December 1916

Friday 1st December, 1916

Was very quiet till about 3.15 a.m. when Fritz put five shells just on our right and the call for stretcher bearers came. Party of us went about 150 yds. from dressing station and got 3 men of 1st Dragoon Guards, 2 dead and 1 wounded. While getting them out Fritz put 4 more shells right amongst us, thought it was all up but everyone escaped, very lucky. Off duty 6 a.m. and turned in. On duty again at 6 p.m. Had wounded Hun despatch rider in, otherwise quiet till 10.30 p.m. when enemy shell hit canvas hut 200 yds. from us, about 40 6th Fld. Eng. inside. 4 killed and 6 wounded. Went out with stretchers and got them in. Off duty 12 midnight and turned in.

Saturday 2nd December, 1916

Up at 9 a.m., arranged my kit ready to go on leave. Awfully cold morning. Germans put over few heavy shells again this morning. Went on duty at 12 noon. Received my warrant and pass to go on leave to England at 1 p.m. Told to go right away, no instructions how to proceed. Fortunately caught a car going in to "Albert" and got a lift of about 12 miles, arrived Albert station about 2.15 p.m. and told no train till 2 a.m. in morning. Tried to get something to eat, got little tea in tobacco tin and 3 or 4 biscuits, waiting in cold.

Sunday 3rd December, 1916

Eventually got train at 3 a.m., fifteen of us in carriage (dog box) made to carry about 6. Tried to be cheerful though hungry but a terrible failure, cold something awful, hunger just as bad, and sleep absolutely out of question as we are so crowded, sitting on each others knees and some on the floor. Train travelling awfully slow, nothing to be got at stations, everywhere seems deserted and it is pure torture. Still crawling along at midnight.

Monday 4th December, 1916

Could not get wink of sleep all night and still being tortured when daylight broke. After what seemed an eternity we arrived at "Le Havre" at 10 a.m. having had 31 hours of real misery being almost frozen the whole time. Got off train and were marched to rest camp about 5 miles away and managed to get cup of tea and few biscuits at Y.M.C.A. No solid food to be procured. Paraded at 2 p.m. to have passes and warrants altered to 5th and 15th. Marched to boat at 7 p.m. and got aboard about 11 p.m.

Tuesday 5th December, 1916

Page 64 of 69 Steamer got out about midnight, only small steamer but fast, sea was a little heavy so rolled and tossed a bit. Arrived Southampton 7 a.m., disembarked and got aboard train and arrived Waterloo station London about 11 a.m., marched to A.I.F. Hdqrts, changed French money and was paid, took couple of hours then went and had good hot bath and a change after which had good dinner, first meal since

Saturday at noon. Had a look round Westminster, saw Parliament Houses etc. and went to picture show. Had tea 5 p.m., went back for my kit and caught 8.45 p.m. train from Kings Cross station for Middlesbro'.

Wednesday 6th December, 1916

Travelling all night, went to sleep in train and was carried on to Newcastle on Tyne when should have changed at Darlington. Had to go back to Ferryhill and eventually arrived Middlesbro' at 8 a.m. Went to Grandad's, he was at work, but his wife gave me splendid welcome and I had a good breakfast. Kept me eating all morning. After dinner went out for walk round and called at Uncle Charlie's but all were out so returned to Grandad's. Grandad got home 5 p.m. and was delighted to see me, he looks very well. Took me round to Uncle Dan's and found they were out. Went to bed about 10.30 p.m. Wrote this on York station while waiting for train.

Thursday 7th December, 1916

Had lovely nights sleep and did not wake till 10.30 a.m. when got up, had breakfast and went out to meet Uncle Charlie at works. He took me home to have dinner with him and I met his wife who gave me fine welcome. Returned to Grandad's at 4 p.m. then went to Uncle Dan's for tea. Uncle Dan and his wife treated me royally. About 7 p.m. Uncle Charlie, his wife and Grandad came round and we had pleasant evening and great talk, then supper. Went back to Grandad's for kit and Grandad, Uncle Dan and his wife took me to station to catch 10.45 p.m. train to Crewe. So far my welcome to England has been of the finest and I have been treated like a King.

