Roger’s diary continues on from December 1916…
Monday 1 January 1917 – Took over today, started work about 9.30am, later in the day the remainder of the signal company coming up. I went to the South Staffords in a camp near by and there met Tom who had got back from hospital. He was in the guard room awaiting to be tried at 5pm at battalion office, his crime being – after parading sick and getting 1 day’s light or no duty by the doctor – going to a dressing station, the doctor here sending him to hospital. I had to get permission of the Adjutant before I could speak to Tom; at first he refused permission but later allowed me to see Tom. I was on duty at the time and got into a row when I got back for being away so long, the time flew while I was talking to Tom and before I knew it I had been away two hours. Later I learned Tom had got 7 days’ pay stopped and no field punishment so I went across to congratulate him. The crime had been breaking camp. After Tom had gone to hospital an order had been put up that anyone going to another doctor at the dressing station after being seen by the regimental doctor would get 20 days No.1 FP [Field Punishment] and Tom had expected to get this.
Tuesday 2 January 1917 – Off duty from 1pm to 7pm and tonight went out to RE [Royal Engineers] canteen with Tom where we had salmon, biscuits and a good chat until it was time for Tom to be in.
Wednesday 3 January 1917 – I was on duty last night all night and after being relieved at 7.30am slept all the morning, going on duty at 1pm. Tom came across to tell me he has to go before a medical board to see if he is to be classed as a permanent baseman, dropping in handy to have a share of a parcel which tonight arrived from the Sunday School and Guild.
Thursday 4 January – Saturday 6 January 1917 – Went across to see Tom and had salmon, bread, biscuits and Monday 8th January had a parcel from home and took it across to Tom. He got some hot tea and we had supper, we go into a hut which is used as a drying place for clothing, here we can talk in private. I see Tom every opportunity which is every two days when I am off on the afternoon and night. We had supper together on Sunday 14th January 1917 we went to the first service held in a Church Army hut which has just been opened near us.
Tuesday 16 January 1917 – Tom and I had a walk to CONTALMAISON tonight where is a canteen which sells tea and we also had some biscuits. Tonight and the two previous nights the enemy have shelled near us but know of no damage done.
Wednesday 17 January 1917 – Had snow during the night, a layer of 4-5 inches when I got up this morning, it snowed part of the morning and now tonight 7pm it is inclined to be more snow, just a very fine snow powder coming down.
Tuesday 23 January 1917 – Tonight a parcel arrived from home with a pair of socks in from Aunt Louie Cotterill and a parcel for Tom via me because Tom has expected being sent to the base, also 10/- between us. I took Tom’s across and learnt his lot are to move early in the morning and as he was busy packing up and I on duty we had not a long time to say goodbye nor share our parcels. Last night with Tom and a friend of his, a cook, we had a supper which turns out to be our farewell supper, we just had sufficient money between us, Tom and I, to get a tin of herrings and his cook friend provided the tea and bread, he has done so two or three times before. And so Tom and I are to be parted.
Wednesday 24 January 1917 – At Tom’s request I did not go over this morning as they would be extremely busy loading the transport etc. When I went for my breakfast just before going on duty I glanced across and happened to see Tom being detailed off for some work, he did not see me. I saw an observation balloon today diving about in the air on account of the very strong winds, it was too strong for the balloons, I learn the observer descended by parachute but I did not see him, but saw the car was empty and later saw it break the hawser and was blown away, it came down against AMIENS so I heard. We have had frost and very cold weather ever since the snow came, the cold even getting into the huts and freezing what drops of tea that are left in our dixies.
Saturday 27 January 1917 – Nothing else special till 27th January 1917 when I with some others went as an advance party to RIBEMONT where we take over some new HQs tomorrow. Tonight we went to some pictures which the Australians have and had a good night’s entertainment.
Sunday 28 January 1917 – Started duty here today and the remainder of the company has come. The orderlies work three reliefs, two doing night duty, which means one night on out of every three.
Monday 29 January 1917 – The frost is still holding, we have some fun sliding on the ice. I have a rugby ball which was left in the billet by the Australians, we had it out today. Nothing special, having a trip to the pictures Jan 31st.
Roger’s diary continues in February 1917…