The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: May 2017

The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: May 2017

Rogers diary continues on from April 1917

Tuesday 1 May 1917 – Usual duties of course not doing any parades, we move today. Moved to BEZENCOURT, a camp about 1KM north of the village.

Wednesday 2 May 1917 – Each company had much more sick men than usual today, some with blistered feet, quite a lot of men have sores, some being very bad. I had 17 for my sick each who got medicine and duty, in my opinion 15 ought to have had no duty. We move again today and I don’t know how they will march, 5 of them were sick yesterday and were allowed to set off early for the march so as they could take it easy but there has been so many sick today I expect the doctor could not dispose of them all as they need, they would need ½ the battalion to carry them. We moved 7 miles yesterday, a nice hot day, we move again today a similar day as yesterday, nice but very hot moved to tents between BLAIRVILLE and FICHEUAX. I had charge of the worst cases walking from the battalion, I had about ¼ hour start and had not gone 2KM before the battalion overtook us, I got the men behind a transport cart but 6 out of 9 had to drop out, I kept with those in the rear and finally after a struggle landed the last men in camp about 1hr after the battalion.

Thursday 3 May 1917 – We are in company reserves, standing by in case we are needed for 48hrs,

Friday 4 May 1917 – At 2pm fell in and marched back to BAZINCOURT huts, a big attack has taken place and evidently we were not wanted.

Saturday 5 May 1917 – Today we move again, later marched to HALLOY again, I’m pleased too for it is a clean little place, we can get anything almost at the shops including bread 1/- per loaf but worth it, also I am able to get muscatels and prunes.

Sunday 6 May 1917 – Sunday service in YMCA this morning and tonight, are having lovely weather.

Monday 7 May 1917 – Inspections today.

Tuesday 8 May 1917 – A goods train ran into a bogey loaded with iron bars, just on the line about 300yds from the village. I went to see it tonight, the engine is derailed and some of the trucks stacked up, there being one man killed, he was still under a truck, fastened, when I was along, RE men were in charge of the train. Another service, good one too, in the YMCA by our Wesleyan chaplain.

Wednesday 9 May 1917 – Tonight out at 6.30 for night operations digging a trench, we went well out of the village arriving at the position about 7.15pm and stayed there till nearly 10pm before starting to dig, getting back about 1am.

Thursday 10 May 1917 – Today I am battalion orderly Corporal, up and cleaned boots, buttons etc for sick parade 7.30am, reveille being at 7am, so I asked the fire piquet to call me at 6.30, had only to attend sick parade 7.30 to see the men were ready who had to go to hospital and be present when the guard wanted, 8pm orderly sergeant reporting ‘all present’ at 8.45pm so had a good day.

Friday 11 May 1917 – Shooting on the range.

Saturday 12 May 1917 – Practise an attack, quite exciting, targets were fixed up, we advanced the brigade in open order, snake formation, and when the targets were sighted, opened fire with full cartridges. Then tonight paraded at 8pm for night manoeuvres, getting back about 1am.

Sunday 13 May 1917 – Today attended service, morning parade (Wes) in YMCA tent and voluntary service tonight.

Monday May 14 1917 – An easy day in the fields and on the range today. I learnt there was a stream or river a little further beyond where we do our night manoeuvres so tonight went to find it, thinking it would be nice if not too far away to have a bath in it anytime. The weather is very nice and hot too, the stream turned out to be much further than I thought, having to go through a village and only when in the village I remembered orders had been given that passes must be obtained to go into any of the surrounding villages. Had I been pulled I would have got into perhaps as much trouble as the YPRES truck and quite as innocently done. The stream when I found it proved to be dirty and shallow, no use whatever for bathing.

Tuesday 15 May 1917 – Reveille today at 4.30am fell in at 6.25am and had another attack like that on Saturday only in a different neighbourhood. Back about 1pm.

Wednesday 16 May 1917 – Coy training including one hour on the shooting range today, had heavy rain during the night.

Thursday 17 May 1917 – No parades today, moved to some huts at BAZENCOURT getting off at 4pm carrying our packs but our blankets were rolled in tents and carried on the transport. The roads were bad mostly through heavy rain on Tuesday night.

