Pridham Diary Volume #10

This is a transcription of the Volume #10 (1 April 1918 to 9 August 1918) of the personal diaries of Company Sergeant Major Lawrence Pridham, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles and formerly of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. 

We would encourage you to read this in conjunction with the Official War Diary of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion. You can find summaries for 1918 here: 
http://www.4cmr.com/regt1918.htm

You can also read Volume #4 – 14 August to 3 September 1917.

_________________________________________________________

Written inside the cover:

In case of accident
Return to Mrs LD Pridham,
Tottenham On,
Box 648, Canada
And oblige a soldier
CSM Pridham
4CMR

Easter Monday. Part I – Vol. 10

April 1 – 1918. A lovely morning. The company paraded for kit inspection. Tis over and the events of the day have been thrilling. This afternoon in spite of the desperate situation of things at this present moment, a game of baseball was played between B & C Coy. Our band was present. Over-head our observation balloons and the enemies shrapnel shells bursting above us in his attempt to bring down one of the balloons. On one side a brigade of 6 inch Howitzer guns barking away at the enemy. While away along the line near the Somme a battle raged furious and fast. I have been orderly Sgt all day and have been too busy with duties to join I the sport.

About 5 pm small air balloons were seen to burst over our heads and papers by the 1,000s seem to fall from them. Many were picked up but they were all in German so we did not understand them.

5:30 pm and I was just getting some men for guard when a long German plane is seen coming hundreds of guns opened fire on him also machine guns. But like a devil out of hell he came on and in 5 minutes had brought down 4 of our balloons covering about 5 miles in distance.  The men came down in their parashoots [sic] successfully. But the plane kept on and got back to his own line. It would take the breath away from a man to see the daring feat. No one can understand unless they see these things.

April 2/18 – 9 pm This morning we were warned for a working party and at 11:30 am we had dinner. 12 am we pulled out up to Ecurie. There we dug emergency trenches till 4:30 pm and then came home. Only getting back to our Bivy I found a couple of letters from mother dated Feb 19-25-28th and one from the Gov. the heavy Howitzers are banging away all around us giving Fritz some hell: – Later. Outside the patter of rain purrs a song that is horror to the soldier on a dark and hostile night. I stepped outside our tin shack for two minutes. The night was inky black except for the many flashes of our guns mingled with the roar and shriek of heavy shells on their rapid errand of destruction and in those few seconds, memories that were not pleasant passed my vision.

You are in a bad piece of trench, perhaps it is all blown in and is now only a multitude of shell holes and a path remains to show its previous shape. The rain pours down – your are heavy laden – your shoulders ache – your legs merely drag – you have come miles – you slip – you fall – you struggle to your feet covered with a muddy slim – you cannot see the man in front – a great shell comes shrieking towards you – you swear its coming for you – a crash – you couch – yes it was close but no one hit, again and again in rapid fire them come until you almost sweat blood on onward you go perhaps at the end of your trip you have but the mud and water to lie while the enemy flings his many different death contraptions. The frantic cry of “Stretcher bearer” is heard, some poor chaps (lucky devils) have gone “west” perhaps only wounded and has to be carried thru hell to get out.

April 3, 1918 10:30 pm – Another rough night and the guns are pounding away to beat the wind. Got a letter from my darling tonight dated Mar 8/18 and two from mother. Was up the line today taking reconnaissance and on getting back found the Bn going out on night working party in full battle order. However I managed to get out of it on account of my feet but the other two Sgts had to turn around and go out again. Some of the justice we get in the army.

April 4/18 9 pm – One more dark and sloppy night. Was up the line today again and nearly got picked off with some shells. Old Fritz Is in our old position. We expect to go up again tomorrow night. I guess they expect to keep us up here for the rest of our natural. Am getting pretty well worn out. Wrote to Mary and mother.

April 5/18 – Here we are awaiting the hour of departure for the front line once more. Although I was up with a couple of Sgts the last two days to see how things were I don’t relish or feel very much like going tonight. It has been raining and dark the last few nights and trenches are in a pretty bad way.

We have been up the line now since we left Houdain, a trip that is almost too long for anybodies [sic] good. I think we took over the line about Feb 20/18. We have been galloping up and down between the reserve and front line but no farther back. Will make entries later up the line.

April 6/18 – 4 pm We pulled out of –   – at 7 pm last night as it was just getting dark and started on our bullish trip once more. It was misty and cold and I knew we were in for a bad time. It had also rained all day and the night before but had let up.

