July 3rd 1917
I left Sheffield Midland Station at 9.29 a.m. Landed in London at 2 p.m. I got a bed at the Y.M.C.A. hut and stayed the night.
July 4th 1917
We left London at 7.20 a.m., landing at Folkestone at 9.30 a.m. where we had dinner and marched to the docks. Our boat left Folkestone at 1.00 p.m. landing at Boulogne at 2.30 p.m. We went to a camp for four hours and then to the station, packed in trucks in forties, and set off at nine.
July 5th 1917
We landed at Ack at 6.30 a.m., fed up riding like cattle. We only had a mile and a half to march to Bray, where we found the battalion at 7.30 a.m. just landed in for some breakfast which made me better. I was feeling very sleepy but I was at band practice morning, but had a grand sleep in the afternoon. Playing at mess at night.
July 6th 1917
Band practice in the morning. Played at concert at night at Bray.
July 7th 1917
Band practice and playing at concert at night.
July 8th 1917
Very rough and raining. Played at Church Service in the morning. Resting the remainder of the day.
July 9th 1917
Band practice morning. Digging trenches for bombing practice in afternoon.
July 10th 1917 (Bray)
Band practice in the morning. Played at C Company's dinner and concert at night.
July 11th 1917
On parade at 7.45 a.m. Marched to Roclingcourt [Roclincourt], a party to line up on the roadside for the King to pass on his visit to France. He passed about 11 in motor car, aeroplanes flying over him, to keep German airmen off. We marched back to Bray. Then we got orders to pack up again and we moved off to Neuville St Vaast, and on landing there we was told us bandsmen would have to go back to Bray as there was no room for us. I marched only 20 miles this day, I was licked to the world.
July 12th 1917 (Bray)
On fatigue morning, resting afternoon.
July 13th 1917
Packed up again and moved off at tea time to Neuville St Vaast, about 4 miles, not far from Lens.
July 14th 1917
Rifle inspection morning, resting afternoon, rained all night and day.
July 15th 1917
Rifle inspection and band practice all day.
July 16th 1917
Rifle inspection and band practice morning. On fatigue afternoon and night.
July 17th 1917
Practice and fatigue all day. Played to men at night.
July 18th 1917
Practice and fatigue all day.
July 19th 1917
Band practice and playing to men at night.
July 20th 1917
Rifle inspection and practice morning. Played at the transport lines, the transport office paid for a lot of beer for us.
July 21st 1917
At 8.30 a.m. we went on Town Major's fatigue at Mount St Eloy [Mont St. Eloi], and finished at 4.30 p.m. On landing back to Neuville St. Vaast, a German shell fell amongst a battalion of men ready for the trenches, killing eight and wounding twenty. I went and had a look, it was like a slaughter-house. Our batt came out at night.
July 22nd 1917
Cleaning instruments morning. Played at Officer's Mess at night. Our artillery played hell on Lens all night.
July 23rd 1917
Band practice and medical inspection morning, resting afternoon. The German airmen had a game with one or two of our observation balloons, bringing three down in three days close to our camp.
July 24th 1917
Practising morning, resting afternoon. Played at Officer's Mess at night.
July 25th 1917
Band practice and playing at night to men.
July 26th 1917
Resting all day, told [we were] off for a working party to take stuff to the trenches at night. We had a lively reception when we were near the trenches, shrapnel and gas shells, going and coming back, but none of us got hit.
July 27th 1917
I was mess orderly. On fatigue afternoon. Played at night and cleaned our instruments for Divisional Church Service next day.
July 28th 1917
Played at Divisional Head Qtrs Church Service in the morning. Band packed up and moved to transport lines. Battalion went in the trenches again.
July 29th 1917
We was in tents at the transport lines Neuville St. Vaast.
July 30th 1917
On fatigue all day.
July 31st 1917
On fatigue all day.
August 1st 1917
Rained all night. We woke up and found ourselves like drowned rats, it came through the canvas tent.
August 2nd 1917
Resting morning, on fatigue all afternoon. Raining all day.
August 3rd 1917
At 10 a.m. our band left Neuville St. Vaast in two motor lorries, to Floringhem near Pernes. We went for a few days to play at the training depot. At night we played in the village square from 7 to 8.
