Daily Diaries
Diary Four
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2nd March 1916 to the 11th August 1916
 
Page - 01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05
Page Nine
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14th July 1916
Orderly "dorg" today. The Battery out for a route march this afternoon, but did not accompany them. Sent No 1 and No 3 to workshops today. Had another stroll through the chateaux grounds.

15th July 1916
Out for another route march today. Mail arrived this evening. Caught a few. Chas came down to tea. Afterwards repeated last nights programme and visited the Chateaux. Saw the countess's two daughters and spoke to them. Struck Major Riggal and passes the evening with him. Still awaiting orders to shift.

16th July 1916
Orders to Imski to hand at 4 am. Packed up and left billets at 9.30. Our column was 6 miles long. Arrived to get in on all the other crowd for a decent waggon line. Bivouacked for the night. Raining. Major, Richardson, Faulkner, Robertson and Sele in a hay-loft feet deep in straw. Pinched a couple of ducks.

17th July 1916
Awakened several times in the night by the sound of heavy firing. All night long our heavies were going. Still raining. Mud everywhere. Still awaiting orders to Imski.

18th July 1916
Orders to hand at 11 a.m. to "get". "Got" at 2 p.m. Trekked along a road up to the horses knees in slush. Got to this village Harponville about 6 p.m. Devil of a noise here. Bombardment day and night. Awaiting orders to go into position. Chas camping with us.

19th July 1916
Quiet day. Kicked about stables nearly all the time. Orders to go into position to hand at 6 p.m. Left at 6.30 trekked along road to Albert. Arrived at temporary W.L. at 11.30. Got out to Bty POD with CTA at 2.30. Slept in German 3 line trench (what was) among bombs to.

20th July 1916
(Becourt) Playing at war again. Gee, don't they strafe down this way. All night and all day without ceasing. All kinds and conditions of shells. From 9 pounds to 19 inch hows. Things are in a mess here. The dead are thick and equipment and gear almost as bad. At present I'm in a German officer's dug-out about 30 feet underground. Their beds are still intact so hope to get at least 2 decent hours rest tonight. We're even cooking with their stores and using their phone wires for our phones. The trenches are just a mass of cracks and blown about earth. One dug-out is full of dead Germans. Fixed up one trench of five for my guns and opened at 3.30 pm. Saw two good sights today. The Germans stopped one of our planes and tonight one of our planes got a Taube. Saw Chas today. In fact, strolled along for a break.

21st July 1916
In action all night. Absolutely no rest here. At it all day as well. Gee, if they bring many more batteries up here the shells will jam in the air. Our friends got one hit today. Got a hit on a pit just in front of us and blew out a few. Been firing all day.

22nd July 1916
Just got to bunk at 10.30 when I had to bet out and strafe. Made things merry until 1 am. Stood to until 2 am and them managed to get about 2 hours sleep. Went up to OP after break and had the extreme pleasure of knowing that the whole blinking German artillery were bent on one stunt only that was blowing the OP and the trench to blazes at once. One big coal box firing HE with sulphur fumes, kept landing at precisely every 2 minutes from 1 pm 'til 7 pm. Gee things were in a mess. Had a decent days shooting however. Got down to Bty at 8.30.

23rd July 1916
Oh! Oh! Delphine. What a night. About 9 pm last night we got the order for the attack and at precisely 28 minutes past 12 the circus started and I think I can safely say that last night I saw the biggest fireworks display I've ever seen. Gee, it was hot. Had the extreme pleasure of being slightly 'gassed' again. Those confounded beggars on the ridge shot over gas shells and made things rather interesting. Our own cordite fumes were such that you could cut them with a knife because the wind happened to misbehave itself and blow back on me. It's now 3.45 pm and we're still in action firing slowly (about one round every 2 minutes). Had to go up to the OP just after daybreak to strafe owing to a wire coming through to the effect that the Huns were massing for a counter-attack in rear of Pozieres. So hated, rather considerably. Managed to get my clothes off for a couple of hours but willingly exchange my lungs, throat, ears and eyes for those of any cow or horse ever turned out to graze. Can hardly see out of my eyes and am as deaf as a post. Details of the advance not to hand as yet, but our chaps (1st Australian Division) seem very successful. They have captured all the trenches they set out to take and of Pozieres itself. At present the Huns are reinforced with infantry and artillery and are creating merry Hell but I don't fancy they'll play any funny business until tonight. Then I daresay we'll have another 'box on' in repelling them. The English troops who last night charged on our right have had to come back, impossible to hold on, but our chaps are hanging on like the proverbial bulldog. Mail arrived tonight. Caught quite a few letters also a box of 'Chairman' cigarettes.

