Roger’s Diary continues on from September 1916…
Sunday 1 October 1916 – Last night had to go into the big dug out on account of shells. Several horses were hit, also aeroplane dropped bombs, hitting 12 horses and 1 man. The time was put back 1 hour to normal time today. Had a message to take to brigade, this being the first since last Sunday. Saw my old platoon and company, I hardly knew them, so many strangers. Received 2 letters which had been saved up the line for me.
Monday 2 October 1916 – It is now raining hard, has done since dinner. An attack took place yesterday, a few prisoners brought to the camp nearby. I saw about 25 last night but about 500 were to come down later so we heard.
Tuesday 3 October 1916 – So many of HQs went out for a rest today.
Wednesday 4 October 1916 – We have some naval guns where we are stationed. The shells when discharged are like a train moving.
Thursday 5 October 1916 – Had nothing to do yesterday but today with some other orderlies had to work with the RE and take some dead wires in, starting after dinner and finished about 6pm bringing the wires in which we had taken up.
Friday 6 October 1916 – Out from 9am to 4pm again getting wires in. The wires have to be cut in some places on account of the trench sides falling in and burying them. The wires have been left in the open trench not buried as usual, this on account of the advance which is taking place. Had some biscuits and cheese which we carried for dinner. Left the wire to be called for.
Saturday 7 October 1916 – Today went with the wagon to collect the wires which we left at 3 places yesterday, and also some other wires which others had taken up. Rewinding wires on drums this afternoon.
Sunday 8 October 1916 – Rain today which stopped us going out on wires, otherwise would have been out perhaps all day.
Monday 9 October 1916 – Were told to pack up and be ready to move, the chaps who had been out on rest came back and we went out, a motor lorry taking us. The remainder of HQs to the divisional HQs near Albert. Went to BAIZIEUX tonight to see the battalion, got 4 letters but was too late for my parcel. It had been opened but I don’t blame the lads, for myself, I would not care to have a parcel about and don’t expect others to do what I would not. Were paid tonight at 9pm in readiness to go to AMIENS tomorrow.
Tuesday 10 October 1916 – The chaps who came from divisional HQs yesterday were all granted passes to AMIENS. We paraded at 7am and an officer warned us to behave ourselves as one of the chaps in the previous party had got into trouble. A motor lorry took us to MERICOURT station. The fare is 35c each way, military price, and cheap for the distance. The train set off about 9am but went very slow. It stopped about 3km from AMIENS, held up with 3 other trains so we got out and walked, getting to AMIENS station at about 11.50am. I heard later that the trains did not get in till 1pm. Went to YMCA ‘joy’ hut outside station and had something to eat, then out to look round. I like the bustle and stir of the place, we kept to the busier streets and came to the Cathedral, the front of which had been damaged by the taube aeroplanes and is now all sandbagged up. We went inside, I and another chap, the altars and the architecture are lovely, the best and prettiest I have ever seen. Part of the centre is protected by sandbags in case of shells and bombs from the aeroplanes. Then further round the town and back to the YMCA as the chap I was with had a new pair of boots on and they hurt his feet. We arranged to meet for tea before the train left and I set off again, finding the fruit and flower market, also fish market. Near here I got a present, a silk wrap for Mother and enclosed a birthday card, the parcel going direct from the shop. We understand the lorry is to meet the 3.42 train from AMIENS so we intend to go back with this, also it was the last train on the timetable so I set off back for the YMCA, met my day’s companion and we had tea then into the train. It reached MERICOURT at 6pm but no lorry was waiting. There was only 1 other of our party besides we two, that is all I saw. We set off to walk having some coffee and cakes in RIBEMONT and were first home, some others came by lorry leaving Amiens at 7pm but this was only a chance ride. The passes were only till 7.30pm in Amiens and now I am writing this.
Wednesday 11 October 1916 – There are 2 who have not turned up, these from my tent, I don’t know about any others. We have an easy time here, no roll call so unless they happen to be personally wanted they may get back without trouble. This morning on awakening I found the glass had come off my watch and the second pointer gone and the minute hand broken. The watch has not gone, to give me any satisfaction, for about 10 days now. It stopped and started to go for a few minutes just anyhow.
Thursday 12 October 1916 – The two chaps I said had not turned up, turned up this morning. Directly after dinner yesterday I went to the battalion and stayed till about 6pm, having my tea with C Young who had just received a parcel. I got no mail but 5 letters and a parcel for two chaps of ours who are at the French Div HQs and today I got the RE ration cart man to take this mail up with him. Tonight I went to Bresle (braylay) as I had heard the 12th South Staffords were there, Tom’s battalion, but I could not find them.
Saturday 14 October 1916 – Up at 6.30am to go on the horse lines to clean up, also worked cleaning limbers. We worked till 5.30pm.
Sunday 15 October 1916 – Again we had to clean carts but got the afternoon off, we 6 orderlies were on working. Went to battalion tonight.
Monday 16 October 1916 – At it again today. The work is really not ours but we have to do it.
Tuesday 17 October 1916 – Still cleaning wagons at divisional HQs. Went down twice today with horses to water.
Wednesday 18 October 1916 – Still cleaning wagons. We practically take our own time and do about 1 each day, two of us at that. Up to battalion tonight.
Thursday 19 October 1916 – The weather is very cold. We were issued with one blanket on Monday last, I’ve sewn mine in to a sleeping bag. Rain all last night and today so far, 12 noon, so we did not turn out to work, taking this upon ourselves.
Friday 20 October 1916 – Did nothing today except go to battalion tonight.
Saturday 21 October 1916 – No work today.
Sunday 22 October 1916 – Were sent for to help in the horse lines, cleaning up and to take the horses for water.
Monday 23 October 1916 – Went to battalion last night. They move to MILLENCOURT today for 1 day then go up further.
Tuesday 24 October 1916 – Have had orders to get ready to move today.
Wednesday 25 October 1916 – Didn’t move yesterday, had to clean up, and this morning, then this afternoon we moved to Fricourt Farm, going in the divisional motor lorry and we are not in tents.
Thursday 26 October 1916 – Last night had to go on duty as orderly in the signal office. We are in today from 7.30am till 1.30pm then to be on again 9pm till 11pm and two will have to stay on all night, this we will take in turns. Five of us are on duty together. Yesterday I came across Tom’s battalion 12th South Stafford’s only to find Tom went to hospital 2 or 3 days ago. Dull weather.
Friday 27 October 1916 – On duty 1.30pm to 9pm, the duty is to deliver local messages and to take long distance messages to the orderlies detailed for them.
Saturday 28 October 1916 – On duty 7.30 and at 8pm was told to pack up and later, with others, had to go to a post, new divisional advance near BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND.
Sunday 29 October 1916 – A nasty day today, we are getting bad weather now. Shelled last night, shells dropping about 100yds away but no one was hurt.
Monday 30 October 1916 – Nothing to do today except find 2 places out for messages.
Tuesday 31 October 1916 – Helping the Sergeant to make a dugout comprised my day’s work. Have seen some men come from the trenches practically covered with dried clay and wet up to their knees. I learned that the trenches are half filled with mud and water, I am thankful I am out of the trenches and, if in future, can show my appreciation to God, I hope I don’t fail to do so.
Roger’s diary continues in November 1916…