Friday 8th December, 1916

Travelling all night, frequent changes and long waits, arrived at Crewe about 9.15 a.m. and was met at station by Cousin Fanny who took me home and I had a good breakfast and clean up. Went out for look round before dinner and after dinner started visiting my different friends. Went out with Cousin Fanny round market and saw quite a lot of friends. Returned home for tea after which did some more visiting and returned home about 9 p.m. Cousin Fanny arranged for me to sleep close by with friends.

Saturday 9th December, 1916

Slept very heavily and had to be called at 10.15 a.m., had real good breakfast, cleaned up and out visiting again till dinner time. Back home and had very good dinner, am being treated splendidly. After dinner went straight out and round visiting again. Am having a great rush to visit different friends, invitations to tea, evenings and to stay a few nights being poured on me. Had tea at Joe Lewis's, stayed till 7 p.m., did little more visiting and returned and in bed 11 p.m.

Sunday 10th December, 1916

Page 65 of 69 Up at 7.30 a.m., shaved and cleaned and went with my cousin Mirrie to Hightown Wesleyan Church, very nice service, Minister Mr. Emmett. After service numbers of friends crowded round for few words with me and pressing invitations. Went into Mr. Joe Potter's and saw family then home for dinner. After dinner out making calls again and back for tea. Went to Church again tonight and after service walked to Coppenhall and made few calls. Raining a little, back home and in bed 11 p.m.

Monday 11th December, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m., cleaned, had breakfast and caught 8.15 a.m. train to Winsford and went to Grandmother's, delighted to see me, also Uncle Jim, his wife and baby. Talking till dinner time after which got on Jim's bike and went to Uncle Jabez's at Moulton, very pleased to see me, also Aunt Annie and Ellie. Had a walk round before tea, after which sat talking and Mr. Abberley came in to see me. Wanted me to stay all night but cycled back to Grandmother's 7 p.m. and in bed 10.30 p.m.

Tuesday 12th December, 1916

Up at 8.30 a.m. and had breakfast then cleaned myself and wrote a letter, going into Winsford and posting it before dinner. Had dinner at Jim's, roast fowl etc. and mince-meat rolly-polly. Grandmother came to station with me and I caught 2.18 p.m. to Crewe. Went straight to cousin Fanny's, had wash and on to Mr. Lowe's, my old choirmaster's, for tea. Stayed till 7 p.m. when went on to Mr. Sam Potter's where had a yarn and then went to choir practice as Mr. Lowe wished me to. Returned to Mr. Potter's for supper and yarned till 11.30 p.m. when went home.

Wednesday 13th December, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m. and got shaved and cleaned before breakfast. At 9.15 a.m. went to General Offices, interviewed Capt. Beames, workshop manager and got permission to go through most of shops. Could not go through either of Fitting Shops. Mr. Lewis took me round Boiler shop and I saw and shook hands with many old workmates, both of my own and of Dad's. All made friendly inquiries as to our family's welfare, and everyone was pleased to see me. Saw armoured train in Mill Shop. Spent afternoon visiting and had tea at Mr. Lewis's, taking Cousin Fanny and Mirrie to pictures at night.

Thursday 14th December, 1916

Snow was on the ground when I got up this morning at 6.30 a.m. and after breakfast wrote a letter and went out and posted it, did little business, then bought some presents to send home before dinner. After dinner Cousin Mirrie got afternoon off as it is my last day and we walked to the "Cosy" tea-rooms at Haslington kept by the "Potters" girls, very nice place and spent the afternoon talking then had splendid tea, adjourning to sitting room afterwards and had to tell some of my experiences. Had supper and returned home at 10.30 p.m. Am being perfectly lionized.

Friday 15th December, 1916

Up at 5.45 a.m., wrote some notes with regards to presents also and short letter. My cousin is sending the parcel home for me. After breakfast went out and got couple of presents for my two cousins who have been so kind and considerate. Back at 10 a.m. and went to station accompanied by Cousin Fanny. Train left 10.38 a.m. Could only get in corridor, but cousin Fanny put plenty of tucker in for me. Train arrived Euston 3/4 hour late. Took taxi to Waterloo and arrived in plenty of time. Train left Page 66 of 69 Waterloo 4 p.m., arrived Southampton about 7.30 p.m. and went aboard ship, steaming out about 9 p.m.