All went well till we hit the Ridge. By that time it had grown dark as hell. At this point we entered a communications trench and started down the other side through the many twists and turns such as are in a trench. After we had gone some painful distance, slipping and falling, cursing the day we were born and those concerned in war, we started to come across great craters that the enemies [sic] shells had been making which usually gusts the wind of the long thin line of troops up their back. With the painful cutting of equipment and weight of arms on our shoulders we made our way along but had not gone far (we were going so slow that we made about a 100 yds as hour so you can see how agonizing our travel was) when the enemy started to hurl his heavies all around us. And in those few moments a man goes through the inferno of hell the blood just about taking the place of saliva in your mouth. One direct hit on that poor helpless line of troops would make a slaughter house in the dark that would put panic to the devil himself. Imagine to yourself just one Bn of men alone in one long single file wound in and out amongst two or three miles of trenches. Then multiply it by 8 which would be the number of B’s on the move while one Brigade of Infantry is relieving another.

Should the enemy bet to know for sure of that relief being made he would hurl 1000’s of shells in an hour in every in [ch] of the trenches you had in that sector. You know the width of a brigade frontage is about half a mile wide only, so that he hasn’t much ground to cover, and perhaps 1 1/2 miles in depth not counting ground you cover behind the third line of defence.

Through mud and water stumbling and falling trying to see a foot in the dense darkness onward we plod, stopping in jerk, moving a few year and weary and almost dead. So those who are not in this game can understand what a man goes thru in the one little factor of this great game in making a relief only when I tell you that it took us exactly 9 1/2 hours to make that trip: A trip that I had made twice with two or three others, the two days previous to this in less than 2 hrs.

Our platoon occupies the outpost position just 2 or 3 hundred yards in rear of the line we held 3 weeks ago. That line we evacuated in case of a frontal attack upon Vimy Ridge. Daylight was not far off this morning which we greeted with glad hearts although we were down to the last notch. The day has been fairly decent except that it is cool and the enemy’s shelling moderate about our position twenty five yards being as close as he came to our trench at this point although I think it was all meant for the trench in rear. It will soon be “stand too!” and then another long night vigils.

9:30 pm. Dark again. Fritz shelling us beaucoup at the present moment. You can hear them steam by and shake the funk hole or rather the stairway of a dug out about 15 feet deep that they never finished.

Oh! The old Hairy face is putting his damned 4-1’s pretty close to this hole. All posts manned about 8pm another Sgt and myself took a lone ramble out to see how the wire was. The old Hienie must be kind of sore at us tonight as he doesn’t seem to want to let up on slinging over his hardware.

April 7/18  – 2 am – A dirty night but everything is ok so far heavy drum fire continues on the right of us.

10 am – fine day. Night passed ok. must have a snooze.

April 8/18 – Midnight 12:30 am. No rain tonight and the stars are bright all we lack is a moon. Both our planes and the enemies planes have been over on either side bombing heavily. Artillery fairly active. The heavy drone of the Hun planes can be easily distinguished from our own. Sounds as if he was shelling the old quarries at the present moment. Have just been relieved by Sgt S. must have a snooze. Tomorrow will be the 9th of April and everyone will be on the alert for any dirty work in remembrance to our scrap a year ago.

April 9/18 – The Anniversary of Vimy Ridge. She is still ours and the Canadians hold her. This morning was very foggy and both sides were going to it rattle bang bang. We got orders to stand to till the mist lifted, which was not till noon. I am pretty darn tired but it looks as though there was little time to sleep.

6 pm – One sgt from this outline post, warned for patrol.

April 10/18 – 2:30 am – Just in from patrol myself to orders about 8 pm last night to report to B Coy. We did not run into any Germans. Am drenched with sweat and worn stumbling along in the dark.

5 am – Pretty little whiz bang barrage on our right and old Fritz is putting up his red flares.

10 am – That barrage was a raid our chaps made getting 10 prisoners. Two of our own runners collided with a German patrol at daylight this morning. They put them to route with bombs {grenades] and brought two rifles, two bags of cylindrical sticks and some equipment.

2 pm – Dinner over. Not over bright today and a little chilly. Wrote Ma yesterday. Well I guess I will have a lay down.

5 pm – Am on patrol tonight from 8:30 pm till 2 am.

6 pm – Away with good luck.

April 11/18 – 3:30 am – Just in from patrol on the way out we met two runners coming in from the other patrol saying that the first patrol had met a German party about where we were to meet our own patrol at 9:30 pm. The result a small battle and we changed our route. So over barbed wire and shell holes, trenches and mud we made our way carefully throughout old trench system till we arrived at a point where our old post used to be.  By that time it was 11 pm and the other patrol had pulled out by an old road thinking perhaps the runners had not caught us and that we would wander right into his (the enemies men). So we did not know what we up against so we manned this point and waited till our relieving patrol come up at 2:30 am. We explained the situation and galloped home.

5 pm – Got orders that we were pulling back a piece tonight – Thank God. When the other patrol reported in this morning they reported another skirmish and that all told they had caused 20 casualties to the Germans. So last night’s work was exciting on our frontage.

