April 1918

Monday 1st April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Took off guard iron bracket, helped Blacksmith to straighten it and put it on again, took out two safety plugs, examined and replaced them. After dinner took wash-out plugs out of 3 engines, washer outs unable to get them out, didn't try too much. Much nicer day today and our planes very busy. Aust. Flying Corps left here. Chaps in hut woke me aboout 4 a.m. this morning making row because fritz plane over, dropped bomb about mile away. Wrote letter to Dais. and in bed 9.30 p.m.

Tuesday 2nd April, 1918

Our planes were very busy during the night but was not troubled by fritz. Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8.30 a.m., took out a spark arrestor and took off three damaged guard irons. After dinner took out and examined a lead plug, replaced it and fixed up a smoke box door that was drawing air. Rather nice day, bit windy and inclined to rain tonight. Wrote some letters tonight, at 9.15 p.m. was paid. Sounds like heavy barrage going over tonight. In bed at 9.30 p.m.

Wednesday 3rd April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and went down to work at 8.30 a.m. Sgt. Grant did not turn up, probably drinking, pay day yesterday, fortunately not much doing. Examined some wash out plugs. Did nothing this afternoon and went back to camp at 4.30 p.m. Showery all day, typical April weather. Cleaned and shaved after tea and went for walk to Bethonsart for feed of eggs and chips, our rations are very poor and we are not getting enough to eat. Back at 9 p.m. and in bed 9.30 p.m.

Thursday 4th April, 1918

Was kept awake till 11 p.m. last night as several chaps came home drunk. Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8.30, showery again today. Fixed up two smoke box doors that were drawing air and put in some new fire bars. Sgt. Grant down for about an hour, did not come at all after dinner. Nothing doing after dinner, just examined another smoke box door, our engines running ammunition up. Had half a loaf issued today. After tea settled down and wrote letters till 9 p.m. and in bed 9.30 p.m.

Friday 5th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8.30 a.m., inclined to rain again today. Not much doing this morning so returned to hut at 11 a.m. After dinner took out a spark arrestor from Cooke engine, dirty job and took me some time. After tea got shaved and cleaned and W. Hill and I went for walk at 6.30 p.m. to Bethonsart and had good feed of eggs and chips, 4 eggs and two plates chips each. Returned to camp at 9 p.m. and in bed 9.30 p.m.

Saturday 6th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8.30 a.m., looks like nice day. Fixed up two sets of fire bars and put in spark arrestor on Cooke engine. Lot of Yankee railway workers arrived here today and camped close to station, about 2,000 I believe. Our planes very busy this morning but came over cloudy after dinner. Not much doing this afternoon so helped the petrol electric fitters who are busy. Wrote a letter after tea and had yarn and read and in bed at 9 p.m.

Sunday 7th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., not much doing down yard. Took out safety plug, examined and replaced it. Fixing up an air blower for straightening frames till dinner time. Half holiday, rained pretty hard so did not go out. Guns going pretty hard today. Just after tea order came out for all engines and tractors to be brought from yard to our camp here at once, various rumours about it. Understand this is now rail head for this sector. Had read and in bed 9 p.m.

Monday 8th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and went down to yard at 8.30 a.m. and brought tools back. Raining again today, everywhere muddy. Not much doing for us. Fell asleep at dinner time and did not wake up till 3 p.m., no work to do so stayed in hut out of sight of officers. Fritz planes over about 2 a.m. this morning but did not hear them, slept too well. Rather cold this evening and a damp mist. Read for a couple of hours after tea, expect to move into another hut tomorrow. Turned into bed 9 p.m.

Tuesday 9th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., changed set of fire bars and finished fixing up blower before dinner. This afternoon had to transfer into new hut 60 ft. long in a more sheltered place, 42 of us in it. Took lot of moving as have accumulated lot of gear. Got moved, put some shelves up and almost fixed before tea, after tea wrote to Dais. and Mam and turned in about 9 p.m.

Wednesday 10th April, 1918

Up at 6.30 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., have to fix up some leaky tubes. Got engine on pit and took down brake gear and fire hole casting. After dinner took down ashpan, Sgt. Grant and I working together. Was very nice first thing this morning but turned out drizzly and dull, still our planes fairly busy. Had shave and cleaned after tea and went in to Church Army hut Aubigny for cigarettes. Back and in bed 8.30 p.m.

