Our tame Hun and myself were told off to go up to the battle Headquarte[rs] as interrogators, and the rest of the 'Brains' were to stay on the O.P. till after the stunt, when they were to go to the new line and form a new post.
The two of us landed up in Mad Minute about dusk and began to prepare a possie for the night. After scratching in the dirt for a while we found that Claude Lineham and his party would be vacating their little hole so we took that over and made a home of that. When it was finished it certainly would not keep an 8" shell out but they did not often land at the bottom of a 20 ft bank so we felt pretty safe.
'Ignorance is bliss" is not a new saying but it is true. The night passed without much of importance happening. Both sides were pretty quiet. We, or rather I, did not sleep much as I wished to hear the barrage go over. And at 1 o'clock sharp it started. Being only a minor stunt there was no exceptional concentration of artillery but it was certainly 'some hit'. It had barely started, though, when Fritz opened up with heavy stuff. He began on the trench mortars about 100 yds from our possie, but soon switched round. Cocoa Joe's stall got it very hot.
It was then that we realised that shells do all sorts of funny things. Perhaps these may have been minnies, but anyhow, they were just sliding over the top of that bank and landing about ten feet in front of our humpy. Needless to say it shook a bit and perhaps I did too.
Anyhow after standing it for a few minutes I went outside to see what was happening, and got into the very small passage way into the Headquarters dugout. It was decidedly less use as a shelter than our hole, but I like to see what is doing rather than to think that all kinds of things are happening. And I had company too as there were two artillery signallers there and Mr Ridley and Mr Shearwood for most of the time. The only real danger was from a piece falling onto us, and I got hits from several but no damage resulted. The chaps that I pitied most were the guards who were perched in a very precarious position on top of the bank.
Bill Boyd, one of them got a knock on the arm and the two officers took him up to the A.M.C. and very nearly got knocked coming back.
After being very warm for about an hour or more the prisoners began to come in and Fritz eased off. He was busy taking his guns back I think from Malard Wood as the stunt was going very successfully and swiftly. I did nothing with regard to interrogating the prisoners, and so had yarns with them outside. They all seemed very tame, and all were glad that they were finished with the war. The last of them soon arrived so I had to take their papers and guide them back to Headquarters. As Bill Boyd also went out with us and wanted a wallet to take to Blighty with him I fished one out of the bag in front of the crowd but they did not seem to mind so I took one for myself too.
I got back again to the forward line without any mishap but you may be sure that I lost no time in recrossing the Mad Minute. Just after I got there though he opened up again and gave us another hot hour or so. Three stray Huns had just arrived and two of them were severely wounded by thier own shells. One could not help noticing that after coming through our barrage they did not seem to be troubled by their own stuff, and that is quite bad enough for me.
I then came out again to escort a couple of Hun carrying one that had been wounded. They seemed very decent fellows and certainly were glad to be prisoners. One who was from Hanover reckoned that he was English and would have fought for our King. One had 3 brothers in the American army.
The night after the stunt we were relieved by the Tommies and did not like it either. A sergeant of theirs said as they were going in 'You Orsies havn't half got the wind up Jerry, but as soon as he knows we are here he will push us right back'. Naturally we were in no way surprised when we heard that he had pushed them back, capturing nealy a company and gaining more ground than he had lost to us. And the Tommies were 3 times as strong as we were. I still blame their officers for the greater part though.
We then went to a place near Corbie and got lorries for Vaux en Amiennois. We arrived there about 8 o'clock and got settled in our billets. It seemed a very decent kind of place and we were quite satisfied with it. Of course we were expecting a long stay there.
The next morning though the Battalion went up to the Tankodrome to do a mock stunt with tanks, and to view a demonstration given by the latest type. It was very interesting but it put the wind up us a bit about another stunt likely to come off very soon. As we had been in the line already for so long though, we felt pretty safe. But gutzers again were the order of the day. After being in Vaux for a few days we were again shifted.
It was late in the afternoon when we started and had about 20 kms. to do to get to our old camp near Querrieu. It was a rather long march and done at a great pace. At Querrieu Mr Shearwood took the 'Brains' in and gave us the 'guts' of the thing. On the night of the 7th August then, we moved forward again to Villers Brettonneux, to follow up the attacking troops. Though we had had rather a rough spin during the preceding few months we all, I think, wanted to get in the front part of the show. It was just what the whole Aussie army had been witing for, a stunt with no limited objective. The Heads evidently knew it too for the Aussies were put in the centre and had very near the hardest to do.