The First World War
An RCR Officer's Diary 1914-1918

APRIL to SEPTEMBER 1918

APRIL 1918

On 12th [Apr] was relieved by 1st Bn 6th South Staffordshire Regt and moved to anther part of the line on the Souchez. Here on 18th [Apr] a brilliant raid was carried out by a small patrol under Lt J.T. Probert. This was in return for two attempted raids by the enemy on our line which were repelled by rifle and Lewis Gun fire the same day. Lt Probert drove the garrison of a small machine gun post into their dugout where they were bombed. He returned with a machine gun, rifles, bayonets and other paraphernalia without suffering a single casualty. For this act he was later awarded the Military Cross.

Fifty other ranks who had become worn out by long periods in the trenches were relieved by fifty others and proceeded to a rest camp.

During the tour Lt R.W. Churchill rejoined. Capt A.P. Van Someran joined as Paymaster relieving Capt Beard. Capt Griffith went to 3rd Div Signal Co., Lt Keltie to 7th T.M. Battery, Maj Garon to St Pierre at District Comdt, Lt A.A. Atkinson to 3rd Bn C.M.G.C.

Lt Sutherland died of wounds and Lieut H.F. Ormon joined.

Fifty other ranks who had become worn out by long periods in the trenches were relieved by fifty others and proceeded to a rest camp. It was some considerable period until the realization of the constant wear and tear to the physical and nervous system by long stretches of duty in the trenches took any practical and systemic form.

A man could report sick and be sent, if fortunate, to the Divisional Rest Station attached to the Field Ambulance, this however was not satisfactory as men did not like to take the initiative themselves. This system of exchange, however, was arranged for them by the medical officer in conjunction with the company officers who knew better than anyone else the value and needs of each individual in his company.

The trenches in the area occupied by the brigade were all named after Actresses. This unconsciously caused very amusing orders, records and messages such as "G.O.C. 3rd Div visited Teddy Gerrard and Doris today and expressed himself as very much pleased with their condition."

MAY 1918

On 1st [May] was relieved by 12th Bn King's Liverpool Regt and marched to Red Mill Siding where they entrained for Lens, moving from there by bus to billets at Estre Couchin for the night. The next day they marched to Camblignuel moving next day to Lieres 16 1/2 miles away via Quatres Vents, Divion, Camblain Chatelaine and Ferfay. Only 3 men fell out on the line of march which was really wonderful after 56 days in the trenches.

The battalion reached Bourecq on the 10th [May], remaining there for over a month receiving drafts and training.

While at Bourecq Lieuts C.W. Sutherland, W.M. King, H.G. Jones, W.P. Littlewood, A.J. Gough, D.N. MacDonald, L.G. Lyon, H.V. Bonner and Capt A. MacDonald from 185th Bn, joined and Lt C.C. Davies and Captain Poston rejoined.

JUNE 1918

Capt C.G.B. Thompson was awarded the M.C. In the birthday honours.

Sports and the usual routine were carried out and on 25th [May] the battalion marched to Aire where it entrained for Aubigny, matching thence to Lantre St Quentin to billets.

It was about this time that three day fever or influenza attacked the battalion, at one time over a hundred men were laid low with it. Fortunately, it was not fatal as in England and almost the rest of the world.

On 27th [May] the battalion marched to Wailly taking over huts vacated by 20th Cdn Bn in the vicinity of Neuville Vitasse. P.P.C.L.I. were on the right and 2nd C.M.R. on the left.

JULY 1918

On 4th [Jul] Lieut Col C.H. Hill, D.S.O., was appointed Comdt of Canadian Corps School and Lieut Littlewood was appointed Adjutant. Major C.R.E. Willets, D.S.O., was promoted to command the battalion.

Guards over crops were mounted about this time, these were not placed only to prevent damage by soldiers and civilians but also to put out fires started by bombs of special design dropped by the enemy. The battalion supplied its quota to these guards.

On 6th [Jul] the battalion on relief by 43rd Bn (Cameron Highlanders) returned to Wailly Huts where it remained for a week, relieving 5th Cdn Mtd Rifles in support near Neuville Vitasse.

On 25th [Jul] 17th Bn Royal Sussex Regt relieved the battalion which entrained at Blairville for Dainville, marching the following day to Wanquentin.

On 30th [Jul] it marched to billets at le Souich and thence to Bourquemaison where it entrained the next day for Saleux marching to bivouacks at Hebecourt.

Just before leaving for the Amiens Sector Lts Ballantyne, Longley, Littlewood rejoined and Lt S.W. Turner joined the battalion.

AUGUST 1918

Capt C.G.B. Thompson assumed command of the battalion in the absence of Lt Col Willets on leave.

From Saleux the battalion marched to Sains de Amenois where it billeted next to French troops. The Battalion was on the right of the Corps next to the French. While here the band gave a concert in the village for the benefit of our Allies who apparently highly appreciated it.

On 6th [Aug] the battalion moved to Gentelles Wood which was full of troops and hid a battalion of Tanks as well.

SEPTEMBER 1918

On 1st [Sep] the battalion marched to Etrun moving at 5.30 p.m. the next day to Tilloy 3 kilometres S.E. of Arras on the Cambrai Road. Here they bivouacked for the night moving the next afternoon to Hill 65 nearby. Traffic on the road was very heavy and much hostile bombing was carried out on the area.

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