Friday 18 May 1917 – Reveille at 5.30am, breakfast at 6am, moved at 6.30am to a village near MONCHY named I believe AYETTE, arriving here about 11.45am, part of the men are bivouacking as there is a shortage of tents. I am in a tent. The weather is hot again quite suitable for sleeping outside. We are in corps reserve just outside the village, which before being evacuated by the Germans had blown the houses down. Here is a cemetery very nicely laid out, each grave is covered with flowers, growing pansies at an outside wall (uncompleted) of concrete, also two nice pieces of work in the centre of the cemetery and noticeable was an Englishman’s grave, I presume he had been taken prisoner and died, on the cross was; Englander-6th Bedfordshire regiment Aldershot. This grave was equally as well tended as any of the Germans. The cemetery is more like a tiny park, I and others have admired the workmanship and agreed more pains have been taken than our chaps would take for their own men, less for an enemy. Tonight have seen some gun emplacements, solid concrete, fine workmanship, well screened, a wooden stand and pivot for the gun with the degrees marked on to the wood work. Leading into the emplacements are dugouts and also at hand places to keep shells and detonators, no labour has been spared to make a good safe job of it and when finished their guns must have had as regards safety a picnic, such shells as whiz bangs would be useless I think even if one hit direct on top of one of the emplacements and shrapnel would be less of a danger.

Saturday 19 May 1917 – Battalions parade today this morning and this afternoon the NCOs’ had to parade under their company officer, our officer gave us a piquet to place out giving us a point to find by the compass.

Sunday 20 May 1917 – This morning had a practice attack from 8.45-11am and tonight the NCOs are to have a lecture. Just before dinner had a cold bath as I had when in the tents near FICHEUX and this afternoon the coy paraded for washing shirts, towels ect, the cooks providing hot water.

Monday 21 May 1917 – Morning had drill and manoeuvres, were caught in the rain, had heavy rain last night. Tuesday besides morning parade had a brigade night manoeuvre.

Wednesday 23 May 1917 – Moved to BAZENCOURT, the huts which we used before, blankets on transport, packs on our backs.

Thursday 24 May 1917 – Battalion parade this morning and to baths tonight at a place called I believe COIGNETTE (COIGNEUX?), there was also a delightful cold plunge though not deep enough or big enough to swim, it had been built on the stream nearby the baths, running water all the time.

Friday 25 May 1917 – Battalion parade and manoeuvres this morning, also companies taking turns-built a rifle range. When we get back from parade we are issued with lime juice, sweetened and it is champion and acceptable, the weather being very hot.

Saturday 26 May 1917 – This morning the company had the range for ¾ hour being back after a little lecture about 10.30. We have a running parade before breakfast. Tonight is a brigade night. This morning besides lime juice had oatmeal wafer made by the RAMC men (off the water carts.) Had an early night, tent is made for us after coming back on brigade nights.

Whit Sunday May 27 1917 – Yesterday a cold shower was erected in the camp, we had a late reveille. I was up and enjoyed a lovely cold bath and shower. No morning parade, church parade (C of E) no Wesleyan, paraded with the Yorks after which I attended and received Holy Communion under the C of E chaplain, this latter was voluntary. I remember well two years ago when at HOOGE I attended, though did not take, communion. From 3 to 4 pm we, ‘A’ coy, had the rifle range which meant falling in about 2.30pm. While at the range a divisional band came to the camp, we did not hear any tunes before tea through being away but the band continued a short while giving about 4 tunes after tea. Wrote a letter and after preparing to go out, washed etc, found it was too late to go any distance.

Whit Monday 28 May 1917 – Running parade, was up at 5.15 to have a cold shower and had a walk to see an aeroplane about a kilometre away which has had a disabled engine, a new one being fitted, we can see it from our hut across a valley. Then running parade and breakfast, morning parade was an easy affair-manoeuvring, we were back by noon. Finished a letter home this afternoon and tonight went to SONASTRE, a village about 3 kilometres away chiefly to get boot polish, rather hoping to get which I did but only brown. I also got at the YMCA in SONATRE some dates and sardine paste and had a pleasant walk, a lovely night. There are two villages nearer than SONASTRE, BAZONCOURT which had a YMCA which is now a battalion centre and COIGNEAUX which had a Church Army hut up to Saturday but is now a Yorks centre.

Whit Tuesday 29 May 1917 – During the night was awakened by heavy rain pattering on the tin roof, I was thankful I had good cover. The weather has been very hot and the ground readily took in the rain. Fair for running drill and by morning parade was not good evidence of the rain. Instead of manoeuvres the specialist Lewis gunner signals etc etc had instruction in their huts and the officer gave another L/C and I a squad each to drill, to give us opportunity to find our voices, it is quite different saying form fours to giving an order to a squad a hundred or fifty yards away. On till about 10.30am when parade finished and a kit inspection was held. From 4.30pm to 6.30pm had a brigade night manoeuvre, as usual tea was ready when we got back.

Wednesday 30 May 1917 – Battalion and corps, today as yesterday I was up for my shower bath, good start refreshing for the day. Tonight brigade sports are to be held, they have been kept very quiet, I’ve not heard any official notice about them and there has been no training for them.

Thursday 31 May 1917 – Company training today.

Roger’s Diary continues in June 1917