April 12/18 – 3:30 am – [location unreadable]  Made a safe trip out but were slightly dogged by heavy shells before we hit the Ridge. Just a year ago tonight I was drying the mud and water of La Folie wood out of my clothes not many years from this very spot after being relieved off Vimy Ridge. Tomorrow we expect to entrain for Hill “98”. God only know how this war will ever end. My feet are pretty raw tonight. Oh! For a home.

3:30 pm – Already to pull out. Fritz shelling our roads about here at the present. A swell day if we were only pulling for the rear instead of the line again…. We entrain at 6 pm.

April 13/18 – 3 am – Le Brebis. We entrained at 6 pm and we passed through many of the old familiar places and about dusk the enemy came over in his great gotha planes and bombed the towns and camps as we passed. We stopped at one point and a 1/2 doz bombs were dropped quite close to us. After a few more miles we left the small trains which consisted only of trucks. From this point we marched to this position back to Hill “70”.

10 pm – I might say that my last notation made early this morning was in the hallway of one of the houses of this town. After having seen the men billeted in hits and old houses 6 of us found us in the dark street without a place for ourselves. Seeing a glimmer of light shining through a crack in one of the houses, we entered the hall and made ourselves a place for the rest of the night by placing our rubber sheets on the tile floor and taking off our boots we rolled in. We work up fairly late and had breakfast after which we located some bunks in the rear of the premises. Here we installed ourselves. All last night the mighty guns boomed shaking what plaster was left on the wall down on us.

We were informed that all civilians had to leave the place and baby carts, wheelbarrows, etc. were to be seen hauling the stuff away all day. But still there remains as in all the other places those old folk that will not leave there home, even shells rip half the place down around them. An attack may be pulled by the enemy and if a real heavy bombard was put on there would be some awful casualties.

Tonight I was told the side that we had made great success in taking back ground at the Somme and Armiteres. [sic] Well must turn in for a sleep.

April 14/18 – Noon – Got a parcel from Ma dated Feb 23/18. We had service in the little church Hut about 11 am. Rather chilly and dark day.

April 15/18 – 1 am midnight. Just in off picquet and the town Major turned out to be my old Coy Commander at Vimy Ridge. I forgot to mention the fact that I met my old Borden Pal Ricky. He is looking well but is still a Pte. He says to me “You rose and I fell.” Poor old Ricky he was very unfortunate in love. He is [??} but lacks the right go for the fair sex. Well I must get some sleep. My picture that I sent dear Doc’s wife came back from the dead letter office in Hamilton so I sent it back to Picton.

9 pm – Just back from work party. Our coy left at noon and after passing many ruined towns we halted near our reserve line. Here we put up one mile of double aproned barbe wire entanglements. The country is full of wire from end to end and miles deep. We arrived home at 8 pm and had supper. Another pcl from Ma arrived with coke, milk, sugar, tea and biscuits. Beer is out of bounds to the troops. The more we sacrifice suffer the more we have to put up with.

April 16/18 – Orderly Sgt.

April 17/18 – Warned for the line.

April 18/18 11 am – “Loos” cellars. Came up last evening to take over the line. On arriving we found they were withdrawing from our old line on Hill “70”. So being Support Coy this trip it put our pltn away back in the cellars or the ruins of Loos. Right amongst the guns. Four men wounded and 1 killed last evening from a salvo Fritz put over. This morning about 3 am a heavy bombardment started on our immediate left and is still progressing heavily. A few heavys [sic] were flung at us here a minute ago and our field guns returned considerable rapid fire. We have a party working up around the front line. I hope they did not get caught in it. The enemy is gradually forcing in our flanks a the Somme and up north. If he goes much farther we shall be forced to evacuate. The Canadians are still holding Hill 70 and Vimy whether the enemy has Messines or not I don’t know. Things look very black for. It is an awful hell.

10 pm. Just in from a small working party putting wire up and fixing places where shells had blown it away. Thank God it was a moon that lit up the darkness and that Fritz did not shell us at the time. No mail.

April 19/18 – A fine day and fairly quiet except for an occasional straff. I believe we have had several casualties the last 24 hours. Nothing unusual to relate so I will not bore the reader.

6:30 pm – Were you to step in just, you would see by the candle light – four soldiers playing penny poker on a small box and myself lazily playing the old picallo [sic]. Above the roar of shells is drownded [sic] by our momentary merriement. [sic]

10 pm. Just got a letter from my darling and one from mother Mar 25 and 18 [??] and have answered Mar’s. She seems well but a little peeved.

