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Date: September 1917

[transcription provided by collection donor]

Sep 1, 1917
Posted to 116th Batt. & reported to their H.Q. at St. Pierre where I relieved John Briggs & the Batt. is in reserve. Col. Sam Sharp is O.C. Spent the night here in an old Hun dugout which I used as a dressing station. I was infested with Pediculi. We were under heavy shell fire all night.

Sep 2, 1917
Moved dressing station to Lens Hospital. Took up quarters in the basement of this ruined building which is on the Lens Bethune road. This hospital is the first place in France that I have seen which had modern improvements. Our Batt. went into the front line. We put on a fake show – smoke barrage & gas. The Boche retaliated with a heavy barrage & scored several hits on the remains of the hospital.

Sep 3, 1917
52nd Batt. went over on the bombing raid which was successful. Boche retaliated with a heavy barrage & gas. Things were very hot around the dressing station.

Sep 4, 1917
Relieved by 14th Can. Batt. at night. Just as we were getting out of St. Pierre the Hun put over an intense shelling: H.E. shrapnel & gas. We went out on the double wearing our Box respirators. The horses needed no urging. I got through ok. The Col. & Adj. had to abandon their horses & take to a shell hole where they remained for over two hours. It was a miracle that we had no casualties.

Sep 5, 1917
Arrived at Marqueffles Farm 2am. Here we rested for a day. My baggage is lost.

Sep 6, 1917
Moved to Bois des Alleux passing through Bovigny-Boyeffles, Gouy Servins & Villers-au-Bois. Camp was near Mt. St. Eloi.

Sep 7, 1917
Located my luggage. Moved toThelus caves, now in reserve. I have a dressing station down in the bowels of the earth. This place was occupied by the Boche before the Vimy show. My quarters are in a dugout shared by five other officers. There are plenty of rats & other pests.

Sep 8, 1917
Capt. Cote (Padre R.C.) & I tried to explore the caves. We found numerous passages & there was space enough to billet a whole brigade here. We never finished exploring these chalk caves. They are so vast & it’s so easy to get lost. They claim these caves extend as far as Arras, a distance of 8 miles. The air was good & the passages dry. Brigade H.Q. has their mess here in a vaulted chamber & are very comfortable.

Sep 15, 1917
Into the line between Mericourt & Acheville. The trenches are in good condition & everything is fairly quiet. During the evening our aeroplanes were very active & easily demonstrated their supremacy over the Hun.

My dressing station is about 20 feet underground, shared by the 8th Can. Field Ambulance.

[sketch of station layout made in diary – see jpg file at bottom of page to view]

Twenty feet below the ground in a lice-infested hell is now the place of my abode. The lice are reinforced by rats as big as a half-grown cat & as fat as pigs. They don’t bit you, I mean the rats, though they will run all over you when you try to sleep & come sniffing around your face. As regards sleep I get precious little of it & never undress while in the line.

All days are alike: sick & wounded come to relieve the monotony. Poor fellows, their suffering at times is awful yet they grin & bear it.

Four of us were having a nice quiet game of bridge (that doesn’t sound as if I was busy) when, with a roar of an express train about a mile broad, at least it sounded that way, a Boche shell came head on for us. It fortunately landed about 15 feet from the shallow dugout in which we were then passing the time. The concussion knocked the four of us out of our seats, wrecked the dugout & covered us over with dirt and chalk. You would have laughed if you saw us crawling out, each expecting to find the other wounded. Not a scratch on anyone of us. You bet we didn’t lose any time in getting down into a deep dugout & there we cussed the Hun like a bunch of magpies.

Sep 19, 1917
We came out of the line last night. Walking to Thelus & here a train took us to Fraser Camp alongside Mt. St. Eloi. I left the line at 12:30 am & reached camp at 3:15 am. Took me some time to find my kit & it was daybreak when I crawled into my sleeping bag. I slept from then till noon. Visited the A.D.M.S. where we discussed our movements in the coming show. Had a bath & saw John Briggs.


Original Scans

Original Scans