January 1918

First page reads: This diary belongs to 2063 Sapper W. D. Lycett 15th Aust L.R.O. Co'y A.I.F. - B.E.F. France and of 126 Railway Place Flemington Melbourne Victoria Australia and should it be lost and the finder not be able to return it to its owner will he or she please forward it to Miss D. G. Hill 40 Mirams St. Ascot Vale Melbourne Victoria Australia. If I should fall think this of me, that in some corner of a foreign land there's a spot that is for ever England. Rupert Brookes Killed in action.

Tuesday 1st January, 1918

Up at 8 a.m. and had good breakfast, after which Uncle Dan and I went round Uncle Charlie's works, very interesting. Home for dinner and then I went round and brought Uncle Charlie and my aunt to Uncle Dan's for tea. Spent quiet evening and caught train for Crewe at 10.45 p.m., Uncle Dan and my aunt seeing me off.

Wednesday 2nd January, 1918

Had long and tiresome ride spending hours waiting for trains and arrived at Crewe 11.15 a.m. Had a good meal and then took walk up town to see some friends. Received a letter from Grandmother to go down to Winsford tonight. Phoned up Mill Rd. Hospital about Harold and caught train at 8.45 p.m. for Winsford, found in wrong train and went to Warrington first stop, so had to get a bed and put up for night, no trains going back.

Thursday 3rd January, 1918

Called up at 6.30 a.m. and caught 7.14 a.m. train to Winsford to my Grandmother's. Had breakfast and a yarn, saw Jim to the station, Aunt Mary and youngster and Uncle Jabez and Ellie came round to see me. After tea wrote a letter to Harold and turned in at 9.30 p.m.

Friday 4th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and caught 8.30 a.m. train to Liverpool and went to Hospital to see Harold, found him doing very nicely. Sat in all morning talking and had dinner at Hospital. Went out with Harold at 2 p.m. had a meal and met Uncle Jabez, Aunt Annie and Cousin Ellie at 3.30 p.m. Went for tea and set Harold on train then caught 5.30 p.m. to Crewe. Went round and saw Mr. Walker and family and back at my cousins and in bed 10 p.m.

Saturday 5th January, 1918

Up at 8.30 a.m. and after breakfast took a walk to Mr. Potters at Hightown where stayed till dinner time. After dinner went to Mr. Holdsworths then Mr. Lewis's for tea and finished up at Mr. Fytches for supper, leaving there about 11.30 p.m and returning to my cousins and in bed 12.30 p.m.

Sunday 6th January, 1918

Up at 8 a.m. and went to Hightown Church 10.30 a.m. service by King's Proclamation of prayer for peace. Saw lot of old friends after service. After dinner cousin and I went to Mrs. Hardings for tea, sang duet and went to Church 6.30 p.m. After service saw more old friends and went round to Mr. Sam Potters for supper and stayed till midnight, returned to Cousins and in bed 1 a.m.

Monday 7th January, 1918

Up at 8.30 a.m. and after breakfast wrote up my diary and wrote note to Dad who is at Bristol. After dinner went to "Cosey" at Haslington and had tea then returned to Mr. Potters, Hightown, and had a musical and enjoyable evening. Quite a party, had supper and got back to my cousins and to bed by 1 a.m.

Tuesday 8th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and caught 8.10 a.m. to Winsford and went to Grandmother's for dinner. After dinner walked to Uncle Jabez's at Moulton, about 3 miles, and had tea. Came back to Winsford about 7 p.m. and sat talking with some friends at Grandmothers. Jim arrived home on leave from Newcastle about 9 p.m. and after supper we turned in to bed about 11 p.m.

Wednesday 9th January, 1918

Up at 6.30 a.m. and Jim and I caught 8.5 a.m. to Flixton via Manchester. Went to Aunt Sarah's for dinner and Aunt Charlotte's (Dot's) for tea. Aunt Louisa and Lizzie came down to see me. Had very nice day and caught 9.10 p.m. back, had half hour to wait at M'chester so saw Aunt Louisa on car, arrived back at Winsford about 11 p.m. and into bed.

Thursday 10th January, 1918

Up at 8.30 a.m. and had breakfast then wrote a letter to Mam and one to Dais. before dinner. Caught train at 2.15 p.m. to Crewe and went to my cousins where we had a small party, music etc. Had very nice afternoon and evening and turned in 12 midnight.

  Friday 11th January, 1918

Up at 8.30 a.m. had breakfast and went out and opened an account with the United Counties Bank, depositing 15 pounds. Back for dinner and went to Cosey, then caught 4.39 p.m. to Sandbach and had tea at Mrs. Deans, had music and cards, caught 9.20 p.m. train back and after cup of tea turned into bed.