April 20/18 –2:30 am. Just on our right we are slamming some gas into Lens. The night is clear and cool with a goodly moon. Have just been told that a raid was being planned so I guess it means dirty work in Fritz line some of these night. A very good way to look for trouble and more casualties. Well I must have a smoke and then search the sleep of peace. It is going n for 3 am and at 4 we “stand to”.

Midnight – At this moment everyone is sneezing the rest wearing their gas masks. Was up to the front line tonight with a party when old Fritz started a barrage of trench mortars and shells 100 yards to our left. We were temporarily cut off from getting back. While watching the show an officer told me a corporal and a couple of A Coy boys near us were killed. God only knows the casualties on the other Coys front. I got back safe with my party and just got in when over comes the gas.

Got a parcel from Uncle Will and a note saying he had received my picture.

April 21/18 – Evening. All preparations have been made for the big raid, We drew lots amongst the Sgts – I drew clear and am not in it. I may get more than I’m looking for later.

11 pm. Practice barrage. They go over after midnight. Raiding parties are going over all along the line tonight to get prisoners. Let’s hope our casualties are few.

11:30 pm. Frist barrage on now all well. Just received a lovely parcel from Dear old Doc’s wife. Must write her at once.

1:25 pm. Main barrage is on. Old Hienie is sending up his SOS in bunches. Business has started.

[See also his April 21/18 letter to Uncle Will]

April 22/018 – 5 am. Raiders back. One Sgt killed one Sgt wounded. 4 Ptes [Privates] wounded, 3 missing. (our loss). 3 machine guns of the enemy put [out] of commission or captured. 2 prisoners ne died of wounds, rest of enemy encountered killed, wounded and escaped. Thus is the ways of a raid and what I missed. The Sgt that returned and one of the corps were plastered with blood from the wounded.

April 22/18 10 pm. Patrol out tonight in search of missing and on return of one man we learn that another of our men is missing. Am waiting for more news now.

April 23/18 Today we change garrisons. Have handed stores over to other Bn. Expect relief in about …

8 pm. Harrison Crater. Well here we are again back in the same place that we spent New Years in. Just behind the Loos slag heap not 15 minutes from where we have just come from. No mail.

April 24/18 – Fine day nothing special doing.

5 pm. Am on working party tonight.

11 pm. Back from working party up the line. A terrific thunder storm threatened us while we were out and for the first time since I have been in France, I have heard the familiar sound of real thunder. The downpour last[ed] only a few minutes but I think the enemy got the worst of it. Well must turn in now.

April 25/18 – Nothing unusual except that a heavy bombardment can be heard on the left. General straffing continues.

6 pm. Got four letters from mother dated Mar 23/25/27/30th and one from the Gov and also one from Hal. He has not acknowledged my picture yet. Am on working party tonight at 10:30 am- 4 am.

April 26/18 – The cold grey dawn and just back. A few hundred shells were sprinkled around where we were working but fortunately no one got hit.

5 pm. Am sitting up on the side of the famous Harrison Crater on SOS guard and by me is a machine gunner his machine mounted on a post waiting for hostile aircraft and any signals from the front line. In front of me 400 years away is the ruins of Loos and the great coal mine and slag heap. Which is battered and desolate. Shells burst continuously in the ruins in search of our guns.

April 27/18 Nothing unusual happened today but tonight a raid is expected.

12 pm. Raid well on just off SOS must get some sleep as I take first party out in the morning and up the front line in the evening for another six days!

April 28/18 – 2 pm. Back with party ok was up clearing part of “Railway Alley” trench. No casualties.

10:30 pm. Old German front line #2 0.9.2 dugout. Back again in this hell hole and maze of shell flattened trenches. Something similar to the damned hole I was in in August and not many yards from the same place.  But there are no dead Germans laying outside the dugout. He planted one shell just by the entrance before we got here. He can’t help making a hit when he sends over about 50 in a minute all around you. Spasmodic salvoes. That would make you think a small barrage was starting up. Did not run into [??] while making the relief.

April 29/18 Nothing unusual Fritz [??] salvoes are very frequent and make your hair stand on end.

April 30/18 – 5 pm. Just back from Hdqts [Headquarters] on the way down from the front line, my party ran into a salvo of shells above.

4 pm. No casualties. After I had reported all in I started down to our own trench. I had gone a 100 yds along old Humbug CT [Communication Trench] when I got tangled up in some signal wires that had dropped slack down in the trench. While I was sewed up in this mess, old Fritz opened up again 50 more shells in about 1 minute. I can never say how I felt. I tore myself loose dropping my rifle and knocking my steel helmet off. I tore up the CT about 25 yrds and ran into a small opening.  Here I remained with my heart in my mouth. He stopped for a minute and I tried my luck again and locating my rifle and getting mixed up again with the wire, I managed to dangled to my dugout by Hurrah? Alley. I was all in

8 pm. Go on duty at 3 am tomorrow morning.

