Rise 4-30. Out to dig 8-30. See several German aeros. We have a field gun sunk to fire, but no success. Lots of our aeros. And French about. Something going to happen. About 12 we get order to return to village, and hear we move at night. Lucky that parcels arrive in time, to put in kits, etc. Miss Snowden’s shirts etc. distributed.
Dinner 5-30. March off about 8. During night pass many lorries, full of French soldiers moving N.W.
[Line of march 5 Oct Septmonts to Saint Remy Blanzy c 9 miles]
Arrive at St Remy [St Rémy-Blanzy] about 1-30 a.m., and are told to move into some woods nearby, so as to be hidden all day. Lie down about 2-15. Sleep a fair amount, but rather cold. Drizzle of rain. Belt breaks. First rain since we left last wood, over 14 days ago, but hope not much. We have no idea what we are going to do, but imagine we are to be thrown in somewhere. Germans have a new nasty surprise. Aeros. carry sheafs of thin steel arrows, which spread to a large cone as they drop and pierce anything below like butter.
Take over command of ‘C’ Company. Visit Money. Move out of wood 7 p.m. Flat country, and then very wooded, pretty full moon. Telegraph posts, and crosses a feature. Telegraph posts are made of reinforced concrete.
Arrived at Vez, via Corcy and Villers Cotterêts about 4-30 a.m. Difficult wood to get into. Men very dirty. Get greatcoat; sleep a bit, but wake very cold, eat an apple. Pay a visit to chateau, in whose grounds we are, and have some tea, bread and jam with French engineer officers. Wash and shave. Proprietor is anxious about his trees.
Strength of my Company.
Present 261 + 16 277
Det. [detached] 1 + 1 2
Hospital, etc 25 25
Missing 3 3
Visit old castle nearby. I say old, but very much restored. Dates from 14th Century, and evident that proprietor, by name Dru, made it his hobby to restore it to exactly what it was, using old material as far as possible. Beautiful view.
Get orders to move off by 6 p.m. Get mail at last moment. Small packet from mother. Glad I said small, as otherwise it would have been difficult to carry. Letter from H. saying registered parcel coming – registered evidently slower. Guns going all over march. Arrive about 11-15 p.m. at Béthisy St Pierre. My bit of wood is rather exposed.
[Line of march 6 – 7 Oct Saint Remy Blanzy to Bethisy St Pierre c 25 miles]
Try to sleep, but after about 1½ hours wake up shivering, and stiff with rheumatism. Walk about, but find it very hard to get warm. Becher [Lieut Henry Owen Dabridgecourt Becher, Platoon Commander C Company, b 15 Aug 1889 – Killed in Action 15 Mar 1915] and Rooke [Lieut Charles Douglas Willoughby Rooke, Platoon Commander C Company] come up presently, same cause. We look about for wood, which is very scarce, and start a small fire. Eat some bully, and boil up some Oxo squares in the tin – quite nice. Sleep a little, with feet to fire, and better sheltered place. Shave, etc. Mail issued, and presents from Mrs Girdwood.
Move off about 2 p.m. First day march for over three weeks. Move to Pont Sainte Maxence, pass several interesting old houses. Bridge very completely blown down, but replaced by strong barge bridge. Told we would entrain, but orders altered several times. Bed down with Lee, and have a fair night round fire, but cold towards morning.
Rather rush leaving. Depart 7 a.m. Arrive Estrèes Saint Denis at 11-15 a.m. Have diners ?????, 5 officers, find that they are verminous, probably the result of the blanket carts. Much washing and hunting. One man found drunk. Leave about 5-30 p.m. 40 men in cattle trucks, 8 officers in a carriage. This is nice and warm, and we look on this as a night of luxury. My company is on duty, in case enemy is met have to keep on equipment. Pass Mondidier.
[Line of march 8 Oct Pont St Maxence to Estrees Saint Denis c 9 miles]