WAR DIARY OF 2/Lt. Alfred Benjamin STREET
48 SIEGE BATTERY RGA
1st May Monday. Lovely weather except for a Heavy thunderstorm in the late afternoon. Travelling all day, slept very well at night. Hot tea and rum was provided three times a day at prearranged places. Passed through Lyon in the early m’ning.
2nd May Tuesday. Travelling all night slept well, woken by Ry. officials at Paris for instructions, had breakfast about 8.0 and arrived at Longueau 11.15 a.m. Hill and a Lieut. White of the A.S.C. came along soon with lorries, started unloading Amm. but had to wait till 3.30 to use the Ramps until the French had finished off loading a train. At 5.0 went off to La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) with Lt. White to fetch coupling pins from lorries then found the day before that they had been taken out of lorries at gun position the day before, had to hunt round for spare pins off various caterpillars and arrived back at Longueau 6.50. Coupled up and got away at 7.30. Were stopped twice on the road by Coupling pins between Caterpillars and gun working out, once by Belt breaking and once to tighten up new belt. Also ½ hr. delay by Aeroplane scare.
3rd May. Wed. Parked at La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) by side of road at 3.30 a.m. Just daylight. Got the Caterpillars parked and men dismissed at 4.0. Put my Valise down in White’s hut after having some grub and got to bed at 5.0 a.m. Got up at noon, saw the Major who had come over and left La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) with three lorries full of stores at 4.0 p.m. for gun position, arrived there at 5.0 dropped stores, saw White and Lane who were digging with the Battery and then proceeded to Dernacourt to our Billets. I got fixed up with an Infantry Officer quite comfortably. Found Harvey in bed with a bad knee and Hart was on the sick list also, Melville and the Major quite fit. The A.S.C. had been removed to the Siege Park at La Houssoye (Lahoussoye). Got a huge pile of letters.
4th May Thursday. Lovely fine day. Orderly Officer in Billets all day. Battery went out to dig 2.0 p.m. till 8.0 p.m.
5th May Friday. Fine but dull. Batty digging dug outs 8.30 to 6.0 p.m. With signallers in Dernacourt all the m’ning. Hill came over. After lunch went out to dug outs. The roof of a splinter proof fell in owing to the rafters giving way. Got it roofed again by 6.0 p.m.
6th May Saturday. Fine but mostly cloudy a little rain in the m’ning. Had good day’s digging at the Dugouts, covered another splinter proof and finished excavating one Dug Out. Went with Church, the Col’s Ord. Off. to 83’s position to see an phone exchange.
7th May Sunday. Dull day heavy shower in afternoon. Working at Dug Outs and cartridge recesses all day 8.30 – 6.0 p.m. Hindered by lack of timber. Signallers digging cable trench between Dug Outs and batty.
8th May Monday. Cold day very showery. Ord. Off. With Signallers all the m’ning. Batty came in from digging after dinner. Hack 2nd Lt. KOYLI with whom I shared a billet moved out in the evening.
9th May Tuesday. Dull & rainy. Drawing Stores from R.E. m’ning and afternoon in Albert.
10th May Wed. Dull early but turned out bright and sunny day, chilly wind. Out digging Dugouts 8.30-6.0p.m. Harvey got up in the evening.
11th May Thursday. Dull all day but cleared up in the evening. Out digging from 8.30-6.0p.m.
12th May Friday. Fine warm day, fairly sunny. Ord. Off. and had a slack day. Got through a lot of letters. Capt. Hart went on leave.
13th May Sat. Very wet day. Drew Stores in the m’ning. Lt. Half went to Baths in Albert. Went on motor bike up round Sand Pit in afternoon. White left for course.
14th May Sunday. Fine day but dull, rain in the late evening. Went with Corp. Sandwell to the O.P. in Trench 15 above Sand Pit. Wasted a lot of time through lack of Directions. Went to reconnoitre possibilities of Visual Signalling between O.P. and battery: returned to billets at 1.30. At 2.30 went with Major & Corp. Sandwell in car to gun position and at 4.30 went on to O.P. site in Kinfauns Ar taking Kipling as mining expert. Returned to Billets at 6.30.
15th May Monday. Very wet until11. a.m. In billets all day. Drew Cash and paid Batty in afternoon. Harvey with 4 Sigs went out to man O.P. for 26 S Btty. From 9.0 a.m.
16th May Tuesday. Lovely fine sunny day. Went with Corp. Sandwell and 3 other signallers to O.P. above Sand Pit and got into communication with party near Dug Outs. Returned to billets at 1.40. Sent Corp. Sandwell up to O.P. with Lamp to Stand towards Batty between 8.0 and 9.0 p.m. I went with 3 others to pick up the light at Batty end, very successful. Batty did not parade during the day but at 8.0 p.m. – 2.0 a.m. Met Twinch in the m’ning up by O.P., he is in 25th S. now, he also gave me news of Yale in 46 and told me where he was at Beaussart N of our position.
