Diary Four - July 1916
Diary - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
March April May June July August
Western Front
1st July 1916
Glorious day today. Quiet morning but had scheme 8 this afternoon with the assistance of T.M. An aeroplane raiding party went over "their" lines tonight and dropped bombs on their stationary balloons. Got 3. The Huns fired hundreds of shells at the planes but they all returned safely to the aerodrome. 10.30 p.m. Awaiting the time for our big coup. Our Bty is the centre Battery of a pretty big stunt tonight. The 9th Batt are raiding their first line about 12 p.m. and where're supporting them. On our immediate right the Huns have opened. Been going for quite an hour and a half.

2nd July 1916 (at OP.)
Lord what a time we had. The fun didn't commence until 2.30 but it was worth waiting for. Our friends were extra nervous. Must have had an idea we were going to "hate". They had 2 enormous search lights playing all over our lines and sent up dozens of lights every minute. No 2 got a jammed breech after firing about 50 rounds. Went and got her into action again. When we had finished all the guns were just about red hot, just like they used to be at Helles. The scrap only lasted about 28 minutes, but the guns were going like mad all that time. Our friends sent over a few 5.90 at us but they all landed a bit short. Details of raid to hand. Congratulations by CO 6th Batt on splendid barrage. Prisoners taken 20 R and F, 1 Officer, also 2 machine guns. Number of kills. With regret have to report the death of Chas's cousin who was the officer that led the raid. Up at OP. all day. Nothing much doing. Major Rogers (8th) and I had a hate on our own about 9 p.m. Big hate coming off tonight.

3rd July 1916
Another glorious evening. We started the ball rolling at 12.30 p.m. to the second. Jove it was some show. Our left section was attached to the 7th for the night so I had to do 4 gun battery's work with my two guns. And they didn't fail me. Had complete control and believe me we did strafe. Swept 1 and searched 300 with T.S. Our first barrage about 160 rds of H.E. breached their firing line along a front of 300 yds. You could almost have boiled a "billy" on the muzzle of either gun after we had finished firing. They were scorching hot. The paint blistered and burnt, but gee it was great. No 1 jammed only once but the delay was only for 15 sec's. Our "friends" annoyed us with shrapnel and H.E. but didn't get any of our boys. Got to bunk at 3 a.m. Woke up at 9 by a salvo of 5.9 tearing things about just down the road. Sent over about 50 but only got one hit on one of the 22nd Batty pits. Not much damage done.

4th July 1916
Orders out that we leave this position early Wednesday morning. Being relieved by the 37 Bty. Busy getting stores etc. ready to hand over. Brigade orders say that we are chosen for rather a neat little stunt. The 61st English Div are making two big raids tonight and we are causing a diversion and blowing down 20 of their first line parapet. Ranged on to it tonight and were all ready. Oh! Delphine. Gee but I am tired as the deuce. We got into action at 11 p.m. and for 20 minutes kept up a steady stream of shells at the salient RYF 6 secs. Then they ranged on us and gave us a fireworks display. No casualties but were awfully luckily. At 1 am I had the extreme pleasure of taking part in one of the most glorious "rough ups" that ever was. We started off with 2 rds BYF 5 sec and then for 35 solid minutes kept at gun fire. Talk about an inferno. All 4 pits were full of empty cases 2 jammed after quarter of an hour's intense firing. One stuck it out rather well, although the spring went. About 5 minutes to cease firing. We put through 992 rounds. Five of the boys in a pit were overcome with the fumes and had to be pushed out in the open air, so was in my glory for a time loading. Jove it was fine. They rained shells back at us 77 mm and 4.2. Got a direct hit on No 4 pit and punctured the landscape rather well. They were only about 20 yds out of range, but their shrapnel splattered all the pits. Left Bty position at 3 a.m. Walked to Waggon line, got our horse and came on here (Doullens) where we are massing preparatory to making a move north. Have just awake after 6 hours sleep (2 p.m.) Busy bathing, sleeping and packing kit during the afternoon. Chas came up and fed with us. Bunk at 8.30 p.m. A German prisoner who was captured by the 9th Batt in their raid, on being questioned by Provost Marshall said that if the German Infantry in this part of the one caught a 1st Divisional Artillery man they would crucify him (how nice).

