June 1916

Thursday 1st June, 1916

After most weary journey, hardly had room to sit down and night chilly, we arrived at Alexandria at 5 a.m. and commenced to dis-entrain, having been 8 1/4 hours in the trucks. Went on board Dominion liner "Canada" and fixed up in cabins. I am in 6 berthed cabin, very comfortable. Fatigue work all morning loading our gear on ship. Other transports loading alongside us, the "S.S. Haverford" with C. section of our Amb. on board and the "Transylvania" with Headquarters on board, very busy scene. Very tired this afternoon and in my bunk again 8 p.m.

Friday 2nd June, 1916

Was up at 6 a.m. still alongside wharf. On parade on deck 6.30 a.m., orders read out. Breakfast 7 a.m. On parade again 9.30 a.m. Orders re fire alarm, submarine attack etc. read out and boat stations allotted, life belts given out, have to be worn continually. Left wharf and anchored in outer harbour at 9 a.m. Dinner 12 noon. Parade 2.30 p.m. Three men sent to hospital ashore with pneumonia, probably result of night ride in the open trucks. Turned in to my bunk at 8.30 p.m.

Saturday 3rd June, 1916

Pretty close below but slept well, up at 5.45 a.m., still at anchor. On parade 6.30 a.m., physical drill till breakfast at 7 a.m. Raised anchor and steamed out about 10 a.m. Inspection by O.C. of troops and ship's captain at 10.30 a.m. Dinner 12 noon. On parade again 2.30 p.m., physical drill till 3.15 p.m. Have to wear life belts all the time. Have 4.7 naval gun mounted astern and machine guns all round ship. Machine guns practising at noon. Patrol boats, mine sweepers etc. in sight all day. Tea 4.30 p.m. Passed mine-layer "Lily" about 6 p.m. Played cards and read after tea. In bed 9 p.m.

Sunday 4th June, 1916

Page 30 of 69 Up at 6 a.m., washed and on deck for parade at 6.30 a.m., orders read out and dismissed. Fell in for church service 9.40 a.m. Splendid day, ship steaming very zig-zag course. Passed several light cruisers (British) also number of trawlers mine-sweeping. Other transports been in sight nearly all day. Passed island of Crete before dinner. Seems to be regular chain of cruisers and patrol ships the whole way, wonderful organization. Reading and playing cards. Saw several small islands. Church service 7.15 p.m. Turned in about 8.30 p.m.

Monday 5th June, 1916

Woke and got up 5.45 a.m., washed and on deck for parade 6.30 a.m., roll call, orders and dismissed. Breakfast 7 a.m. Parade again 9.30 a.m., physical drill till 10.15 a.m. General inspection of quarters by O.C. of troops and skipper at 10.30 a.m. Dinner 12 noon. On parade 3.15 p.m., physical drill till 4 p.m. Wireless message from Malta of naval battle in North Sea. Very heavy German losses supposed 12 ships sunk and 4 damaged. Machine guns had practice this afternoon. Ships in sight all day, eleven in sight at 7 p.m. Tucker not too good nor much of it. Turned in 9 p.m.

Tuesday 6th June, 1916

Up at 5.45 a.m., on parade 6.30 a.m., roll call, orders and physical drill till 7 a.m. Ship received wireless last night that enemy submarines had been seen E by N.E. of Malta, changed course and passed south of Malta instead of north of the island as intended, losing several hours. Saw coast of Malta. On parade 2.30 p.m., physical drill till 3.15 p.m. At 3.30 p.m. had submarine alarm for practice and fell in at boat stations. Chief mate going round seeing all correct. Our ship carries ample boats and rafts. Tucker slightly better today but not much. In bed 9 p.m.

Wednesday 7th June, 1916

Up at 5.45 a.m. and on parade 6.30 a.m., roll call, orders and dismissed. Breakfast 7 a.m., then went on deck for couple of hours. On parade 9.30 a.m. and physical drill till 10.15 a.m. On parade again 10.30 a.m. while inspection of ship took place. Dinner 12 noon, parade 2 p.m. for orders and medical inspection. Had to hand black kit bags in by 3 p.m., mine nearly empty. Machine guns been practicing nearly all day, passed several vessels. Tea at 4.30 p.m. Wrote some letters tonight, expect reach port tomorrow. Turned in 9 p.m. Saw coast of Sardinia. Rumours of sinking of H.M.S. Hampshire and drowning of Lord Kitchener and staff.

