Picquigny on the banks of the river Somme where we are billeted for a few days. We are about 25 miles from the firing line where there is some heavy fighting going on. The French and English have advanced.

Sun July 16th.

Left Picquigny at midday and marched about 12 miles to a village named Coisy, arriving there about 4.30pm.

Tues July 18th.

Left Coisy today about 12.45pm and marched about 7 miles to a village named Herissart arriving there about 5pm.

Thurs July 20th.

Left Herissart this morning about 10am and marched about 6 miles to Warloy-Baillon arriving there at 1pm. The 1st Australian Division is just ahead of us and will probably go into the line first. We are now about 8 miles from the front line.

Sat July 22nd.

Left Warloy-Baillon about 6pm and marched on about 5 miles further and are bivouacked in a paddock about 3 miles behind the front line and are very close to the town of Albert, which has been knocked about a good deal.

Sun July 23rd.

All last night and today there has been great artillery activity. The 1st Division, in conjunction with the English have advanced and captured the village of Pozieres. We are under half an hours notice and may move off at any time now for the trenches.

Mon July 24th.

Left the bivouac at Albert at about 9.30pm and advanced about 2 miles towards the line and are now camped in a line of trench, that was originally the German front line and was taken in the first days of July when the big offensive started.

Tues July 25th.

We have been rambling about the trenches today, which have been knocked about a lot and all sorts of equipment and munitions, both German and English were evidently prepared for a long stay here as they had deep line dugouts, in some cases being 40 ft deep. They are tunnelled out under the parapet with steps leading down to them, some of them having 2 and 3 rooms about 12 feet square, fitted up with electric light and mattresses. In most of them the dead bodies of German soldiers are still lying and the smell is too strong to go down into them. We are prepared to move up into the front line tonight. Strings of wounded English, Australian and Germans (under escort) have been passing here today. Moved up into the trenches arriving there about 11.30pm. A. Coy are in the front and the other 3 companies in supports and reserves.

Wed July 26th.

One company of the 20th made an attack last night but were driven back with some losses. The 17th Battalion went over with the Welsh Fusiliers today and bombed the Germans from their Front trench. All day long the Germans have kept up a very heavy bombardment on the whole of our lines and the casualties have been very heavy. Men are buried in several places on the front line and the dead are lying about. The wounded have a bad time as it is very difficult to get them out, the stretcher bearers have nearly all been wounded. Our position is in front of Pozieres which was captured by the 1st & 2nd brigades on Sunday night. Their was very little left of the village and the wood near it has been mown down by the shells. The Germans are doing their best to recapture it and we are expecting them to have a go at it tonight when we hope to give them a beating. Our front trench is broken up and all communication trenches leading to it, also everywhere there being one mass of shell holes. I am helping with the stretcher bearers as they are so short handed and it is very heavy work. Did a couple of trips with the stretcher to the dressing station and was going around to A Company front line having to go across the open ground to get to it when a big shell burst over our heads, the other two who were with me were knocked down with the concussion but were unhurt and I got a small piece in the left arm just below the shoulder. Walked to dressing station and sent down to hospital so I am out of the game for a while.

Thurs July 27th.

Came down by ambulance to No 3 Casualty Clearing Station at Puchevilliers arriving there about 3am and left about midday by train and arrived at No 2 Australian General Hospital, Wimereux, Boulogne at dusk.

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