August 4th 1917 (Floringhem)
Played troops on route march morning, about 8 miles. Played 4.30 to 6 p.m. Cauchy-la-Tour a mile away. Then we came back and played another programme at Floringhem from 7 till 8 p.m.
August 5th 1917
Cleaning up morning. Played at Cauchy-la-Tour from 3 to 4 afternoon. Played at church service at night and afterwards on village square till 9.30 p.m.
August 6th 1917
Resting all day. Playing at Corps School, Pernes from 6 to 9 p.m. Had a good feed and plenty of beer.
August 7th 1917
Played at Cauchy-la-Tour from 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Came back and played at Floringhem from seven to 8.30 p.m.
August 8th 1917
Cleaning up and resting during the day. Playing at Cauchy-la-Tour from 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and at Floringhem from 7 to 8.30 p.m. Thunder storm at night.
August 9th 1917
Packed up ready for going back to battalion. We played to troops from twelve to one, and left Floringhem at 3.0 p.m. and went back to Neuville St. Vaast in two motor buses. It poured down with rain on our way back. We was sorry to leave Floringhem, rather a nice place.
August 10th 1917 (Neuville St. Vaast)
Rifle inspection and on fatigue during the day. I went up to the trenches after tea, landing back about 10 wet through.
August 11th 1917
Rifle inspection and on fatigue all day. Went for a bath at night, first since coming back from leave. Played for an hour at night.
August 12th 1917
We went to the reserves trenches making wire entanglements all day. We saw the finest duel ever seen by one of our planes and a German, which did a lot of maneuvering about, but our airman brought the German down near to us. They looked just like a hawk after a bird.
August 13th 1917
On fatigue all day at the reserve trenches, making barbed wire entanglements. Old Fritz had a good day firing at our observation balloons.
August 14th 1917
I was mess orderly, all the rest of the band was on fatigue all day. We had a little practice at night. Thunderstorm at night.
August 15th 1917
On fatigue at the trenches all day. Got wet to our skin coming back at night.
August 16th 1917 (Neuville St. Vaast)
Packing up ready for moving. The battalion coming out of the trenches. We marched off about nine at night and marched to Mount St. Eloy [Mont St. Eloi].
August 17th 1917
Cleaning instruments morning. Played to men from 12 to 1. Resting afternoon. Played from eight to nine at night.
August 18th 1917
Practice morning. Playing at sports afternoon.
August 19th 1917
Played at Church Service morning, also from 12 to 1, and at sports at night.
August 20th 1917
Practice and baths morning and afternoon. Playing to men at night.
August 21st 1917
Practice and playing at Officer's Mess at night.
August 22nd 1917
Played battalion on parade and practice morning. Played at Pierrot's Concert at night.
August 23rd 1917
Played battalion on parade and practice morning. Afternoon us married bandsmen played single at football, losing 3-2. It was hot, we had our shirts off to it, and just before we had finished a thunderstorm came on and nearly drowned us before we could get to shelter.
August 24th 1917
Played battalion on parade. Packed up ready for moving back to Neuville St. Vaast, the battalion went in the trenches at night. We played to the troops afternoon and night before going in the trenches.
August 25th 1917 (Neuville St. Vaast)
Rifle inspection and on fatigue all day.
August 26th 1917
Rifle inspection and on fatigue all day.
August 27th 1917
On fatigue making stables for the winter for the horses.
August 28th 1917
On fatigue same as yesterday.
August 29th 1917
On fatigue all day. Practice at night.
August 30th 1917
On fatigue morning. Practice afternoon. I went to pictures at night.
August 31st 1917
On fatigue morning. Practice afternoon. Washing clothes at night.
September 1st 1917
On fatigue and band practice.
September 2nd 1917
On fatigue and band practice.
September 3rd 1917
I started with the diarrhoea. On fatigue and band practice at night.
September 4th 1917
I went sick with diarrhoea and got exempt from duty. I was feeling rotten about stomach.
September 5th 1917
Still exempt from duty, terrible pains in my stomach.
September 6th 1917
Feeling a lot better, did a little fatigue.
September 7th 1917
Loading up ready for moving to Ecurie, three miles further back.
September 8th 1917
Loaded up remainder of stuff, and moved to Ecurie three miles back.
