Hal portrait

Hal Winters' War

1914 - 1919

Margaret's Blog of Diary No.5

Diary 5 covers the period

21 June 1917 to 2 March 1918

Hal profile


Diary 5 covers the period 21.6.1917 - 2.3.1918

It carries straight on from diary 4.

Page Spread 1     The'Daily Wants' is a miscellaneous collection of information which may be of use to a traveller.

Page Spread 3    'Riquet Henri' (Ricky Henry) is a nom-de-plume used by Hal.

Page Spread 4    21 June (cont.)  Hal was at 'Vein' (unidentified), on a tactical excercise. He was now a Sapper with the 1st Division Signal Company, but still appears to be attached to the 1st Artillery Brigade Headquarters. A 'Burry' may be a dug-out or 'possie' of some kind, or it may refer to burying a telephone cable.

23 June   Into action near Beaumetz, which is West of Doullens (see map 5). Hal was last there in 12-13 May when he was quartered in the cellar of a ruined house with 'a quaint little garden'. This time he refers to a 'ruined chateau', and surrounding garden and orchard.

26 June   'An appreciation'; Of what? Of whom?

28 June   Hal initially thought that 'no harm done' from the electric shock he received from the telephone line when it was struck by lightning.

29 June   Enid Dowty was the eldest of the Smith sisters in Smethwick near Birmingham.
Having trouble with ears.

30 June   Getting to hospital took a long time via a circuitous route, ending up at C.C.C. (Casualty Clearing Station) near Bapaume.

1 July   Presumably still at the casualty clearing station, but not confined to bed. Opportunity to read.

2 July   'Voice of the City' by O. Henry. Published 1914.

4 July   'Laughing Cavalier' by Baroness Orczy. Set in Holland in 1623. Revolves around Percy Blake, an ancestor of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Published 1913.

7 July   'Prospection'. Book not identified, but title implies a view of the future. Maybe all these books had been sent by Enid Dowty.

9-10 July   Sent to Base Hospital at Le Treport, a small port north of Dieppe.

3rd Battle of Ypres  
Although Hal did not know it, on the very day he was sent to hospital at Le Treport the 1st Division Artillery Brigade was also on the move. Following the large explosion on the Messines Ridge back on 7 June, and taking of Messines, the AIF 2nd Division (originally raised in 1915 from a mixture of veterans from the 1st Division and new recruits) had been fighting to hold the gains, suffering many losses - over 13,000 casualties.

 The focus of the action now shifted to Ypres, about 6.5 miles (10.5k) North of Messines. Ypres was a Belgian town near to the border with France (map 1), and it was a key strategic position. Earlier battles in 1914 and 1915 had devestated the town, but it had remained in Allied hands. However, it was overlooked by German positions along a ridge to the East, which not only made Ypres vulnerable, but which also protected the German supply lines from Allied attack (map 3).

The 1st Division, including the 1st Division Artillery Brigade, now moved further North, to join in the planned offensive to shift the Germans from their positions threatening Ypres. On July 8 and 9 the 1st Division Artillery Brigade began a week-long march northwards, to their new position at Diekebusch, 3 miles S.W. of Ypres. They went into action straight away, and on the very first day (20 July) they suffered their first casualties, including the death of Captain Aspinall, a medical officer attached to the 1st Brigade Headquarters.

Thus began the long-drawn-out battle to clear the Germans from the Ypres Salient, in which the artillery played a key role. It became known as the 3rd Battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele, and lasted until 6 November, when the village of Paschendaele at the northern tip of the crescent-shaped ridge overlooking Ypres was finally taken by the Canadians. It was a victory for the Allies, particularly the Australians, but at a terrible cost. Estimates vary widely, but there were probably at least 250,000 killed or wounded on both sides, with some estimates being much higher. It is estimated Australia suffered about 38,000 casualties, but again estimates vary.

