February 1918

Friday 1st February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Nothing doing this morning, very frosty and cold. Mixed up four bottles of cough mixture for four chaps with colds, do what I can for the boys but not much encouragement from the heads. After dinner straightened guard iron bracket, took off two old guard irons and one bracket, replaced bracket after blacksmith had fixed it up. Very cold tonight, wrote home and to Dais. Sent photos of Fred's grave. News of strikes in Germany. Turned into bed about 9.30 p.m.

Saturday 2nd February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Frosty and sharp but came out splendid later. Cut some broad gauge rails for guard irons, marked them off and got them drilled, not much doing. Got permission for tomorrow morning off, going to try and find Harry. A Fritz plane over about 2 p.m., our planes going over in great numbers. After tea went out and shook couple of sandbags of coal, did some writing, had read and yarn and into bed about 9.30 p.m.

Sunday 3rd February, 1918

Up at 7.30 a.m. and had breakfast, got leave today so set out at 9.15 a.m. for Bailleul to see Harry, walked all the way, about 9 miles and arrived before dinner. Saw lot of the old boys and had good dinner. Saw monster British aeroplane arrive at aerodrome near by. Carries 16 bombs of 1 cwt. each, 40 smaller bombs, 6 machine guns and six of a crew, can walk about on it, a real beauty, had close look. Set out back at 3.30 p.m., got ride in motor lorry to Reninghelst and arrived at camp 5 p.m. Feel tired so turned in at 7 p.m. Had letter from Harold about "Peggy".

Monday 4th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., fine day and much milder. Put up an ash pan and put fire bars in, started taking down ash pan on another engine, not too much work in. Wind rose a bit this afternoon, fixed up septic finger for a chap and gave out some cough mixture. News of rioting in Berlin, wonder if it will bring peace nearer. After tea wrote letters and had read and turned into bed about 9 p.m.

Tuesday 5th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Finished taking down an ash pan, took off some bent and damaged stanchions on another engine, had them repaired and put them on again. Put up baffle plates, steam jet bonnet and smoke box front. Rather mild day, fairly clear, a fritz plane came over and was chased out of sight by four of ours. After tea had shave and went out for my washing, had a read and turned into bed at 9 p.m.

Wednesday 6th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Put up a stanchion and made a new tool box. After dinner took out some baffle plates, refilled a safety plug and marked off a guard iron. Very fine, clear and mild day, our planes about. Heard Will Hill has been made a 2nd Corporal, very pleased. Our Cpl. of Boilermakers and Uncle Tom been drinking all day, was pay day yesterday, made more work for us as we are short handed. Wrote letter after tea, had a read and in bed 9 p.m.

Thursday 7th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Cleaned set of tubes and knocked out ferrules before dinner. Rained this morning but very mild. After dinner piled up tubes ready for expanding then slipped over to see Will Hill who got back from leave to England last night, found him O.K. After tea had read and yarn, still rumours of us moving. Turned in 9.30 p.m.

Friday 8th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Could not get on with my job as tube expanders have been lent to Ouderdom depot and did not arrive back till 4 p.m. Just hung about and had a yarn with Will Hill. Rained fairly heavily but weather still mild. After tea Will Hill and I went to Church Army Hut and had cup of decent tea and a yarn. Watched one of our chaps do some ju-jitsu tricks and turned into bed 9 p.m.

Saturday 9th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Rolled and expanded all the tubes in Baldwin boiler (83) also four at smoke box end. Rained a little but very mild. Not much work in, rumours of us moving are very persistent. Some think we will go to Palestine. Felt tired after tea so lay down and fell asleep, woke at 8 p.m., had a yarn and made cup of tea and turned in again at 9.30 p.m.

Sunday 10th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., put about 60 ferrules in tubes and took out safety plug, refilled it with lead and put it back again. Finished work at 12.30 noon, got cleaned and Will Hill and I went for walk to Popperinghe. Everything very quiet but enjoyed the walk and was back for tea. After tea wrote letter to Mam and one to Dais. then had a yarn. Been pretty windy today but ground drying. Turned into bed 10 p.m.