Saturday 12th January, 1918

Up at 8.30 a.m. and after breakfast went for walk round town. Got my sugar ticket for 1 1/2 lbs. sugar. Saw number of men I know from works and went back for dinner. This afternoon bought some presents for home, called on Mr. and Mrs. Broach, had tea with Holdsworths and went back to Lourton St. with my parcels. Went out again this evening and spent hour with Mr. and Mrs. Potter of Hightown. Went back to cousins and found Uncle Jim there, had bath and yarn then went to station and caught 11.50 p.m. to London.

Sunday 13th January, 1918

Arrived at Euston Station London about 3 a.m. and taken by motor Wagons to Victoria station. Went into Y.M.C.A. and had breakfast then reported on station at 6 a.m. Got my pass stamped and train left 8 a.m. Arrived at Dover about 11.15 a.m. and after hours wait went aboard ship, crossed channel to Calais in about 1 1/2 hours and marched to rest camp. Had cold dinner about 4 p.m. and cold tea 6.30 p.m. Got 2 thin blankets, went to Y.M.C.A. service and lay down in bell tent about 9 p.m. Could not get warm and was lying with all my clothes on, but bitter cold and started snowing heavily, feeling very miserable.

Monday 14th January, 1918

Had very rotten night and up at 5.30 a.m., had piece of cold meat and dry bread for breakfast 6.30 a.m., then on parade 7.30 a.m. Stood in snow shivering for about 2 hours while we were sorted out into our respective divisions, then marched about 4 miles to train and got aboard it. Train left at 11 a.m. and we had a cold and rotten ride to Popperinghe which we reached about 3 p.m. when I set out and walked to my unit about 2 1/2 miles away, put my kit straight and had a yarn, read some letters from home which arrived while I have been away and turned into bed about 10 p.m.

Tuesday 15th January, 1918

Slept well last night as was very tired and got up at 7 a.m., rather mild morning. Did not go to work, took day off to clean and tidy things up and do some writing. Wrote to Mam, Dais., Harold, Harry and Reg. Dare for Dad. After dinner it started raining and towards night rained heavily, our hut leaking all over. Reading a magazine tonight, warmed up drop of tea left from tea time and turned into bed at 10 p.m.

Wednesday 16th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m., had breakfast and at work 8 a.m. Conditions changed here now, our Capt. having been worked out of his job and not one officer of our Co'y is left here to look after our interest. One Canadian B'maker and several Canadian Fitters are working here now and dissatisfaction exists at the methods employed to get the most work out and at the conditions we have to work under. I have been fitting on snow brushes today, only took them off a few weeks ago, a most useless job. After tea had a shave and took my clothes out to be washed, then had a read. Rained hard and very stormy all day. In bed 9 p.m.

Thursday 17th January, 1918

Slept well last night and up at 7 a.m., breakfast and at work 8 a.m. fixing snow brushes on Engines today again. About 11 a.m. Harry turned up to see me, he is looking well and has been down Peronne way, now camped near Bailleul. Stayed to dinner and went back about 3 p.m. A miserable day, sleet and rain and very muddy. Think the winter is telling on me a bit, I feel a bit done up at times. After tea wrote some letters and re-addressed some to Dad, sent them to Grandmother. Had a read and smoke and turned into bed about 9 p.m.

Friday 18th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Put guard iron and brushes on engine then took down an ash pan before dinner. After dinner hammered and fullard two leaky stays, put on two sets of snow brushes. Finer today but very muddy and miserable. Received a letter from Dais. Told tonight that we have to change to another hut in morning. Rumours of a Belgian advance and that Germany has agreed to the Allies peace proposals with exception of question of Alsace-Lorraine, hope it is true. Wrote couple of letters and had a read then into bed at 9 p.m.

Saturday 19th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and had breakfast, then had to shift into another hut, took our time and fixed up properly by dinner time. Went to work after dinner, took down front of Engine and straightened one side of frame. Rather mild day and did not rain. Officers now in charge of depot trying to stir things up, men getting up against them. After tea did some writing under difficulties, one chap doing physical jerks and several drunks in the hut. Had a read and turned into bed at 9 p.m.