17th May Wed. Lovely sunny day. In Billets all m’ning. Went with Corp. Sandwell to locate a position for Visual Signalling from O.P. near Osha Redout to battery: not very successful as position was rather far from O.P. started at 2.0p.m. ret 5.45. Btty digging by night. Wore Steel Helmet for first time,
18th May Thursday. Weather same. Paraded at 7.30 with Party of 3 Sigs and one O.R. for O.P. Had a long and very hot march there arr 9.30. The O.P. belongs to 26th S. LX, Arthur Lemmit’s old btty, but has been appropriated by 7 H.A.G. Mair came up in the morning, Riley their new Sub. in afternoon and Capt. Duke in the evening. Fairly quiet day, some Hun shelling afternoon and at dusk, quiet night, lay down from 10.30-2.30. am.
19th . Was relieved very punctually by 60th S at 9.0 and marched back to Billets. After lunch went out with the Major to our position for an O.P. near Trois Meules. Lay down after tea until the Major woke me up to go out to Btty position and lay out the Line of Fire for each gun. He took 2 hrs over it and then his result was of little use as Lane had to do it again next day when laying down the beams. Lane and two gun Detachments went to live in the Battery Dug Outs.
20th May Saturday. Weather same. With signallers for half the m’ning and then biked out to the Btty position and in again for lunch. Rested in the afternoon. Paraded with Signallers at 8.0 p.m. went and dug cable trench to dugouts, returned at 12.0 m’dn’ght.
21st May Sunday. Weather same. Paraded at 8.0 a.m. Went out to the Btty position, met Church out there and discussed various points re Signalling, returned to lunch. Corp. Collins to Hosp. with measles and 22 of the Batty isolated. Rested in the afternoon. Paraded 8-12 m’dn’ght. Signallers digging cable trench and remainder working on Gun pits. Capt Hart ret from leave.
22nd May Monday. Fine sunny day, shower in the evening. Btty paraded 4 p.m.- 12.0. In afternoon attended to message re moving out of our Mess billet. After dinner went on bike to La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) to accompany No 1 & 2 guns to position near gun position, left La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) at 8.0 p.m. arr soon after 12.0 and got guns parked by 1.0 a.m.
23rd May Tuesday. Dullish day, fine. In the m’ning fatigue party pitched a Tarpaulin as a mess tent for when we move out of our Mess Billet. Left Dernacourt for La Houssoye (Lahoussoye) at 7.0 p.m., inner tube of back tyre burst at 7.20, got going again at 8.0 p.m. and met Caterpillars with Nos. 3 & 4 guns just outside La Houssoye (Lahoussoye). They arrived near the gun position at 11.30 and were parked by 12.30. Btty paraded at 8.0 p.m. to put in Nos. 1 & 2 guns, they went in fairly well but the pins on the aft part of the cradle were the cause of delay as usual owing to their getting bent in transit. Got finished finally at 3.0 a.m. and returned to Billets.
24th May Wed. Fine m’ning but dull, started to rain at midday. At 11.30 I biked into Albert to Home Counties R.E. to see about getting some boxes made for using Elec. Sig. Lamps by day. Rained all the afternoon. Capt. Langford came over at tea time and left afterwards. The Major put off putting the other two guns in owing to the wet weather making the ground so bad. It stopped raining about 7.30. Harvey acting Adj for 7th H.A.G. while Anderson is on leave.
25th May Thursday. Fine but dull. Paraded 8.0 a.m. -12.0. Proceeded with getting the gun pits of Nos. 3 & 4 ready for putting the guns in. Paraded at 7.30 to put No 3 & 4 guns in. It started to rain at 8.0 and continued pretty well all night. Got No 4 gun in successfully by 1.0 a.m. but No. 3 could not finish getting the Howitzer in owing to the slope up to the pit and the state of the ground. Had a hard job shifting the wheels away, the ground being very heavy and few men available. Returned to billets at 4.0 a.m.
26th May Friday. Fine day fairly sunny cool evening. Btty paraded at 4.0 p.m. and Melville took them out to Btty position to finish putting in No. 3 gun.
27th May Sat. Fine hot day. Btty paraded at 8.0 a.m. and I took them out to Btty position to work till 12.0 and again 8. p.m. to midnight. White returned from Officers’ Course. The Staff Capt asked me whether I should care for the job of Ord. Off. to the General IIIrd Corps H.A. and whether I would care for him to apply for me, I replied I should.
28th May Sunday. Dull early. Warm and sunny later. Melville went away on leave at 8.0 a.m. owing to his Father being very ill. Leave for the men started. In billets all day. Did some extracting of notes for the Major. Btty working 8.0 a.m. -12 and 8.0 p.m. – 12.
29th May Monday. Fine warm sunny day, clouded over in the evening and rained after 9.30 p.m. Reported to the Staff Capt. In the morning. Saw Gen. Perkins who told me have me as Ord: Off; temporarily if my Major agreed. Member of a Court Martial at 10.0 a.m. Saw the Major at lunch who agreed to my going to the General, reported to him at 2.0 p.m. and started work straight away.
30th May Tuesday. Dull morning cleared up in the afternoon. In the office all day. Went for a walk with Capt. Young before dinner.
31st May Wed. Fine sunny day. The General had Col. Hamilton, Capt. Hardy (D) & Capt. Bagnall to dinner, very pleasant evening.