12 July   It was decided that Hal's ear injury, which had originally been categorised as 'slight', was now diagnosed as more serious, and he should be sent back to England for treatment.

14-16 July   To England via Harfleur and Le Havre to Southampton, and then Lewisham in London. He sailed in the 'Essquibo', named after a river in Guyana. It was also the name of the original Dutch colony.

17 July   The hospital in Lewisham was actually in part of the old Lewisham Union (Workhouse). Mrs Lawson visited, and again a couple of days later.

18 July   Probably went to visit old friends in Viewlands Road, Plumstead.

19 July   A septum operation involves the nasal septum, not the ears. However there is a connection between the upper nose and the ears, via the Eustachian Tube, which serves to equalise pressure between the atmosphere and the middle ear. Trouble with the nasal septum, such as a deviated spetum or infection, can cause blockage which in its turn can cause problems like tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or earache from unequal air pressure.

20 July   Golden Square Hospital was a specialist E.N.T. hospital in Soho in central London. It had 30 beds reserved for servicemen. The day Hal went in there for an operation was the day the 1st Division Artillery Brigade went into action on the Ypres Salient.

21 July   I'm unclear from where the bone was taken. Hal's service record includes a copy of a letter from his mother, written on 3 September, to Base Records Office in Melbourne, seeking information about her son being in hospital. Normally she would have been notified, but from the correspondence it looks as though Base Records did not know about it themselves. At their request she sent them an extract from a letter she had received fron Hal giving some details. They were in a letter written on 1st August, from the 3rd General Hospital, Wandsworth, London;

"The Dr. hopes the operation will be a success. It should I am sure, for they were an hour and twenty minutes chipping away at the bone and as the opening was very small they could not get in much cocaine. Being a lady Dr. and nurses you can guess I thought most of my feelings, but my word they were good to me."

The 'lady Dr' was the first female surgeon at the hospital at Golden Square, recruited in 1914 after four male surgeons had joined the armed forces. It was not until early January 1918 that Base Records were able to let his mother know that Hal was 'with his unit', by which time she would have already known this from his later letters.

26 July   Prince St. is in South London, near Elephant and Castle. Possibly went to visit some of the Winters relatives. 'Went home' must mean back to the hospital at Golden Square.The bad nose bleed supports the probability that the operation has been on the nose, rather than on the ear.

28 July   Still at hospital at Golden Square, but 'convalescing' and allowed out. Ciro's Club was in the Haymarket near Trafalgar Square. It was the first London venue to host 'black' jazz and dance bands.

30 July   Golden Square was affiliated to the 3rd London General Military Hospital in Wandsworth, South London. The 3rd had originally been the Royal Victorian Patriotic School, and was much altered and extended when it was turned into a military hospital. A large number of army huts were built in the grounds, and some of them may be the 'camp' to which Hal was sent. By February 1917 it had 1800 beds. After the war it reverted to being a school and orphanage until, more recently, it was restored to its original glory, with a mixture of private apartments, and artist's studios and workshops.

31 July   Claxton not identified.

1 August   Hal's 24th birthday, and another cake from Mrs Ware. He's obviously in touch with many of the friends he made when previously in London.

3 August   Hal first met Miss Pearce along with Elaine Lawson, at the Anzac celebtations in 1916. Miss Rosanove was the violinist he'd met earlier that year when in camp at Salisbury Plains.

5 August   I have still not discovered the surname of the family at 32 Viewlands Rd., Plumstead. Two sons (Alf and Will) were in the armed forces, and I think there must be several sisters, including one possibly called Laura. The Friere family lived at No.36.

7 August   Some of Hal's Winters relatives lived at Clapham in South London. He's still having ear trouble which the septum operation hasn't fixed. It's diagnosed in the records as 'Otitus Media', or inflammation of the middle ear. Mac (Miles McCabe) has 10 days leave in England. His service record does not make it clear, but I suspect he may have been involved in the 2nd Division actions, as they were allowed some rest and recuperation leave after the 1st Division had moved up to the Ypres Salient. He and Hal were able to spend much of Mac's leave together.