Thursday 8th June, 1916

Up at 6 a.m., on parade 6.30 a.m., physical drill till 7 a.m. On parade 9.30 a.m., physical drill till 10.15 a.m. Ship inspection 10.30 a.m. Played cards till dinner time. Sighted coast of France about 12 noon, through my glasses could see houses and villages, caught sight of Marseilles about 2.15 p.m. Beautiful scene, looked real lovely. Anchored in outer harbour 3.30 p.m. Can see great viaduct on our port side and inner harbour and township on our starboard. Forts with huge guns on the magnificent hills round about and Church of the Golden Angel high over all else. Moved in and alongside wharf 10.15 p.m.

Friday 9th June, 1916

Very little rest last night, noise of unloading on deck above something awful. Up at 4.45 a.m. and had breakfast 6 a.m., then fixed up kit ready for dis-embarkation. Official news of Lord Kitchener's death. Page 31 of 69 Commenced unloading about 8 a.m. Left our kits on deck and all morning man-hauling loaded limbers from wharf to railway about 1 1/2 miles away. Loaded gear on train during afternoon, had very solid day, could not get into Marseilles proper. Got aboard train, 30 in closed in truck, train started 4.45 p.m., passed round the great viaduct, lovely country. Lay down about 9 p.m.

Saturday 10th June, 1916

Did not get much sleep, rather cramped, but warm. Rained heavily and roof of truck leaked a little. Got up about 4.45 a.m. Scenery beautiful. Reached Lyons just before 7 a.m. Officials had hot water ready for tea and we had breakfast, leaving Lyons at 7.30 a.m. Our next stop was for dinner at 12.45 noon at a beautiful little place called Paray-le-Moniel. The people turned out, gave us great welcome, bringing flowers and strawberries for us. People all along line given us magnificent reception. Saw some German prisoners at work. Sunshine and showers all day. Lay down 9 p.m.

Sunday 11th June, 1916

Slept in my clothes last night as expected to reach Paris about 2 a.m. Very broken sleep on account of jolting. Up at 4.30 a.m. We branched off at a junction at this time, being about 10 miles from Paris, so did not see the capital. Red Cross ladies at a couple of stations stopped at this morning with coffee for us. Women doing all classes of men's work. Our great reception continued all along line. Had quarter of an hour at Amiens and arrived "Abbervale" at 6.30 p.m. Transferred our gear to other trucks, left 40 of our men behind. Had lemonade and cakes at Y.M.C.A. Train left 11 p.m.

Monday 12th June, 1916

Still travelling in brake van, got very little sleep, bitter cold and only one blanket. Passed through Boulogne and saw sea at 6.30 a.m. Couple of hours later passed by Calais. Train stopped for few minutes at St. Omer which used to be British Hdqrts. Arrived at Hazebrouk about 10.30 a.m., stayed few minutes, arrived at Bailleul which is almost on the Belgian border, at 12.10 noon. Disentrained, humbugged about for couple hours, then marched about eight miles back, raining steadily all time. Billetted 31 of us in old barn, went to village 2 miles away, got eggs for tea. Back and turned in early.

Tuesday 13th June, 1916

Slept well last night, straw covering floor of barn keeping us warm. Could hear heavy artillery fire in the distance last night and this morning. Awake at 7 a.m. and had some breakfast, still raining. We are only few miles from Lille and Armentiers. Germans held this part some time ago and some billetted in this barn. About 2 p.m. ordered to go as baggage guard on motor wagon to large farm 3 miles away near village called "Borre", arrived, unloaded wagons in another large barn, left our kits and had look round village. A number of refugees at this farm. Turned in about 8.30 p.m.

Wednesday 14th June, 1916

Slept splendid, did not get up till 8 a.m. No officer with us, still raining, awfully muddy. Spoke to man on farm, says he comes from "Lille", drove his cattle here when Germans came, 2 of brothers killed, one still at front. Another old lady lost 3 sons at Verdun. Rest of our men came today from farm near village called "Strageele". Got here about 10 a.m., all crowded into small barn. About 2 p.m. went for walk to town of Hazebrouk about 3 miles away. Fairly large place but very dull and quiet. Did not rain this afternoon but very dull. Back at billet 6 p.m., turned in 8 p.m. Page 32 of 69

Thursday 15th June, 1916

Reveille 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., roll call, orders, then went for march till 7.30 a.m. Hazebrouk put out of bounds by our O.C. and roll call at 6.15 p.m. Breakfast 8 a.m., had bacon. First cooked meal supplied since leaving boat. General fatigue at 10 a.m. till 12 noon. Inspection of billet 9.30 a.m. The corps now called "Meikles Circus", it is a real ragtime show. Officers had burst up yesterday among themselves, told O.C. he was no good, things very bad. Went to Strazeele at 2 p.m. in motor for rations etc. No jam or butter today, about dozen prunes instead, roll call altered to 7.30 p.m. Men very discontented, counted O.C. out and generally showed disapproval of treatment. Turned in 8 p.m.

