We went into Watten to get the train, and got into Hazebrouck just as it was getting dark. And it was not without excitement either. Huge rubber gun gazumps were falling all over the town and along the railway track and there was a very f[i]erce bombardment going on up the line. The most of the civilians had evacuated and we could not get much information as to the best way to get to our destination.
As it was not very far we decided to walk and get settled down for the night there. After we had gone about six kilometres though and seemed right off the track we tried to get a home for the night. After being turned down several times though we carried on. After a while we got to Borre, passing crowds of refugees on the way and made enquiries at a house there. Two girls who spoke excellent English gave us directions to the R.O.D. Camp outside the village and we went on again.
Before long we got lost again, and passed lots of Portugese who told us that Fritz had broken through them. As it was about fifteen miles from the line they had got back at a good pace. However we got to the camp and they gave us a bed for the night, and a meal. Fritz had then begun to shell the lines and camp so we did not get much sleep. About 2 a.m. a big one dropped between the two huts next to ours but luckily they were empty. The huts were completely flattened out and we did not go free from it's [sic] effect.
At daylight we moved on and reached the camp at Caestre about dinner time. There was great excitement in the camp, and refugees in thousands were coming back from the forward villages. And a pitiable sight it was. And then I got my first sight of the Tommies at their worst. Their officers' conduct was disgracefull and there certainly was no excuse for them as in the case of their men who had been taught to look to them for guidance. They were streaming back in thousands too and their sole desire was to get away because 'Jerry's coomin choom'. It never seemed to occur that he could be stopped.
The Aussies had just been taken down to the Somme then. The refugees saw the Aussie camp full and stayed in Caestre, till the next day when most of them were shifted down to the Somme. Immediately the people packed up and could not get away quick enough. I was up at Kemmel with a couple of pals out of the Battalion when the camp shifted and as I did not wish to be kept for the Working Battalion that was being formed, Nick and I moved off on our own and decided to go down to the Somme. After what I had seen, and heard from my pal I wanted to go back to the Battalion but Carter was not in favour of that so we decided to go to Vignacourt to look for the Major we were seeking.
As there was nothing doing at Vignacourt we went to Pernois where the Reinforcement Camp was to be started. I stayed there for a week and then got tired of it so left on my own to go to the Battn. which I had heard was in front of Corbie. At Villers Bacage though, I was pulled up by M.Ps and as I had no authority for being there was sent back. However I got some news of the Battalion there and it was not very bright either. I got back to Pernois and found Nick still there so we hung around for a bit longer.
During our stay here we were both very well looked after by a Froggie who fed us up on eggs, pork chops and chips all the time. She had been going to evacuate with several others when they heard of the Aussies arriving and decided right away to stay.
After another week or so we both got tired of things in general and decided to go somewhere or do something.
The After a while we made up our minds to go to the 2 A.G.H. and Nick went to the C.O. of the camp and told him some yarn or other and he sent us off the next morning.
We went to Canaples for the train and got into the first one going out. Instead of going to Boulogne though, it pulled into Amiens almost before we knew it. We got out there to have a look around when Fritz woke up and began to shell the town, and also to bomb it. After a lot of trouble we found the R.T.O's assistant and got some directions from him. We only had ten miles to walk to get a train to our destination. A very bright prospect indeed.
As it was not too comfortable in the town we thought it best to make for Saleux. We were lucky enough to pick up a motor, lorry that was going along at top and walking was not quick enough for our liking we stopped him and got a ride the whole of the way.
The station was crowded with refugees and their belongings and it took us some time to find which train to get. Eventually we got a train to a place called Romescamps somewhere out of the usual track of our troops. It took us about five hours to go there and on arrival found it to be a big railway depot. We put up there for the night and then made way to Abbeville by another train. It took us a day to get there and we put up at another rest camp for the night. Then we left there and arrived at Boulogne completely done up and looking it too. After a wash and clean up we had a look around the town and got a room for the night, spending our last francs in getting it too.
The next morning we went out to the Hospital and reported. The note that we brought with us caused a bit of amusement and we looked rather like being taken as a joke, than otherwise. The C.O. however seemed a good old sport and attached us pending inquiries to the Records off[ice.]
For the first few days I was put onto the dinkum Kiwi lancer job. That was to go around with a nail in the end of a stick and pick up papers. As that did not coincide with my ideas of AMC work I threw it in and applied to be sent to the Base. A fortnight later I got away and went to Havre.