Mr Hill soon got on to me though for coming back so soon and as he remembered that I spoke German (from the night that the Hun nearly got us) and there was a German school opening then he had me sent off to that wi[t]h a view to having me put on Headquarters.
I left the Battalion then and met four others at Bde. HQ. and from there we went to Div. Hqrs. It was a surprise for two of us who had gone to Fort street to find that one of our old teachers was instructor. We had a good four days there and I found that I had not forgotten nearly as much as I had thought. We then went back to the battalion and got ready to go up to the line.
During this time I had been wondering what shellfire would be like after being away from it for so long. We had a long march up to Franvillers where we took over a trench system from the 22nd Battalion who gave us some news of the sector that we were to go to. We spent a fortnight there and I did very little. There were some fatigues to be done but as I was going to the other battalions to keep up my German I got out of them.
At the last we got word of a stunt to be done by "D" Coy. and I was picked to go as a bit of a rough interpreter. My report then arrived from Division and as it was a good one the I.O. wanted to get me on HQ, and Captain Lindsay wanted to keep me in the Coy. The latter suited me and I did all I could to stay there, but it got to the Colonel eventually and I had no say in the matter. It meant the finish of me for the stunt which pleased Mr Hill more than it did myself.
I soon found that being on HQ was pretty good but it meant the breaking of the old friendships I had made to a certain extent. As they were a good lot that I got amongst though it made little difference after a while.
Nothing much happened while we were at Franvillers except that towards the last Fritz began to shell the place and livened things up a bit. We woke up one night very suddenly to find a lot of dirt and shell fragments raining down on our canvas roof. When we got up there was a big dent in the ground about ten feet in front of our possie. As it had no effect on me I felt quite confident again about standing the strain of shellfire.
It was rather a long and wearisome march to the line though I travelled as light as possible. We took over from the 8th Bde. 'Tivey's Chocs' & a fine state things were in. The trenches were left anyhow and the Hun did just as he liked. After we had our O.P. going for a few days though things changed for the better.
There was one pet sniper though who could enfilade our trench, and gave us a very nasty time. It took us some time to discover his whereabouts too, but eventually we got him. Then in order to do any observing one had to keep a lookout with a periscope while the other did the looking around. While in that part of the line we had some good sport in making the Hun keep his head down. There is nothing so exhilirating as to see our 18 pdrs. or bigger guns chasing the stray Fritzes showing on the landscape.
When one chap lost the periscope though it was a bit awkward. I had the telescope shot out of my hand once so changed the post. I moved up alongside the artillery officer, and had not been there for long before some smart Hun saw the glint of the officer's field glasses and got onto us with pineapples and whizzbangs. I then evacuated for a possie further back, according to plan and orders received; I had barely got set up there when I heard something big coming in my direction and ducked for the bottom of the trech saying my prayers as I did so, just as a 5-9" lobbed about ten yards beyond me. In less than a second I had made up my mind to stay till another came rather than to shift and run into one. The next landed some distance away as the first was only a rangefinder. It was not the most comfortable post I have had all the same as it was in the line of fire the whole time.
Just before the 4th July when we were to do our stunt, a chap was lost off the patrol and so our show was put off. The others on both flanks though carried on and it was some show. Fritz put all kinds of shells on our sector, frightened of a later stunt, but the chaps in the front line said they would have it every morning as they enjoyed the fireworks.
I had one very windy night on the Gas post. He started putting gas shells around and as I had forgotten what gas was like, I put my helmet on and chanced it. Then as I could not hear them coming I took it off to find one on the bank alongside me smoking a treat. I shifted at the 'toot' and for the next 12 hours worried as to whether I was gassed or not. Nothing came of it though luckily.
After being there for about a fortnight we shifted to the next sector and had a week in supports, then went into the line only to be taken out again to prepare for a stunt. We came in for a good deal of abuse from the other battalions & could not give any excuses as we did not know till the night before it came off, what was doing. Well now for a bit of a description of the stunt.