Friday 16th June, 1916

Reveille 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. Have five patients in today, so escaped route marches and did not have much to do. Major McGregor left us this morning on account of trouble with O.C. Sorry to lose him. After dinner handed in our web equipment and issued with leather equipment instead. A dozen or more of our aeroplanes been about today, usually in groups of four. Asked today to be transferred into bearer sub-division. Wrote letter yesterday for transfer to 3rd Fld. Coy. Eng. Squadron. About 20 aeroplanes, British, passed over this evening. Very heavy artillery fire tonight. On duty 8 p.m.

Saturday 17th June, 1916

Had six patients, stayed up till 12.30 midnight. Artillery firing just like continuous roll of thunder. Turned in about 12.30 midnight, handy to patients, and slept till 6 a.m. Off duty 7 a.m. Hospital just corner of barn covered with straw. Men getting very discontented. Tucker bad, not much of it. O.C. can't trust the privates so have to be at billet at 7.30 p.m. every night, all other units have till 9 p.m. Took some shirts to be washed this morning. Had sleep after dinner, went up the lane about 4 p.m. to a cottage and had some eggs and chip potatoes. At billet at 6.30, on duty 8 p.m.

Sunday 18th June, 1916

Sat up writing till 12 midnight, only four patients a bit off colour. Artillery fire does not sound so heavy tonight. Up again 5.30 a.m. Sound of guns in direction Ypres heavier this morning. General leave from midday till 9 p.m. Six of us went to Hazebrouk though it is out of bounds, had good look around, old place and very quiet. Majority of people in mourning. Had a good feed of chips and eggs, enjoyed it thoroughly. Saw a dirigible airship pass over town, could not see what kind, at a very great height. Returned back to camp at 8.30 p.m. and went on duty.

Monday 19th June, 1916

Only three patients, not very sick, so turned in at 11 p.m. Up at 5.30 a.m. It is very chilly yet in early morning and at night. Had nothing to do this morning so sauntered along lane, very nice after Egypt. Weather nice last couple of days but not reliable. Had sleep after dinner till 4 p.m. then yarned time away till tea-time. Hear we may be moving about a dozen miles or so tomorrow. After tea strolled about round farm, another patient arrived about 7 p.m. Tattoo roll call at 7.30 p.m., most of B section missing. On duty 8.30 p.m.

Tuesday 20th June, 1916

Page 33 of 69 Things quiet so turned in 10.30 p.m. last night. Up at 5.30 a.m. Hear that several German aeroplanes dropped about 40 bombs near Hazebrouk about 2 a.m. this morning, all fell in paddock, no damage at all. Members of B. section up this morning, being out last night, about 30 of them, stayed out on account of O.C.'s restrictions. No sentence passed yet. One of B. section arrived today, fell out of train outside Marseilles, no one knew. Did little washing today. Very quiet, one or two of our aeroplanes about. Walked to village of "Borre" about 5 km and had eggs for tea. Back at billet for tattoo at 7.30 p.m. Lovely night, turned in 9 p.m.

Wednesday 21st June, 1916

Cleared patients away yesterday afternoon. Reveille 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., breakfast 7.30 a.m. then packed and cleaned up and on parade 8.45 a.m. Marched out in full marching order 9 a.m. Proceeded through Borre, Strazeele and town of Bailleul. Billetted at farm about 2 miles past Bailleul, arrived at 1 p.m. Huts for hospitals. Set to and cleaned them out after dinner. Given one of huts to sleep in for present, ten of us. Aerodrome not far from us, our aeroplanes flying about by the dozen, enemy shelled them heavily but ineffectively. Turned in about 8 p.m. March was about 12 miles.

