Roger’s diary continues on from October 1916…
Wednesday 1 November 1916 – On duty today as orderly taking messages, The same on 2,3,4,5 and 6th Nov. Nothing out of the common, nasty weather. 6th went to see if Tom had returned from hospital – he had not. About Tom’s mail, they could not give me. I saw Tom’s Company Sgt Major and had a chat with him, he made me very comfortable by his fire and gave me a cigarette. I don’t know him but he was at YPRES last year when I was so we had a common subject. I think I could have stayed hours only the tea came in and it had rum in so I cleared off.
Tuesday 7th November 1916 – The weather has been awful lately, cold and rain, it has poured down practically all today, heavy too. It must seem cruel to the chaps in the trenches, no doubt there is a reason could we only see it, perhaps to bring the war to a splendid end. I am thankful that I’ve a good place to stop in; I am, along with some others, in a hut. I’ve been off duty all the day but it is my turn on tonight. I have often wondered how it was I’ve not got promotion and my hearing has no doubt been an impediment but all along I’ve been convinced there was a reason, that God would make all well in his own time and now I realise I am getting one of the benefits. Had I had good hearing I might have been an NCO and instead of being here would, if not been already wounded, have been in the trenches which are practically up to the thighs in mud and water. I learn the trenches have been bad and the weather also since we came to the SOMME district and I wonder how many NCOs would be glad to change places with me now. Then there is the after effects, if not wounds perhaps rheumatics or trench foot. God is good to me and I must not fail to show my appreciation when I have opportunity.
Wednesday 8th November 1916 – Still at the divisional HQs and doing the same work i.e. first day on duty from 7.30am to 1.30, second leg on 9pm till 7.30 next morning and then on again at 1.30 pm to 9pm, again coming on at 7.30am and continuing the round. There has been nothing special happening to me but the attacks have been made in the trenches and I learn my battalion, along with others in the division, has had heavy casualties. My note book is full up and I haven’t another, a parcel from home with which I’d requested a note book has been lost, I’ve written home to tell them not to send any more parcels till I let them hear as we have an idea that we are going for a rest and I with the other temporary orderlies most probably will be returned to our battalions, so I don’t want anything lost again through change of address.
Nothing special on 9th, 10th ,11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th except on the 16th we had an issue of flour, the cooks did not use it up so I got some and made two ‘roly polys’ and some short cakes, cooking on top of a stove which we have now in our hut.
Friday 17th November 1916 – We are having some keen sharp weather now. Today how thankful I am that I’ve a good sleeping place where, for a couple of days, we have had a stove.
Saturday 18th November 1916 – Awoke this morning to find there had been a slight fall of snow. I went for some water at the water main just near but the water had been frozen so I had to melt some snow to wash in. Our place is just near a water supply, very handy for us. This morning the rain started. I had to get a message to Caterpillar Valley and saw the horses bringing up ammunition being led instead of one being ridden as usual; the horses here bring up ammunition on their backs not in limbers. The horse being ridden has 2 shells at each side and the other horse, each man has 2, it has 4 shells each side mostly in specially made baskets. The roads are extremely bad for them.
Sunday 19th November 1916 – Moved to ALBERT from the advanced battalion and are in houses. On duty tonight.
Monday 20th November 1916 – Along with another orderly was sent to the transport line and here again have to clean wagons; it is really not our work. It is no use complaining for if I should go to my battalion I would be doing it every day for that is what they are doing – cleaning roads and cleaning wagons in the railway. I expect this work I am on will only take about 10 days for we expect to move in 10 days’ time and I will be finished with the transport lines then. There are some of us from the office also on this job.
Tuesday 21st November 1916 – Had parade this afternoon, full marching kit and rifle inspection. We have to clean our buttons now. Am to see the boys at the battalion tonight.
Wednesday 22nd November 1916 – On the roads again today. This afternoon asked for and received the afternoon off; the chap with me had to go to his battalion to get a cap badge.
Thursday 23rd November 1916 – Tonight I saw the Sergeant who is in charge of the orderlies and told him I would rather go back to my battalion than stay on the transport. Went for a bath this morning but received no clean clothes but got a pair of old well worn odd socks from the Quartermaster’s store. I also got a leather belt, they have no stores in.
Friday 24th November 1916 – On the transport lines again, wish I could get settled here or back to my battalion so be sure of my mail but my work here is as an orderly not a wagon cleaner. This is the second time he, the Sergeant Major, has had me on cleaning wagons with some others. Was on before we went to BAZENTIN and will wait till we move; we expect to do so on 29th Nov. Then if I am still kept on the transport lines after that will protest to my battalion.
Saturday 25th November 1916 – This morning out working in the rain cleaning wagons. The Sergeant Major told some to stop and later I with the chap who is working with me stopped and went to our battalion but were sent for to go back, but we did nothing but get wet. This afternoon were all off on account of the rain.
Sunday 26th November 1916 – Working this morning got the afternoon off and went to FRICOURT to see if Tom had rejoined his battalion, he had not. I went on to my battalion and had tea with my old platoon mates and stayed till about 6pm then set off back, getting a lift to ALBERT on a motor lorry. I called for another orderly and we went to the YMCA where a service was being held, we had an idea where it was and when we got near the singing guided us, the hymn ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus’ was being sung and sounded fine, we had a nice service, 50 soldiers being present or perhaps a few more. The meeting was open to all denominations and is called The Soldiers Christian Association. During the evening we had some good hymns including ‘Where the Son of Man Goes Forth to War’, ‘When Peace Is like a River’, ‘When I Survey The Wondrous Cross’. I only wish I had known there had been meetings during the week.
Monday 27th November 1916 – Still cleaning wagons though it is better we do. Were we to hurry and finish expect we would be put on the horse lines. The weather is cold and misty.
Tuesday 28th November 1916 – Tonight I went to another Soldiers Christian Association meeting, a Captain Dr Long spoke eternal light, a nice enough lecture and we finished up with a lovely hymn ‘A love that will not let me go’.
Wednesday 29th November 1916 – After dinner had to go to report to Signal Sergeant, Signal Master as he is called, and am now doing orderly again as an orderly is going on leave.
Thursday 30th November 1916 – Nothing special today except I lost 1 franc. I had bought some figs and handled the change with my gloves on, I must have let it slip while putting it in my pocket.
Roger’s Diary continues in December 1916…