May 1/18 9:30 am – This morning at 3:30 am, just as I was ready to go up the line to relieved the other Sgt and was taking a gun crew up with me, a terrific roar and a long line of crashes was to be heard and shells seemed to rain down. Good bye Hill “70” said I to myself. I guess old Fritz is coming at last. At that moment the guard shouted gas and choking and spitting he adjusted his helmet. At the same a cloud seemed to rush down into the dugout. I put on my gas helmet but not till I had enhaled [sic] its poisoness [sic] fumes. I held the gun crew for an hour and the staff let up. I was too sick to go on duty so I stayed where I was. The CSM came around to see what was the matter. We went along the trench and discovered where four of these 6” projectiles has burst and sprayed its gasses along in front of our dugouts which being Fritz’s old home the doorways were facing him and we got the full benefit. We also found one shell which had not exploded and which was giving forth gas from the nose cap. We did not touch it till our officer came up with the gas man and we attempted to take a sample of the gas in a vacuum bulb, but it broke. Of course we wore our helmets. Being on the front part of our trench the wind was just sending it nicely in our place. After testing the weight of the shell by lifting it, I carried it across to the parado side and left it where the wind would blow it to the rear.

Noon – we have just received news that our Corps would be relived tonight.

May 2/18 – Our relief got around about midnight – and providence was with us and the enemy for some reason stopped his shelling on the CT’s and the relief was carried on successfully up to 4 am when Fritz again opened up with gas. Two of our men died from it and I feel as if I was a wreck. We tramped out to Les Brebis where we got a drink of tea in the YMCA. We then entrained in busses or trucks (I should say.) It was 8 am this morning when we arrived in Hounelain [sp?] where we are now. Corps Reserve. The first time out of the line since Feb 19/18. Another three days in Hill 70 and I would have gone mad. To see us covered with white chalk dust from head to heals would make you think a [??] had turned the white wash hose upon you.

The only industries in this part of France are farming, coal and chalk mining. The towns we billet and pass through are solely occupied by miners and there [sic] humble families. Only houses fill the villages. No warehouses or office buildings like our own towns. Every battle and war position is directly connected with the slag heaps of the mines to hide artillery. The mine shafts eventually become ripped to pieces with shells and are destroyed.

May 3/18 – Parades as usual today. Also got a letter from Mrs. R.M. , two from mother and one from Hal. Have already answered Mrs R.M. We also pulled a demonstration attack in open warfare for the Brigade which was successful.

May 4/18 – Nothing special except that the enemy has bombed the French towns considerably.

May 5/18 – 9 pm. Rely, France. We arrived here this evening after a hard days march. I suffered from blisters on my heal tendons. We had a forced march of 25 to 30 kilometres. It rained heavily while w were on the march. It was proper hell. Must no[w] turn in for a rest as I am wet on the outside with rain and on the inside with sweat. Good night.

May 9/18 – Ham-en-Artois. Noon. Just pulled in. Up to last night we carried on with training in Rely. The last 36 hours a very heavy bombardment was in action. We were suddenly warned to move closer to the line. We pulled out this morn at 8 am. I expect to take over CSM’s job in one of the companys [sic] at once.

May 13/18 – 10 pm. Have been carrying on with open warfare and training the last few days. It is raining steady tonight a dirty day tomorrow. Got a letter from my darling dated April 10th and one from Hal saying he had received my photo.

May 18/18 – Fontes [sp?]  Arrived here yesterday morning before dinner. The heat was intense. Today we carried on with maneovers. Every night old Fritz comes over and bombs us and makes things jump.

May 21/18 – We pull out in one hour for more forward sector. Bivouacs. Evening. Just behind the big guns. A beautiful soiree. Around our bivvies are lovely big trees. And our band is giving us a little touch of music to cheer the weary heart. The mixture of heavy guns, planes, the trees which make you think of home and the many troops, the band playing a piece you often hear in the theatre while you are waiting for the next act: God does anyone outside of ourselves know the mingled feelings and thoughts that penetrate the softer being in man!

They are playing “Ten baby fingers and ten baby toes.” Put your selves in our place months from the love and home you long for Yea! years. And then have the band play that [??] “My home in Tennessee.”

May 22/18 – 7 am. Was up at 4:30 am a lovely morning but the night was spoiled by enemy bombing, places and the bang of heavy guns.

May 29/18 – Still going strong. Had a game of ball today to loosen up my legs. Old Fritz umpired the game from his balloon in the far distance. Am CSM now. Heavy bombardments greet us every night and bombs are plenty. But thank god he has missed our little camping grounds so far. We still await the enemy to start something.