Saturday 16th December, 1916

Our boat pretty crowded, could not lie down so sat reading and blinking. At 2 a.m. was called out, given a rifle and made to mount guard for 2 hours till 4 a.m. First was on top deck guarding two boats and gangway to stop any rush in case of being torpedoed, and then over sailors and ship's officers' quarters. Tied up at wharf at Havre about 3.15 a.m. and was relieved of my post at 4.15 a.m. then went below to my kit. Off ship 7.30 a.m. and marched to rest camp, given orders and put our kits in sheds, very cold and miserable. Got a little tucker at canteen and at 5.30 p.m. were given one blanket. Only took off my boots when turned in as it was so cold, we're on cement floor.

Sunday 17th December, 1916

Spent very cold and miserable night, men coughing very badly all round and apparently suffering from the severe cold. Hauled out at 7 a.m., handed in blankets and marched to train and got aboard about 8.30 a.m., moving out about 9 a.m. Travelled very slow but had some tucker with us this time. Stopped about 3 p.m. at small station and were given hot tea, also few biscuits and piece of cheese. Started off again and going very slowly all night, very foggy and cold and engine-driver shaking us up terribly, rotten ride.

Monday 18th December, 1916

Arrived at Albert between 4 and 5 a.m., told my unit was at Dernancourt, about 4 miles away, by R.T.O. Walked to Dernancourt, unit not there, on to Edge Hill, Buire, Ribemonte and Maricourt where got hold of another R.T.O who told me my unit had moved yesterday. Had walked about 10 to 12 miles. Got on train at Maricourt about 2 p.m. and got to Amiens when told no train to Vigny-Court where my unit now is until 6-7 a.m. in morning. Had difficulty getting pass into town to get a meal and feeling dead beat and worn out. In Y.M.C.A. tonight.

Tuesday 19th December, 1916

Stayed in Y.M.C.A. by Amiens station all night, place crowded and had to stand up most of time, also very cold. Caught a train at 6-7 a.m. and arrived at Vignacourt about 7.30 a.m. Very large village and had to walk round for about an hour before found where our unit was billetted. Had breakfast and was glad to turn into bed in a loft full of straw. Slept through till tea-time when got up and had tea. Received some letters and Xmas cards then had yarn with the boys. Turned in about 8 p.m.

Wednesday 20th December, 1916

Got up this morning about 8 a.m. and had breakfast. Are running a small hospital for chaps with colds and influenza in barn beneath our loft. Had shave and good clean up then re-arranged my kit before dinner. On duty at 2 p.m., had ten patients in with very bad colds, fairly busy all afternoon, very cold and place awfully draughty. Some of our chaps got Xmas parcels from home today and we have been eating nearly all day. After tea did little writing and turned in about 9 p.m. Off duty 8 p.m.

Thursday 21st December, 1916

Page 67 of 69 Slept as sound as a top and up at 8.30 a.m. this morning. After breakfast gave a hand generally till dinner time and then went on duty at 2 p.m. for the afternoon shift. Got a dozen patients in today all suffering from the effects of the cold weather. Rained today. Had a few dressings and various odd duties to attend to and then tea at 5 p.m. After tea gave patients cocoa at 7.30 p.m. and then did some writing. Getting very good tucker just now. Off duty 8 p.m. and turned in 9 p.m.

Friday 22nd December, 1916

Up at 8.30 a.m. and had breakfast, getting very good tucker just now. Did few odd jobs this morning, very cold and raining, went out at 11 a.m. and had cup of coffee. On duty at 2 p.m., only ten patients in today, few dressings etc. Did some writing before tea and received three letters, one from home, two from Dais. Tea at 5 p.m. after which cleaned up and was busy writing till 8 p.m. when went off duty and then played bridge till 9 p.m. Cold again tonight and turned in 9.30 p.m.

Saturday 23rd December, 1916

Up at 8.30 a.m. and had breakfast. Afterwards got cleaned and shaved. Getting large sick parades, nearly all the men suffering from severe colds. Had French kiddie about 8 years old in, slate blew off roof and gashed his face, sent him to Amiens hospital. Very cold, raining and blowing a gale. On duty at 2 p.m., a dozen patients in. Our hospital is an old barn and patients lie on straw. Am on committee for Xmas dinner and we had a meeting this afternoon. After tea wrote three letters and then turned in at 9 p.m.

