After being in for four days we moved out and were very glad to do so. I left with Rutland and Osborne. We started out with two flags each and I had a bag of tucker and another piece of signalling gear. We had just reached 'Windy Corner' when the Hun opened up again with a whizzbang barrage and the three '[of] us were thrown down an old dugout by one that burst on the parapet. As the hole was already occupied by a Hun about a week defunct, we were out almost as quickly, but minus two flags and I was without my ration and 'flapper'.
Round the corner we got mixed up with a working party and a big Tommy ration party. I lost the other two, and had to keep on my own. It had then begun to rain and the ground was very sticky and hard to walk on. I landed into the road at our destination just on daylight and completely fagged out. The others too were minus their flags so that we only had the 'phone. During the afternoon Fritz began shelling again and used the 'grasscutters' for the first time. They were first used by us, but he had evidently thought them a good thing, and also too good a thing to be kept. We stayed there for three days and then moved back to Beaulaincourt.
We stayed for one night at Favreuil, and then went on. We were put into tents at Beaulaincourt and as it was then midsummer had a good time. We were not there for long before the 'two-up kings' got going, and fortunes were changing hands day and night. I do not know if they ever knocked off, for up to the last thing at night there was always a bright ring of candles and slush lamps alight.
On one night when the Hun came over for an air raid on Bapaume attracted by the light he paid us a visit. We heard him coming and the bugler was just about to blow (lights out' when he dropped three small bombs.
Instead of Putting the candles in the tents out (we all rushed outside with them alight) to see what was doing and to find our tin hats. Evidently he had finished his load though for he dropped no more. It was rather exciting while it lasted though. From then on air raids were the usual thing on both sides.
On another day two chaps, old soldiers too, wanted to boil some water and put a 4-2" dud alongside two bricks for a hob. They had just gone out to pick the dixies up when the shell exploded, luckily giving them nothing more than a good fright.
While we stayed here I did no parades but went into Bapaume each day. My visits were to the dentist, and I found a very good strawberry bed, so having the chit I went in every day and had a good feed. The cows must have gone on strike though for cream was unobtainable. I came a 'gutzer' though in the end for decided to go on parades just as they started giving us long route marches. I did a good deal of touring around while there, and got some good sketches of the ruined churches in the different villages. After having a good rest there we moved back again, this time into billets and civilisation, such as it is here.
We reached Bouzincourt on the 16th of June and saw civilians for the first time since January. I was then sent off to a Sig. school at Warloy, and had a very good time there. Plenty of milk, eggs and other delicacies and fruit, particularly cherries. Considering that the claim put in was for over £5 I did very well indeed. I then went back to the Battalion in time for the move further back still. We went to Mailly first to do some training and put up at an old camp there. While there the Colonel came back and I afterwards got into a bit of trouble for letting him see that we had been given ammo. to carry on our march there. On one of the stunts we set our first Sig. office up in a bed of strawberries and needless to say they could not get any communication from us. We had about a week there and then went to Rubempre.
We got a good billet there and our good time continued. The billet was next to the fowlhouse and the old lady wondered why the fowls were not laying. I was still getting 5frcs. a pay and one cannot starve. Hill had just joined us up and he gave me credit for a splendid knowledge of French, much to my benefit afterwards. He always got me to buy his eggs, milk, and such and always insisted on my getting some for myself.
About this time I found myself getting very poor from the effects of the trench fever etc, and very near broke down altogether. So that when Captn. Ramsay again told me that it would be advisable to go to the Base I did not altogether object. He did not suggest it though till he knew that we were to do a big stunt pretty soon and then he packed me off at the 'toot'.
I went first to the Field Ambulance, and from there to the C.C.S. at Edgehill. I only stayed there for a night and went to the 5th Gen Hospital at Rouen. I had a good stay there and found everything very satisfactory. The first time that the nurse spoke to me though I was struck speechless, as she was the first English speaking woman I had heard for over nine months. I got on very well and the old nurse in charge tried very hard to get me to Blighty but I was thickheaded and did not 'compree' even when I saw her altering my temperature chart. However I do not suppose I am any the worse off for it.
I was there for about two months and then went to the Con. Camp for two weeks and managed to get to the Base before my time. I had heard that the Battalion was going to do the stunt and wanted to go back again. Incidentally I began to wonder whether I would ever get any sense as to try to get to the line was almost incomprehensible, and against the very principles of a soldier