September 9th 1917
Mess orderly during day. On picket all night.
September 10th 1917
Resting morning. On fatigue afternoon.
September 11th 1917 (Ecurie)
On fatigue Brigade HQ digging trenches for bombing. Practising at night. Battalion came out of line at night.
September 12th 1917
Cleaning instruments and went for a bath during the morning. Played at Officer's Mess at night. Very heavy bombardment by our guns all night.
September 13th 1917
Played the Battalion on massed parade, and practise. Played to men at night. Paid 20frs. What a time I had on stout and beer!
September 14th 1917
Same as the day previous. Me and Jack Beech1 got about drunk at night.
September 15th 1917
Played battalion on parade and practise morning. Played at theatre for the Naval Division Pierrots. They was very good.
September 16th 1917
Played church service at 9 a.m. Fritz sent a shell in our camp but it was a dud. Head Quarters Company had a dinner given by the officers, we had a good feed.
September 17th 1917
Us bandsmen acted as a barrage for battalion near Mont St. Eloy [Mont St. Eloi] during some manoeuvres.
September 18th 1917 (Ecurie)
Packing up, battalion went in trenches morning. We played them out of camp. On fatigue afternoon.
September 19th 1917 (Ecurie)
Nice day. On fatigue all day.
September 20th 1917
Building latrines, sheds etc. all day.
September 21st 1917 (Ecurie)
On fatigue all day.
September 22nd 1917
On fatigue all day. I went to pictures at night out of the way.
September 23rd 1917
Played in picture palace for service in morning. Resting remainder of day.
September 24th 1917
On fatigue all day till 3 p.m. then practise till 4.30 p.m. At night we played a programme for the Flying Corps and got plenty of good beer.
September 25th 1917
On fatigue for the Brigade, we was getting stone at Roclingcourt [Roclincourt] for making stables for the winter. Old Fritz dropped several shells round us during the day. Washing clothes at night.
September 26th 1917
Getting stones at Roclingcourt [Roclincourt] all day. Band practise at night.
September 27th 1917
Mess orderly. About tea time a German plane came over and fetched one of our observation balloons down, and came again later and fetched two more down. But he came down also, by our airmen who was waiting for him.
September 28th 1917
On fatigue and practising all day. After tea Fritz sent over several shrapnel shells, one fetched down an observation balloon which fell close to some horse lines. It frightened the horses which all broke loose and ran away. It was laughable to see them.
September 29th 1917
On Brigade fatigue all day. At night I went to see the Follies of the 47th Naval Division2, which was fine, this was the best night of enjoyment I had since being in France.
September 30th 1917
Played at church service morning. On fatigue afternoon. One of our aeroplanes fetched a German balloon down in flames, and also a German aeroplane, who came after him.
October 1st 1917 (Ecurie)
Band practise morning. On fatigue afternoon trench digging. Fritz sent several shells over during the day killing several horses and men not far from our camp. During the night about seventy of our battalion got gassed and was sent to hospital.
October 2nd 1917
Band practise morning. On fatigue afternoon.
October 3rd 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day.
October 4th 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day. Wet and rough.
October 5th 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day. Rough and cold.
October 6th 1917
Packing up, moving to another camp close by. Seventy of our men going on bombing stunt tonight.
October 7th 1917 (Ecurie, Springvale Camp)
Baths morning. Cleaning instruments afternoon. Raining and rough all day.
October 8th 1917
Played battalion on parade morning, and band practise. Played to men at night.
October 9th 1917
We packed up once more and moved to transport lines. Two reporters of the Sheffield Telegraph visited our battalion, as we was playing to the men.
October 10th 1917
Got ready for massed band practise but rain stopped us. We played to men at dinner time and at night.
October 11th 1917
No parade morning. Played to men dinner time. In the afternoon we saw a grand fight with our aeroplanes and Germans. One plane unknown came down in flames. We played to battalion at night.
October 12th 1917 (Ecurie)
It was very rough and rained in torrents. Our battalion went in the trenches and we was packing up etc.
October 13th 1917
Rained and blew all night, nearly blowing our tent down, we was lying in water on waking up. It cleared up during the day. We had a little band practise.
October 14th 1917
Band practise and on fatigue all day. Heavy bombardment during night.