6th July 1916
OO today. Busy getting things ship shape again. Every time we move it seems to rain like the mischief. Our horses and waggons are covered in mud, but managed to get them rather presentable by night. Went into Estaires at 6 p.m. and came out again at 9.30. Saw McKeon. No orders to shift yet.

7th July 1916
Major left early this morning with the Colonel to pick our new position. In last nights orders it mentions that my good comrade Lt. Rogers 6th Batt has won the M. Cross. Went into Estaires again this day. Went and said goodbye to the Mdll's Gue'quiere. Ronduel who I met through McKeon. They have a beautiful home in the heart of Estaires. Had a famous time. Major returned tonight. Have to be in readiness to move at a minutes notice.

8th July 1916
Busy getting things ready for a move. Contrary to expectations we go south. Had a bit of revolver practise at night. Chas and I went into Doullens at night for an hour.

9th July 1916
R.O.O today. Went out exercising horses this morning. Afterwards jumped some of the horses. Several visits from Taubes today. The Colonel paid us a visit today and brought with him the news that my 2nd star has been confirmed. So from now on I hold the rank of a First Lieutenant. What a Dorg.

10th July 1916
Went into Beauval for a ride today with Chas and Morris. Had a great blow round. Managed to buy several things including a rain coat and 2 rather decent hand-worked hats which I sent to 48 MR. Arrived home at 11 p.m.

11th July 1916
Marching orders to hand. Don't know where we're off to but its south (some way) somewhere. Left Waggon Line at 8 p.m. and entrained at Beauval West at 10.45. Left the station at 1.24 a.m. and arrived at our railway destination (Doullens) at 6.15 am. Had a decent compartment all the way shared same with the Major and Richardson.

12th July 1916
Left station at 8 a.m. and set out for a 16 mile ride to our billets. Glorious country here, and beautiful old houses everywhere. At present we're in rotten billets. Had hard luck in not being quartered in a lovely chateau overnight by a Countess (French). At present is D.A. H.Q. It's a lovely home. Don't know how long we're here for, but I'll be very thankful when they push us up a bit further. "Bathed"

13th July 1915
Slept like a log all night. Up with the larks this morning feeling awfully fit and well. Great climate here. Down in stables all the morning. Horses stood the journey rather well. Out for a 10 mile route march this afternoon. Went through several villages among which was Flesselles. Every little village, no matter how small can boast of a church. In the evening Chas and I visited the chateaux and had a saunter through the House Park. Gee it's a paradise. There's one long drive through one portion of the Park which is the most magnificent I've yet seen and I spent 8 days in Marseilles. Mail arrived tonight. Managed to catch one from H.R. "Hossie" and "Bream". Awaiting orders to move up to the line. Wish they would hurry up and come to hand. Can't settle down to a quiet existence. Utterly impossible.

Château de Flesselles

14th July 1916
Orderly "dorg" today. The Battery out for a route march this afternoon, but did not accompany them. Sent No 1 and No 3 to workshops today. Had another stroll through the chateaux grounds.

15th July 1916
Out for another route march today. Mail arrived this evening. Caught a few. Chas came down to tea. Afterwards repeated last nights programme and visited the Chateaux. Saw the countess's two daughters and spoke to them. Struck Major Riggal and passes the evening with him. Still awaiting orders to shift.

16th July 1916
Orders to Imski to hand at 4 am. Packed up and left billets at 9.30. Our column was 6 miles long. Arrived to get in on all the other crowd for a decent waggon line. Bivouacked for the night. Raining. Major, Richardson, Faulkner, Robertson and Sele in a hay-loft feet deep in straw. Pinched a couple of ducks.

17th July 1916
Awakened several times in the night by the sound of heavy firing. All night long our heavies were going. Still raining. Mud everywhere. Still awaiting orders to Imski.

18th July 1916
Orders to hand at 11 a.m. to "get". "Got" at 2 p.m. Trekked along a road up to the horses knees in slush. Got to this village Harponville about 6 p.m. Devil of a noise here. Bombardment day and night. Awaiting orders to go into position. Chas camping with us.

19th July 1916
Quiet day. Kicked about stables nearly all the time. Orders to go into position to hand at 6 p.m. Left at 6.30 trekked along road to Albert. Arrived at temporary W.L. at 11.30. Got out to Bty POD with CTA at 2.30. Slept in German 3 line trench (what was) among bombs to.