June 1/18 – Engunin-Le-Mines [sp?]  Landed in last evening after an 18 kilo march. It is six months since we were here last and the place looks lovely with all the green trees and pretty foliage. This morning they had the Bn up and out at 7 pm and out for maneuvers. They did not return till 6 pm. I did not go. I see by the paper “Fritz” claims 30,000 prisoners and 18 more miles of ground down south. Of course yesterday’s march presented the same sufferings as usual with Webb equipment and ammunition clamped down on your chest, rifles, etc. while the gallant leaders rode fine steeds with nothing but a gas helmet sling…

June 2/18 – Sunday. Was attached to B Coy today to take over temporarily manoeuvers tomorrow morn.

Midnight  now and up again before 5 am.

June 3/18 – Up at 5 am this morning and did not get back from manoeuvers till 7 pm tonight.

11:30 am – Am waiting for orders. I think old Fritz is out bombing around here by the sound of things. No Canadian mail.

June 4/18 – This morning we had bath parades and usual training in the afternoon. Yesterday we made an attack with the tanks. If you want a good laugh, ride on atop of one and you will have a scream. Also received last night one letter from Hal and two from mother.

June 12/18 – Fine weather. Have been carrying on with maneuvers both day and night. Got couple of letters from Ma and one from Hal.

June 13/18 – Fine day. Had field day and I was official announcer of the day and rolled my voice through the megaphone. Rather tired and no mail.

June 17/18 – Divisional maneuvers on all day. Brigade Field Day tomorrow – am “putting’ the shot. Had a letter from Mrs R. M she got my pictures and letter. Answered tonight. There are measles in the House we are compelled to get another Mess. Fine weather.

June 18/18 – Brigade Sports today was announcer again.  Got parcel from Hall (Apr 26) and one from Phil (Apr 16) one from mother. Four letters from Mother, Mary May 14/15/17/ and 19, one from Hal May 15th. Answering letters about Apr 20th [??].

June 22/18 – Letter from Ma dated May 24/18 also a line from Miss Shuter with congrats.

June 24/18 – Yesterday we marched about 6 kilo’s to the Div sports ground. It was a success and a credit to the Division. No mail from Mary yet. It is raining today and we are all preparing to go back up the line tomorrow. We have had considerable amount of time out of the line this trip. But the first day back in the line you forget you were ever out and the old grind starts again. Letter from Ma today

June 26/18 – Menin – 3:30 am. Just in. We had pulled out of Enquin at 3 pm and marched in full order to Aire 10 kilos. There entrained in the small French box cars. We passed through Burgette, Isbergues, Lillere, Burbure, Auchel and Rambert, Ham-en-Artois, Pernes, Colonge Racord, and several other places till we arrived in Savy where we got off the train and marched another  kilometre to Marmin. We are in an old barn and the ceiling is perforated  with shrapnel. Most of the towns we passed through were pretty well shelled.

6 pm. Go 2 letters from Ma dated June 2 and 5th and one from my darling dated June the 7th two months since the last one. Wrote Mother, Mary

June 27/18 Thursday.  Went to the ranges today. No mail from home. Expect to take over the line in couple of days.

June 28/18 – No mail – fine day – parades – moving orders – victories. Farther forward in morning.

June 29/18 – We landed in Bretencourt after quite a hike. Bn pulled out as soon as we got here. We are just behind the big guns in reserve bivys. I have a little tin hut to myself. No mail in yet. Fine day and warm in the sun. Guns are banging away at each other. May pull into trenches tomorrow night.

June 30/18 – We are already to pull up the line for better or worse. Curses on this everlasting and damnable life. Had church service on the grass this afternoon. Got letter from Hal and Ma. Well here’s up the line with the best of luck – Canada looks good to me.

July 1/18 – Dominion Day in Canada. Well I guess the folks are having a good [time] at our expense today. While I sit in the dugout with my head bandaged up and no end to the war in sight. We landed in to support about 2 am this morning. Out in front of us now is what used to be our transport lines and billets. But now they are part of no-man’s land support. Here and here you see a hut ripped to pieces, horse lines all to pieces.

July 2/18 – Wrote to Hal and Ma. 8 pm and a swell evening. We expect a little show before morning to straighten out line near Arras.

1 am – there she goes. They are well away must have a squint. Ah the night is luminous with coloured flares, the flash of guns and shells.

July 3/18 – Shelling continues. No mail.

July 4/18 – Can’t get any sleep old Heiny has been cross firing all day with his guns have been forced to leave my log shelter and get to hell out of a[t] times and take to a deep dugout.

July 5/18 – 8:30 am. His balloons area ll up and he again registered with 9.2° chasing me back to the dugout. Also blew one dugout  in and buried t men. Proper hell home and no rest. At noon I have to go up to front line to look over.