8 August   'Canal(?) Control Office'. The word 'canal' looks quite clear, but maybe it should read something like 'Central Control Office" at the Australian Headquarters at Horseferry Rd. in Westminster.

9 August   The news of the losses suffered by the 1st Artillery Brigade reaches him, and makes him want to get back to his mates.

11 August   'Zig-Zag' was a musical revue, on at the Hippodrome in Central London, Visited Birmingham to see the friends he made when he was in hospital there in 1915. I suspect Bertha may be Min's sister.

12 August   'Reservoir' is Edgbaston Reservoir, originally known as Rotton Park Reservoir. 'Smethwick Lane' was to visit the Smith family - 'the girls' were Evelyn (20) Gwen (18) and Madge (16).

14 August   C.C.C. Offices - see 8 August. 'The others' were (or included) the girls from Viewlands Rd, Plumstead. Hal had bought the tickets for the Hippodrome several days ago. 'Warchest' was the War Chest Club, at the AIF Administration Headquarters at Horseferry Rd.

15 August   56 Barset Rd. was the home of his Winters relatives, the Bowman family. 'The girls' were Winifred (19), Alice/Queenie (17) and May (15), and possibly their mother Louisa, who is Hal's cousin. 'New X Empire' is the Empire theatre, at New Cross, a suburb in South London.

17 August   W.S.S. unidentified. I suspect this was an annual treat or picnic for members of the Co-operative Society. The 'Co-op' was and is a profit-sharing Society, with their own brands, local shops and department stores, as well as services such as the Co-op Bank, travel agency and funerals. It has always had strong associations with the Labour Party. Laura and Queenie and Marjory are all mentioned as being present, but I am unable to positively identify any one of them, as all the names occur and overlap between the families at Viewlands Rd, Barset Rd. and the Tardiff family.

18 August   'Smile'. Possibly at a music hall, starringFlorrie Ford, a popular Australian singer and vaudeville entertainer, famous for her sing-a-longs with the audience. One of her best loved songs was;

"Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag
   And smile, smile, smile."

19 August   'Sussy' = ?

20 August   The 'Stewponds' are a series of small ponds for fishing, stocked with a variety of coarse species.

21 August   Presumably stayed with the Warr family at Ewell, and borrowed one of their bikes. Not clear if one of the family accompanied him on his bike rides. 'Box Hill' is a famous beauty spot on the summit of the ridge of the North Downs in Surrey. Much of the area is owned by the National trust. It is well known as the location of the picnic spot in Jane Austen's 'Emma'. There is a steep zig-zag road up and down the hill, used for cycle races, such as some of the 2012 Summer Olympics cycling road race events. 'Headles' probably means Headley Heath, another National Trust area, lying at the base of Box Hill near the small town of Dorking. The writing is unclear.

22 August   'Tonight's the Night'.  Probably a musical revue at the London or Lewisham Hippodrome.

23 August   The diary sent home was probably No.4. His ears are still troubling him. On the 7th August the doctor had ordered 'further treatment', but there is no mention of further treatment being carried out. I think he probably suffered from ear trouble for the rest of his life - I remember that in the early 1950's, when aircraft pressurisation was really primitive, he suffered greatly at take-off and landing on business flights between Melbourne and Sydney.

24 August   Hal had been warned on 18 August that he would be 'going away' on this day, and it meant the freedom of the last few weeks came to an end. It was back to army life at Salisbury Plains. It's not clear where exactly Hal was over the next couple of weeks, but the various locations he mentions are Command Depots, or Training Camps, or nearby villages which he would have been familiar with during his previous time at Salisbury Plains. He caught up with his mates at the Dental Unit, and probably spent time at Command Depot No.1 at Perham Downs, which received convalescents who were likely to be fit enough for return for duty in less than three months.