20th July 1916
(Becourt) Playing at war again. Gee, don't they strafe down this way. All night and all day without ceasing. All kinds and conditions of shells. From 9 pounds to 19 inch hows. Things are in a mess here. The dead are thick and equipment and gear almost as bad. At present I'm in a German officer's dug-out about 30 feet underground. Their beds are still intact so hope to get at least 2 decent hours rest tonight. We're even cooking with their stores and using their phone wires for our phones. The trenches are just a mass of cracks and blown about earth. One dug-out is full of dead Germans. Fixed up one trench of five for my guns and opened at 3.30 pm. Saw two good sights today. The Germans stopped one of our planes and tonight one of our planes got a Taube. Saw Chas today. In fact, strolled along for a break.

21st July 1916
In action all night. Absolutely no rest here. At it all day as well. Gee, if they bring many more batteries up here the shells will jam in the air. Our friends got one hit today. Got a hit on a pit just in front of us and blew out a few. Been firing all day.

22nd July 1916
Just got to bunk at 10.30 when I had to bet out and strafe. Made things merry until 1 am. Stood to until 2 am and them managed to get about 2 hours sleep. Went up to OP after break and had the extreme pleasure of knowing that the whole blinking German artillery were bent on one stunt only that was blowing the OP and the trench to blazes at once. One big coal box firing HE with sulphur fumes, kept landing at precisely every 2 minutes from 1 pm 'til 7 pm. Gee things were in a mess. Had a decent days shooting however. Got down to Bty at 8.30.

23rd July 1916
Oh! Oh! Delphine. What a night. About 9 pm last night we got the order for the attack and at precisely 28 minutes past 12 the circus started and I think I can safely say that last night I saw the biggest fireworks display I've ever seen. Gee, it was hot. Had the extreme pleasure of being slightly 'gassed' again. Those confounded beggars on the ridge shot over gas shells and made things rather interesting. Our own cordite fumes were such that you could cut them with a knife because the wind happened to misbehave itself and blow back on me. It's now 3.45 pm and we're still in action firing slowly (about one round every 2 minutes). Had to go up to the OP just after daybreak to strafe owing to a wire coming through to the effect that the Huns were massing for a counter-attack in rear of Pozieres. So hated, rather considerably. Managed to get my clothes off for a couple of hours but willingly exchange my lungs, throat, ears and eyes for those of any cow or horse ever turned out to graze. Can hardly see out of my eyes and am as deaf as a post. Details of the advance not to hand as yet, but our chaps (1st Australian Division) seem very successful. They have captured all the trenches they set out to take and of Pozieres itself. At present the Huns are reinforced with infantry and artillery and are creating merry Hell but I don't fancy they'll play any funny business until tonight. Then I daresay we'll have another 'box on' in repelling them. The English troops who last night charged on our right have had to come back, impossible to hold on, but our chaps are hanging on like the proverbial bulldog. Mail arrived tonight. Caught quite a few letters also a box of 'Chairman' cigarettes.

24th July 1916
Stood to all night expecting trouble. The beggars up ahead (over the ridge) playfully sent over some more gas shells to annoy us. Down at the Bty all day. Managed to get to sleep at 3.30 pm but at 5 the major woke me to and go up and register barrage lines for some stunt or other. Went up to OP and registered. Got down to Battery again and had just finished the first course of a rather appetite satisfying dinner when Fritz started an attack so rushed up to OP again and strafed him somewhat. His attack failed miserably and he got a beautiful hiding. Later. Orders out at 11 pm tonight for a further advance. Have just finished measuring out my guns' angles and ranges and waiting for the time 1.58 am to come. The attack is going to be something big. The objective being to capture the town of Pozieres and the 3rd lines of German defences beyond it. The English troops tried three times to take it but failed. Tonight will be a real test of the 1st Australian Division against the best German regiments on this front.

