Three Australian officers at Gallipoli, identified from left to right: Lieutenant Roy Kernot of the 1st Division Engineers; Lieutenant Edward Stanley Whitehead of the 3rd Field Company Engineers and Lieutenant Louis Willyama Avery (later MM) of the 1st Division Engineers. The three friends were all associated with the Silverton Tramway Company in Broken Hill and survived the war.
Avery, Louis Willyama – July 1917
This is a wonderful holiday on the Somme. Little to do other than bridging, resting & check parades. However the Winter was the worst for many long years & we have earned our rest away from the line. Leave for Amiens today to attend a gathering of old St. Peters & Prince Alfred College boys at a swank Hotel de Pom Pom for a combined dinner. It was a great success & I met dozens of men that I knew & had not seen for years. My leave pass expired at 7.30 p.m. & the last train left at 8, but I remained to the end 10 p.m. What now? Well a number of us managed to get a lift in an Ambulance which was going to Albert. I arrived at Bray at 1. a.m.
No questions were asked about overstaying my leave last night.
Divisional Engineers sports meeting. The 3rd Field won on points after a very good days sport. Attended a concert in the evening by the 1st Field Co. & their orchestra. Good.
Spent a very quiet birthday. In the evening 4 of my pals helped me to celebrate with 2 bottles of champagne.
I was detailed with 2 men to proceed to Amiens to escort one of our men back to Bray. He had been detained by the Army Provost Martial for being A.W.L in Amiens. We first had a good hot bath & the reported to the A.P.M. We then left our rifles & equipment at the detention barracks & wandered round Amiens. After having a great dinner we collected the bird & returned to Bray.
Our prisoner yesterday has been remanded to be tried by Court Martial for forging a leave pass & being A.W.L. in Amiens. Our blankets were fumigated today, mine only for luck as I am not lousy Lou now.
The Divisional Engineers played the 8th Battalion football tonight. We won.
More football, Rugger, Soccer & Australian Rules.
We have heard rumours about moving north towards Belgium for the past 2 months. Today we have heard that this move is correct & will be in a day or so. We have been told to clean up our clothes & equipment in readiness.
Had a full marching order parade as practice in case we had forgotten, but it was also to get our billets thoroughly cleaned up. We thought it was the move.
Full marching order 8 a.m. Cleaned up billets & surrounding ground. Had a last good swim at 9.30. Our bicycles have been reissued to us. Fell in at 11.30 & I left in advance with the cyclists for Albert. When the Company arrived we got to work loading our transport & horses on trucks.
…moved off for Wallon Cappel, a small village about 7 miles away. We are camped on the grounds of a large farm which is remarkably clean & the people are most pleasant. We chose to sleep out rather than occupy the barn. In one building a pig had been turned out to provide accommodation for us. No thanks. It is next door to the pig sty, but was quite clean, but the eau-de-cologne from next door was just too sweet. We preferred to be with the cows in the field. These villages are a contrast to those on the Somme which were quite filthy. Here they are more modern, neat & spotlessly clean, mostly whitewashed exteriors. The people are a better class & more friendly. Heard the news that the British have attacked in Belgium. Now we know why we are here.
We can obtain plenty of fresh milk, bread & butter at our farm, also fresh eggs. 4 of us had a good tuck in tonight, between us finishing off 18 eggs, 8 cups of coffee, & 10 slices of bread & butter.
Reveille at 6 a.m & our Section marched out at 8.15 complete with tool casts & limbers, to Blaringham. We settled in a field & had lunch. A Froggy came along greatly excited & arms talking, strongly objecting to our presence on his land, so we were obliging & hunted for another field. We had not started to erect our canvas shelters. Next we wanted some firewood for the cooks. We found an old dead branch lying on the ground rotting. A young madame came running towards us in great haste. Non, non M’sieu. Of course these women always win.