  Thursday 11th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8.30 a.m. Started beading tubes, drove in ferrules first and then on instructions hammered tubes over. Turned out very fine after dinner and our planes were very busy. Guns sound to be very lively all along front. After tea went for a walk to Bethonsart and had feed of eggs as our tucker is not too plentiful. Back at camp and in bed at 9.30 p.m.

Friday 12th April, 1918

Up at 6.30 a.m. and at work 8.30 a.m., very fine day. Finished tubes this morning and after dinner put ashpan up and fire bars in. Put set of fire bars in another engine before 5 p.m. Our planes about in very great numbers today, also one or two fritz were over but very high up. Various rumours afloat again today. Haven't had a meal today, just had a mouthful at each meal. Wrote letters tonight and in bed 9 p.m.

Saturday 13th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. Fritz was hovering about a lot last night but did not hear any bombs dropped. At work 8 a.m., Sgt. Grant sick today. Went down to yard for an engine with bent frame and got everything ready for getting it hot and straightening it by 3 p.m. Had a shave and shower bath, bath only fixed up today from an injector. Went for walk at 5 p.m. and walked to Penin, had six eggs for tea with bread. Back at camp and in bed at 9.30 p.m.

Sunday 14th April, 1918

Up at 6.30 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Sgt. Grant at work again today. Blowing a hurricane and very cold, sky very heavy with clouds. Got engine frame hot and straightened it by 11.30 a.m. Half holiday today, too stormy to go out so got cleaned and changed and sat by stove reading and talking till tea time. After tea had yarn and read again and kept stove going, awfully draughty in hut. Turned into bed 9 p.m.

Monday 15th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., wind still blowing violently. Hammered up a couple of stays in firebox and then started to straighten a broken frame. Got good heat on but frame broke clean off, was cracked so badly. Cut couple of patches and marked them off for drilling. Wind eased a little but still strong and cold. After tea had a read and yarn and turned into bed 9 p.m.

Tuesday 16th April, 1918

Guns going solidly all day. Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., put fire on other side of frame which is only bent and straightened it before dinner. After dinner started drilling frame for patch by hand, got two holes through before tea. Rumours of British and French success. Twenty-one of our men going to "Rouen" tomorrow for some work or other. Twenty reinforcements arrived today. At tea time received seven letters, 2 from Dais., 1 from Mam. Wrote a letter to Dais. tonight and in bed 9 p.m.

Wednesday 17th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Took out, refilled and replaced a safety plug, then drilling frame and fixing patches up for it all day. Capt. Duncan and 21 N.C.O.s and men left this afternoon for Rouen. Weather clearing a bit today, were paid this afternoon. Sound of very heavy gun fire all day a little to the south of us, few of our planes about. After tea was writing letters till bed time when I turned in at 10 p.m. Had letter from Harry today.

Thursday 18th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. Disturbed last night, number of men came home drunk, had been fighting with Tommies, some wanted to go back with revolvers, mad drunk. At work 8 a.m., very cold morning, strong wind. Did not do much as have no mate and Sgt. Grant stayed in bed, he is sick after being horribly drunk last night. Drilled a hole in a patch and partly made a fasten for my kit bag. After tea wrote some letters, but very cold and draughty, making it rotten writing. Turned into bed at 9.30 p.m.

Friday 19th April, 1918

Bitter cold night, got up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Snow and hail falling at intervals, melted as it fell with short breaks of sunshine but bitter strong wind. Finished drilling frame before dinner and filled lead safety plug. After dinner re- erected front part of engine drag plate buffer beam etc. Wind died down a little tonight. After tea wrote letters till 9 p.m. when turned into bed.

Saturday 20th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m., sharp frost, ground white over. At work 8 a.m. Came out very nice day. Fixed up a smoke box door and a fire hole door, then did small job on a tractor before dinner. This afternoon took out set of broken fire bars while engine under steam and put new set in. All engines not in use being sent away on a/c of enemy's activities. Went for my washing at 4 p.m., had a hot shower bath. After tea had a loafing evening talking in hut, had read and in bed at 9 p.m.

