Diaries; 17th – 22nd October, 1914.

Saturday 17th October: Boulogne/ Calais/ Saint-Omer/ Hondeghem

Awakened by the train halting at Boulogne, we were halted an hour here, as there had been a railway smash in front of us and then we were off again, the people of Boulogne giving us refreshments before we left. We next halted at Calais for 2 hours, we had a wash and some more refreshments and as we moved off the people shouted Vive L’Angleterre. The same shout that had greeted us when we first landed in France. This is like coming back to civilization after being in the wilderness for 2 months.

After a few more hours we dis-entrained at Saint-Omer at 3pm then we marched off at 4. Marching on till we came to a village called Hondeghem. We billeted here for the night in a school. Schools seem to be our favourite billets.

Sunday 18th October: Hondeghem

We stayed here all day awaiting orders ready to move off at a moment’s notice. We can hear the sound of the guns in the distance; we are only about 7 miles off the Belgium Frontier.

Monday 19th October: Hondeghem

We are still here having a day or two’s rest after our long journey in the train. I received a letter today from my wife this being the quickest letter I have yet received. It is dated the 12th having taken only 7 days to come.

Tuesday 20th October: Hondeghem/ Poperinghe

We marched off from here about 5am and advanced about 12 miles. We are now in Belgium for the second time. We halted in the town of Poperinghe and are billeted here for the night in a big Chateau. All the 1st Division are in or about the town.

Wednesday 21st October: Poperinghe/ Langemarche

We marched off from here at 2am after being hurriedly awakened and marched on all the remainder of the night till 9am when we ran right into the Germans. Our Brigade was the advance guard and there were only 2 regiments in front of us but they were not long in getting into skirmishing order. This village is called Langmarche. It was a great sight to see our Artillery gallop into action and shell bursting all around.

We took up an advance dressing station in a windmill and also used a farm about 200 yards further back, the wounded were not long in rolling in. We had to go out and bring in some stretcher cases, the rifles and guns were going like hell now and shells and bullets were whistling over our heads. It is just like the battle of the Aisne all over again.

We were out all night bringing in the wounded and houses are burning everywhere, the whole countryside being lit up with the fires. We all had some narrow escapes today.

Thursday 22nd October: Langemarche

We are still in Langemarche both sides are holding on to their positions after 40 winks we were carrying wounded again, bringing them in and getting them away in wagons. We are getting colder weather now but plenty of shells to keep us warm.

We are now using the farm here as a hospital, the farmer and his wife have cleared off.

There are about 100 pigs in this farm and some of the men are feeding them in their spare time as the poor beasts are starving.

We were out nearly all night again bringing in the wounded. Some we had to carry nearly 4 miles through and past burning buildings with the Germans sniping at us all the time. We got finished about 3am and went off to sleep after all the wounded had been brought in.

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