Lots of Hun planes

Sunday Sept 30 1917

Weather still lovely.

Packed up and moved off in lorries to Winnezeele (map). Lovely camp and quiet pretty country. Feels delightful.

Lots of Hun planes over bombing at night, saw several in moonlight.



Feel I have a charmed life

Saturday Sept 29 1917

Getting relieved today thank goodness by 3rd Australian Div.

Good deal of bumping all round and several hits on top. 15 inch shells going over towards the batteries.

Set off with Partridge and Appy at 9.0 pm. Had a quiet journey down the track and to Potizje.

Just missed some heavy shelling in village and dodged a salvo at corner of Menin road by a few seconds – phew.

Most exciting journey from Ypres. Bombed in lorry in city – missed by a few feet. Ran into bombing again 3 times, one almost beside us at the granary. Fairly had the wind up at finish but arrived whole at Brandhoek camp (map).

Feel I have a charmed life now. Awfully tired and dirty. No sleep hardly since Tuesday and no wash.

Felt sure I was hit

Thursday Sept 27 1917

The stink and heat awful and sleep out of the question. Sat out in passage for the fresher air.

5.9 A P (armour-piercing) shell landed clean in doorway and I went down with the crowd. Felt sure I was hit.

When smoke cleared we discovered an awful mess. Sutton disappeared altogether. Wireless officer severely wounded; a stretcher bearer killed. O’Hara and Stanford wounded. Another big counter attack broken up. Very heavy fire round here all day.

Self missed getting one

Wednesday 26 Sept 1917

Bombardment opened at 5.45 and attack successful. Brigade reached final objective through Zonnebeke village (map).

8th Brigade gained all but Hill 40 and station. Fritz shelling us very heavily all day. Barrage round us at times and 8 or 9 direct hits on top which shook us up and put lights out.

About 30 or 40 casualties outside the door. Harry Andrews killed at latrine, Phillips killed, self missed getting one.

Drum fire opened evening and Fritz heavily counter-attacked. Fearful racket.

Col(onel) of Welsh down with the yarn that Fritz is through and advancing down the railway. Stand-to ordered. General in a frenzy of excitement.

We all had to get on bandoliers and load rifles. Rumour of general retirement. All spare men taken out to man shell holes. (Encouraged by) Officers with revolvers in hand. Never seen such a sight in all my life and fully convinced I was never going to see another day dawn.

Made to sit at wire fully armed and ready for anything. Things calmed down eventually and quiet restored. Transpired that some units of 8th Brigade (alarm by Compton Smith), badly shaken by bombardment, had broken and ran, spreading some panic to the Welsh. Gordons, King’s Own and Suffolks stood firm and Germans broken up by artillery fire.

8th Brigade re-organised and reinforced and situation restored after my most eventful day. (This was the first day of the so-called Battle of Polygon Wood.)

A dog-fight above Zonnebeke Sep 1917

Ready for the worst

Tuesday Sept 25 1917

Lovely day.

Set off for the doings in no very cheerful frame of mind but ready for the worst. Marched most of way and occasional lorry through Ypres and Potizje (map) to Railway Wood, scene of my experience of June 16, 1915.

Advance Brigade party set off at dusk. Never seen so many guns before; ground simply awful and railway track now almost obliterated. Awful journey up to Advance Brigade, loaded with kit, phone and rations. Bit of scattered shelling.

Fixed up at the “Hut”, a large affair of concrete taken from Fritz on the 20th and now but 300 yards from the front line. Jammed in like sardines and the place filthy. Stifling heat and horrible smell.