30 August   As part of the process of proving his fitness to return to france, Hal got his 'Certificate of Dental Fitness'.

31 August - 3 September   Special leave enabled himto spend a few days with his friends in Birmingham - Min and Bertha, and the Smith family in Smethwick, where there was another 'riotous time' with 'the girls'. 'Baby Mine' may have been the comedy film made in 1915. 'Ernie Smith' probably the father or one of the brothers of the Smith girls. Both were called Ernest.

31 August   Leonard Keysor VC won his VC at Gallipoli as a 'Master Bombthrower' (and catcher). Hal had applied to go on a bombthrowing course in June 1916.

6 September   No.4 Camp = Another Command Depot.

8 September   Probably browned off with being at No.4 Camp.

10-12 September   Problems with feet - not the first time. I remember in the 1950's his shoes were hand-made, not orthopaedic, but fashoned in lasts designed to replicate his feet, because he had 'difficult' feet.

13 September  The biblical quotation is from Isaiah 43:1.

14 September   Naomi Bennell must be related to his brother-in-law Robert Bennell, married to his sister Trixie.

15 September   There is no record of this transfer in Hal's official service record.

18-19 September   O.T.C. = Officer Training Corps. MO = Medical Officer. O.C. = Officer Commanding. Fortunately for Hal, other ways of getting back to France intervened, as the chances of being killed as a raw young officer were very high.

21 September   Lark Hill Camp, near Stonehenge, used for artillery practice. Hal became part of the R.B.A.A. (Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery).

22 September   Previously he had got back to France through the Signalling School. It seems crazy that he was already a trained experienced signaller, but was accepted for training as a beginner. Signallers were in demand - he was posted to france within days of finishing the course.

23 september   Once again, no luck in getting a flight at nearby Netheravon Training aerodrome.

24 September   His previous signals training had been with the British Army at Bulford Camp. This time he was with the Australians at the training camp at Lark Hill. It suited himbetter than gun drill.

26 September  Flags = Semaphores, Buzzer = Morse Code.

8 October  Promoted to a higher class at signalling school.

10/13 October  Miss Naomi Rosanove was a violinist who performed in concerts when he was previously at Salisbury Plains. He kept in touch with her. I cannot find her on the 1911 Census, and I suspect she is probably a European refugee.

16 October  Hal moved to a training camp at Heytesbury, about 15 miles West of the main depot. It is a very attractive village, which Hal had never visited before.

19 October  Three years since the Wiltshire sailed from Melbourne. 'Bobby' is Hal's young nephew, Robert Bennell.

20 October  The news of the death of 21-year-old Tom Warr would have saddenned Hal, who had known him when he was first in England - in his diary 10 March 1916 Hal notes that 'Tom has gone to France'. The British Army Records show that Tom Warr died on 14 October, only a week before Hal received the news from Tom's mother. He was a second-lieutenant, serving with the Dorsetshire Regiment in the 3rd Battle of Ypres, and it seems likely that he died in one of the fierce battles which took place in the final push to Paschendaele.

Warminster is a market town about four miles West of Heytesbury. Gilbert North (32547) was a 28-year-old Gunner, and like Hal was in the RBAA awaiting reassignment.

3 November  'Rumour that being sent to Italy'. Italy had entered the war on the Allied side in 1915, and was fighting the Austrians and the Germans in the mountainous country of the Eastern Alps. Italy suffered enormous losses, but neither side could achieve a decisive victory. Some reinforcements were sent by the Allies - in a letter to Base Records in Melbourne when Hal's mother was trying to find out his whereabouts, she mentions that "A lady visitor to 3rd General Hospital wrote me saying that my son had left England and gone to Italy". Hal was at this hospital from 30 July - 24 August, and so this letter was probably written in early August. The information about Hal was obviously incorrect, but in November 1917 more troops and supplies were sent to bolster the front line which had moved to the Venetian Plain. So there may have been some truth behind the rumour this time.

