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Date: 1917

Page 000 (Cover)




Page 00



Arnold Smith

– 1917 –


87th Bn



Page 01


Arrived in France Aug 11, 1916. At Ypres and Somme. Started this diary on return from Somme.


Page 02



Dec 23, 1916

Last day in signal course at Houdain. Passed exams. Lecture by officer in afternoon. Rained all day.


Dec 24, 1916

Came in lorry from Houdain to Camblain l’Abbé. Battalion in lines but coming out tonight. Arrived after dark. Billeted in a barn. Rather wet and very windy.


Dec 25, 1916

Xmas Day. Went to transport lines for parcel and clothing. Spent day eating and drinking.


Dec 26, 1916

No parades. Getting fixed up for trip into trenches. Rec’d parcel from Inez at night. Also letter from home.


Page 03

Dec 27, 1916

Left village at 11:30 AM for trenches accompanied by band part way. Very long walk through trenches. Reached Battalion Headquarters in Support at 4 PM. Stationed in signal dugout with six others.


Dec 28, 1916

Went on shift at 4 AM. Fuller Phone to be fixed up today. Things were quiet throughout night. Very heavy explosion up towards front line.


Dec 29, 1916

Came on duty at 12 midnight. Rained. Was up near front line in afternoon.


Dec 30, 1916

On duty from 12 to 6 AM. Heavy rain flooding dugout. Sergeant Madden returned from Blighty in afternoon. Dugouts of other Signals caved in. All slept here. Packed in like sardines.


Page 04

Dec 31, 1916

Cool and cloudy. Trouble with Fuller Phone. Day spent as usual.


Jan 01, 1917

At midnight guns put over a straffe on Fritz to remind him that a New Year was here.


Jan 02, 1917

Relieved by 54th Battalion in afternoon. Left for reserves at Berthonval Wood. On HQ Station LH 12. Bombarded by Fritz in evening.


Jan 03 – 07, 1917

Spent at reserves. Went for bath at Villers-au-Bois on 7th. Also went to transport lines.


Page 05

Jan 08, 1917

Left reserves early in morning for front line. Very little artillery fire on way in. Some sniping. Stationed with two others at AA 17 relieving 75th Battalion. Jake dugout of thirty feet underground with two bunks for sleeping. Took first shift from 10 AM to 4 PM. Fuller Phone at Battalion HQRS out of order. Went for water and mail at 7:30 PM. Fritz shelling valley rather heavily with Whizz Bangs.


Jan 09, 1917

On shift from 4 AM to 10 AM. Heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Retaliation called for. Our artillery opened up during afternoon. Evening very quiet. Several Stokes gun fellows in office. Went for water before dark.


Page 06

Jan 10, 1917

Communication with HQ very poor. Very quiet all day. Gas alarm at 7 PM. On duty from 4 PM to 10 PM.


Jan 11, 1917

Went on shift at 8 AM for ten hours. One of the boys went to Villers-au-Bois for supplies. Fritz artillery very active during afternoon and retaliation called for. AA 21 and DA out of order. Linesmen out most of night.


Jan 12, 1917

Very quiet. Heavy shelling on left by enemy during evening. Heavy snowstorm.


Jan 13, 1917

Went on shift shortly after 12 midnight. The Hun shelling this particular sector.


Page 07

Jan 14, 1917

Left front line about ten o’clock. Relieved by 54th Battalion. Trip out uneventful. Billeted at Camblain L’Abbé. Cleaned up before dark. Went to cinema in evening.


Jan 15, 1917

Day spent in cleaning equipment. Bath during afternoon. Later had photo taken with Skeates and Waring. Evening spent reading at Chaplain’s Service Canteen. Heavy shelling up forward during evening.


Jan 16, 1917

Ground covered with snow. Went to gas school at Maisnil-Bouché to exchange helmets. At movies in evening.


Jan 17, 18, 19, 1917

Weather quite cold. Spent time in billets.


Jan 20, 1917

Left at 8 AM for support line relieving 75th Battalion. Quiet trip arriving about 1 PM.


