Churchill-Smith, James – September 1917
1 Sep 1917
Upon arrival from line (2 a.m.) had really enjoyable hot meal of good old steak. Up at 9 a.m. after breakfast. Coy. at baths from 10.45 to 12 noon. Battn. left Camp at 2.30 p.m. and en-bussed at 3 p.m. arriving at village (Hondeghem) near Hazebrouck…
4 Sep 1917
…Battn. left billets near Hondeghem … arrived at Matringhem at about 4 p.m. & marched to billets at Seule’s (‘D’ Coy), and Lugy (balance of Bttn). Billets fairly good & people nice; … – furthest we’ve been back since in France. Bed 10.30 p.m. Transport arrived about 10 p.m.
6 Sep 1917
… N. C. O.’s lecture by self at 6.30 p.m. Lecture by C. O. at 8 p.m.….Nice people at Mess billet, refugees from Lille and evidently ‘somebody” – one [Mme Malfait] has a darling little son 3½ yrs old & he & I are the best of friends – name Henri.
7 Sep 1917
…moved off to Ranges – firing all day – returned about 5 p.m. Officers Conference at night. Bed late. Heard of a big stunt perhaps this month of all Ausn. Divs. – in again once more I suppose, but I have no doubt I shall be as fortunate as previously.
10 Sep 1917
This place is lovely, the days are beautiful & the nights the same. How I’d love to be here for 3 or 4 mos. with no prospect or idea of a coming “stunt”. Parades as usual – we are working very hard, trust efforts will not be in vain.
14 Sep 1917
…Battalion attack scheme during morning. Brigadier present – fairly well done. Went to Fruges in afternoon. Parade at night 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
15 Sep 1917
Nice fine day. Competition of Coy. Cookers in afternoon – won by my company, B 2nd, A 3rd, C did not enter. Very funny night with people at Mess, very enjoyable.
16 Sep 1917
Brigade Sports today, very successful. I was “Official Time-keeper”. 50th won a fair number of races. Noel & I 3rd in Gretna green on our horses, & I came 2nd in my heat in Flag race. Tom English back from Wisques school – Cpl Ryan back from wounded. Supper with French people at Mess – they are very nice folk and are refugees from Lille.
17 Sep 1917
…Lecture at 4.30 p.m. by Capt Duchatel on “Tactical use of Machine Guns in Offensive actions” – very interesting. Wrote dear Mum, Kate, Mattie Adney, & Lieut. Tom Smith.
20 Sep 1917
Battn. left Lugy (Coy Seulis) by busses at 10 a.m. arriving at Beauworde about 3.p.m. Men’s billets very good. Got a slight cold.
21 Sep 1917
Fixing up re coming stunt in morning: sent “Duds” away in afternoon; men from Brigade School returned. Battalion left Beauvoorde in buses about 7 p.m. arriving outside Popperinge about 9.30 p.m. debussing & then marched on to bivouacs at Belgians Chateau near Ypres arriving about 11 p.m.
22 Sep 1917
…Men dumped packs during morning, and got ready for next move. Busy all day fixing up maps &c. Am beginning to feel being left out of this coming stunt; to see ones own Coy, own men, trained by me, firing into action without me is very depressing, but I suppose I have had a fair share.
23 Sep 1917
Battn marched out for near Ypres at 4.30 a.m. – C. O., self & Tom English saw them off, a rotten sensation. “Duds” left during morning for Transport lines ½ mile away. Over to see 3rd Bgde with C. O. during afternoon – saw Gordon Cornish, also Eric Inglis in morning. Recd letters from dear Mum & Mr Loutit. Am told that I am to be Laisson Officer between our Bgde & Bgde on left, so shan’t altogether be out – glad I’ve got something to do.
26 Sep 1917
Zero hour 5.30 a.m. – bombardment heavy. All objectives gained, a few prisoners taken. Not too pleasant a feeling sitting inside a ‘pill’ – box all day waiting for news. Big counter-attack by Boche about 5 p.m. Wounded in head (4 places) by shell about 7 p.m. so left for rear with 2 Tommies. \Later, 7 pieces of shell/ Met ambulance on road & started for Casualty Clearing Station.
27 Sep 1917
Arrived at Casualty Clearing Station No 12 (English) about 2 a.m. & had a fair sleep. X ray’d about 11 am.; operation 12.30 a.m., and evacuated by train for Hospital at 6.30 p.m. – head not at all troublesome, and am feeling fairly well.
28 Sep 1917
Arrived at 7th Gen. Hospital at 4 a.m. (near St Omer). Feeling fairly well. Wrote Col. Salisbury & Mona – asked Col. to get his wife to cable to Dad; – “Slightly wounded head, ‘Operation’ successful. Doing splendidly. Love all.”
30 Sep 1917
…Feeling very well. some patients evacuated to London today; I asked that I might be left here.
Diary of James Churchill-Smith