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. image courtesy Australian War Memorial P00244.001
Avery, Louis Willyama – March 1917
40 Fritzes were lost in the fog this morning & were captured behind our lines, They appeared glad it was all over.
The fog blanket still continues. We hear rumours of going to the back areas for a spell. Sounds too good to be true.
Spoke to our Adjutant today about going to the Inns of Court Cadet Corps… He advised me not to but did advise applying for Observer in the A.F.C. (Australian Flying Corps.) This carries a commission & men are required urgently. Would prefer to become a pilot, but this would require much training & they are not after pilots at present. Will think it over.
… Received orders to move back to Fricourt about 3 miles away. Discarded all surplus & worn out gear to lighten my pack… The route was fairly easy, but the new camp is dirty…
Corporal I/C of the camp guard today. 10 minutes before mounting guard I got the guard together & put them through some intensive drill to polish up their memories. Will not be very popular if I become too regimental… Later the guard was turned out smartly on the approach of the O.C. & we paid him the compliment of a present arms. He did not expect this & was very pleased… This is the last day for entries for the A.F.C. Have had a great argument with myself & something made me finally decide not to apply, but to persist in my ambition to become an Engineer Officer. In the A.F.C. once an observer, always an observer… It remains to be seen now if my choice was wise. I am ambitious to return to Australia with a Commission as an Engineer Officer.
…applied for leave to go to Albert. Granted & 6 of us set off at 2 p.m. tramping along the muddy roads but feeling free for once. Albert has changed since we last saw it… They are busy making money out of the troops & by their charges it would appear that they expect us to pay off the whole damned indemnity instead of the Huns. We each got a bagful of supplies from the canteens, to hell with the Froggies, & then went to the Bonza Theatre to see an Anzac Vaudeville show… Had to return to camp in the dark & a fog as thick as pea soup. We arrived at 8.30 smothered with mud having fallen many times. However, we enjoyed the few hours of freedom & the contents of our bags, so it was worth the expenditure of so much energy & the mud.
The whole Company marched to the Divisional baths ½ a mile away .Had a marvellous hot shower. Oh what a luxury & how wonderfully fresh you feel afterwards. We were supplied with powder (no we are not feeling like cissies) but it was to powder our clothes to kill the lice or chats as we call them. Fortunately I only had one pet family & decided that old friends must part. I had kept them warm for a long time & in consideration for my service they bit & kept me awake at night…
Filling in shell holes all day to make a parade ground. Looks like drill for the troops. They wont like this.
Resting all day, mostly reading. Received an anonymous box of cigarettes from England today. Have not the foggiest idea where they came from or whose writing it was. All I know is that it came from England. Thanks to the unknown…
… It appears that Bapaume has fallen & our patrols are 5 miles beyond… Fritz is retiring in perfect order & to a prearranged plan…
…At 9.30 I reported to the 2nd Brigade Staff Captain. General Birdwood was present. After presenting medals he gave a short address, speaking in high terms of the capture of Bapaume by the Australians yesterday morning. As the Germans retire they are burning & destroying all houses, systematically blowing up roads, railways bridges, even cutting down trees & leaving a hundred & one ingenious scientific devices to catch the unwary. It is the Engineers job to search out these booby traps & render them harmless. In all 60 towns & villages have been occupied on an 80 mile front to a depth of 12 miles in places…
… The Bapaume town hall was blown up today by a German mine with a delayed action time fuse. Many troops were casualties.
… Left Bresle at 9.30 for Bellevue Farm, not far from Albert. Here we are going to practice pontoon bridging on the River Ancre.
…I now possess a bicycle & am in charge of No 2 Section cyclists (6). We arrived at a farm near Pozieres & are in tents. Looks like returning to the line again soon & do not expect to remain in doubt very long.
Marching order at 8. a.m. I proceeded with the cyclists to Bancourt, north of Bapaume & recently held by the Huns. The road was better than I expected, though rough & muddy. Many parts of the road had been destroyed by mines… We passed many British tanks, either bogged or put out of action. … Fritz has cut down every fruit tree.