Sunday 20th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., drizzly wet day. Uncle Tom and I working together straightened the other side of engine frame then I put up an ash pan that had been taken down. Half day off today. Harry came up to see me and stayed till 3 p.m., looking well. Received a letter from home, had a read and fell asleep before tea. After tea had yarn with Will Hill who expects to go on leave to Eng. tomorrow. He had received a parcel from Cis., had piece of cake and some butter. Wrote a letter home, had a read and turned in about 9 p.m. Very windy tonight.
  Monday 21st January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., drizzly wet day and slightly cold. Built up front of engine, marked off and put up two guard irons, put on some lagging and started to put up an ash pan. Will Hill went on leave this morning to Eng. Were paid just before dinner. Rumours that our company is likely to move somewhere before long. Number of our planes about though weather not good and tonight they seem to be very active. Wrote a letter to Dais., read a magazine and turned into bed about 10 p.m.

Tuesday 22nd January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., finished putting ash pan up on engine. Patched and rivetted guard iron bracket and bolted them on then bolted up guard iron. Not much doing after dinner, officers been rushing us and now not much to do. Dodged over to hut about 4 p.m. Rotten dodging officers in yard and have not got a job. Nice day and our planes about, weather real good for time of year. After tea went for my washing, started raining a little. Had read and turned in 9 p.m.

Wednesday 23rd January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. Took down an ash pan and took out fire bars this morning. Nice day again. After dinner put some fire bars in another engine and took out safety plug, refilled it and put it back again. Things slack again, waiting on the fitters. Officers chasing us round, misery dodging them. Our tucker getting worse, practically living on bread and jam, purely bad management. After tea wrote letter, had read and yarn and turned in 9 p.m.

Thursday 24th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. knocking ferrules out of tubes so as to expand them, ferrules very tough in this engine, about 30 tubes went back, worked hard and did not get them all finished today, been badly put in. Very nice day, just like spring. Our planes active, saw couple of fritz planes over towards lines, soon driven off. Supposed we will be moving in few days time. After tea wrote letter to Dais. as it is her birthday. Had letter from Dad, doing alright at Bristol. Into bed 10 p.m.

Friday 25th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m. still getting ferrules out of tubes, pretty solid, over 30 tubes driving back, job has been badly done on some previous occasion. Beautiful spring day again, our planes active and more sound of the guns today. Still rumours of us moving. Fritz planes tried to get over, not successful. Beautiful moonlight night, expected fritz planes over bombing but did not come, could hear ours going over. Had read and turned into bed 9.30 p.m. Received 2 small parcels, from Cousin Mirrie, and from Sir Charles Starmer, "Northern Eals" office, Darlington.

Saturday 26th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m.. Got some more ferrules out, some broke and had to cut last four out. Rather chilly this morning and misty, but cleared up fine by dinner time. My mate started expanding tubes at fire box and so as had not much to do this afternoon washed a suit of blues. Do not know for sure if we are moving yet. After tea read a book "Gallipoli" by John Masefield, very good, then acknowledged the parcels I received. Had cup of tea made in the hut and into bed 9.30 p.m.

Sunday 27th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., rather misty and cold, came out nice after dinner. Expanded some boiler tubes this morning and at 12 noon slipped off for a bath before dinner. After dinner shaved and had a nap then read till tea time, things very slow and dull. After tea wrote some letters and had a read. About 8 p.m. heavy gun fire opened out for about quarter of an hour then continued spasmodically. Beautiful clear night, a little cold, turned into bed about 9.30 p.m.

Monday 28th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., frosty and a bit cold but beautiful day later. Our planes busy, an odd fritz plane over very high for few minutes. Expanded some tubes this morning finishing fire box end and after dinner put most of ferrules in. Not too much work in just now, good job as our tucker is a perfect disgrace, would be impossible to do real hard days work as have not been getting sufficient nourishment for some time, cooks are rotten. Did some writing and in bed 9 p.m.

Tuesday 29th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., started expanding tubes at smoke box end and did 67 today. Frosty again this morning but lovely and clear later, just little sharpness in the air. Had letter from Dad who is at Dartford, Kent in the No. 3 Austn. Hosp. Guns up line seem to have been bit more active this last few nights. Sharp again tonight. Wrote to Dad and had a yarn then turned in 9.30.

Wednesday 30th January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., finished expanding tubes at smoke box end and put in remaining number of ferrules in firebox end. Took out safety plug and refilled it with lead and put it back again. After dinner washed out one and filled up two boilers. Frosty morning but lovely and clear, our planes busy, one fritz plane came over for few minutes. Fritz put some long range shells over us, H.E. and shrapnel burst well behind us. Wrote letters after tea and in bed 9 p.m.

Thursday 31st January, 1918

Up at 7 a.m. and at work 8 a.m., very little doing. Frosty morning and a bit foggy, got colder during the day. Put in firehole door, took off step, got it straightened and put it on again. Have had no papers for two days, rumoured air raid on England. Received photo of Fred's grave from England. After tea did some writing had cup of comoposition and turned into bed at 9.30 p.m.