Three Australian officers at Gallipoli, identified from left to right: Lieutenant Roy Kernot of the 1st Division Engineers; Lieutenant Edward Stanley Whitehead of the 3rd Field Company Engineers and Lieutenant Louis Willyama Avery (later MM) of the 1st Division Engineers. The three friends were all associated with the Silverton Tramway Company in Broken Hill and survived the war.
Avery, Louis Willyama – August 1917
During the night Fritz sent over about 12 shells of heavy calibre from a long range gun, the target being Hazelbrouck. Some damage was done, a number of civilians cleaned out, some of whom sheltered at the farm at Wallon Cappel. Our boys leant lent them their blankets. It has been officially announced that the 3rd Battle of Ypres began yesterday, after weeks of heavy bombardment, hitherto unprecedented in the war to date.
Set off for work today carrying material to erect baths. Arriving at our destination we discovered that the “Army Practical Joke Department” was at work. We found that the 14th Field Company Engineers had been detailed for the same job. After doing 6 hours work we were told it was their area, so we packed up & returned to Wallon Cappel in the rain. We were disappointed as the work would have broken the monotony.
Discipline has become awfully strict now, not allowed to leave our billets without a leave pass, & then have to wear our belts. Military police have been placed to see that these instructions are carried out, also to see that the estaminets [bar, café or bistro] open & close at the proper times.
There are 4 officers & 100 men billeted on this farm. It is much the same as any other French farm, consisting of buildings formed in a hollow square, dwelling house, barns pigsties & stables. A large manure heap occupys the whole yard, except for a narrow strip around all four sides to serve as a path. This heap of ripe rubbish is the happy hunting ground of innumerable cocks & hens & an occasional pig. In the grazing areas are large green scum covered ponds, the home of a great number of frogs. The cattle paddle in these ponds & it is from there that we obtain our washing water. Fresh water is scarce.
Left Wallon Cappel, skirting Hazelbrouck & the Nieppe Forrest, to Vieux Berquin, where we are billeted on another farm.
Reveille as usual at 6 a.m. & only check parades for the remainder of the day. The Major sprung a surprise at the 8.30 parade. Those with long hair or unshaved etc had to join an awkward squad. The parade was a surprise & 5 of us in my shelter rushed to be in time to fall in, & fall in we did. My blankets were untidy & a few empty tins were lying about. We joined awkward squad. We thought the Major was too sudden & unreasonable, admitted we had been used to a little slackness, but some warning might have been given first. We had to do an hours drill under an insulting reinforcement sergeant. We were at white heat. We will take note of this latest arrival from Australia is as efficient under fire as at his drill. ? can he keep his stripes.
Same old parades today & an extra hours drill to continue our punishment. After half an hour we were dismissed & told this was the end of it. I had made up my mind to see the Major & explain how our keenness not to be late for a surprise parade was the reason for not tidying up our shelter, but was so pleased with our treatment tonight & under another sergeant, that I considered it advisable to let it pass, but not to forget it. I was thoroughly disgusted but it may not have paid me to make a nuisance of myself at this stage.
…leave in the afternoon, from 4.30 to 9 p.m. I joined 2 of my pals in exploring the countryside far & wide. Once we were caught in a heavy shower but a hospitable Madame invited us to enter & be seated. She had two interesting daughters who were very nice.
The Company was inspected by the Chief Australian Engineer, General Lebinear.
Many Hun planes were over tonight, high up in the air. Searchlights lit up the sky while machine guns and anti-aircraft batteries did their best to bring them down. Fritz was not to be denied until he had dropped his bombs where he wanted to.
Another air raid tonight & the bombs were not far from our farm. We hear that there were 60 casualties in a labour battalion.
Went to see the new Australian concert party called the Anzac Coves. It was a good show, in spite of the fact that we had to stand up. Air raid at 9.30.
We helped a Froggie to bring in his harvest today.
Bath parade today. About time too.