13 December 1917; Thursday

Up all night on duty in the stretcher case dressing room. About 20 of us on duty and not a case in. Changed our kit to a fresh place by the side of a stage in a hut. Slept through until nearly tea time. Moved our kit to a nice square marquee at night and slept there until after 11. On duty at 12.

10 December 1917; Monday

Up about 8 o’clock. No rations up so we had iron ration biscuits and bully for breakfast with a drink of tea with no sugar. Paraded at 10. I reported sick and was given duty. The American officer put a bandage on my ankle. Spent afternoon writing a letter home. We tried to improve our billet but the sergeants took it from us because two officers took theirs. Received letters from Gertie, Mother, Ernie and Hilda Linfoot1 in New Zealand. Got down to it about 8 o’clock. Got a look inside of a tank. Walked round inside of it and was very much interested in it. Quite a lot2 where we are. A rumour that some of us are going to a place on duty.

  1. Hilda Tate Linfoot, ALL’s cousin. See Hilda disambiguation page

  2. “Quite a lot [of tanks]”: By this stage of the war in late 1917, tanks were deployed in large numbers – see also note on 22 November

9 December 1917; Sunday

Called up at 7 in the morning and told to fall in at 8. I rode on a lorry again with the quartermaster’s staff. We left about 9 o’clock (the men marched off shortly after 8 o’clock) and arrived at Fins about 4 o’clock1. We had rather a miserable journey through the most desolate and blasted country. The men arrived about 7 o’clock after 10 hours marching and were very much done up2. They had had no dinner, the same as yesterday. Got into miserable cold billets, just canvas shelters. I was put on guard and did from midnight until 4 o’clock. Very cold in bed and my feet nearly freezing.

  1. Fins (B): 16km SE. of Bapaume, on the Péronne – Cambrai road; Michelin square K7, and about 30km from Courcelles-le-Comte (A). “Fins” inserted in longhand above “at about” by ALL 

  2. “Done up”: Exhausted. 

8 December 1917; Saturday

Got tea cocoa up at Salety and the men arrived about 3 in the morning. Stood about until nearly 7 o’clock. Left in the car and arrived at desolate place near a village called Millemont1. Left there about 10 o’clock on a lorry and arrived at Courcelles2 about midday. The men left at 12 and arrived about 5 o’clock, pretty well done up. A mess up at night for the food. Passed over some of the ground retaken in the retreat from Bapaume. Rather enjoyed the ride. Slept well.

  1. Millemont: in shorthand, so transcription not certain; not identifiable on the map. 

  2. Courcelles: Courcelles-le-Comte (B, 8km NNW. of Bapaume, map square I7) is on a fairly direct route from Saulty (A, if this is correct) to Fins, but Courcelles-au-Bois (C, 19km W. of Bapaume, map square H7) also seems possible. 

7 December 1917; Friday

Up about 7 o’clock. Paraded at the dispensary sick. News not very good. Told off to ride in the ambulance cars. Went down to a car after dinner and started off shortly after 2 o’clock. Arrived at Steenbecque1 station before 3 o’clock. Got up tea for the men, who arrived about 5 o’clock and then as the blanket lorry had broken down our ambulance had to make four journeys for our blankets. We packed up and left again at about 9.10. After a quiet journey arrived at Salety2 about midnight.

3 M T men, Corporal Jones, Sergeant Strauss† and myself on the car.

  1. Steenbecque (B): 7km SSW. of Hazebrouck (A); Michelin square G3. 

  2. Salety: this is in legible longhand, but not identifiable under this name on the Michelin map; possibly Saulty (C) (off the N25 midway between Doullens and Arras, Michelin square H6), but this leaves the next day’s journey unclear - 

4 December 1917; Tuesday

Up about 7 o’clock. On double1. Spent morning practising stretcher business. In afternoon played football. First game I have played since I left school. Sprained my ankle at the start of the match but kept on playing. Had short walk at night but had to turn it in2.

  1. Double march, or run. See all diary entries tagged “double“. 

  2. “Had to turn it in”: ALL had to abandon his walk as a result of the ankle injury he sustained while playing football.