October 15th 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day. Showery.
October 16th 1917
I was mess orderly. On fatigue afternoon.
October 17th 1917
Band practise morning. On fatigue putting Nissan huts up afternoon.
October 18th 1917
Band practise and putting Nissan huts up all day.
October 19th 1917
Band practise morning. On fatigue afternoon. A terrific bombardment started just before dusk, the worst I had heard up to now.
October 20th 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day.
October 21st 1917
On fatigue at Brigade washing waggons morning. Played a short programme afternoon.
October 22nd 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day. At night there was a heavy bombardment.
October 23rd 1917
Cleaning instruments and practise all day. Heavy bombardment at night.
October 24th 1917
On fatigue all day. Very heavy artillery bombardment all day and night, the earth trembled.
October 25th 1917
I went sick with cold but I had a little band practise in the morning.
October 26th 1917
Reported sick again. Band practise in the morning and at night.
October 27th 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day. I was feeling better.
October 28th 1917
On fatigue all day building Nissan huts.
October 29th 1917
About 8.30 a.m. a German aeroplane came over and set fire to one of our observation balloons, the two men from same came down in their parachutes. On fatigue all day. We went into one of these huts at night which was a fine change from being in tents.
October 30th 1917 (Ecurie)
We packed up and moved to Springvale Camp again. Battalion coming our of the trenches at night.
October 31st 1917
Cleaning up in the morning. Played to men at dinner time. Went for a bath afternoon.
November 1st 1917 (Ecurie)
Played battalion on massed parade morning. Played to men dinner time. I got rather merry at night in the canteen.
November 2nd 1917
Same as the day previous.
November 3rd 1917
Band practise morning. Played to men at dinner time.
November 4th 1917
I was mess orderly. Played at service in the morning. Officer's Mess at dinner time. A heavy bombardment opened out on the Hoppy [Oppy] sector.
November 5th 1917 (Ecurie)
Foggy. At 10 a.m. we played the battalion out of camp, they went in the trenches. Us band afterwards went back to transport lines. I went to pictures at night.
November 6th 1917
Band practise and fatigue all day. Pictures at night.
November 7th 1917
Raining. Band practise all day.
November 8th 1917 (Ecurie)
Us band had orders to pack up all our kit. At 9 a.m. a motor lorry came for us and took us to Floringhem for a few days to play at the Corps School. We landed there at 2 p.m. We drew 30frs each. After tea we marched about a mile to Pernes and played at the Officer's Mess from 7 till 9.30, and had a good feed and plenty of beer afterwards.
November 9th 1917 (Floringhem)
Raining heavy. Cleaning up in the morning, played to troops at night from 7 to 8.30 at Floringhem. This was a holiday for us.
November 10th 1917
Route march eight miles morning. At night we played in the picture palace at Cauchy-La-Tour for a concert. The troops did clap us after each piece.
November 11th 1917
Cleaning up morning. Played at Cauchy-La-Tour afternoon, then marched some troops back to Floringhem, and played from 6 to 8 at night.
November 12th 1917
Cleaned up morning. Played some troops to Cauchy afternoon. Played at Pernes at night, two programmes, one at Sergeant's Mess and one at Officer's Mess.
November 13th 1917
Cleaning up morning. Played a programme at night. Getting some good food here.
November 14th 1917 (Floringhem)
Played troops from parade ground afternoon, then played some to Cauchy. Played at Floringhem at night 7 to 9.
November 15th 1917
Cleaning up morning. Played troops to Cauchy at dinner time. Played two programmes at Pernes in the evening.
November 16th 1917
Played some troops to Cauchy dinner time. Played programme at Floringhem at night.
November 17th 1917
Cleaning up etc. same as previous day. Paid 10frs. Having a good time here.
November 18th 1917
Played programme at Cauchy-La-tour from 2 till 4 afternoon. Played a programme at Floringhem at night.
November 19th 1917
Played troops to Cauchy, and at Pernes at night.
November 20th 1917
Cleaning instruments morning. Played troops again to Cauchy, and at Floringhem at night.
November 21st 1917
From 11 to 12 we played at Cauchy-La-Tour. In the afternoon we played some troops to Pernes station. Played again at Floringhem in the evening.