  Sunday 21st April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. very frosty again, at work 8 a.m. Turned out very fine day and pretty clear, our planes very busy. Very little work this morning so finished making a fasten to lock up my kit bag. Half holiday this afternoon, Will Hill and I went for a walk round Bethonsart, Mingoval and home for tea. After tea Will and I went for short walk and had supper, eggs and chips at 8 p.m. Back at camp and in bed 9 p.m. Lot of chaps here very windy, afraid fritz will break through. Got no heart.

Monday 22nd April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., nice morning. Few R.E.s around last night, advance party to take over depot from us. Took off damaged step and stanchion, fixed them up and replaced them. Took my washing out. Rumours we are leaving here in few days. After dinner took off damaged guard iron and put good one on, then lay down in hut. Went for walk with W. Hill after tea and had feed, eggs and chips. Back and in bed at 9 p.m. Guns going solidly tonight.

Tuesday 23rd April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., very nice day, no work for me today. Don't know exactly what is doing, expect move very soon. Helped Blacksmith to make some tools to pass time away. Our planes very busy. After dinner looked round to see no job in, then went back to hut and had lie down till tea time. After tea wrote letters to Dais. and Mam, read the newspaper which a chap had managed to get, then had a yarn and in bed 9.30 p.m. Guns going heavily again tonight.

Wednesday 24th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m., very damp fog and rather miserable morning. Went down to work at 8 a.m., nothing doing so helped the blacksmiths again. We were paid again this morning. After dinner had read and lie down, then went for my washing. Seven R.E.s badly wounded by accidental explosion of an old fritz bomb. After tea wrote a letter and had a read, feel a bit off colour. Heavy rain and thunder storm started at 8.30. Turned into bed 9 p.m.

Thursday 25th April, 1918

Anzac Day, three years today since the memorable landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Up at 7 a.m., went down to work but nothing doing. Overhauled my kit, parcelled up some souvenirs and gave it in to be posted home. Had a read and sleep this afternoon, got extra rations to celebrate the day. Wrote a letter after tea. A lot of our men drunk last night, an estaminet smashed up and wild doings, have to get leave to go out of camp now. More men beastly drunk today, believe there will be trouble, into bed at 9 p.m. *2 Additional entry at beginning of diary The two men directly concerned in smashing windows etc. at estaminet got off with reprimand, one has been cautioned before more than once. It is the way of things, had it been a steady man who made a single slip he'd have been clinked.

Friday 26th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m., nothing doing again today, just have to stand by in case am wanted. Our chaps are making things very bad round here through playing up. Some bicycles stolen by some of our men today from Cyclist Battalion, bikes were found in our camp making things bad for us. Got cleaned up before tea and Will Hill and I went into Aubigny for a paper and had some eggs and chips. Back at camp 8.30 and in bed 9 p.m.

Saturday 27th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m., nothing doing again today. Don't know when we are moving, am tired of hanging about, can't go out till after tea in case am wanted. Rather dull day, got full account of landing by Navy at Ostend and Zeebruge. Glorious affair and will buck the boys here up a lot. They say the navy's splendid and are quite excited. After tea Bob Sargeant and I went to Aubigny for paper, called at Y.M.C.A., back at 8 p.m., had read and in bed 9 p.m.

Sunday 28th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and after breakfast had look round but nothing doing so at 10.30 a.m. went back to hut and got shaved and cleaned. After dinner went for walk round Savy and Aubigny, bought paper and back for tea. Lot of our men leaving on

Tuesday, believe I have to remain behind attached to R.E.s. Received letter from Harry, quite well. Heavy bombardment going on on this front this afternoon and tonight Will Hill and I went to a quiet house, had eggs and chips and in bed 9.30 p.m.

Monday 29th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Took spark arrester out of Cooke engine, took me about an hour. List of men up who are leaving tomorrow, am not among them. Received four letters just after dinner, one from Dais. and one from home. Nothing doing this afternoon so lay down, have not felt quite in the pink this last few days. After tea went out for paper, back and in bed at 9 p.m. Rained very heavily tonight, seems thundery so close.

Tuesday 30th April, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Refilled a safety plug and put in new set of fire bars this morning, wet and miserable day. Most of our Co'y left here this afternoon, think they are going near Etaples, don't know when we will follow. Took over a chap's dugout after he left, was busy all afternoon cleaning it and making it comfortable. Much better than in hut, quieter and more private. After tea wrote letter to Dais. B. Sargeant cooked some eggs and chips for supper and in bed 9.30 p.m.