This diary covers the period from 6 February 1916 when Charles Hargreaves arrived back in Cairo from the Western Frontier Expedition, through his time in camp at Zeitoun, arrival in Marseilles on 31 March 1916, involvement in the 1916/1917 Somme offensive, periods of illness in December 1916 and the first part of 1917, 10 days' leave in England in January 1917, events in Steenvoorde in September 1917, a further period of leave in January 1918, and fighting on the La Clytte sector of the Ypres front in March 1918. The diary concludes on 23 March 1918. Paragraph breaks have been introduced in the transcription to improve readability.
Throughout the diary there are detailed descriptions of the daily life and work of the Drivers of the 1st Division Transport ASC as they delivered equipment, rations, building materials, weapons and ammunition to camps and frontline troops, of the movement of troops to and from the front line, and of air battles and German bombing raids.
There are also vivid descriptions of the French and Belgian countryside, towns and villages, of aspects of rural life including threshing grain near Baizieux (Basieux), where Australian troops lent a hand (pages 98 to 99), and the impact of winter conditions on men and horses (pages 82 to 83). Some topical issues also get a mention: the perceived laxity of Australian troops, grumbles about the lack of leave the unfairness of officer-only provisions (pages 60 to 64); the Australian Conscription debate and referendum (pages 77 to 80, page 91); the 1917 Australian election (page 94).
Charles Hargreaves gives no details of his periods of leave in England but on a lighter note he does describe: the luxury of a hot bath and clean clothes in May 1916 (pages 21 to 23); 1st Division troops' opinion of raw new 4th Division troops (pages 36 to 38); a fictitious "programme of entertainment" (pages 53 to 55); grumbles over the strictness of hospital routines (pages 84 to 86); a humorous poem, "Neutrals" (page 95); and a village romance (pages 114 to 115)
And on page 126 he mentions comrades who received bravery awards: William Reginald Macrow MC, Harry Welton Quiney MC; Rupert Lancelot Collen MM, Percival George Dixon MM, Stanley Dunstan MM, Colin Fletcher Hall MM, John Westlake Humphreys MM.
No. 256 Driver C. Hargreaves
No 1 Coy A.A.S.C.
1st Aust Division