At Arras we lost 3 Signallers, at this stint at Passendale we lost 5, so there was no one to give me a relief. We were as much with the Infantry as we were with the Battery.  When wires were broken two of us would have to go out to repair them.  We manned an O.P observation post for 24 hours.  Now and then an Officer would go forward to reregister the guns. We sent people over the top during an attack later we had an O.P on the ridge itself.  We went up at night and moved well apart.  Jerry periodically sent up flares and if he did we had to stand still, if we moved a sniper would get us, by standing still we could be tree stumps. At one period we had orders to keep the line open at all costs.  Where our lines were broken he was shelling and a bit was blown out.  We couldn’t point the wires so we had to use our jack knives and tie the wire at each end and stick it in the ground.  It worked all right using the earth to make a line through. It was a bit trying for as a shell came over we had to drop down to avoid shrapnel, we survived!  We went out for a rest and came back in again with very much the same life.  Then after three and a half months we pulled out for good and trained for the Cambria offensive. At about 8 at night I was detailed to go over the top with tanks and infantry.  The Hindenburg line was supposed to be almost impregnable.  I had no instructions, so over we went an Officer and 2 signallers. .  It was a walk over, my Officer told me to get on a tall building and he would flag back to me.  However later on our battery passed me going forward, so I decided I would go forward and see if I could find my Officer.  On my way I passed my Battery stuck in a sunken road, with a tank stuck across the road.  Our men were digging behind the tank, which backed, ran over one of the men and killed him. That was our only casualty.  Moving forward I was passed by a detachment of Cavalry in full dress parade, as you see them in London with shining armour.  What happened to them I never knew.  Moving forward someone shouted “Here where are you going to” I said “ I’m looking for my Officer” he said “Don’t this is as far as we’ve got”. I never saw my officer again- he had been wounded.  Back to the battery I went.  Ten days later I was in the front line with an Officer Jerry was shelling all night.  As fast as we repaired one line it broke down again.  Later that night Jerry started his barrage and apparently broke through our right flank.  I was sent back to the battery with a message while the Officer went to find out what was happening. He (Jerry ) was shelling all the way but I was too frightened of being taken prisoner to worry about that.  By the time I got to the guns the infantry from our right flank were behind us and we were stuck there, all lines were gone. Our own 29th infantry were still holding out so we could not reduce fire.  Eventually we saw Jerry coming over the ridge firing from the hip and the CO said, “Breech blocks out and beat it.  You can’t use the guns without the breechblocks so jerry couldn’t use them.  We lost one signaller.  As I went to the rear I came across a big marquee full of lovely soup.  Nobody was there I and another soldier had a good fill and started on our way out of the fighting arena when a soldier came running to us saying, “Jerry is in that village”.  Later I was picked up and interrogated as to why I retreated – I told them it was our CO orders.  I stayed there two or three days and later found my Unit just as I was reported missing.  That same night a Corporal put me up as centre driver to take up ammunition but one driver an ex-miner said “No you don’t” and the Corporal had to put the ordinary driver up. Now back to dear old Passendale we went –things were a lot better, not so much mud.

 

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