November 22nd 1917
Played in drill hall afternoon at Floringhem, and at Pernes at night.
November 23rd 1917
Cleaning instruments morning. Played at Floringhem dinner time. At night we went to Vorchelles3 in motor lorry, and played a programme for the 18th Royal Air Force Officer's Mess. We was all drunk when we came back, bottles of bass and whisky. We would have liked this every day.
November 24th 1917 (Floringhem)
Played programme in the drill hall at dinner time, and at night.
November 25th 1917
We played one hour in the afternoon, and got the night off. We was paid 10frs and had a good nights spree.
November 26th 1917
Played the troops from the parade ground at dinner time, and played one hour in the afternoon. Played at the Officer's Mess at Pernes at night.
November 27th 1917
In the morning we played some troops to Pernes, then we played one hour at dinner time at Floringhem, and at night from seven to nine.
November 28th 1917
Played in drill hall one hour dinner time and again at night.
November 29th 1917
Played one hour at dinner time, one hour tea time, and again at Pernes at night.
November 30th 1917
Played one hour at dinner time, and two hours at night. I received a registered letter for £1 from wife, and I had several bottles of wine at night.
December 1st 1917
Played one hour at dinner time, and played at a football match in the afternoon, at Cauchy-La-Tour. Played at night on the square in Floringhem.
December 2nd 1917 (Sunday)
Eleven of our band played the staff at football in the afternoon, our band won 14 goals to 1! We played at night on the square.
December 3rd 1917
Played at dinner time and one hour in the afternoon. Played at Officer's Mess at night.
December 4th 1917
Frosty. Played at dinnertime and night at Floringhem. Received orders to go back to our battalion the next day.
December 5th 1917
We left Floringhem at ten in the morning and was taken back to the battalion in motor lorries to Ecurie, landed there about 12.30.
December 6th 1917
Rifle inspection and on fatigue all day. Practise at night.
December 7th 1917 (Ecurie)
On fatigue all day mending the punctures of the battalion cycles and packing up ready for moving. Practise at night.
December 8th 1917
Packed up & moved off in motor lorries in the afternoon to Mount St Eloy [Mont St. Eloi]. Battalion came out of trenches.
December 9th 1917
Cleaning instruments morning. I received a large parcel from Arleston & I did enjoy it. We was paid 15frs afternoon. Played in Y.M.C.A. at night at Mount St Eloy [Mont St. Eloi].
December 10th 1917
Played battalion on parade morning & a little practice. Played at Officer's Mess from one to two. Had a good night out me and Jack Beech, was nearly on our knees.
December 11th 1917
Same as the day previous.
December 12th 1917
Played battalion on parade and cleaned instruments morning. Football match afternoon.
December 13th 1917
Played battalion on parade, then went marking at rifle range for one company. Me and Jack Beech had another good night, plenty of wine.
December 14th 1917
Played battalion on parade morning, baths afternoon. Received some fags from Amelia.4
December 15th 1917
Same as day previous with football matches, and received parcel from Frances & George.5
December 16th 1917
Sunday. Played at service morning, resting all day.
December 17th 1917
Played the battalion on manoeuvres morning but us band was sent back, snowing fast.
December 18th 1917
I was mess orderly, I went to baths in morning. Medical inspection afternoon. Paid 10frs.
December 19th 1917
Marking on range in the morning. Resting in afternoon. Me & Jack Beech had another good night out.
December 20th 1917
Mt. St Eloy. Resting during the day. We played a programme in Y.M.C.A. hut at night.
December 21st 1917
Practise morning & marched two companies into camp. Resting afternoon. We received a present each from Sheffield - four candles & a pocket handkerchief.
December 22nd 1917
We marched off from Mount St Eloy [Mont St. Eloi] at ten in the morning & marched to Ecurie once more, back in our old camp.
December 23rd 1917
We had our Christmas dinner about 3pm. Turkey & spuds, plum pudding with rum dip, two pints of beer each & fags, rum punch at night. We played at Officer's Mess up till midnight. We got six bottles of whiskey, what at a time we had, the best day ever I had out in France. Major Douglas Allen provided this spread out of his own pocket, he was one of the finest Majors in the battlefield to his men.