7 pm. Well we went up the line and had a look over. Old St Eloi could be seen in the distance. It was a fine day. And we were not bothered with shells on the way up.

July 6/18 Midnight and all is well. Rations up but no mail again. Fine day. Shelling general. I expect the Canadian mail will come in with a bump would rather it came before we moved into the front line. Wrote to Mere.

July 7/18 – Fine day and tomorrow night we go up to the front line. God be with us. The artillery on both sides has been very active around us. Roll on the next 8 day for we know not what cometh.

July 8/18 – Fine day. Artillery was very active last night and I did not get any sleep never know what minute you were in for it. Tonight we take over the front line. So here is luck. A few Canadian letters made their way up last night. I got a small parcel from Will dated May 22/18.

July 9/18 – Midnight. 12:30 am . Made a safe relief. Our guns are raising hell. A slight thunder and lightning greeted us and a sprinkle of rain. Lovely prospects I must say. I am in a small tunnel in the bank of a road and the top is not supported, should he make a hit we would be buried alive. I and my batman and clerk. Passed one of our other Bn and was told by Hill 166 Bn that poor old Ricky had been wounded a couple of days previous. But he had a nice blighty. Lucky boy to get away from this hell.

July 10/18 – Noon. Well having a couple of hours sleep I feel slightly better although my stomach is still pretty sore. Yesterday was a fairly good day with local showers. But in the evening both sides started to slam artillery at one another the Infantry of course suffering. This Hell last the best part of the night and it was Hell. It’s a wonder all or men in the front line were not wiped out.

July 11/18 – It was 2:30 am and No-mans land patrol was just coming back to the sunken road with their booty. And I happened to be passing a group of them, when one fellow made a remark and I stopped beside him he turned his back and as he did so, there was an explosion and I knew what had happened. The pin hand come out of one of his bombs in his pocket and while trying to get it out, it had gone off. He had saved my life when he turned his back to me thus getting the whole thing himself. For it blew his left hand off and his side out below his heart, he did a couple of minutes later. Poor devil having made a successful patrol through two or three heavy straffs got it that way. I was nearly stunned but got no shrapnel., he taking it all.

July 12/18 – 2 am. Artillery and machine guns active yesterday July 11th was a very fair day, but toward the evening it threatened a storm. About 4 pm we were relieved by the support line. On arriving here, the sky took out a very black face and we all looked anxious on account of our mud homes. At last the storm broke on our right flank facing the enemy. We got a slight salvo of hail stones, but the wind travelling at a very fast rate carried it on to the enemy. But we can thankfully say we did not receive the deluge ourselves.

I have just finished giving the boys their Rum and once in a while you will hear the pleasant ejaculation “Good Old Sgt Maj!”

8:20 pm – All’s well. This morning the old devil put some heavies over and made a bit of a hit of the O.Pip at the B.H.Q. wakening me at the same time. I made for the deep holes. Tonight we are raiding and heavy bombarding will hold things all night. Will give you facts after the stink.

July 13/18 – Raids a wash out. Old Fritz is putting heavies all around,

July 14/18 – We expect our relief tonight but there is going to be hell to pay if he keeps up his heavies around here.

July 15/18 – Well we had a hellish trip out, landing in Wailly Woods in the early hours of the morn. It rained till we were soaked through.

July 16/18 – I forgot to say on the 14th I got four letters from Ma 10/11/17/19 June and one from the Gov. today I got a letter from Mrs R.M. dated June 16/18 and I wrote.

July 23/18 – We have been carrying on in the usual manner up till yesterday, when we got order to go up the line again. but these orders were cancelled and today we are already to move to a different sector. The news have been great from the south: 20,000 prisoners and over 400 guns. Fine stuff. Shelling has been heavy around us but he did not bother our little wood.

July 24/18 – Well we pulled out about 7 pm last night arriving here at 10 pm. While we were waiting to move off the French addition [edition?] of the mail came around and again it was full of wonderful news. The German again having been chased over the Marne. We are pretty close to old Mt St Eloi and the old towers show up quite plain, We are just behind Arras in huts along one of France’s beautiful roads. And tomorrow we go a little farther. There is said to be a large Canadian mail but so far it has not reached us. We expect to soon be pushing old Fritz along here.

July 25/18 – Mt St Eloi. Back to where I started 18 months aog today. Right near the old Tower in huts. A happy welcome of Canadian mail has arrived and I landed to the extent of 2 letters from my darling July 3rd and 7th, one from Hal July 2nd, one from Gov June 30th, and three from Ma June 30 July 2 and 4th.

July 26 – I wrote Ma and my darling. Last night was terrible with the awful bombs of the enemy, I got little sleep,

July 27/18 – Got a letter from Ma dated June 23rd. A clew [clue?] about Vol 9. Considerable rain. Large working party. Pay. Wrote Hal and the Gov.

