Churchill-Smith, James – April 1918
Noreuil a year ago, & the loss of dear old Armie, Bill Hoggarth, Jose, Bidstrup & Rule. Glad of news that Boche are held. Paris – Plage in afternoon – mer Mjr Johns. Concert at night in Camp. Sick of remaining here doing nothing – do wish I could get back to Bn.
Dull day News of Boche push good today. Left “New Siding”, Etaples, by train at 7.15 p.m. arriving at Candas about 3.40 a.m. Met Beresford & Cook (51st).
Candas 3.40 a.m. In bed 4 a.m. and sleeping in clothes; just hitting earth again after 14 weeks away. Up about 8 a.m. – very light breakfast. Dull day with light rain. Caught motor lorry to Vignacourt, 3rd Div. Supply lorries to 4th Div. motor to Beaucourt, & walked to Bn. details at Bavelincourt arriving about 3 pm. Glad to be back again.
…Staying in a Chateau, but cant help feeling sorry for the owner & his family, who have left leaving all household goods &c on the chance of losing everything. Recd letters from dear Mona, Charlie Willcox & Mrs. Ware, & a card from Ettie Campbell. One shell today killed 9 & wounded 37 of ”D” Coy. Enemy shelling front line heavily all day, and also all villages near by. 47th Bn. pushed back, 52nd left in air, 49th & 51ST counter – attacked – heavy casualties.
Nice fine day. Enemy shelling village about 10.30 a.m. Played Bridge all day
Brigade details left Bavelincourt at 1.30 p.m. arriving at Daours at 4 p.m. Village evacuated by the majority of the inhabitants. Tommies have broken into nearly every house and
throwing things everywhere. Staying at a Chateau & am very comfortable; owner of Chateau had ?500 worth of wine stolen during the retreat, but does not complain; his only complaint is that his wife’s clothes (of no use to any man) were thrown everywhere & damaged . We’re English ??!!
…Chateau owner had his horses stolen last night; one can hardly realise we have such rotters in the Army. Slight shelling of village during day. Enemy aeroplanes up at night.
Bed late this morning – up playing cards, first time gambled for ages & won 300 francs (?11.) Glorious day. Higher Commdrs. Full of praise for 13th Bgde. for their march from Arras to Albert & straight into line – a very fine feat. Slight shelling of village. All bridges around here are mined: one next to our Chateau & if Hun hits it, I guess well go up too. German planes up at night. Tanks moved up at night.
Reported that the Huns used our steel helmets in their advance, & used same for giving the “retire” signal to our men in their trenches; made it very difficult for our men to tell who they were. Night dull, with light rain; plenty of artillery firing on both sides. A rotten night for those poor fellows who are holding the front line.
…A Battery of 60 pounders are in position about 200 yards from our Chateau – the shell explosions shake & break our windows, & the noise is deafening when guns are fired.
…Organising nucleus of Brigade into a Battalion to start tomorrow – Fortesque C.O.. Joe Waine Adj. I’m in charge of “B” Coy. (50th Bn. nucleus.)
Went to inspect trenches, to be occupied by the “Composite” Bn. during the morning; really our alarm post.
…Bombing for fish with Murray, Charlie Willcox & Joe Waine during afternoon – very interesting episode in a boat with. Caught a few small fish. Lovely moonlight night.
Battalion arrived back at Daours about 11 a.m. – billeted here. I joined “D” Coy again, so left the Chateau.
Gas shells sent over about 2 a.m. Ordered to “Stand To” about 4 a.m. owing to enemy attack; heavy bombardment till about 10 a.m. Stood down about 7 a.m. Heavy shelling of Daours – one shell through next house to mine Chateau badly damaged. April -25
Anzac Day, & nothing to drink. Dull day with light occasional rain. Last nights attack successful. Many rumours as to Officer casualties. Villiers–Brettoneux is now ours and our line is about 300 yds. on other side of it.
Enemy counter-attack at 7.30 p.m. – no good. Algerian attack fairly successful – many wounded. Nuttall, McGregor & Tom Smith wounded. Craven & Riggs left for front line. Scarborough now reported wounded – no news of Pat Auld, \prisoner/ Claridge missing. News of successful naval raid on Ostend and Zeebrugge.
Pte Saunders (“D” Coy) returned to Bn. after having escaped after being taken prisoner by Germans – got away after having shot the German sentry; lad only 20 yrs old.