23rd August (1918)

That train was a long while arriving.  Then we were laconically informed that we would leave at 6.p.m.  The heat was pitiless and we were at a huge railway centre.  (Candas, with no trees in sight).  Found a boiler of hot water, made tea and drank it by the quart.  The place was on high ground, huge aerodromes in the vicinity, also large aeroplane works where spare parts manufactured and machines repaired.  The next sight and a very satisfactory one was of long trains packed with Hun prisoners who looked pretty cheerful, as if a load had been taken off their minds.  They had bully beef and we spent some time opening their tins as they had no knives.  Another by no means discouraging sight was the number of Americans waiting about in reserve.  It was after 9 p.m. when we completed the few miles to our destination.  With my entire kit and blankets I had to march 3 to 4 miles – feeling as weak as a kitten.  In 10 minutes all my clothes were soaked through with perspiration.  Just managed to stick it – had a huge drink of cold tea and cool stew and snatched a few hours sleep, disrupted by repeated bombing.  Eventually found our wagon lines in the same old place – they have not been able to move them until water supplies are obtained forward.  As the Hun has been pushed back about 5 miles it means that we have at present an enormous “carry” up to our guns.  I was gleefully wading into my mail when alas! every man jack had to harness up and away.  Drove what seemed an endless distance right through the Hun’s old lines where many gruesome mementoes were visible (or smellable), finishing with a very rough ride across shell-torn country to our latest gun position.  Shells bursting none too far off.

nlnzimage 1-2 013492-G NZ Battery advancing, 24 Aug 1918

[Image: A New Zealand Battery moving into a forward position during World War I in France. Shows teams of horses pulling wagons of equipment over ground pitted with shell holes. Photograph taken Grevillers 24 August 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013492-G]

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