Such a lovely sunny day, but cold. We are off tomorrow, 3 days’ march, and into trench line night of February 5-6. Not the same place, just further south. We go to our old friend P_____ [Puchevillers], but in two marches, then M_____ [Martinsart] where we stop. I fancy it corresponds to M.M. [Mailly-Maillet] 107th Brigade come back much to their disgust. We and they in the line, 109th in reserve. I suppose we shall go 6 days in and 6 days out. Quite interesting to see a new lot of trenches. Fancy they are all right. Am glad to say we keep the other Div. Artillery-Willie Strong and Co. Berry is doing Transport Officer, and Scott, Medico for the march. Stronge and Pratt return on Saturday night, the night we go in. Pleasant return! Just had my hair cut very close for the trenches, by a company barber!
107th Brigade had been attached to 4th Division since early November. 36th (Ulster) Division was the first New Army division to be committed to the line intact, as originally constituted, on its first deployment.
A 10 mile march, roads dry, and keen frosty air. Quite a nice little village and comfy H.Q. We go tomorrow at 9:30 to where I said, next to Hedauville, then on and into line. Kentish, who commands 1st R. Ir. Fus., just looked in full of esprit de Irish Fusiliers. Coming to see us tomorrow when we start.
Came on in motor bus here at 7 a.m. with Cather, ‘At.’ and Ensor to see trenches and make arrangements about taking over. Go back to P_____ [Puchevillers] this evening. H.Q. dug out, four beds in cellar in village; two companies in trench line, one in reserve, one in support. In for 6 days I expect. Taking over in the dark. Will be a long business. Such a cold drive, about 30 miles. All round the country; took 3½ hours. G_____ returns from leave tomorrow. 1st Hants here, whom we take over from, commanded now by Middleton, who married Miss Duprey [sic].
Holding this place and will go into line one mile away in evening. Hard march yesterday on greasy road. All well. G returned. Lovely day. Left our billets at 6.00 a.m. in the dark and got here at 9.00 a.m. Transport two miles from last night’s billet entailed much complication. Some vehicles to come with us, like cookers, water carts, and some wagons, remainder having to go to our transport billet. Difficult work sorting and packing. However, we got off to time. Expect relief will be a long and tedious job.
We got in all right last night and finished taking over at 10.00 p.m. Kits and men and horses were late and we didn’t get anything to eat till midnight. We were all tired as we left at 6.00 a.m. which necessitated rising at 4.00 a.m. A very interesting part of the line. Our H.Q. in a cellar in a small village, but it’s unsafe to move on the village roads in the day time, only by trenches, and at night they suddenly turn on a bouquet of whizz-bangs in to a bit of the road they suspect movements on. Our cookers, etc., were shelled coming in last night. No casualties, but we shall have them here if men persist in walking about in the day time. Three of the C.O.’s in 107th have gone. Omerod, Chute and Ford-Hutchinson. Been all round the trench line this morning and am mapping it this p.m., and letting Cather go round. There is such a lot to organise and arrange here, I have not time for more than scrappy letters. Am feeling loss of Adjutant rather, but Cather has done splendidly.
The Battalion would take its turn in the line here at Hamel until after the attack on 1 July 1916.
Hamel Sub-Sector, 1916
A busy day, but mostly in the cellar. Russell came to see us, and the man commanding the Battery-one Wilson. I don’t know him. The poor unlucky Downs had about 50 4.2s into their line a.m. and lost three men. Things have been very quiet on our front all day. Have plenty soup stocks and choc. at present, both very useful during the move. Was up early this a.m. and it was glimmering dawn at 6:30 a.m. ‘At.’ and Charlie Johnston are splendid. He took me out to his advanced post this a.m. Ken is still doing Staff Captain. Yes, the Speaker’s letter was A1. Do you gather where we are? About 2 miles to 2½ miles S [south] from our last time in the line.
9.00 a.m. Quiet night. Went round the line from 10.00 p.m. to midnight. Raining and sloppy, and very dark. Fine today and colder. They are already asking for countless returns and harrying reports, &c., which entail me spending most of the morning inside, writing and at the end of the telephone. About the identity disc, the only advantage is you needn’t take it off. A quiet night and no casualties so far. Accounts out here with francs, &c., have to be kept very clear. Have a busy morning. Was up at 5:30 a.m. visiting an outpost you can only get to in the dark. Messages come in every minute. Send nothing more yet. Everything is dumped 1½ miles off and has to be carried.