About 1 a.m., I lie down for an hour, when I am aroused by a loud explosion. Probably one of the bridges going. I decide to attach myself to A & S H whom I assisted to billet night before. Orders come to move about 5 a.m. Get some hot coffee from shop, and biscuits. All mixed up with transport, the brigade is doing rear-guard. Move off as last, and after passing Carlepont came up with Cameronians. March some distance, and then have a meal, the tea seems excellent. It has been made in a canteen which is dirty with past meals, a scum of grease on the top, and there is no milk, but we find it finer than any tea we have ever drunk.
The chief feature of the day is the excessive heat, which is rather distressing. We have a long halt, and hear firing. The country changes from wooded and flat to rolling downs, with few villages and large farms, then hilly and wooded. About 6 p.m. we get to Attichy, near which place we get a clean field, unlike the filthy spot we had for our rest day.
We hear good news, and receive the complimentary orders of the French, the Govt., and the Fleet. Tea with condensed milk. Get quite good meal of stewed vegetables, bully beef, stewed apples, and bread and cheese.
[Line of march 30 Aug Pointoise-Les Noyon to Attichy c 13 miles] ]
Rise at 4 a.m. After six hours’ sleep, the best rest for some time, as only disturbed once during night. Breakfast of tea, bread and jam. Fall in about 5-45, and stand by till 7-30. I have a sore toe pad on each foot, and feel rather slack. This is reaction. The 5th Division, to which we have been attached, are going to have some time to refit, so we are going to be attached to the 4th Division under General Snow. We belong to 2nd Army under General Smith-Dorrien. We march the whole day through the Forest of Compiègne. The heat is very great and breathless. No water can be obtained to drink, though the whole place is moist. About 6 p.m., very tired, we reach St Ouen, and after dark I hear we are to take up outposts. No water, little food. This is trying, very trying. It soon gets cold. There is a good deal of firing. We are in reserve. Four of us huddle together to keep warm. It is very wet with dew. A miserable night, with hardly any sleep. Too cold.
[Line of march 31 Aug Attichy to St Sauveur c 19 miles]
We retire into village St Sauveur (near Verberie) in a turning, about 4 a.m., and then wait there. We hear violent firing about 8 a.m., and then move out. There do not seem to be any orders, but an R.A. [Royal Artillery] officer asks CO to assist him. We go up a steep hill, and extend for action, but nothing happens. Expect attack every moment.
Apparently there has been a cavalry raid at Nèry. They got their guns up unobserved and fired on the L. Battery. They have been cut to pieces. We manage to get back a bit, capture several guns, and capture prisoners. Enemy clear right off, and after a long wait we retire through Tronerilles, Rully, and Fresnoy, where I find we are again for outposts. On the way we pass the place where the deed was done. It is a little corner of hell. They are shooting the wounded horses. The men have been removed. The road is covered with blood trails
I have felt rather exhausted today. Lee shares his horse with all in the company, which is generous of him. I rode a couple of miles.
During the evening, while we take up a good outpost position, there is the sound of heavy firing. We see the flashes of the guns. A village about 4 miles off is set on fire. An aeroplane occasionally passes overhead. What is it? We get an issue of rations, bread, biscuits, bully beef, tea, sugar, and bacon. Fires not allowed. The only water we can get smells very nasty. The men take their sugar and tea in their caps. It gets very cold indeed. A little firing during the night, probably someone jumpy. I get about 30 minutes sleep, too cold for more. Village light sky all night (Firing was by A Coy. at Ulans).
[Line of march 1 Sep St Sauveur – Fresnoy-Le-Laut c 10 miles]