Start about 6 a.m. and move out a mile, then wait. The war is largely waiting about. The roads are very muddy now. This should be bad for those we pursue. Money got a lot of German dubbin, which will be very useful. We are in for much rain now. It is very nice getting mail, one cannot say how much so. I took off my boots the first time for four days last night, but it was nasty getting them on, and till I warmed up. I am now “bearded like a pard”. The mounted officers who can carry more look cleaner. The contracts for food seem to have been well distributed, especially in biscuits and jam. They are good. All the tinned meat is ‘Frey Bentos’ at present.
Guns going again. We should have a scrap today, as we must be getting near another river. With all their dead horses, this rain will be bad for the Germans. Wonder when I shall get a chance of sending off a letter. Does not seem to be any. We wait about till 12, then march hard. See a big battle going on on our left. Good deal of rain closing in. Steady rain, and high wind, as dark coming on. Got in to Busancy about 6-50 p.m. and go into very bad close billets, officers in hay shed. Got some nice plums.
Country has been cleared out by enemy. No food obtainable, sheep, etc. killed.
[Line of march 12 Sep Marizy St Genevieve to Buzancy c 16 miles]
Fair night, but wake with cold about 3 a.m. Rise at 5 a.m., for small breakfast. Standing by. Send off P.C. [postcard] and letter. Guns going hard. Quite a nice morning standing by, manage to get a complete wash, first for four days, also a shave. Go to church, which last about 20 minutes. Then go to have a meal, but just begun, when we receive orders to move at once. Was hoping to see our kits, and get some underclothes, men to get boots. Put some German dubbin on boots. I form part of A.G. [advance guard], and head brigade with CO’s map about 5 miles to place where we are to bivouac. Just above Carrière L’Eveque. Weather nicer just now, but wind cold. Germans are shelling front crest of this ridge with high explosives. Went out with Lee to post observation group. Many spiders. Our planes complain that they are often shot at by our men. ? look untidy ? behave badly. Cannonade goes on well into night. See aeros dropping petrol bombs.
[Line of march 13 Sep Buzancy to Carriere L’Eveque c 5 miles]
Sleep in a German trench, quite warm. Visit posts about 12-15. Call in post, and move off. Rain begins one of the most miserable dawns I have ever known. Feel like others depressed, suffer much from cold. Sit several hours in a ditch. Our troops meet with check apparently. Day clearing a bit. Rain stops. Biscuits and jam. Bacon at 1-30, and slice of bread. Feel better. We now come under high explosive fire, one shell pretty close. You can hear them coming some time ahead. Rest in wood, we are in reserve. Lee lends me his woolly and I feel much better. In the evening we all feel much better, and spirits go up. Eat stew at 7, bully and potatoes. I eat enormously. My throat is sore, Another miserable night, rains heavily, cold wind.
[Line of march 14 Sep move forward c 4 miles]
Arrive at 12-30 a.m., and cross Aisne at Venizel, move into wood, which we are to hold if 4th Division has to fall back. Very depressed, hear things are not going so well. Very cold, very damp, cold feet etc. Have to remain very quiet in wood. Fearful battle going on, infantry and artillery. Some shrapnel burst in our wood, also high explosives, but do no harm, frightfully noisy. See our guns retiring. Don’t like our position, as duty not clear. Rest a good deal, but very damp. Battle lulls a bit. Hear things going better. Germans shell part of our wood. Understand situation thus. French pressing up on both flanks, we hold centre. Germans’ five corps, one crippled. Many French coming up, but not for two days. Our 6th Division up in three days. More rain, very horrid. Good quantity of rations.
Much rain, soaked, a night of absolute misery. Men digging trenches, stand about all night, superintending, men work in reliefs. Withdraw at dawn, CO says trenches are very good, I think so too.
We are now prepared to put up a good fight, if division had to retire.
There was a sharp affair shortly after dark on our left. It was a regular firework display, with shells bursting, machine guns, etc. Another later on our right, star shell fired. I fancy Germans have searchlights.
[Line of march 15 Sep to Venizel c 4 miles]