4 November  Boyton is a small village near Heytersbury. I think Miss Rosanove and Miss Chatrieu live at nearby Codford, which has a railway station although only a village.

6/7 November  Hal must have been pleased with his signalling test results.

10 November  If Hal had personally scored 10 goals he was either a very good hockey player or the opposition was pretty weak. The weekend leave didn't eventuate, so I suppose it was overtaken by the proposed move to France. Hal had met Mr. Butcher at the church in Warminster a couple of weeks earlier, when he and Bert North had been invited home for supper.

13 November  'F Sub' meaning not known, but  writing not very clear.

15 November  Hal usually spelt 'surprise' as 'surprize', which is an archaic spelling.

19 November  Don't know the route taken to get back to France, but probably arrived at Le Havre, as he ended up at nearby Harplaun. QMS = Quarter-Master's Store, or Quarter- Master Sergeant.
Gas Tests. Gas was now being frequently used by both sides, either from gas-shells or gas-clouds where the wind was in the right direction. The gas used ranged from 'disabling', such as tear gas, to potentially lethal, such as phosgene, chlorine and mustard.

20 November  Hal's friend, Len Uren, had a clerical job with the Artillery Brigade Headquarters at Parham Downs, and he must have issued this pass earlier, on the off-chance Hal would be able to use it.

23-25 November  Travelled on to Brigade Headquarters at Le Doulieu, near the Belgian border, via Bailleul and Steenwerck. The Brigade was now in the area known as Flanders, and the places Hal mentions in his diary up to April 1918 are shown in Map 5.

26 November  Assigned to 1st Brigade Headquarters again. The description 'to have Marconi again' suggests that the horse was an integral part of his job as a signaller - maybe to enable him to move more quickly to where he was needed.
Hal had been 'out of action' since the lightning strike on 28 June for almost exactly five months - and that for an injury originally diagnosed as slight. He had thus completely missed the third battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele, which was fought from July to early November. The 1st Artillery Brigade had been in the thick of it throughout, providing covering fire to advancing troops, as well as keeping up a continual bombardment of enemy lines. The Brigade's war diaries specifically mention the Battle of Polygon Wood and supporting the Canadians in the final push to Passchendaele village.
Although losses in the infantry greatly outweighed those in the artillery, the 1st Artillery Brigade had lost many men, and at 4 November were down to 60% of their proper strength. Since 18 July they had lost 202 killed, 756 wounded, and 601 sick. The Unit diary shows that many of the remaining gunners were simply worn out and 'not fit for action', and were 'nearly at the end of their capability'. With the 3rd Battle of Ypres over, they were withdrawn from action and began a period of rest and recuperation, followed by some re-organisation and training in new tactics.
Thus, when Hal rejoined them they were not on the front line, and apart from several rides on Marconi, nothing much happened until nearly the middle of December.

3 December  Five eggs and chips sounds a pretty good feed. Following this entry are two poems which look to have been entered at a different time.
One is a 'take' on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and at first I thought this might be the 'Omar' the drunken sergeant was 'spouting'. However, on reading it more closely, I realised there are references in it which indicate it must have been written by Hal.
'Otitus Omar' - Otitus is inflammation of the ear, usually of the middle ear, which is probably what Hal suffered from.
'Salisbury' - probably written when he was in camp on Salisbury Plain.
'Golden Square' - The hospital where he had the operation.
'Wandsworth Prison' - A reference to the 3rd General Hospital at Wandsworth which he had described as looking 'grim'.
'Salah' is a Hebrew word used in the Bible, where it is not translated but can be taken to mean 'Pause, and think of that'.
The poem addressed to 'Eva' is, I suspect, inspired by C. J. Dennis'  'The Sentimental Bloke'.

Page spreads 29 - 35 are largely indecipherable, but appear to be notes and jottings relating to poems and stories. There are, however, two 'poems' which are partially decipherable on pages 33 and 35. Page 35 also contains some conversion tables for weights and measures.