July 28/18 – Wrote Ma. There are rumors of a big move. Am awaiting orders.

July 29/18 – 10 am. All ready to move carrying a heavy complement of ammunition. I wonder what’s doing. We move off at noon to entrain.

July 30/18 – My rubber sheet on the grass and my coat on a wire fence to shade off the sun. Somewhere up north perhaps Belgium. We entrained at Mt St Elois at 4 pm yesterday and travelled till about midnight arriving at Arneker something like that, marched to a field and in the moon light we camped. We are carrying heavy order and it is most damnably hot.

Evening and sitting in my tent somewhere in Flanders feeling wet and soggy from that damnable march. Twice I thought I was going under from the heat as it burned the sweat on my face. We passed through Cassel a pretty fair town and through Steenvoorde, by the looks of it old Fritz must knock hell out of it. Taking Kemmel Hill looks: There USA, British Canadians, etc. around here.

July 31/ 18 – Wednesday 4 pm. Abeele. Well here we are again. We pulled out today noon, striking tents and marching to Abeele. The heat was awful. We are billeted in the shelter of munition dumps by the little battered staton. It was last October when we got on the train here after the battle to bo back up to Ypres for working parties.

August 1/18 Thursday
PART III  VOL 10

Another month started last night. Fritz bombed heavily. We are warned for the line at 5 pm tonight. Take over outpost line.

Augsut 2/18 – Friday 2:15 am. Funk Hole. Kemmel Hill. We relieved The Imperials tonight after dodging shells and bullets and a long tramp. This is a hell of a place with the trench system and Fritz looking down from the pimple.

Same day 3:30 pm. Raining a little. After my cook had warmed a can of bean and a piece of bacon I crawled out to see what the place looked like by daylight. Around is, what a few months ago was a training camp, is now blown up and is disorder. What we are in now is an old trench hardly noticeable for age, fallen in and grown over with grass. A few sticks and some renderings that tells of tales back in 1914-15 on Front of us is Kemmell Hill looking down on us which was ours such a little time ago and away to our left might be found Passchendaele which we struggled so hard to get. What our mission here is I don’t know.

August 3/18 – 3 am. Had a hell of a time with the rations tonight. Got parcel from 385 dated June 11th. Soap – Peanut cake – cigs and chocolate.

7 am – cursed life. About 6:30 am my Coy Commander was killed, 2nd in C’d [Command] wounded and one signaller in the funk hole next to mine. What a life its waiting and suffering for this war to end. All my officers are on outposts and I cannot tell them.

August 4/18 – Well old Jerry continued to shell us all day and towards evening. I was notified of a relief. The relief was made ok and we landed at Poperinge about 4 am this morning. We had a drink of tea and at 7 am all dirt dirt[y] we marched to the little military cemetery where our captain was buried [with] a little service. We then embarked on trucks and came to St Momelin.

4 pm. We expect to entrain at St Omer at 2 am tonight.

August 6/18  Boines – We arrived St Omer after quite a hike. Entrained and pulled out at 5 am. Passing Abeeville – Etaples – Calais – Amiens – Saleux and other bergs. At Saleux we rested for a couple of hours.

8 pm. We pullout out. Heavy order. It was the damdest march you ever saw, it rained like hell, the cursing and swearing magnificent, old Webster not being in it. We met ever[y] nationality in the war. It took us 8 steady hours. The traffic was hell in Bowes and we took bivys just outside the town. We now await orders for forward for the big push. A big mail in but it is not up yet.

August 7/18 Wednesday – All ready to go up. Made up a parcel for mother and one for my darling of my sketches. For registered mail.

August 8/18 – We pulled out last night and you would have thought the whole world was moving. We took positions and at 4:30 am this morning the barrage opened like a million claps of thunder and it is still rolling. At present we are on a mighty ridge resting. German prisoners streaming in carrying our wounded. We have been going so fast now that he is 6 kilos ahead of us of course there is infantry in front of us and guns and all are going up in waves. Am feeling fit except for my feet.

3:30 am Fritz so far away now that the balloons and artillery transport and moving right up. So far 18,000 prisoners most all guns captured or put out of action.

9:30 pm Out in the hay field where the Germans were this morning. Cavalry and Infantry still on the go. Batteries out of range. We camp on the hay tonight and in the morning push on as outpost line. Open warfare. Even our cook kitchens are with us. I got a parcel from mother with socks, cigarettes and candy, it was gratefully received.

August 9th – We are now closely approaching a point for battle, shelling is frequent and he has his balloons up looking on. Got a letter from Mrs. R.M. last night dated July 1st.  Well here’s luck for the battle.

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"In Pace Paratus – In Peace Prepared"