Churchill-Smith, James – August 1918
Bgde left Hospice, Rivery, at 8.30 p.m. for front line area, & relieved a French Brigade on right of Villers Brettoneux. I’m at rear Brigade Hdqrs
French Hdqrs moved out at 10 a.m. Wrote Mattie. 51st Bn. took over part of 49th line during night.
4th Anniversary of War – only one more in my opinion as The Huns seem to be losing their hitting powers especially now the Allies are doing so well between Rheims & Soissons. At Advanced Brigade Hdqrs during afternoon, & moved to old 4th Bgde Hdqrs (on edge of L’Abbe Wood) at night – took over maps not handed to Canadians & returned to Rear Brigade Hdqrs. 150 Huns raided 51st Bn losing about 10 killed – 6 of our men prisoners.
Arrived Rear Brigade Hdqrs about 10 a.m., fairly tired & glad of a sleep. Moved from Rear Brigade Hdqrs to forward Brigade Hdqrs during afternoon. Enormous Transport on roads during night; guns, ammunition &c in abundance Brigade took over whole of Div. front during night.
Dull wet day. Went to 49th Bn. Hdqrs with the G.O.C. during morning – got very wet. Command of Bgde. front taken over by 3 Canadian Divs. Mrs.Caileur interpreter, arrested as a spy by Tommy Artillery – came here to be recognised – very funny.
…Battalions relieved by Canadians during night. Brigade now attached to Ausn. Corps.
Battns all out by about 4.30 a.m. Zero hour for stunt 4.20 a.m. News through about 11 a.m. that all going O.K. Several prisoners taken, also guns. Enemy planes over during morning dropped about 30 bombs near Petit-Blangy-Cabaret wounding a few. …Good news regarding stunt – estimated prisoners over 7000 & several guns.
Bed 2.30 a.m. owing to having to get move orders out for this morning…. More good news through re stunt. Trouble round Chippily – Tommies failed at first & Yanks eventually took it. (Tommies “helped”.)
1st Div. & others attacked this morning – made excellent progress – captured a Div.Hdqrs. complete. Orders out at night for this Bgde to take Etinehem – 49th & 50th in front,1 Coy 51st mop up. 3 Coys reserve. Zero hour 9.30 p.m. Left with Gen. Herring for new Bgde Hdqrs at Chipilly, Church, then I went forward to the report centre about 1 mile further north.
Stunt went off well last night – Bns. advancing with practically no opposition. Etinheim was cut off, but when parties went to mop up this morning – no enemy were found, evidently all having got out on other side of the Somme owing to the failure of the 10th Bgde stunt on the south side. A few prisoners taken by us. 131st American Regt. Brought up in Support. 10th Bgde endeavoured with Armoured cars to march along main road to rear of La Neuville-les-Bray and established a new line – 11th Bgde then to advance towards them, & mop up the area.
Went round Bns with Brig. during afternoon. Huns, not knowing where our line was, commenced to dig in on Southern edge of Etineheim spur, but were pushed out by 50th & 51st Bns at night 1 a.m. 13th. Huns put up a light attack on 49th takinga couple of prisoners, but losing some of their own men killed. 11th Bgde on southern edge of Somme were very successful in taking Mericourt & Cateaux.
Attack by 50th & 51st Bns at 1 a.m. to establish posts on northern edge of Somme between Etineheim & Bray was very successful; 51st took 1 Off 170 O’R prisoners losing 5 wounded themselves. Col. Salisbury & Murray Fowler here at Bgde Hdqrs during morning – very successful. Plenty of dead Huns about in dry-outs &c &c.
Hot again. Enemy shelling heavy during day in Gressaire Wood. 49th relieved by 34th at night.
Cooler day. Round to 34th, & 50th Bns during afternoon Enemy shelling still fairly heavy and continuous in Gressaire Wood – hit a cordite dump & one of his own shell dumps.
Fine day. Had lovely swim in canal in afternoon. Embussed Brigade at Vaire-sur-Corbie at 7.30 p.m., then proceeded by car with General Herring & Capt Louch to our new Brigade Hdqrs at Harbonnieres arriving at 10 p.m. where we relieved the 132nd American Regt in Reserve, thereby rejoining the 4th Aus. Div. again.
Fine day. Lovely moonlight night. Enemy sending heavies into Harbonnieres duringmorning and Vauvillers during afternoon. Moved from dug-out into nice cosy room upstairs – am alright as long as Fritz doesn’t get a direct hit with a bomb or shell on to it.
Big dump of brass-work &c &c in Rosieres left there by Germans – they had ransacked the whole of the villages around about & had candle sticks & all sorts in the dump: – they lost the lot after stealing it all. Very hot day. Good news through of attack by French West of Soissons on a kilo front – 10,000 prisoners several guns taken; also news of “push” by 3rd Army near Archy-le-grand.
Good news through of attacks by 1st Div. & 32nd British Div. this morning – 1700 prisoners taken. 3rd Corps going well near Bapaume French doing O.K. West of Soissons – Where is Fritz now? Heavy bombardment North & South of us during day. Rumour says Bapaume practically ours. Enemy planes over bombing at night.
Light rain occasionally during day & night. Cold fairly bad. Good news through of advance by us to near Flers, Bapaume, Deville Wood &c.
Changeable day, but no rain. Rufus Rudall in bed ill. Tom Lontit to be T/Lt. Col.& to Command 45th Bn. Our advance excellent – Bapaume, Bullecourt, Noreuil &c ours now; Rufus Rudall to Casualty Clearing Stn. re illness – returned in afternoon.
Diary of James Churchill-Smith