Up at about 7 o’clock. Kept busy all day and were properly fed up at night. Had some bad cases in from field artillery. Not so much shelling, but quite enough.
Awoke in the early hours of Wednesday morning with heavy shelling in the village. Some fell behind our place and one immediately in front and the gas came to us very strongly. Barrage went up at 2 o’clock and the German artillery stopped.
Off duty at 9 and went down to headquarters at about 9.30 to have new eye-pieces fitted into our box1 respirators. Met Harvey, Holman and Benn. Returned in the afternoon. Headquarters bivouacking in a wood. Harvey and Benn returned with us to relieve the day men and Holman went up stretcher bearing. Lay down after tea and talked with Billy Truman about home and leave. On duty about 10. Jerry bombing at night and shelling pretty heavily.
Heard from the Somme that we have advanced 10 miles captured 25000 prisoners and 400 guns.
ALL’s shorthand reads as ‘Beck’s’, but he probably meant ‘box’ as no Beck’s respirator is traceable; see also 13 August 1917. ↩
Up at 7 o’clock. Moved off to a C C S1 place behind Poperinghe2 about 10 and arrived at dinnertime. Rested all day and slept well at night. Very heavy fighting all day. Beare†, Nelson, Watson and Gray came down gassed slightly. Heard that Sergeant Watson had been killed within 12 hours of joining us.
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
Beaulencourt (B): Michelin square J; 4km SE. of Bapaume (C), where this journey ended, and about 7km W of Bus (A), where it started. ↩
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. ↩
Awake about 3.30 and heard shells going over. Some of them pretty near and a few gas shells amongst them. Had our respirators on for a few minutes. Had to keep awake until nearly 6 o’clock. Murrill brought us our breakfast into bed and we didn’t get up until 9.30. Not much to do. I saw the train1 off. Received orders to pack up and go to headquarters. All got away before tea but Sergeant Powell and myself. We had to wait until 8 o’clock at night before the cart came for the last of the things. Someone stole a Sir’s2 stuff and we searched high and low for it. Had a long discussion last thing on chance†, summer† and Christmas. Talked until nearly midnight. Very cold and rather wet at night. Holman made some tea and Harvey looked after the equipment while we went for it.