Churchill-Smith, James – May 1916
…Parade at 7 am. Advanced Guard & Rear Guard action. – very good.
My promotion out in Battalion Orders, but Clarke’s name put before mine. Spoke to Adjutant about it – he informed me that it is alright, I am senior to Clarke, & that Clarke understands. Expecting to move soon.
… Swim in Canal during afternoon. Informed that a steamer from Australia went through Canal and a lady from deck called out “Any South Australians there?”
The whole crowd of 50th called out in answer. Wish I was home & the War over.
Orders received for 49th & 50th Battns. to proceed to Rail-head on Monday – evidently means something doing. Thinking of Home folk & Kate very much lately; hope I shall soon see them all again
…Extremely hot day. Tents struck at 5 a.m. & railed to Rail–head. Packing up during the day…
49th & 50th Bttns, & Bgde HdQrs left for Rail–head at 0730, route march per road – arrived at new Camp at about 1000. Very nice Camp.
Left Camp & route marched towards front trenches… Extremely hot, running with perspiration myself.
No afternoon parade. Recd letter from dear Mum, Kate, Father… Took Summary of Evidence case of Cpl Wills absent without leave.
12 Months today since I went into Camp. Parade 5.30 to 9.30 a.m. – very nice. French Aeroplane flew very low over us during parade and I waved my white fly swish at him & he waved back.
Parade 5.30 to 9.30 a.m. Capt Seager & 2/Lt T. Smith left with few N.C.O.’s for No.13 Trng. Battn – Seager very upset.
“Mobile Column” stunt cancelled. Sky cloudy – (how about some rain) but it’s still hot.
Recd photos from dear Kate of herself – my word they are lovely – she’s a fine girl. God bless her.
Extremely hot day; heat terrible. Church in morning – I read the Lesson… Called down Coy lines at about 10.15 pm. to watch suspicious movements of a Private – put man in Guard tent.
Breakfast in bed. Heat something awful – everybody cursing. News out that we move on Thursday 18th… temperature 103.4.
… Heat – terrible. Wind – rotten. An awful day; wind & sand blowing hard; tent fell down
… Orders out for move, but no date.
Up at about 3 a.m. Breakfast 3.30 a.m. Left Camp 4.15 & arrived at destination (extreme right of defences) at about 7 a.m. Nice cool morning, so march easy. Took over from Capt Gray (A Coy, 49th Battn). 50th Battn now holds line 8 to 9 miles long. Wrote short line to dear Mum & Kate. Settling down comfortably – wouldn’t mind stopping here for a few months.
… Orders to pack up & move this morning, but cancelled ½ hour after given. All blankets except 1 per man to be rolled in bundles of ten & sent away, but camels did not turn up. Lying outside up to 10 a.m. listening to experience of a few old hands –very funny.
… Informed left half Battn. being relieved tomorrow morning & that the “8th Hampshires” (English Regt) will relieve us… Baggage sent away during afternoon. Bivouac in lines during night.
Diary of James Churchill-Smith