December 24th 1917
Cleaning up & resting all day. I felt a bit rotten after the rum & whiskey. Me & Jack Beech had several drinks in the cookhouse at night.
December 25th 1917 (Ecurie)
Snowing. Battalion went in the trenches. Us bandsmen was loading and unloading stores in the morning. Me and eleven more went up to trenches with rations at night. Heavy fall of snow.
December 26th 1917
On fatigue morning, went up to the trenches at night with ration over Vimy Ridge. I went in poor old Bill Comley's place because he was old and had bad feet.6 We went at five at night, and landed back at half past one next morning.
December 27th 1917
Went up with rations at three in afternoon, landed back ten at night. Old Fritz gave us a lively time, dropping shells all round us.
December 28th 1917
I went sick with cold, resting all day.
December 29th 1917
Reported sick again. But I had to go up to the trenches at night with rations, landing back at midnight.
December 30th 1917
Went up with rations again at night.
December 31st 1917
Battalion came out of trenches. We loaded up and moved from Ecurie two miles further back to Neuville St. Vaast. I felt like pegging out this day with cold and my limbs all aching. Pleased to be living at the end of another year.
January 1st 1918 (Neuville St. Vaast)
To commence the New Year with, we had a loaf to nine men, to last us all day. We was starved to death nearly. All the lads was wishing they was back in the trenches because the camp is not fit for pigs, let alone human beings.
January 2nd 1918
Foot inspection morning. No bread today, we was told that we should get nothing, only biscuits for five days, and it came true. I felt clammed to death on biscuits. We was paid 30frs, and I found some grub and beer and had a good fill.
January 3rd 1918
A little band practise, and cleaning instruments in the morning. Played to men afternoon. Snowed during the night.
January 4th 1918
Mess orderly and band practise in the morning. Played to men afternoon.
January 5th 1918
Went for a bath in the afternoon and clean change.
January 6th 1918
We packed up again and left Neuville St. Vaast and marched back to our winter lines at Ecurie. Our battalion went in the trenches. Me and two more went up to the trenches at night with rations, and we had a lively time. Fritz was shelling all the time, gas and all kinds of shells. We was walking about with our gas helmets on for an hour or more. We landed back to our transport lines at midnight starved to death nearly. We had not had any food from dinner time.
January 7th 1918 (Ecurie)
I got up at ten, and we had a little band practise in the morning. Resting afternoon.
January 8th 1918 (Ecurie)
Snowing. We had an easy day, four of the band were up to the trenches with rations.
January 9th 1918
Snowing all day. On fatigue part of the day.
January 10th 1918
Snow nearly all gone. I was helping at cook-house all day.
January 11th 1918
Band practise morning. I went up to trenches with rations at night and got wet through. Fritz's put up a heavy bombardment with shrapnel and gas shells. Me and Bill Bunting7 was smothered with earth from two shells that exploded about ten yards from us. We had lain down flat or we should have been hit alright. The light railway had been blown up in several places and two of the motor-tractors which ran us up so far with the rations, fell into shell holes and we all had to walk a matter of six miles back to transport lines, landed back at one next morning. We was wearing gas helmets nearly all the time.
January 12th 1918 (Ecurie)
Battalion came out of the line to Springvale camp. We loaded up and took all stores from horse lines to the camp close by. I did not land back from the trenches till two in the morning, and we was up again at six loading packs etc. I was fagged out this day, and was in kit by seven at night.
January 13th 1918
Cleaned our instruments in the morning. Played from two till four in the afternoon to battalion.
January 14th 1918
Snowing. Band practise morning, playing to battalion from two till four afternoon. Paid 20frs at night.
January 15th 1918
Raining all day. A little band practise.
January 16th 1918
Band practise morning. Went to a lecture at the Cinema afternoon, (on after the war). There was some shouting too, it was quiet [quite] exciting the remarks which was passed by some of the men. We was all going to get a piece of land and a fortune etc., but it is coming.
January 17th 1918
Mess orderly and band practise. Easy day.
January 18th 1918
Packed up again and moved to horse lines, the battalion went in the trenches again. Received a small parcel from wife which I appreciated.
January 19th 1918 (Ecurie)
Band practise morning, on fatigue afternoon. Eight of the band went up the lines with rations.
