After we had gone about a hundred yards or so we came to the cocoa stall at 'Higgary Corner' and had a drink before going up. It was the closest stall that I had then seen to the line, and it was in a most uncomfortable position for big 'toute suite gazumps' were falling thick and heavy. Johnny Laing took us by a very peculiar route, right across the skyline in full view of the Hun. He soon saw us too, and let us know it. At first he used only 4-2" stuff, firing it at random all around the land we were traversing. It was most uncomfortable and when I got just about buried by one I certainly thought it time to go down into the gully, where there was certainly a little shelter. And when Johnny got several small pieces in the rear portion of his anatomy he too thought the same.
We made a wild rush to get there just in time to get in the way of a big flame shell, the first of it's kind that we had seen. Naturally it was a bit if surprise packet and put the wind up us completely. After that he opened up on the batteries with which the ravine was crowded, and had us doing all kinds of queer physical exercises, but eventually it got so hot that The 'boss' shouted to run which we were only too willing to do.
As we had no idea of the direction though, it was a bit of a mix up. I followed the sergeant and got in at the 'toot'. And just in time too, as Fritz then opened up on the batteries in earnest and continued throughout the afternoon, with 8" and 5-9"s. However we were in a good sunken road and felt pretty right. Most of my pals were still O.K though looking much the worse for wear, as they had had a very rough spin for the previous 8 days. Tom Lucas though, had been hit very badly but was supposed to be alright then. During the heavy shelling which the Hun kept up, all of the afternoon the Colonel was badly wounded. Duncan, called Simon David, was wounded by the same shell and on being carried past us sang out that the 'old boy' was knocked, and he's walking behind me'.
Fritz continued the bombardment till late in the afternoon and got more than one gun too. Just about dark, we began to prepare to move off up to the line, and the Tommies who were on our right flank were starting to come out. A thick crowd of them were lined up on the bank waiting for the 'orficer' to tell them to step down into the shelter of the bank, when we heard some peculiar kind of shell coming along, and all ducked. There was a thud as a kind of dud hit the ground amongst the crowd, and up went a very bright starshell, a thing that was new to all of us. The case came whirling along the ground and cut a Tommie's two feet off as clean as a whistle. Three more followed that one and then peace and quietness reigned.
As soon as it was dark we started off for the line and a rotten trip it was too. It was my first time in as a signaller and there was a good load to be carried. However we got there alright and I went down a deep dugout for the first time. It was a very poor example of it's kind though, and it was absolutely the windiest home that I had ever been in. On top was a huge crater made by the continuous shelling from both sides. Inside it was propped up by all kinds of rough timbers and was indeed very shaky
I spent a good deal of time outside on that account, and got a good deal of amusement from sniping at Fritzies who were very much in evidence. There was an open patch in full view from us, where they used to pass very frequently with stretchers and any number of Red Cross flags. When we had got a good pair of glasses and made sure that they were carrying ammunition, we had no compunction in making it very hot for them.
On the first night in, the Jocks on our flank hopped over to take a cross roads, and the flare display given by the Hun was absolutely the best fireworks display that I have ever seen. We had plenty to keep our minds occupied while in, and wanted it too for it was a rotten 'possie'. The trench was very nearly obliterated, and we casualties every time he did any shelling. Who did the most shelling it is very hard to say, but both sides seemed to be always busy with their artillery.
One day during a heavy bombardment by Fritz Mr Waite and I passed a very good hour or so in studying the mechanism of Hun rifles and various kinds of bombs. Though it seems rather a prevarication, we quite forgot that there was a bombardment on.
There was also the day when we had a 24 hours battle over a souvenir. In front of one of our bombing posts there was a big crater with several defunct Hun in it. The Adjutant, Quack, our O.C. and Mr Waite were very keen on souveniring them and at last the latter took the risk and hopped over. On looking over the other side he naturally got rather a shock to see that Fritz had a bombing post there, and he soon knew it was occupied too.
He came back at the 'toot' followed by dozens of 'broomstick' bombs. He retaliated with a dozen or so of Millsies. Fritz then gave us some pineapples, which was answered by Captn. Ramsay with several rounds from the Stokes, giving one Hun a fine rise in life. As he went up about fifty feet he saw things from a very lofty aspect. We then got some of his Minnnies, and had a casualty through it, which set the Captain going. After withdrawing the men from the post he got the 18pdrs. onto it and completely obliterated it.
It was then getting dark so Fritz made an attempt to get out post in exchange, but of course came a 'gutzer'. That night we had more fire works. During the night the Tommies sent up the S.O.S. three times, drawing fire on us each time. There was no doubt that the Hun knew who to expect most trouble from. That was the first time that we had struck the conscript Tommy, and it did not make us eager to meet him of his kind again.