Page Spread 33
Just before I finish, let us
Mention this. I want to say
'When we go you won't forget us?
Don't forget too this birthday.
Working (?) - sorry ...
For your King and Country Marg (?)
You can understand this ...
Write no letters - long and large
 ... you have been an angel
A place of joys.
Thank-you! 'don't convey much meaning
From a brace of khaki boys
Though I guess that you comprise (understood)
But be sure you're thought a lot of
By a couple - Mac and Hal.

I don't know who 'Marg' is. Hal quite often wrote to, and received letters from someone simply referred to as Marg, in addition to Marg Tardif and Marg Boyes. I wonder whether she might live at 32 Viewlands Road, Plumstead, as Mac and Hal received much hospitality there.

Page Spread 35
 ... those soft happy halcyon days
When we go wandering hand in hand
Adown the cool green glades of time
And gather flowers of that fair land
With all Arabia's scents so sweet
While time trips by on winged feet
And with it bears each trial and bother
We, needing naught but just each other
Will murmur each to each "it's nice"
And know we've found our paradise
Till then, Beloved, fare thee well
For, Fair One, I must go to sleep

Despite the banality of rhyming 'nice' and 'paradise' in what is a serious poem, it looks as though Hal had some talent as a 'versifier'.

Page Spread 36  Entries in French in an unknown hand.

December 3 (cont.)  The diary enties restart. There are a number of songs about 'Home in Tennessee', so I can't identify this one.

8/9 December  The unit's war diary shows that arrangements were made for soldiers to cast their vote in the second conscription ballot. Hal makes no mention of this. Conscription was again voted against and the AIF remained a volunteer force.

12 December  The 1st Artillery Division was to relieve the 5th Artillery Division, who were stationed at the Scotch Camp near Dranoutre in Belgium. Hal was one of an advance party organising the change-over. He travelled via Neuve Eglise on a 'limber', which is the front part of a gun carriage, consisting of two wheels and an axle, a pole, and a frame holding ammunition boxes. 'Dest box' meaning unknown. The 'Gotha' was a twin-winged German bomber plane. Over the last year or two there had been a great increase in activity in the air on both sides. Planes were used for observation as well as air bombing, which made it much more difficult to conceal movements and locations on the ground from the enemy. This Gotha may have been damaged by ground-based artillery or by the unsophisticated fire-power of the British planes. The 'two great wings lazily zig-zagging down' may have been parachutes, which were now carried but rarely of use because of the difficulty of actually getting out of a crippled plane.

14 December  C D 2 bury meaning unclear. C D 2 may refer to a particular location of a telephone cable, and 'bury' may refer to it being buried to give it some protection.

16-18 December  The relief of the 5th Division by the 1st Division was completed. The 1st Division would not have moved their guns from their previous position but would have taken over the guns and ammunition supplies previously used by the 5th division.

20 December  First Division Headquarters moved from Doulieu to Dranoutre.

23 December  Miles McCabe was still with the 13th Light Horse Regiment, and within that was a member of the 1st Anzac Mounted Troops, the only Australian mounted unit on the Western Front. The mounted unit seems to have been used in helping out where needed, but the rest of the 13th Light Horse were mainly in a cyclist unit, and acted as couriers and despatch riders. Miles was stationed in the Locre area.

22-25 December  The locations identified by initials are probably 'Areas', rather than specific villages. LK may be Locre, KN may be Kemmel, PQ may be Scotch Camp near Dranoutre

25 December 1917 to 4 January 1918  It is not clear exactly where Hal was located during this period. He was somewhere in the Locre area, but not at Locre itself.

