Arrived at some place at about 10 o’clock and lay down with Lavere. Ordered to move again and after delay moved off to the place near the chateau where we were on Friday. Lay down to sleep again with Lavere and slept well in spite of being very damp with heavy dew. Had breakfast about 10 o’clock. Had shave and wash. Received parcel and letter from home. Lavere and I built a shelter against the heavy dew. A wall of old sandbags and our ground sheets tied together and raised in the middle as a cover. Letter from Leishman from the barracks with photograph of NCOs.
Arrived at a place about 10 o’clock (23)1 and got down with Lavere under a waggon. Ordered to move on again. After delay fell in and marched to the place near the château where we were on Friday. Got down in the open with Lavere and slept well although damp. Got up and had breakfast about 10. Shaved and washed. Washed feet and hunted for lice. Received parcel from home, and letter from home and a letter from Leishman with a photograph of the barracks R-, N.C.Os. Spent day agreeably. Made good shelter for the night.
Bazentin Wood “searched” by German shells from end to end. About one o’clock a shell struck the edge of our trench and blew it in about 6′1 from us burying Denham and Hughes (machine guns played over us.) Bascombe and I dug them out with our hands and electric torch. A nightmare. Got them into the big dugout. (German – one corner almost down to the ground – been hit by a 15” shell.) Spent a short time there. Glad to get out. Rather be hit by splinter than buried alive. Breakfast tea and biscuits at 8 o’clock. Resumed carrying from aid post to Bazentin Wood to East Lancs post behind it. Mortally wounded Sergeant on stretcher left out to die. Beyond doctor’s aid and unconscious. Took string of walking wounded down. One couldn’t keep pace. I carried him. Tremendous heavy bombardment by our guns. Noise deafening. Some hideous sights in Wood both British and German.
[Above the printed date – ] Heard that Pozières1 had been captured.
About 1 o’clock a shell struck the road about 6 feet off our trench and blew the side in burying Denham and Hughes. A machine gun played over us the whole time and we had to dig them out with our hands. Like a nightmare. Spent a few hours in the proper dug-out. Took down two stretcher cases before breakfast and then got some tea in Captain Newton’s dug out. Duggins and Gibson sent up to relieve Bascombe and I. Received orders later to go down. Paddy and I carried a case to the relief and then came down. Passed an 8” battery. A tremendous number of guns. The bombardment through the night was deafening. Some hideous sights in the wood. An Engineer sergeant badly wounded left to die and was breathing when I saw him last. Also decomposed bodies stirred up with the shells.
The Battle of Pozières was a two-week struggle for the French village of Pozières during the middle stages of the Battle of the Somme. Pozières is primarily remembered as an Australian battle and ended with Allied forces in possession of the plateau north and east of the village. ↩
Up at 5 o’clock and marched off. Felt pretty jaded to start with. Walked past Mametz Wood and on to Bazentin Wood. Bascombe and I left at the East Lancs. Aid Post. Had breakfast (cooked ourselves). Other two of our squad – Houghton and Hall – there. Took down a man on our backs. I ran some messages. Very heavy shelling and machine gunning towards and after dark. Returning from the East Lancs. Post to the Post in Bazentin Wood met a Jock with an ugly wound in his thigh. Carried him on my back until we lost the cover of the bank from machine guns. Trench crowded with troops so stayed on top. Shell very close and filled our lungs with fumes and eyes with dirt. Got too far along trench (on top) and took him to Kings Own aid post by mistake. Got back to our post by light of flares and gun flashes.
Up at 5 o’clock and marched off. Felt pretty jaded to start with. Walked up by Mametz Wood1 and to Hardecourt Wood2. Bascombe and I left at the East Lancs aid post. Had our break fast (cooked ourselves.) Other two of our squad there. Took down a man on our backs. Ran some messages to the very heavily shelled sap at night and a machine gun fired over our heads all the night. Took down 9 wounded cases. Carried one on my back. Under shell fire and machine gun fire all the time. Met a Jock with a bad wound in the thigh. A Coal Box3 burst a few feet away from us and nearly blinded us with dirt and fumes but didn’t hurt us. Got him to the King’s Own4 aid post by myself. Returned to rest. Waited until shells eased off. Returned to rest feeling tired and tried to sleep in garments† by position. Shells falling all round us.
Mametz (A) and its Wood are on the bottom limb of the “L”-shaped front line , some 5 – 6km east of Albert, in square I8 of the Michelin map. ↩
“Hardecourt Wood”: there is a Hardecourt-aux-Bois (B), 5km E. of Mametz, but the shorthand is unclear, and I don’t know whether Hardecourt-aux-Bois, or its remains, were yet held by the British. ↩
“Coal Box”: Another name for a German heavy artillery shell used by British troops, seemingly interchangeably with “Jack Johnson”, which ALL had also used in a diary entry on 9 July. ↩
“King’s Own”: the 7th Battalion of the King’s Own Regiment was in the 19th Division, but in the 56th Brigade (ALL’s 58th Field Ambulance was attached to the 57th Brigade). But so was the (7th) East Lancs. ↩
Up at 8 o’clock. Watched aeroplanes. Glorious morning. Read “The Passing Show” and two chapters of 1st Corinthians. Received orders to move at 12.30 p.m. Hunted for chats (lice) and found over twenty in my shirt. Left our camp about one o’clock. Arrived further up road near a battery of 60 pounders and dug into the bank to make a shelter for a dressing station. Got down for the night on the ground with Piggy Wood, Bascombe, Houghton and a few others. Orders to be up at 5 o’clock. Very cold and damp at night and a terrible noise from the guns just over the road and some 8” guns not far away. Germans shelling the road just ahead. Watched aeroplanes being shot at. Beautifully fine.
Up at 8 o’clock. Had breakfast. Watched aeroplanes. Glorious morning. Read The Passing Show1, and a couple of chapters in Corinthians. Received orders to move at 12.30. Hunted for lice and found over 20 in my shirt. Left our camp about 1 o’clock. Arrived further up road near a battery of 60 pounders and made a dug out for a first aid dressing station. Got down for the night with Bascombe, Piggy Wood and a few others with orders to be up at 5 o’clock. Very cold and damp all night and a terrible noise with the guns. The 5” gun over the way and some 8” guns quite near made an awful noise. Troubled a lot with lice too. Germans shelling the road. Watched aeroplanes fighting and being fired at. Beautifully fine.
Don’t know where we are. Near the Line as artillery all round. Put in new squad; Bascombe, Houghton and Hall. Tossed up for who should sleep on stretcher and I won. Got a blanket and slept well from 4 to about 7 a.m. Had breakfast at 9 and washed and shaved. Near a noisy 6” naval gun. Watched masses of infantry, endless field guns and 8 or 9 heavy guns draw by tractors go towards the Line. Aeroplanes swarming overhead. Once counted 22. Saw one shot down. Saw German field gun being brought back. Received orders to move but these were immediately cancelled and we stayed all night. Found out we are not far from Chateau. Rather to the right of it. Slept well.
Arrived about 4 o’clock at our resting place. Don’t know where it is. Tossed for the stretcher and I won. We were issued with blankets and I got one to myself. Slept well. Awoke about 7. Got up about 9 o’clock. Had good breakfast. Washed, wrote up diary and lay on stretcher. Near to very heavy (probably 6”) gun. Watched about 8 or 9 big guns with traction engines go by. A tremendous number of field guns and troops continually passing. Received letter from home and wrote a reply. Watched aeroplanes (* 21 by morning†) flying and saw one brought down. Saw captured German field gun brought down line. Received orders to move, but these were cancelled and we stayed all night. Found out we were near the château to the right.