24th July 1916
Stood to all night expecting trouble. The beggars up ahead (over the ridge) playfully sent over some more gas shells to annoy us. Down at the Bty all day. Managed to get to sleep at 3.30 pm but at 5 the major woke me to and go up and register barrage lines for some stunt or other. Went up to OP and registered. Got down to Battery again and had just finished the first course of a rather appetite satisfying dinner when Fritz started an attack so rushed up to OP again and strafed him somewhat. His attack failed miserably and he got a beautiful hiding. Later. Orders out at 11 pm tonight for a further advance. Have just finished measuring out my guns' angles and ranges and waiting for the time 1.58 am to come. The attack is going to be something big. The objective being to capture the town of Pozieres and the 3rd lines of German defences beyond it. The English troops tried three times to take it but failed. Tonight will be a real test of the 1st Australian Division against the best German regiments on this front.

25th July 1916
We win, but at a pretty rotten cost. All night long (24th) we stood to waiting for the assault. It came at 1.58 am. This is the biggest inferno I've been in yet. The bombardment was terrific. At 3.30 it reached the climax and our infantry charged. At present we hold the town and the trenches to the right and behind it. This afternoon the enemy increased his bombardment at a terrific pace and blew our trenches to nothing. In some places there are no trenches at all and the infantry are in shell craters but sticking it out. Immediately on our troops occupying Pozieres 'their' artillery bombarded it with heavy stuff, and for 4 hours the town was invisible. Had to send No 2 away this afternoon. Only have one gun that we can fire with safety. The rotten part of the whole thing is that we can't get ammunition. The English system again. It's always the same. People at home do nothing else but talk. As yet they don't seem to realise what ammunition means.

26th July 1916
In action all night, Managed to get a paltry 400 rounds up to the Bty. If the Huns only knew they could waltz through and take the Pozieres without much trouble, and then this place would be like a butchers shop. They're bombarding like mad and we're not firing a round. Neither are any of the batteries around us and the infantry have been sending down SOS for support which we can't give them. Only wish that we were permitted to get rifles and go up to reinforce them. Took advantage of our rotten system and slept for a few hours. Have had 6 hours sleep in the last 96. Later. Hur-bloomin'-ray. Ammunition arrived in any quantity so celebrated the occasion by strafing heavily. A very complimentary circular to hand from General Walker, warmly praising the 1st Australian Division on their splendid achievement. Also one from the GRA commenting on the splendid work done by our batteries. Feel 100% happier than I did an hour ago. Even went out of my way and had a bath. Was about half way through with that pleasant operation when Chas came along and was calmly yarning away when a shell burst right over us (a 4.5 how) and we both found ourselves on the ground but unhurt. The Hun found our Battery today and strafed us with 4.2. Didn't get the gun though. Sent quite a lot of GSP cards away today. Feeling awfully fit and well and ready for another 36 hours scrap. Got an estimate of the number of rounds we've fired since we came into the line in France. Out of four guns we have fired about 12000 rounds all together to date.

27th July 1916
In action all night but as ammunition is plentiful for once strafed right royally. Up at OP at 6 am. Got there and coughed for about 2 hours afterward. The Huns were sending over dozens of gas shells and poor old OP got the benefit of them. Things fairly rowdy during the morning but at 3 pm 'til 5.20 pm things reached a climax. 'They' shelled Pozieres and Contalmaison to blazes with 5.9 and 9.2 HE. Couldn't see Pozieres for over an hour for smoke and spume while in Contalmaison they obscured it with gas from the shells. On our right a devil of a bombardment has been going on all day. Hope it's a prelude to an attack by the English and French troops. As soon as they advance further we will be able to go ahead again without fear of being cut off. Got hold of a Parisian paper today. They're just about going mad with delight over our taking and holding Pozieres.

28th July 1916
'Strafing' as per usual. Glorious day. Down at the Battery. Tried to get a little sleep this morning (after being up all night again) but the Hun didn't want me to have any spell evidently so I missed. Artillery duels all day. At 4 pm our esteemed friends liberated two gas clouds, but owing to the high wind blowing at the time didn't do us any harm here. Wrote McKeon.

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