During the week we have had beautiful weather and being dry the trenches are comfortable. My section has been busy clearing, draining Arras Road trench and resetting trench boards during the day shift. The night shift has been very busy making up Headquarters trench – clearing, building up the traverses and getting ready for revetting – at several points we have had to remove bodies from the trench. This trench has been badly knocked about by T. Mortars and Minnies and all the night there is continual sniping rifle fire.
Had orders to start reformation of Headquarters trench. Previous to arrival of working party inspected trench which while I was there was badly straffed by T. Mortars and Minnies. Worked till 1 a.m. when orders came that all working parties were to clear out. Before we got clear our intense bombardment of Bosch trenches started – a fearful racket. As we entered Aix guns in village commenced to fire -the whole ruined place being lit up by flashes from the guns in the village.
Moved into fresh billers – same building as Wooley. Went up line my section taking over work in Arras Road trench and new communication trench.
About 6 a.m. received orders to rejoin the 3rd Co. at Aix Noulette – moved off at 1 p.m. – tool carts waiting until dark. Reported to Major Aveling about 1.30. The Co. seem very comfortable here – they have the whole section of the sector. After dinner went up the line with Molyneux – at one point the men are digging a new trench with star shells dropping all round. Got back about 3 and slept at Moly’s billet – disturbed by huge rats.
No work until 1 p.m. – my first Sunday rest for many weeks – usually Sunday is an exceedingly busy day. Had a very easy morning. After lunch went up the line . Bosch very busy with shrapnel – many of the Marines being hit.
Before going up into the line I saw Pedler who said he would send a line to (unclear text) – Went round the trenches with Williams. While we were eating our bread and cheese at midday I had a near squeak. We were sitting on a fire step in Forest Alley – a reserve trench – There was a certain amount of firing going on but we were taking not the least notice of this when quite suddenly a splinter from a shell which has burst overhead, came with a buzz just past my shoulder into the trench just 12 inches from the side of my foot – the splinter was about 4 inches long and would have given me quite a good blighty one. I brought away the bit of splinter – after it had cooled off – as a souvenir.
Heavy firing started in the evening to the north of us and we hope to hear of a movement there. The trenches just now are brightened up very much by the great clumps of poppies, cornflowers and all kinds of wild flowers. They grow in amazing quantities in this district.
The No. 2 are gradually taking over the work I had in hand and I expect in a day or two I shall join my Coy. at Aix.
Today Pedler turned up here – he had brought a draft out to Abbeville and had – quite irregularly – come forward in the hope of seeing something of the front line. I met him about 6 and as he was awfully keen on going up I took him along. He was terribly nervous and its very comic to see him with his tin hat on creeping along almost on tiptoe through the firing line. It was his first experience and perhaps being straight from England it as not to be wondered at – we have been brought forward by degrees and are rather surprised to find that it affects one new at the game so much. We got back just before 11 – had some scratch supper at our mess and then he went off.