Sunday 24th December, 1916

Got up about 8.30 a.m. and had breakfast, raining and very cold so went back to bed again till 12 noon as am not on duty till 2 p.m. Only 10 patients in today, some foments and dressings, chaps coming in all the time for cough medicine. Tea at 5 p.m. then cleaned up and did dressings again. Had to go up street to foment boil on sick officer. Most of boys went to church tonight so stayed in and looked after hospital. Wrote letter. Off duty 8 p.m. and turned in.

Monday 25th December, 1916

Xmas day, my 3rd Xmas from home. Did not get up till 12 noon, raining and very cold. On duty 2 p.m., gave Xmas boxes from Aust. to patients, did not get our own, but had one from our old O.C. Col. Beeston. Did dressings etc. and gave patients tea at 4 p.m., Xmas cake etc. Had dinner ourselves at 5 p.m. in hired room, very good, goose, vegetables, pudding and cakes. Geese cost 35/- each, bought from regimental fund, good job. Spent very pleasant evening, finished 8 p.m. and returned to billet and to bed.

Tuesday 26th December, 1916

Stayed in bed again till 12 noon, still raining and cold, mud very rotten and boots wet through. Big lot of men losing their voices. On duty 2 p.m., did dressings etc. and various odd jobs till tea time 5 p.m. Only six patients today, having evacuated some to C.C.S. After tea some of boys went to concert in village. Stayed behind and had game of bridge then wrote letters till turned in at 9 p.m. A.D.M.S. inspected our billet today, all correct.

Wednesday 27th December, 1916

Page 68 of 69 Got up about 11 a.m. and gave a hand with some dressings till dinner time at 12.30 p.m. On duty at 2 p.m. and had good number more dressings, foments etc. to do. Received a large parcel from home this afternoon. Have about 20 patients in hospital. Our Staff Sgt. dispenser (Bankier) received notice to be ready to go to O.T.C. in England tomorrow. After getting everything done by about 3.30 p.m. had game of bridge till tea time at 5 p.m. After tea and had cleaned up wrote four letters. Off duty 9 p.m. and turned in.

Thursday 28th December, 1916

Was coughing a good deal last night and did not sleep too well. Up at 10.30 a.m., very hard white frost overnight and pretty cold. Gave a hand with patients and had a walk up street with S.S. Bankier before dinner, who left us today for O.T.C. England. On duty at 2 p.m. About two dozen patients, did dressings etc. and gave out medicines, after which had game of bridge till tea-time at 5 p.m. Cleaned up after tea and then played bridge till went off duty at 8 p.m. when had some rum and milk and turned in.

Friday 29th December, 1916

Did not cough so much last night, but was very restless and did not sleep well. Got up at 10.30 a.m. and got out some medicine for Major Bentley. Dinner 12.30 p.m. General parade at 2.15 p.m. in full marching order and inspection by A.D.M.S. Did not go myself as had to stay and look after hospital, kept pretty busy, about 20 patients. Tea at 5 p.m. At 5.30 p.m. went to divisional boxing tournament held in Hall in village. One of our men Dvr. Perry won his contest. Very good show, back at billet 9.30 p.m. and turned in.

Saturday 30th December, 1916

Had very rotten night, cough very bad and perspired heavily, hardly slept at all but fell asleep about 7 a.m. and did not get up till 12 midday. General parade at 11.30 a.m. but did not get up for it. On duty at 2 p.m. At 2.30 p.m. things being alright went with four other chaps to large house where lady lent us piano and had a practice at "Sweet and Low" which we are to sing on Monday night. Returned for tea at 5 p.m. Cleaned up, gave out medicines and read newspaper. Off duty 8 p.m. and turned in 8.30 p.m.

Sunday 31st December, 1916

Slept very poorly again last night, cough worrying me considerably. Got up about 8.30 a.m. doing various odd jobs during morning and had walk up street before dinner. At 1.30 p.m. went round and had another practice at our various songs and part song till 3 p.m. when came back to billet and yarned till tea-time at 5 p.m. After tea wrote letters and then played bridge and talked till about 9 p.m. when turned in.