Roger’s diary continues on from February 1917…
Monday 5 March 1917 – This morning, March 5th 1917 was surprised on getting up to find a cover of snow.
Tuesday 6 March 1917 – The sun has been out strong today, the snow is practically all away though the roads are dirty.
Wednesday 7 March 1917 – A good day today.
Thursday 8 March 1917 – Today for the first time in my army life was issued with a tin of 20 sardines between 4 men, also for the second time half an orange per man instead of jam.
Friday 9 March 1917 – We moved today to MERICOURT-SUR-SOMME, the other MERICOURT near RIBECOURT was MERICOURT-L’ABBE.
Saturday 10 March 1917 – We orderlies are working 4 reliefs, I am on tonight.
Sunday 11 March 1917 – There was a church parade this morning but I was not ready in time having just come off duty about 7.45am, and had to clean up and shave, also undo my equipment but tonight I went to a service at CHUIGNOLLES 3.5km away. It was a nice service, hearty singing and a band played the tunes, the church army hut was comfortably full when about half way through the service a thought came to me, casually or prompted I don’t know, but I thought of my cap badge, how easily it could be pulled out from my cap, it was just at my side but I thought directly afterwards what an unworthy thought and in a place like this, so I refused to look and see if my cap badge was safe but after the service was over the cap badge was gone. I asked the chap who sat behind me if he had seen it, he said no and although I looked I could not find it. I cannot swear I had it in when I went into the service but I think I would have missed it before if I had got it.
Monday 12 March 1917 – I went to the battalion this morning and got a cap badge off the QM [Quartermaster] for asking. The battalion is just past MERICOURT; afterwards I went nearly to BERISY, crossed the marshes and back home by the Somme canal bank. On duty 3.30pm to 8.30pm.
Tuesday 13 March 1917 – Had a good walk along the canal bank. On duty 11.30am till 3.30pm, had another walk along the canal, there is a dock a little way up stream and I have seen the bargees working with their barges through the lock.
Wednesday 14 March 1917 – On duty 7.30 to 11.30am. This afternoon the divisional gas officer instructed us about the new respirators which have just lately been issued and we were put in a hut filled with gas to test our respirators. Tonight I intended to have a swim in the canal, I jumped in but it was very cold so was practically straight out so I bathed at the stream which takes the overflow from the canal. On duty 8.30 till 11.30pm. My workmate is staying on all night.
Thursday 15 March 1917 – Went to ETINEHEM tonight, there is nothing special there which I know of. I went to the Boulangers but they would not sell me any bread saying it was only for civilians.
Friday 16 March 1917 – On duty 3.30pm to 8.30pm, the company including myself have been inoculated tonight, we have had sardines now 4 times and once more half an orange. Once a loaf between 2, then a loaf between 4, then between 5 and tonight between 3.
Saturday 17 March 1917 – Feeling a bit sick and have been back to the hut after breakfast till 11.15am, going on duty 11.30am. The inoculation has made a few sick, some more severe than the others.
Sunday 18 March 1917 – Duty at 7.30am to 11.30am and alright, tonight again went to the service at CHUIGNOLLES, the church army hut was full, the band again in attendance.
Monday 19 March 1917 – After breakfast went to FROISSY along the canal bank, only a few houses and a lock on the canal. I went by road to BRAY-SUR-SOMME, there is a decent sized church but I did not go in, I tried to get some bread but could not, but I managed to buy some of my favourite dates, then off back home, dinner and afterwards rifle inspection. The dates cost about 1 franc a pound judging for what I got for half a pound.
Tuesday 20 March 1917 – The weather is fairly good; we have an occasional shower now and again.
Wednesday 21 March 1917 – I went to PROYART this morning, got some biscuits at the E.F. [Expeditionary Force] canteen and some muscatels at the shop, 1 franc for what are half pound packet.
Thursday 22 March 1917 – This morning on awakening found a thin cover of snow, the sun has come out and it will soon be melted away, Yesterday I priced a tin of condensed milk, what would cost in England before the war 7½ d, the price in PROYART was 2 francs 4 pence or 2/-. The price of articles is of course raised to the English soldier, as some of the shopkeepers say ‘Anglaise tommee plentee money’.
Saturday 24 March 1917 – Tonight at 11pm the clocks will be advanced 1hr and so starts summer time.
Sunday 25 March 1917 – Earlier in the week two orderlies were sent to the Corps pigeon loft for duty, so now instead of 4 we have 3 reliefs again. I’ve been able to attend the service at CHUIGNOLLES, and going on duty all night. Tonight will write home asking Mother and Dad permission to go back to my battalion to work for a commission. I received news that J.Redhead has lost his right arm, and Mother entreated me to keep out of the firing line.