Archive for November, 2016

30 July, lieutenant

Posted: November 25, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

I managed to get over to see the 3rd Brigade Friday night. I saw all the boys I know who were left. There are a lot missing though. Gordon Campbell and Blackburn did very fine work I believe. They are alright, so is Colbey and Jim Davidson. They had had an awful doing. I believe we don’t know what Artillery is yet.

Yesterday we packed up and pushed off about 16 kilometres towards the line. Expect to move on again shortly. I saw a German automatic pistol and three or four different badges the other night, also several helmets; they are very fine pieces of work.

My French has progresses pretty well now, I reckon if I could keep going as I was for the past fortnight, I would soon become a fair linguist.

By the way, my second star came to light some little time ago, I am now a full blown lieutenant. I was in an old French village a day or two ago. It had one of the old fashioned market places in it, with stalls etc. in the centre, and over the top, living rooms. It is similar to the one shown in the pictures depicting the execution of Marie Antionette. In the town we are going to the statue of the Virgin Mary on the church steeple has been knocked over at right angles to the spire, by a shell.

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27 July, news from Kinnish

Posted: November 25, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

I have just seen Kinnish, he is straight from the firing line. He has had a hell of a time – I can’t describe it any other way unless I use pure Australian. Casualties are up to the standard of what you would expect. The Australians seem to always take what they want. Kinnie looks very thin and worn, and is as grey as a bandicoot. He had only three days of it too. Some of my best pals have paid the tribute, others have escaped, and others wounded. He tells one very graphic tale. One man, the bombing officer of the 10th took his men out to clear a trench – they started at 2 am., and things were only middling then, but at day break things reached a point which we call b— hell. Our fellows got so worked up that they jumped out of the trenches and charged over the top, bombing all the while. The officer went into a dug-out full of Germans – bayoneted about six, knocked another on the head with a knobkerry and killed him; another rushed him with a trench dagger, he pushed his head back, wrenched the knife out of his hand, and cut the German’s throat from ear to ear. The blood spurted right into his face and mouth and all down his clothes. He was carried out of the trench a raving lunatic, and is recommended for a V.C.

21 July, poppies are as thick as the grass…

Posted: November 25, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Lately we have been putting in most of our time at route marching. We are still in the same place doing nothing. The weather is just beautiful. It is a treat to go out in the day. Everywhere there are wild flowers of all colours. Red and blue predominate. Poppies are as thick as the grass almost. The chief flowers are poppies, cornflowers, daisies and buttercups. The place reminds me very much of One Tree Hill in spring.

My French is improving very much. I have a very nice little girl here who tells me all the village scandal with the aid of a dictionary and phrase book between us we get on fine. It is most amusing, I get half way through a sentence and then have to bolt for my book. However, I can do more than ask for a drink now. I get the whole family round me and gabble and wave my arms and they do likewise, and we generally get a vague idea of what is meant. We are all managing to knock a lot of fun out of life, and are leading quite the simple life.

16 July, beautiful country

Posted: November 25, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

Still going strong. We have covered miles and miles of country since my last few words. On the 13th we marched about six miles to a town, climbed aboard a train, and climbed out again first thing in the morning of the 14th, marched about eight miles, and have at last come to rest for a time. The country is very beautiful – full of woods etc. We are considerably south of where we were, right behind the “push”. I am billeted in a fine place, everything spotlessly clean, and very nice. Today we went for a short route march. It was very pretty everywhere. You can picture the scene I expect – rolling country, babbling streams, roads like white ribbons, villages nestling in odd corners; woods dotted about, yellow corn, red poppies, and blue cornflowers, white daisies etc. etc. We are staying at Monsieur le Cures house. His aunt looks after him, and is a fine old girl. Le Cure has a fine collection of books, and is, I should say, very broadminded judging by his books.

One is struck forcibly by the great number of crucifixes there are about. They are everywhere. Every room has two or three, and in the streets there are crosses and shrines and all sorts of religious ornaments.

The beds in all these places are very fine. They seem to go in for the big old fashioned type, wire mattresses are unknown. They build them up very high by piling one mattress on another. They are very soft as well. The great trouble is that they are too soft to rest in. However, we do our best! You ought to be getting casualty lists again now. We (the Coy.) have had very few men hit. Only enough to say we have had casualties.

Well I must be off to tea. Received parcel of tobacco yesterday, but no letters to hand yet. Plenty of Papers, also photo of Mollie taken on some “Robbery Day” at Gawler Place, not bad!

Lance.

13 July, moving around

Posted: November 25, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

We have been having a lot of moves lately, so I have not had a chance to write to you. On the 10th we were relieved and marched back about ten miles to a pretty fair sized town. We got there about 5 am. It was a treat to get into a decent sized place again.

There is a fine church there. The inhabitants gave the Germans 7,500 francs not to shell it when they were there. It is a lovely church. Inside all the woodwork is carved. There is a wooden model of a man in a coat of mail standing over a dragon.

Another thing I noticed was a cart with a couple of dogs harnessed to it. They are pulling it all round the place with a man sitting in the cart driving them. They looked dead comical, and pulled quite willingly. Another stunt they have is to harness a dog under a hand cart and let him push it along. The owner just guides it about.

Yesterday we marched back to the original billet that we were in – it was about another ten miles. Tonight we move off somewhere else. I saw Jack Clarke in the other place. Managed to keep up our best traditions.

General headquarters, France

Posted: November 25, 2016 by saraherhodes in 1916

We are still carrying on with alternate wet and fine days. Our family has been increased by a little kitten – a tabby with a lot of white. I have two nests of young mice in my dug-out as well. One crawled out and tasted my arm yesterday. So far they are quite harmless, and rather amusing. One of the parents chewed up all my papers to make a nest a few days ago.

I had another look through the firing line preparatory to taking over, about three days ago. My word the padres are all doing fine work here. They kick about the trenches and blow in at any old time, and have a yarn with the men and officers. I am quite pals with all our padres in the brigade, practically all denominations – C of E.M. and R.C.

The R.C. is delightfully “Oirish”. Having this post has made me come in contact with them rather much. They hop in and generally borrow some of my papers and then get. There is one who is very interested in war tactics. He goes up and watches our trench mortars work, and he knows that they will be shelled for a cert. You always find him in the line when there is a bombardment. One Padre is about 60 I should say – far too old, but my word the boys love him. He is the Revd. Walden of Sydney. And one thing about it – it broadens their minds none of the Wowseristic principles at all.

I have been deepening all my trenches here. The previous occupants had let the place go to pieces. In some places there is two feet of mud – on top of a brick floor too.

Sunday

The only thing of interest is another kitten. The white one had a mouse this morning, and was having great fun with it. We will be pushing off from here before long. May get mixed up in this advance. I am beginning to feel very old. I find now-a-days I have to work out on my fingers to find out how old I really am.

It is a lovely evening – birds whistling, and a dead calm over everything. Otherwise things are very boring. I got a new revolver today Webley Mark VI 1916 pattern. It is like a small trench mortar.