25th July 1916
We win, but at a pretty rotten cost. All night long (24th) we stood to waiting for the assault. It came at 1.58 am. This is the biggest inferno I've been in yet. The bombardment was terrific. At 3.30 it reached the climax and our infantry charged. At present we hold the town and the trenches to the right and behind it. This afternoon the enemy increased his bombardment at a terrific pace and blew our trenches to nothing. In some places there are no trenches at all and the infantry are in shell craters but sticking it out. Immediately on our troops occupying Pozieres 'their' artillery bombarded it with heavy stuff, and for 4 hours the town was invisible. Had to send No 2 away this afternoon. Only have one gun that we can fire with safety. The rotten part of the whole thing is that we can't get ammunition. The English system again. It's always the same. People at home do nothing else but talk. As yet they don't seem to realise what ammunition means.

26th July 1916
In action all night, Managed to get a paltry 400 rounds up to the Bty. If the Huns only knew they could waltz through and take the Pozieres without much trouble, and then this place would be like a butchers shop. They're bombarding like mad and we're not firing a round. Neither are any of the batteries around us and the infantry have been sending down SOS for support which we can't give them. Only wish that we were permitted to get rifles and go up to reinforce them. Took advantage of our rotten system and slept for a few hours. Have had 6 hours sleep in the last 96. Later. Hur-bloomin'-ray. Ammunition arrived in any quantity so celebrated the occasion by strafing heavily. A very complimentary circular to hand from General Walker, warmly praising the 1st Australian Division on their splendid achievement. Also one from the GRA commenting on the splendid work done by our batteries. Feel 100% happier than I did an hour ago. Even went out of my way and had a bath. Was about half way through with that pleasant operation when Chas came along and was calmly yarning away when a shell burst right over us (a 4.5 how) and we both found ourselves on the ground but unhurt. The Hun found our Battery today and strafed us with 4.2. Didn't get the gun though. Sent quite a lot of GSP cards away today. Feeling awfully fit and well and ready for another 36 hours scrap. Got an estimate of the number of rounds we've fired since we came into the line in France. Out of four guns we have fired about 12000 rounds all together to date.

27th July 1916
In action all night but as ammunition is plentiful for once strafed right royally. Up at OP at 6 am. Got there and coughed for about 2 hours afterward. The Huns were sending over dozens of gas shells and poor old OP got the benefit of them. Things fairly rowdy during the morning but at 3 pm 'til 5.20 pm things reached a climax. 'They' shelled Pozieres and Contalmaison to blazes with 5.9 and 9.2 HE. Couldn't see Pozieres for over an hour for smoke and spume while in Contalmaison they obscured it with gas from the shells. On our right a devil of a bombardment has been going on all day. Hope it's a prelude to an attack by the English and French troops. As soon as they advance further we will be able to go ahead again without fear of being cut off. Got hold of a Parisian paper today. They're just about going mad with delight over our taking and holding Pozieres.

28th July 1916
'Strafing' as per usual. Glorious day. Down at the Battery. Tried to get a little sleep this morning (after being up all night again) but the Hun didn't want me to have any spell evidently so I missed. Artillery duels all day. At 4 pm our esteemed friends liberated two gas clouds, but owing to the high wind blowing at the time didn't do us any harm here. Wrote McKeon.

29th July 1916
Got the order for a further attack at 12.15 am. Opened up and supported the 2nd Division in their attack on the German positions north east of Pozieres. Our friends found our Battery and strafed it rather well but missed getting the guns. Our chaps had to abandon the attack owing to the wire being too thick in front of Frtiz's trenches. Up at OP all day. Pozieres and Contalmaison getting their full share of shells. Artillery hates all day.

Reserve line at Pozieres

30th July 1916
Very hot day today both as regards to heat and getting strafed. Nothing much doing. In action up 'til 5 am this morning. Down at Battery all day. Had 3 hours sleep this afternoon. At 6.10 pm the English troops out in Maretz Woods way attacked. Don't know how they got on. Paid Randall a visit this evening.

31st July 1916
In action all night and half the morning. Our friends sent over quite a number of gas shells, some of them Lachrymatory which make your eyes and nostrils smart like blazes. Had to get into helmets again which is a rotten performance all together. Ordered to report to 19th Batt. HQ near Pozieres this afternoon. Got there at 5 pm. Just in front of BHQ there's a team of German horses hitched to an ammunition waggon which one of our shells found out. Sat up half the night and yarned to the OC and his commanders. They are all Sydney chaps so passed quite a merry night during which Fritz was quite annoying with his barrages.

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Monthly Diaries
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