  Monday 11th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Put in remainer of tube ferrules then marked off and put on two pair of brackets on a pair of Ford tractor wheels, really a fitters job. Kept very busy till 4.30 p.m. We expect to be moving out of here on

Thursday morning, no real official word, but believe we are going on the new British front round St. Quentin way. Did some writing and went through my kit ready for packing then turned in at 9 p.m.

Tuesday 12th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., things quiet and lot of talk about our move, lot of the men from up the line come in. Expanded four tubes in smoke box and put up ash pan and baffle plates. After dinner took mud hole caps off an Huntslett Engine ready for washing out. After tea Will Hill and I went to concert in Church Army Hut arranged by some of our company, very good. Had a yarn and in bed 9.30 p.m.

Wednesday 13th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m., did not go to work at shop today as our Capt. had little business for me to do. Wet day and generally miserable. Got cleaned up and went to Waratah rest station and saw dispenser for our Capt. After dinner sorted out my kit and packed some of it up ready for moving. More of our men came in tonight from up the line, lot of them getting merry. Had bit of a sing-song in our hut and turned in 9 p.m. Raining steadily tonight.

Thursday 14th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Some of men still drunk from last night. The Sgt. B'maker did not turn up so I went back to my hut about 10 a.m. and read the paper till dinner time. Went to work after dinner and put up steam pipe bonnet smoke box front and a set of fire bars. As nothing else was doing went back to hut and had lie down. Platoons have been arranged ready for move and I am in the armed guard. Nothing definite known yet except that we are moving. After tea did some writing, had a yarn and read and into bed at 9 p.m.

Friday 15th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Not much doing, put small lamp bracket on an engine. Heavy barrage about 2 a.m. and guns fairly lively all day. Frosty but very clear. After dinner collected up the tools and handed them all in to the store then knocked off and got cleaned. Did some writing tonight, big crowd in our hut so things very upset. Had a yarn and turned in about 9.30 p.m.

Saturday 16th February, 1918

Finished work yesterday so did not have to go over to shops this morning. Up at 7.30 a.m., after breakfast got cleaned and did some packing ready in case we move. Frosty and cold but very clear again, a few planes about and guns been going pretty strong all day. The battle front seems to be livening up a bit up this way. Wrote couple of letters this afternoon and then yarned, can't write much, too many in hut. Had read and yarn and in bed 9 p.m.

Sunday 17th February, 1918

Up at 7.30 a.m., frosty but fine. Went to W. Hill's hut to see how he is, has got tonsilitis, gone to doctor. Just had to stand by and await orders. After dinner had a sleep and read till tea time. Received word about 6 p.m. that 50 of our company are to go as advance party on

Tuesday to Savy, somewhere on the Arras front. I am among the party along with the Sgt. B'maker. Went over to shops here after dark and pinched some tools with Sgt. Grant. Fritz plane over and dropped bombs some distance away at 7 p.m. Turned in about 9 p.m.

Monday 18th February, 1918

Up at 6.30 a.m. as got surprise orders last night late to move today. After breakfast packed up, took hut down, loaded it on narrow gauge trucks. After dinner transferred it to broad gauge and were put in vans and got away about 3 p.m. Cold day, put stove in our van. Got along very slowly and only got to Hazebrouck after dark, stayed there in siding till about 5 a.m. While in siding Fritz planes over bombing. 21 of us in truck, lay down like sardines and went to sleep about 9 p.m.

Tuesday 19th February, 1918

Slept well till 5 a.m. when train started on move again, jolting horribly, did not get up till 6.30 a.m. as was warm lying down. Arrived Berguette at 6.30 a.m. and got wash on platform. Travelled very slowly again today and was in siding at St. Pol for some time. Eventually got to Savy at 7 p.m. and put in huts in a Tommy Camp, not in our right place, bit of a mix-up. Guns going on this (Arras) front pretty solidly tonight. Turned in about 9.30 p.m.

