Up at 3 a.m. Paraded at 4 o’clock and went off in cars to Haplincourt1 crossroads. Got lorries from there to Achiet2 and train from there to Amiens3. Arrived at Amiens about 9.30. Holman taken rather badly. Had good breakfast and then visited the cathedral. In the afternoon visited the museum and were taken round by a Y M man – a very tactful and clever man. The sculpture work was the most magnificent I have seen, and the pictures were very wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the museum. Had tea and got train about 5.50. Arrived back at 9.45, very tired. Gertie’s Birthday.
My 28th Birthday Up about 7.30. A lot of patients in for breakfast. Kept busy all day and a record day. Over 140 patients altogether. A stretcher wounded case in at night. I had two green envelopes1 given me by a patient and wrote a letter home at night. Received a letter and card and photo group with Billy Peake on it from home. Went to bed about midnight.
Green envelopes: Letters from soldiers on active service were subject to censorship but, as a privilege, soldiers were also given one green envelope per month in which they could send uncensored personal and private letters. If unused, perhaps these green envelopes were a gift to ALL, hence ALL’s letter home later this day? ↩
Ernie’s Birthday. Spent the day on fatigue. Warned for guard at 4 o’clock to go on at 6 o’clock. Received letter from Father and replied to it. Went on guard. Did from 6 to 10.
Up at usual time. Grand day. Received orders quite suddenly to go back to headquarters. Went into town and bought a towel, a soap box and some other things. Charlie’s birthday.
Returned from town and found that I had to pack at once. Hurried to La Clytte in a car. Everything ready for the push. Big guns in the valley firing. Marquees† up and all ready. Fritz1 shelled La Clytte regularly for the last few nights. Had a bit rest and then marched up the line with our stretchers and everything. I picked a wheeled stretcher. No shelling as we came up but signs of recent shelling and dead horses. Arrived at Ridge Wood and the brasserie about 11 o’clock. Got down2 in the brasserie but had to go out again into the little R E signals dugout.
My Birthday 271. Up at 5.30. Breakfast at 6. Fell in full pack at 7 and marched off about 7.20. Heavy fall of snow and still falling as we marched. Several of us fell down as we came down the hill from the camp. The march tired me a lot and I was nearly beat after the first stretch. Put into a deep dugout near to the Welsh aid post, along with Sergeant Powell, Holman, Bascombe and other 9. Slept pretty comfortably on the floor. Ball, the new man, on gas alert picket. Went up to aid post and had to get down a few times. They knocked in the parapet near shortly before we went along. A lovely birthday!
“27”: 17 January 1917 was ALL’s 27th birthday. ↩
On parade as usual. Fatigue in the morning and physical drill and gas helmet drill in the afternoon. Had short walk at night and read a good bit.
On guard at 9 o’clock. My turn in the middle. Had a few short walks and called in Y.M.
On from 1 o’clock in the morning until 5 o’clock. Gas alert put on and gave me some trouble. Pinched some petrol and washed tunic next morning3.
ALL’s father’s birthday was the 4th of September, not the 2nd. ALL noted his father’s 59th birthday on 4th September 1914, so he would have celebrated his 61st birthday two days after this diary entry. ↩
“Dorothy” refers to Dorothy Wiseman, ALL’s niece and daughter of his elder sister, Marmie, and her husband, Joe Wiseman. “7th” refers to the date of Dorothy’s birthday, 7th September, and not to her age. The 7th of September 1916 would have been her 4th birthday. See also: Family. ↩
On parade in the morning. Funeral of Sergeant Bell in the afternoon. Firing party, band and full procession. Had walk at night with Black. Met his girl and her sister and talked a bit. Walked up the road a bit and talked over marriage and girls generally.
Sgt. Bell’s funeral.
My 26th Birthday. Received cakes from home and * [?money] from Charlie.
Ernie’s Birthday. Up at 7.30. All men paraded before the adjutant. I didn’t turn up and was told to do so in future. Went to the pictures at night with Black. Pretty good pictures. Saw the Misses Mack again and Black and I set them up. Got back just at 10 o’clock.