Page 08

Jan 21 – 22, 1917

Weather cold. Very quiet.


Jan 23, 1917

Walked to Gouy-Servins for supplies. Canadian winter’s day. Heavy artillery fire on right. Aeroplane activity. Canadian mail in.


Jan 24 – Mar 31, 1917

Spent time in same sector. Last trip 28 days in line. Artillery more active. At Bouvigny Huts for eight days. Shelled. Relieved 13th Middlesex for a short time while reliefs were being made. Came into front line on March 20. On HQ, hours 8 – 12 PM. Very heavy gunfire on 21st about 5 PM. On same day Fritz put a shell through church tower at Mont-Saint-Éloi.


Page 09


About March 1st, 75th and 54th made a gas attack. Gas came back on them and they suffered heavily. Very few reaching Hun’s line. Both OCs killed. When we took line over from them next day, an armistice was called. Fritz carrying dead half way across No Man’s Land.


Page 10

Music Hall and Wortley trenches shelled. Our artillery retaliated later and silenced hostile guns.


Mar 22, 1917

Came on shift at 8 AM. Ground covered with snow. AA 11 out and trouble with AA 58. Officers imbibing in S.R.D. Canadian mail rec’d in evening. Heavy gun fire about midnight. Lines out till morning.


Mar 23, 1917

Rather active in morning. Afternoon quiet. Still cold and clear.


Mar 26, 1917

Came out of line to Château de la Haie to billets. At St. Lawrence Camp.


Mar 27, 1917

On duty on phone at Orderly Room in morning. In afternoon went to Camblain l’Abbé to locate 14th Bn (in line). Rained all day.


Page 11 Vimy Ridge

Mar 30, 1917

Buzzer test at Brigade in morning. Classed good. Went to Gouy-Servins to movies.


Mar 31, 1917

No parades. Day spent in hut. On duty at 4 PM.


Apr 02, 1917

Came into line about 2nd. In caves and then Tottenham Tunnel.


April 09 – 13, 1917

Attached to B.D.E. Left for Cavalier Tunnel at 4 AM. Went over the top with power buzzer at 5:30 AM. Held up at strong point near Hun second line. Sent several messages. Came back after dark. Banfill and Newham wounded. On HQ phone for 2 or 3 days. Came out to billets at Château on 13th.

Page 12


April 13 – 21, 1917

In billets at Château.


April 21 – May 10, 1917

At Neuville St. Vaast working on roads. Ran across several boys from home in 14th Battalion.


May 10 – 20, 1917

Training at Berthonval Wood.


May 20 – 26, 1917

In line at La Coulotte front. Deuel taken prisoner of war. Stayed in gun pit. On HQ.


May 26 – June 03, 1917

In billets at Château.


June 03 – 12, 1917

In Piano dugout at HQ on La Coulotte front. Raid made after raid on ‘D’ Coy and later at HQ.


Pages 13 & 14

June 12 – 18, 1917

At Château in billets.


June 18 – July 02, 1917

At Rest Camp near Boulogne.


July 02 – 24, 1917

On Divisional rest at Petit-Servins.


July 24 – 30, 1917

In line in front of Lens. Acting as linesman.


July 30 – Aug 06, 1917

In Divisional reserve in dugouts on Vimy Ridge.


Aug 11 – Sep 01, 1917

In line in front of Lens at AG 3 but moved up to AG 4 on night of 14th to act as linesman. Attack made on morning of 15th. Heavy counter attack by the Hun and nearly one whole company lost. Relieved by 102nd same night and started about 2 AM for Liévin. Played out on way down and stayed in cellar near AG 3 till morning. On ‘A’ Company phone with Isles and Booth. Relieved there by 46th Battalion and moved to Souchez Valley for 4 days. At Château for 4 days. In line for 7 days at Report Centre in outskirts of Lens. Relieved by 102nd on night of 1st. Very quiet trip out to Cité St. Elizabeth.


