Category Archives: March 1918

All diary entries written in March 1918.

30 March 1918; Saturday

Arrived at Strazeel 1 at about 7 am. Went to * *2 in motor lorries. Wet night. Walked into Locre at night.

  1. Strazeel: Strazeele (B), 80km NNE. of Doullens (A); 7km E. of Hazebrouck on D642 Bailleul road; Michelin square I2. This means that since the Retreat began on 21 March, the 58th Field Ambulance had been withdrawn completely from the Somme/Ancre theatre, where the German breakthrough occurred, a good 45km north to the Ypres area. 

  2. No possible transcription of this place-name has been identified on the Michelin map; could be anything from a trench/camp name (‘Canada Green’?) to a local name (‘Candé Grand’? – or even ‘Mont Grand’.)  

29 March 1918; Friday

Up about 8 o’clock. Had breakfast and packed up ready for moving. Rather stormy and showery. Marched to Doullens1. Lay down by roadside from 7 until past 12 o’clock. Got into train and went north.

  1. Doullens (B); 11km SW. of Humbercourt (A). 

28 March 1918; Thursday

Up about 7 o’clock. Packed everything up and took down tents. Moved off about 10 o’clock. Arrived at Humbercourt 1 at dinner-time. In billets and they seem quite luxurious billets. Had tea and got paid and went to bed early. Wet and stormy night. No further news from the line.

  1. Humbercourt (B); 11km W. of Humbercamps (A). It seems probable that ALL had written “Humbercourt” in error on 26 March, having meant to write “Humbercamps”, hence this journey from Humbercamps to Humbercourt two days later. 

26 March 1918; Tuesday

Up at 6 o’clock and marched off about 6.30. Arrived (after passing through civilised country and seeing civilians) at Bienvillers 1 at about noon and had breakfast. Received orders to move on immediately, and arrived at the cross roads near Humbercourt 2 about 3 pm. All property† left on the way. Put up tents and marquee and flags and opened up dressing station. News from the front still bad. Saw newspaper in which it said the Germans claimed 30000 prisoners and 600 guns. Still no relief. On night duty.

  1. Bienvillers: Bienvillers-au-Bois (B), 6km N. of Hébuterne (A), Michelin square H6. 

  2. Humbercourt: ?Humbercamps (C), 4km W. from B.-au-Bois; Michelin square H6. 

25 March 1918; Monday

Up at 6 am and marched off before breakfast at 6.30. Arrived at1

Up at about 3 am, fell in at 4 and marched to Beauquuy2. Commenced to pitch tents but order cancelled before they were up. Went into village and had breakfast at some house and fitted up a dressing station. Worked morning and very busy in the afternoon. Had to carry some of our stretcher cases a few miles to the nearest cars. Returned and found our party gone. Found out where they were going and followed and caught them up. Arrived at Hébuterne at about 9 pm. Got down to it3 and slept well.

  1. Another deletion, probably for the same reason as the previous two. 

  2. Beauquuy: presumably Bucquoy (B), 3km NW. from A.-le-Petit (A); thence to Hébuterne (C), 6km SW.; Michelin squares I7 and H7 respectively. 

  3. “Got down to it”: Lay down to sleep, as elsewhere in the diaries. 

24 March 1918; Sunday

Up at 6 o’clock. Repacked waggons, struck tents, dumped a lot of stuff. Made ready to go to a dressing station down the road but the order cancelled at the last minute. Left after about 3 o’clock and after a long march arrived at Achiet-le-Petit1 at about 6 o’clock. On duty in hurriedly-put-up dressing room until shortly after midnight. Slept badly.

Ordered to fall in shortly before 4 am. Packed up and moved off and arrived at Beauquuy at about 7 am.2

  1. Achiet-le-Petit (B): 7km WNW. of Bapaume (A); Michelin square I7 (see also note on 19 February). 

  2. More lines of shorthand crossed out by ALL; see yesterday’s note.  

23 March 1918; Saturday

Arrived at Beaulencourt1 about 3 am. Got down to it in a Nissen hut. Up again by 8 o’clock. Packed waggons and dumped a lot of stuff. Marched off at about 2 o’clock with a full load on our backs. Arrived just beyond Bapaume at about 5 o’clock. Put up tent and then had tea. Went on gas and air raid guard until midnight. Could not sleep until about 3 o’clock.

Were ordered to put up tents in a field but kept going before tents were up. Moved into village. Fit<ted> up dressing station, and got straight to work. Very busy in the afternoon. Germans still advancing†. Left with stretcher cases on our hands. A few of us carried some of them on our ambulance along the road. Nearly lost our people.2

  1. Beaulencourt (B): Michelin square J; 4km SE. of Bapaume (C), where this journey ended, and about 7km W of Bus (A), where it started. 

  2. These last lines of shorthand crossed out by ALL. The Ambulance’s first concern was obviously to keep themselves and their wounded out of the hands of the advancing Germans, and when there was eventually a chance to write up the diary the exact sequence of events was no doubt difficult to recall. The deleted lines are difficult to read, but seem to be something like  the transcription given here. 

22 March 1918; Friday

Got into bed and Billy Truman pulled me out again for duty. On duty all night. A lot of cases in first thing after supper time, but not many after midnight. Got off in the morning at 7 and in bed at 8 o’clock. Awake at midday. All bearers warned to go up with Major McMee. Got up about 3 o’clock. The bearers marched off at 4. Went on duty first thing after tea. Received moving orders and moved off at about midnight by light rail. Bombed on the way but no casualties.