Sunday, 31st March (1918)

(Bertrancourt)  Beaucoup shells last night and other disturbances in the form of large rats galloping over my physiognomy and ear-splitting din of adjacent batteries.  This has been the most curious and uncomfortable Easter I’ve ever spent.  Like the other villages, this still retains a few of its bolder or more phlegmatic inhabitants, who do a trade in cider – a foaming and refreshing beverage.  We now get little or no bread, only army biscuits, but the cooks still contrive to make porridge, stews and rissoles.

8.30.p.m.  In bed with a flimsy canvas cover and lucky to get it.  Had opportunity of watching our battery firing salvoes i.e. all six guns at once.  It scared the deuce out of my hair-brained animals.  Enemy planes often swoop down low to observe positions and then there is much rumpus of Archies and machine guns.  Our new lines (in another orchard) are a mile or two further on.  Also had satisfactory sight of a large drive of Hun prisoners – pretty rough customers; they don’t look as though they had had a rosy time.

1-2 013072-G Column of German prisoners captured by NZers, 31 March 1918

[Image: A column of German prisoners captured by New Zealanders during the second Somme offensive walking down a road near Louvencourt. Photograph taken 31 March 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders, National Library, New Zealand, Ref: 1/2-013072-G]

[Note – Real-time extracts from the New Zealand Division HQ Unit Diary, Western Front, 1918, are provided by Archives New Zealand on this Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/NZDIV_Diary  The diary entry for 30 March 1918 states, “The prisoners captured amounted to 250 with 50 machine guns and 1 light minewerfer”.]

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