Saturday, 14th September (1918)

Last night one of the Huns bombing planes was caught in the concentrated rays of many searchlights and brought down in flames.  Hopped out of bed just in time to see the great flare of its bomb-laden annihilation.

Am getting used to my new mounts.  One (nameless as yet) is excellent in all respects, quiet and almost too willing – a loveable animal.  The other “Toby”, has many shortcomings – he is rough, clumsily built, inclined to kick, nip and side-step on to your foot, and lazy; he reminds me of an I.W.W., the sort that hides behind a brick wall and throws broken bottles at a policeman.

Some men wounded at the battery – by gas shells – not pleasant things to be hit with as their wounds don’t heal.  The Hun uses shells partly gas and partly H.E. for the purpose.

Was rather hard on ‘Toby’ – his good points are that he doesn’t wander whilst grazing and obediently opens his mouth to receive the bit.  Their necks are short and sturdy and their little sharp ears quite diminutive after my long lugubrious, leather-lipped last-lappers.

The men’s pronunciation of French names is killing – Bapaume – Bay-poom; and imagine a name like Bus-les-artois pronounced like English.

Sent up to move the guns and ammunition to a less vulnerable position.  There has been a devil to pay (50 casualties in our battery) with gas.  The stuff was still hanging around when we got there.  Plenty of hard work and hard driving over treacherous tracks, through gloomy and poisoned woods, after which, having imbibed copiously from a tank of water, we rattled away back.

The officer of the day – a hardcase – announced to us today the good news of the cutting off of the salient at St Mihiel.  That, he concluded “will teach the bastards to come bombing us!”  He also remarked that the colonel had directed the reading of the news to improve our morale; “so turn in”, said he, “and put some of the morale into the harness.”

nlnzimage 1-2 013604-G NZ battalion passing through Bapaume, 14 Sep 1918

[Image: A New Zealand battalion passing through re-captured Bapaume, France, to rest, during World War I. A sugar factory is in the background. Photograph taken by Henry Armytage Sanders on 14 September 1918. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013604-G]

nlnzimage 1-2 013607-G NZ battalion passing through Bapaume, 14 Sep 1918

[Image: A view over recaptured Bapaume, France, showing a column of troops from a New Zealand Battalion moving towards the camera. Two ambulances can been seen in the background. Also visible is the damage to the town itself. Photograph taken 14 September 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013607-G]

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