After quite good night, leave bivouac about 6-30 a.m. to relieve Middlesex, who are holding posts on hill in front. As we come up, come under shell fire. Move into positions held by Middlesex, there is a good deal of shelling, but not much near us. Ferry [2 Lieut Ernest Leslie Ferry] wounded. The battle opens out, and guns are going all along the line. About 11-30 the Germans begin to leave, it is interesting to watch their movements. Our guns shell village, which seems to hold hostile battery, but it does not seem to mind. This place is thick with wasps. I have rather troublesome indigestion. The retreating Germans are shelled on all sides. A wooded hill on my N front still seems to hold out. It is dreadfully hot sitting in sun. Good deal of rifle and machine gun fire round wooded hill. I hear Ferry has been hit in arm. As sun goes down, shelling still continues. We remain in position as outposts. I have eaten and drunk nothing all day, and feel better for it. Very uncomfortable night, as if I put head near straw, cough badly.
10 SeptFeeling weak, but better. We are to retire from firing line to support. Eat a little breakfast, and feel fairly well. It has been raining mildly since about 3-30 a.m., when we stood to arms. Lee has shaved, but I shall not. It is now over three days since I had any clothes off. Move to reserve, have a little breakfast.
Rest two hours, move off at 8-30 a.m. March after Germans. Pass through La Ferté Sous Jouasse, and over pontoon, see broken bridge, which had been shelled a good deal by us. Did not show much damage, but holes here and there, and chimneys off, many windows out. Over the rolling wooded country, and squalid village tract, people glad to see us. Traces of Germans now. Dozens and hundreds of bottles all along the road. Germans are moving very quickly.
Day improving. Feeling very weak, but ride a lot. All kind of debris, hundreds of petrol tins, broken bicycles, even broken motor cars and carriages, German papers, etc. See great many of our aeroplanes at close quarters. Lots of high smelling dead horses. Glad to see that peasants are burning and burying some. Pass lots of live shell, also fine insulated telephone wire. Am able to eat a little lunch, find march very tiring. About 6 p.m. arrive near Coulants, where we bivouac, and have bully beef stewed. Ambulance fired at.
[Line of march 10 Sep Signy Signets to Coulants c 10 miles]
A nasty cold night, unable to sleep much, owing to very cold wind. March off 7 a.m. Pass a few German prisoners. Good news all round now. A few pessimists still about. Raining and cold. Shell marks on road. Send off post-card to Hetty. 12-11 Army said to have taken 1,000 prisoners, much transport and machine guns. We hang about a great deal on the march, and only do about 11 miles. During the afternoon it pours with rain, and all are wet through. We go into billets after much waiting about in Maritz – St Genvieve. The woman of the farm is most disagreeable, believe her to have some connection with Germans, as they have lots of cattle and horses. All the women seem disagreeable, not so the men. I fancy some of the British have behaved badly. It is to be expected coming from a low class. We hear some nasty tales, unfit for publication, of treatment of inhabitants in some places. In others the Germans are most orderly. Most of the officers sleep in one room. We can dry our clothes to a great extent, but not our boots or puttees Buy a duster as handkerchief. Hear of many prisoners taken. Get about 5 hours sleep, best for long time. A mail comes in, which should have come long ago. The men are better since they have been shelled.
One grows to hate the soldiery, they are utterly improvident, filthy and much like beasts. They were billeted among the beasts last night. There are unrecognised heroes amongst them, men who are always cheerful and bright, but others are a constant source of irritation, and behave more like monkeys, if you take your eyes off them for one minute. I am so glad Hetty got my boots done so well, I don’t know what I should have done without them.
[Line of march 11 Sep Coulants to Marizy St Genevieve c 16 miles]