January 20th 1918
Played at service morning. I went up the line with rations at night.
January 21st 1918
Band practise morning. Making latrines in the afternoon, I went to pictures at night.
January 22nd 1918
Band practise morning. I went up to the trenches with rations again at night.
January 23rd 1918
Band practise and fatigue all day.
January 24th 1918
Packed up again and moved back to Neuville St. Vaast. Played the battalion into camp as they came from the trenches.
January 25th 1918 (Neuville St. Vaast)
Cleaning instruments morning, playing to men afternoon. Sent a letter to Maud in California.8
January 26th 1918
Band practise and playing to men afternoon.
January 27th 1918
Band practise morning. Resting afternoon.
January 28th 1918
Went to Ecurie for bath morning. Our batt all went to cinema at night. To see The Nissan Nuts, which was free for us. We all received a packet of chocolate and fags each. We played afterwards at Officer's Mess for half an hour.
January 29th 1918
Band practise morning. Played at service night.
January 30th 1918
Frosty. The batt went in the trenches again and we moved to transport line Ecurie. Three went up with rations at night.
January 31st 1918
On fatigue morning. Me and three more went up to the trenches with rations. Bill Comley got wounded with bullet clean through his knee cap. It missed me and another, and he got the blighty we used to pray for. This chap was forty-five and a Burton-on-Trent man, he was a fine old sort.
February 1st 1918 (Ecurie)
Band practise morning, digging trenches afternoon for shelter in case of bombing raids by Fritz.
February 2nd 1918
Band practise and trench digging.
February 3rd 1918
Band practise and fatigue all day. Trench digging on a small loaf to ten men. We hoped we was winning the war.
February 4th 1918
Band practise and fatigue.
February 5th 1918
Packed up once more and moved back to old sludge heap of a camp at Neuville St. Vaast. Batt came out of trenches. Col. Hood fell from his horse and fractured the base of his skull.9 Paid 30frs. Some of our men stole a 36 gallon barrel of beer from outside the canteen, several of our band chaps was in at it.
February 6th 1918 (Neuville St. Vaast)
Baths in the morning and cleaning instruments.
February 7th 1918
Inspection of all men leaving the division 31st, by the General.
February 8th 1918
Band practise morning. Played at Officer’s Mess at night.
February 9th 1918
Band practise morning and afternoon.
February 10th 1918
We left Neuville and marched to Mount St. Eloy [Mont St. Eloi] for one night at Lancaster Camp.
February 11th 1918
We left Mount St. Eloy [Mont St. Eloi] in the morning and went to Ecoivres, which was only a short distance away, to York Camp.
February 12th 1918 (Ecoivres)
Full pack inspection and baths morning. This day was the breaking up of the old 12th Battalion.10 After tea we played A & B companies to Mount St. Eloy [Mont St. Eloi], who was joining the 13th Battalion (Barnsleys). C & D companies had gone to the 7th Yorks & Lancs, leaving only the band and a few details at York Camp.
February 13th 1918
A little band practise morning. Jack Beech landed back from leave and was surprised to find our Battalion broken up. He had to go to the 7th Battalion.
- Jack Beech is thought to be 12/1385 Llewellyn Beech, a fellow police constable from Sheffield. [back]
- Jack almost certainly saw the Follies not at the 47th (2nd London) Division but at the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. [back]
- Vorchelles is possibly Vauchelles-les-Authie. [back]
- Amelia was an elder sister of Jack's. [back]
- Frances, another elder sister of Jack's, had married George Vickers in 1902. [back]
- Bill Comley was 31577 William James Comley, a 41-year-old fishmonger from Burton on Trent. [back]
- 12/60 William T. Bunting. [back]
- Maud was Jack's younger sister. [back]
- Lt.-Col. Francis John Courtenay Hood had commanded the battalion since 1st June 1917. [back]
- Following Prime Minister Lloyd George's refusal after the Third Battle of Ypres to provide adequate reinforcements to the British army on the Western Front, it was necessary to disband many battalions in order to use their men to bring surviving formations up to strength; the Sheffield City Battalion was unfortunate to be among those selected to be broken up. [back]
Permission to publish this transcript of John Thomas Cratchley's journal is by kind permission of his granddaughter, Mal Hamilton-Warwick.