Sep 01 – 04, 1917

In Cité St. Elizabeth in BDE support. On ‘A’ Coy signal station in cellar. Relieved by 1st Division night after heavy gas attack. Enemy barrage up forward on way out.


Page 15

Sep 06 – 19, 1917

4 days in Petit-Servins and 8 days in Alberta Camp in valley. On 17th services held on Ridge at Battalion Cemetery.


Sep 19 – 29, 1917

On leave in Paris.


Sep 30, 1917

Returned by train to Aubigny-en-Artois. Rejoined Battalion at Petit-Servins.


Sep 30 – Oct 04, 1917

In billets at Petit-Servins.


Oct 05, 1917

March to Houdain.


Oct 05 – 11, 1917

In Houdain awaiting moving orders to go north.


Page 16

Oct 12 – 19, 1917

Take train. 4 days march. Arrived near Cassel on 16th. Billets at farm near village. Time spent in signal practice.


Oct 20, 1917

Ideal day. Morning spent in lamp and flag work.


Oct 21 – Dec 17, 1917

Left early in morning and took buses near Brigade. Arrived at Toronto Camp near Poperinge about two o’clock. Hun planes over at night. A few days later left for Potijze on Menin Road about three miles east of Ypres. Village of Passchendaele about six miles forward.


Page 17

Oct 21 – Dec 17, 1917

Very heavy gun fire on all sides. Hun air raids daily. Carrying cable up to line for three days and on 15th repairing mule tracks. After this relieved by 2nd Div. Canadians and marched out to camp near Toronto Camp. Next night took train for Caëstre. Arrived in billets after midnight. Stayed there for over a week. On running most of the time.


Left Caëstre by train and detrained near Toronto Camp. Stayed there for night and next day went into line as far as Ypres by train.


At Abraham Heights. Battalion went into line after 2 days there. Shelled heavily at ration dump. Carried up water and rations to Bn HQ at Hillside Farm not far from Passchendaele village.


Page 18

Oct 21 – Dec 17, 1917

On running for 2 nights and one day. Brought prisoner out at 1 PM at Ypres. Next day returned to Abraham Heights and came out with Battalion next night. Stayed for night at Potijze.


Started long march for Lens sector. After several days march arrived at La Thieuloye. Stayed there for one week and then moved to Diéval. There for three weeks.


Dec 18, 1917

Left Diéval early in morning for Château de la Haie. Arrived at St. Lawrence Camp at 3:30 PM. Kitchens very late. At movies.


Dec 19, 1917

Moved at 1:30 PM for Neuville St. Vaast. In huts for night.


Page 19

Dec 20 – 25, 1917

Moved into line. Attached to ‘C’ Coy in close support. ‘C’ relieved in 5 days by ‘B’ Coy.


Dec 25, 1917

On support signal station with ‘B’ Coy. Very quiet while Coys were changing.


Dec 30, 1917

Came back to rear support near Canada Trench. Very quiet.


Dec 31, 1917

Trouble with phone. Received some Canadian mail. Rumour of raid to be pulled off by this Coy in near future. Came on duty at midnight.


FINIS 1917


Page 20


– 1918 –


Jan 01, 1918

On duty from 12 to 6 AM. Artillery fire heavy after dark. Patrol left for front about 6 PM. Enemy raid on BDE frontage. Repulsed by 75th and three prisoners and dog taken. 54th said to have lost two patrols. Our raid cancelled for time being and patrol sent back.


Jan 02 – 03, 1918

Went for bath near St. Vaast on 2nd. Part of way by train.


Jan 04, 1918

Quiet. Change of companies at night. ‘C’ Company here at present. At Bn thru afternoon.


Jan 05, 1918

On duty 12:01 PM – 6 PM.


Page 21


Jan 06, 1918

Day spent as usual. Raining during evening. Very dark and dreary.


Out of line on night of 9th. On exchange at transport lines.


Jan 19, 1918

Going in line tonight. Sending this to Blighty with fellow on leave.

Original Scans

Original Scans