Thursday 22nd June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m. and on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. Breakfast 8 a.m., sick parade followed, three of our own chaps in as patients, several dressings to be done three times daily. One of our chaps sent away queried pneumonia. Did little washing this morning and fixed up huts ready for patients. After dinner did bit of carpentering in dispensary, table and shelves for bottles. Been lovely day, our aeroplanes very busy, drove enemy plane away this morning. Artillery booming at intervals. Did some writing after tea. In bed 8 p.m.

Friday 23rd June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. Breakfast 8 a.m. Only three patients. Sick parade, dressings etc. Fatigue work, cleaning round huts etc. till dinner time. Three new patients arrived after dinner, sent two of them on to stationary hospital after tea, one queried diphtheria, other a contact. Heavy rain came on this afternoon, so stayed in hut and played cards. Still showery after tea, so played friendly game of cards again till bedtime 8.30 p.m.

Saturday 24th June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., breakfast 8 a.m. Sick parade and dressings 9 a.m. and little fatigue work. Rained fairly heavy most of morning. Dinner 11.45 a.m. today and at 12.30 noon paraded and marched about 5 miles through "Steenwerk" where we were put through a trench with our respirators on. The trench was full of Chlorine gas. Also had sample of crying gas. All went well. Arrived back at billet 5.30 p.m., had tea, then game of cards and in bed 9 p.m.

Sunday 25th June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. After breakfast attended patients and dressings. 13 patients today, none serious, having easiest time have had since been away. Saw several German observation balloons this morning. Our aircraft very busy, as many as 20 being in sight at once. Went for walk into Bailleul this afternoon, fairly large but sleepy place, had tea at Page 34 of 69 Y.M.C.A. Back at billet at 8 p.m. Seven motor ambulances arrived this afternoon for our corps. Turned in 9 p.m.

Monday 26th June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m., went straight on duty. Took temperatures and cleaned up hospital huts, then off duty till 2 p.m. Spent morning writing letters. On duty 2 p.m., did foments, dressings etc., had game of cards and at 4.30 p.m. took temperatures again. Got tea for patients, 14 of them, at 5 p.m. and did foments etc. again at 6 p.m. Our aircraft very active tonight. Could see five German observation balloons up, about 9 of our planes went up shortly after 8 p.m. and at 8.45 p.m. two of the enemy balloons came down on fire. Could see our planes up above, had evidently attacked balloons and succeeded in destroying two at least. Enemy shelled our planes heavily.

Tuesday 27th June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. Breakfast 8 a.m. Inspection of camp and billets at 10 a.m. by A.D.M.S. Heavy rain at intervals all day, everywhere up to the knees in mud. Had game of cards just before dinner. On duty 2 p.m., did foments, dressings etc. Sixteen patients in today, not much trouble as none very sick. Got tea for them at 5 p.m. and did foments again at 6 p.m. Just after tea I noticed some fish in small pool in front of our hut, so we made a net and succeeded in catching a couple of very nice tench. Turned in 9 p.m.

Wednesday 28th June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m. and on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. Rained heavily during night, still raining this morning. Nothing much doing so played friendly game of bridge till dinner time. On duty 2 p.m., did foments and dressings. At 4.30 p.m. took temperatures and tea at 5 p.m. Foments again 6 p.m. after which started fishing in the pool by our hut, caught couple of nice tench. Raining off and on all day, fairly cold. Motor transport very busy, passing along road in front of billet. Turned in 9 p.m.

Thursday 29th June, 1916

Up 6.30 a.m., on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. Breakfast 8 a.m. At 10.30 a.m. had to go with motor ambulance to Erquingham which lies between here and Armentiers. Had nice ride about 10 miles and arrived at 4th Brigade H'dqrts. Erquingham looks battered about a bit. Most of windows broken, shell holes in houses and doors and walls chipped with bullets. Went to Telegraph and signal office which is underground in an old cellar, very stuffy. Back at billet for dinner and on duty 2 p.m. Same routine as yesterday, only nine patients. Raining again tonight. In bed 9.30 p.m.

Friday 30th June, 1916

Up at 6.30 a.m. and on parade 7 a.m., roll call and orders. Was awake about 4 a.m. and could hear big guns, I think they were ours, bombarding furiously, like solid continuous roll of thunder. At 9 a.m. received orders evacuate patients and be ready to move at 4 p.m. Packed up drugs, instruments and stores, also our kits. Just after dinner got word not moving till morning. Paid this afternoon and received letter from home. Played cards till tea time. Our planes very busy this evening, about 20 hovering over German lines. Enemy fired hundreds of shells at them, did not see any hit. Turned in 9 p.m.