  Wednesday 20th February, 1918

Up at 7.30 a.m., cold and frosty. Could not get a wash, no water in the camp, had breakfast supplied by Tommies, very good bacon. At 9.30 a.m. fell in on parade and went to siding, unloaded huts etc. on to light gauge trucks and took them to our camp site about a mile from here and nearer the village. Had dinner down there McConnachies and tea. Got one hut erected this afternoon and floor of another one down, drizzly rain all afternoon and very muddy. Had tea and bread and jam for tea then knocked off at 6.30 p.m. and went back to huts in camp, in bed 8 p.m.

Thursday 21st February, 1918

Up at 7.30 a.m. and went down to our camp site for breakfast. Not so cold this morning, but wet boots keep feet cold. Erecting huts again today, got three finished and other two partially up. Ground dried a good bit today but still muddy. Tucker cooked much better, but not too plentiful. Looks very nice country round here and after we get settled ought to be pretty comfortable. After tea made a temporary bunk for tonight and turned in about 9 p.m.

Friday 22nd February, 1918

Slept in one of our own huts and up at 7.30 a.m. After breakfast finished remainder of huts and started erecting a cook-house, putting down duck boards etc. Windy today but drying and ground much better. Made a good bunk and fixed up my place in hut pretty comfortably. Had a fairly hard days work and after tea had game of bridge and turned in pretty tired about 9 p.m.

Saturday 23rd February, 1918

Had good nights sleep and up 7.30 a.m., breakfast and on fatigue work again. Building a latrine today. Fine day and planes about, an Aust. squadron of flying corps close to us. Tucker much improved today. Received a couple of letters, one from Harold and one from his girl, Peggy. After tea went into township of "Avigny", could not see much as dark, had some eggs and coffee and walked back through village of Savy. In bed 9 p.m.

Sunday 24th February, 1918

Up at 7.30 a.m. and after breakfast started work. Finished building the latrines by dinner time then got cleaned and went out for walk. Went through "Savy" and "Aubigny" and had a look at village of "Agnieres", not much of interest, some Portugese troops here. Had tea, eggs and chips in Aubigny and strolled back to camp. Aubigny is a small French township but as usual very dull. Was going to write this evening but too much hammering and noise so turned in at 9 p.m.

Monday 25th February, 1918

Up at 7.30 a.m., raining but weather mild. Not sent for so spent morning making my bunk better and fixing up shelves etc. for my things. After dinner was called out for some pick and shovel work levelling off some ground and making paths to officers huts. After tea wrote some letters, got chilly this afternoon and strong wind. Getting more settled and comfortable now, had a yarn and turned in about 9 p.m.

Tuesday 26th February, 1918

Up at 7.30 a.m. and after breakfast our company took over the system of Light Rly's here. Went down to Loco. yard and got some tools together, started straightening a bent engine frame, put on a guard iron. The yard is about 1 1/2 miles from our huts at present, are having one made nearer. Frosty this morning but very nice later. Our planes very busy. Had letter from Dad, he is marked C.D. to return to Aust. and be discharged. After tea did some writing, had a sing song, two chaps mandolin and violin and into bed 9.30 p.m.

Wednesday 27th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. had breakfast and walked down to work by 8.30 a.m. Took off two guard irons and put one on, straightening a bent frame for the rest of day. Very nice and mild day but started raining tonight. Lot of stuff going past here on main line, tanks, guns etc. looks very much like an offensive soon. After tea did some writing, had a read and yarn and turned into bed at 9.30 p.m.

Thursday 28th February, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and went down to work at 8.30 a.m., built up front of engine this morning and after dinner took down another front and straightened another frame which is broken pretty badly, have not material or tools to patch it. Very frosty this morning, believe fritz planes in this vicinity during night. After tea had a yarn and sing song round stove, pretty cold and frosty, turned in about 9 p.m.