25 December  This is the best Christmas dinner yet.

1918  A new year and the war dragged on, with no end in sight. The Allies had achieved their goal of capturing Passchendaele, but at a tremendous cost, and all there was to show for it was a few square miles of territory, which now had to be defended against possible enemy counter-attacks. Men were exhausted and all they had to look forward to was another Winter and the Flanders mud.
A German offensive was expected after they too had had time to recuperate and reorganise. And now they had an extra 500,000 men becoming available, as following the Russian Revolution there was no longer fighting on the Eastern Front. The Uniting States had declared war on Germany in April 1917, and it had already made a major contribution in terms of supplies, raw materials and money, and now U.S. Armed Forces were expected to start arriving in large numbers in mid-year. Germany would have wanted to have finished off the allies before such reinforcements arrived. The Allies, on the other hand, wanted to hold out until then.
Efforts were made to ensure the Allied troops were rested and fit for action. Attempts were made to improve living conditions - largely thwarted by the weather. To improve morale, as much local leave as possible was granted, and various recreational activities were organised. At the same time harassing the enemy in minor actions continued, the guns kept firing, and training and exercises were carried out.
Detailed plans were laid on action to be taken if the Germans attacked, with emphasis on the need for really rapid communication about the changing situation - hence the need for continual repair of any damaged telephone cables and upgrading where possible. Everyone knew a German attack was probably going to happen, but no-one knew where or when.

1 January  Hal started off the year with a heavy cold.

8 January  Renee is Renee Lardemelle.

12-14 January  A period of very heavy rain started in the Flanders area, where the already heavily damaged drainage system couldn't even start to cope. The rain melted the snow, and the ensuing flooding made the mud even worse, if that were possible. Hal's dug-out was not exempt.

16-18 January  Digging up and repairing telephone cable near W.Y. was much hampered by the mud.

22 January  Hal's mother wrote to Base Records in Melbourne to find out his correct address as 'Every mail I get letter I send my son returned. It is only the last 6 months he is not getting them'. Between March and mid-November 1917 Hal records receiving nine letters from his mother, with none in June, August or October. During the same period in 1916 he received 30, so even allowing for his mother having written less, or Hal failing to record them, it looks probable that quite a few were returned. His mother was told to send her letters to 1st Division Signals Co, AIF Abroad. It may be relevant that among the documents comprising Hal's Official Record there is a scrap of paper with a pencilled note that they had no trace of 240 H.F.Winters, dated November 1917.

19-29 January  This was a long job - ten days. I don't know what 'shifting test strips' at L.G. involved, but you can be sure it involved mud. It may have been an 'upgrade', rather than a repair. On 30 January some members of the Brigade moved to the 'Merris Area', although the headquarters remained at Dranoutre.

5 February  Left position near Loere, and moved to Petit Sec Bois. Headquarters moved to Bailleul. Pte. Cedric Newey (194) and Sergeant Robert Kennedy (13) had been in the original 2FA with Hal, but had been moved into the 4FA. The 2FA, including his friend Frank Green, had been in the Messines area for much of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, but had recently taken over the 1st Divisional Rest Station at Bailleul. This held an average of 146 patients a day, nearly all of whom were 'sick' rather than wounded.
'Estaminet Chasseurs Naturalis (or Naturaliste as on 13 Feb) was a small cafe where alcoholic drinks were available. The name translates literally as 'Naturalist Hunters', but I suspect it had a colloquial meaning.

6 February  Historically, the 'Triple Alliance' usually refers to the alliance between Britain, France and Turkey in the Crimea War in the 1850's. However, it may have had a different meaning at this time.

7-24 February  Nothing much happened except going for rides and tending the horses, and playing chess and football.

25 February  Moved to La Clytte in Belgium, eight miles West of Ypres. Good stables, and a hut rather than a dugout.

28 February  An indication that having the use of a horse had a practical reason relating to Hal's work - in this case taking some telephones up to 2nd Battery.

2 March  First mention of gramophone. Wonder where it came from. Maybe it had been left behind in the huts.

Map 3

Adapted from a map in "Holt Tours Ltd., Sandwich, Kent"