[transcription provided by collection donor]
Berthonval Farm near Vimy Ridge
Jun 5, 1917
We have been having a hot time of it lately. Both ways – heat & clouds of dust during the day & Mr. Hun’s visits during the night. That is his aerial visits. We don’t mind his visit so much but it’s very annoying in the persistent way he sends his card announcing his arrival. Of course if he didn’t drop his card we would not know that he was hovering over us so to speak, for he is shy & prefers to remain invisible. But there is nothing shy in his announcement: it is very sudden, loud, illuminating, shattering & destructive. Oft repeating in the same locality taking toll of men & animals. I think he prefers taking toll of men, at least we all think so & you too if you saw the way we scoot for any nearby funk hole.
Again, we as individuals think he is hovering over our heads & his next card has our number on it. That would mean “napoo” for us.
After his announcement which may & often does disturb a “quiet game” the verbal expressions of greeting must surely tickle the vanity of his Satanic Majesty. These expressions of greeting come spontaneously, but they persist for quite a long time as we are all more or less restless. I won’t say nervous though perhaps we are or even in a more aggravated state of high tension. Our expressions are anything but flattering to Mr. Hun, the air-bird & at the same time it helps us to cover up or blanket any other feeling we may have at that time.
Now & then Mr. Boche varies his programme by muffling his engine & swooping down till he is about 50 yards over our heads & then turns his announcer on us with a rapid sputtering of heated words which have a trace of light to them & a nasty sting which leaves a clean hole if they hit home.
My one consolation is that our own “airmen” return these visits with interest & without delay.
Jun 8, 1917
Padre Costello, Capt. Vickers & I made a trip to Arras. Here we visited the ruins of a cathedral. Nearly all the shops that were open (& there were a few) had a table across the doorway so if you wanted anything you had to stand on the sidewalk & try to look around an enormous individual, a woman of unprepossessing beauty, to see if the article you wanted was there. You would waste about ½ hr & then find out that she didn’t have anything you wanted; cusses from the gallery. We visited the Officers Club but after waiting ¾ hr & not getting served (we were very thirsty) we went away in disgust. We managed to get tea & cake at the theatre but had to buy seats for the movies which we didn’t want to do so that we could reach the tearoom. On our way home had a heated argument with Vickers regarding the roads. It ended in a 50 Fr. Bet. I won & Vickers cussed. He is still cussing.
Hearing at 7:30pm that the 3rd & 4th Can. Div. were going to put on a show; Capt. Vickers (paymaster) & I set out on foot to see the entertainment. We left our camp, Point “C”, Berthonval Farm, at 7:45pm & went overland to Carency & down the valley for a little distance. Here I met Major Russell of Victoria. We now attempted to take a shortcut & got into a bog, floundered across the Souchez River. Passed through Ablain St. Nazaire & down another valley. It was now quite dark & we came across a narrow gauge railway & took an ammunition train up through Angres, Rollencourt & to the outskirt of Lievin. Now went by foot back to Givenchy-en-Gohelle & climbed up on the left of Vimy Ridge where we watched the fighting. Shells were going over our heads with the roar of an express train, bursting everywhere. A Boche dump was blown up in Lens. Some shrapnel burst over us & the fragments zipped all around us. On the third time finding we were uninjured we beat a hasty descent, tumbling over barb wire, slipping into shell holes & trenches that had been blown up. We now went around Givenchy & climbed up on the Pimple & here we had the same experience with shrapnel & carried on as before. There was a drizzly rain & of course it was as dark as Hades. The descent was very steep but we managed to get down with much cussing & perspiring profusely. After walking some distance we suddenly found we were in Souchez. Here we took the main road to LaTargette, jumped on a returning lumber wagon which took us to Berthonval farm, nearly jolting us to pieces.
Now only had a few hundred yards to reach camp but we got lost & wandered through about sixteen camps getting further away from home before we were put on the correct track. Reached camp at 11:55, wet & tired.
Jun 10, 1917
Went for a ride with Mr. Gouchie to Villers-au-Bois, Chateau De La Haie. Here I met Col. Peters, A.D.M.S., 4th Div, on through Gouy-Servins, Pte Servins & Gd. Servins. Here we visited the 13th Can. Field Ambulance & met Col. Goldie, Major Anderson & several others. Had tea with them. We returned by the same route keeping off the main roads.
In the evening went for a ride with Cpt. Vickers & Mr. Sommers through Villers-au-Bois, Camblain-L’Abbe to Les Ventes, Estree-Cauchy then back a short way & down through Cambligneul to Aubigny . Here met Major McNutt, Major Doe, R.S. and others. When we left here it was raining. We passed through Agnieres, Capelle-Fermont, Frevin-Capelle, Acq, Ecoivres, around Mt. St. Eloi & home at 11:00pm. My riding for the day would sum up to a little over 30 miles.
Jun 14, 1917
Went to Noeux-les-Mines with Capt. Groves to inspect sanitary models for field use. Got two or three good ideas. On way home & when near camp I met Cyril, 2nd C.M.R. (Balmoral cigar stand) of Victoria.
Jun 15, 1917
Went to Villers-au-Bois with Capt Costello to see P.P.C.L.I. concert for officers. They gave a very good entertainment. Here I met Mr. Kerr of Victoria. He was in Scottish uniform. A man every inch of him. Also met Capt. Henderson, C.A.M.C. & Capt. Parker. They are with No. VI Field Ambulance.