7 Field Company Royal Engineers War Diary 1918 - 1919
King George V, Royal Engineer Cap Badges worn during this period
The Company was known as
The Black Horse during this period
War Diary 1918
7 Field Company RE Diary 1918-1919 source; The National Archives, Kew, TW9 4DU
7 Field Company RE War Diary in blue text
Capt Glubb MC, diary in black text
Ypres,1-5 January 1918: Work on trench board track to Passchendaele continued by 1 & 2 Sections, assisted by 175 men working party on 1st and 3rd. Owing to parties for 4th being cancelled at short notice, trench boards had to be left 150 yds short of destination (circuit in Passchendaele)
work handed over to 222 Field Coy RE, 33 Div on the 5th. Work on Haalen switch continued by Nos 1 & 2 Sections. Nos 2,3,4,5 Posts each proceeded with 4 Splinter proofs for 4 men. - Nos 4 & 5 Posts partially dug. - Work handed over on the 4th to 222 Fd Coy RE. Observation Post for Artillery commenced in Passchendaele but slow progress owing to lack of materials. - During this period 1 N.C.O attached to Bde in line to supervise using of Abrahan Hts Switch. About 1/2 of these were completed.
5 January: Maj Mcqueen returned from leave taking over command from Capt Baker MC. Dismounted Section moved by bus from Ypres to Eecke (4 mile S of Steenvoorde), mounted Section proceeding by march route.
6 - 15 January 1917: During this period certain training (drills, route march, reconnaissance lectures). Then carried out with No 3 Section (returned from hutting under C.E VIII Corps at Bailleul on 9th). No 4 Section and about 1/2 of No 1 Section -- RE HQ remained at Ypres as Steenvoorde was badly off for repairs, camp and billets sanitation necessities, it was necessary to arrange for supply of RE stores from Corps Dump, Oakhanger (near Poperinghe), and also to carry out repairs to minor works in Div area. - For this purpose No 2 Section (Lt Rebbeck M.C) was moved to Steenvorde on 8th, returning to Eecke on 14th. - Various work carried out included section of 16 Nissen huts for 176 Siege Battery R.G.A. in Steenvoorde, repairs to baths in Steenvoorde and Winnizeele, fixing missing points boards, erection of Nissens for Commandant Eecke, 2 Nissens huts for the commandant Winnizeele, marking shell holes for wiring practices for 151 Bde, supply of RE material and target material to Div. Hard frost throughout this period.
Ypres- 15-21 January 1918: Coy returned to Ypres on 15th.(dismounted Sections and Coy HQ by train to Poperinghe and march route, Mounted Section by march route in relief of 446 Field Coy RE who rejoined Div in Steenvoorde area on 17th. On 17th Coy commenced work on Army Battle Zone, Corps line East of Ypres the work consisted of cutting drains to all links of trenches joining Low Farm Keep, Plum Keep, Vampire Keep, Square Farm Keep, Posts 1 to 15. - For this purpose, working parties averaging 250 - 400 were attached About 1800 yds of drains of the middle Section 8' wide at top and 1' at bottom, 3'6" deep with 2'6" berms. Work continued on 17th,18th,19th,20th during which period about 1150 yds of such drains  were completed, remaining drains traced. 200 yds of tramway formation made and various works such as marking gaps in wire etc.
22-28 January 1918:
On 20th orders received for Mounted Sections to proceed by march route in 3 stages to Wizernes (in Tilques area). Coy HQ and dismounted Section by train on 21st. On arrival in Wizernes Nos 1 and 4 Sections were despatched on 21st to work on VIII Corps Musketery School at Noritersecourt (hutting etc) rejoining Coy HQ at Wizernes on the 27th.
29-31 January 1918:
On 26th, O.C. & Lt Baldwin proceeded to Ypres to take over work from 222 Field Coy RE in Passchendaele Sector. - Coy returned to previous billets in Ypres on 28th. Work was commenced on 29th without infantry works parties, also on 30th. - On 31st working parties up to 150 men were attached. - Work in hand as follows: Maintenance of 3 miles of Duckboard track, Completion of Duckboard track to Passchendaele, laying of wire mesh on Trenchboard tracks, continuing work on Posts 2,3,4,5 in Haalen Switch, work on O.P. in Passchendaele, assistance to 149 Brigade (in line) on wiring. Sections got to work on 31st
1-2 February 1918:
Sections employed as follows No 1 (Lt Pottle) Duckboard track connection from D.11.b.4.3 to D.11.d.8.9. No 2 (Lt Keyworth-Davis) Haalen Switch Posts.
No 3 (Lt Baldwin) Artillery O.P. in Passchendaele (d.6.d.40.87) and maintenance of K and Crest Farm tracks. No 4 (Lt Flattery) Coy HQ at Passchendaele (d.6.d.3.3) and maintenance of H track & K track on rear of Panet Road.
3 February 1918: On February 3rd No 2 Section had one casualty, Spr Goodwin wounded. No 4 Section commenced work on Powder Magazine, Ypres. Adapting same for use as
Main Corps Dressing Station. No 1 Section completed connection between Crest Farm and Heine House Tracks.
4-5 February 1918: No 1 Section went into advanced billets in tunnel system at Crest Farm for work on Coy H.Q. Passcendaele. This work consisted in opening a second entrance to the existing mined dugout. The artillery O.P. Passchendaele was completed on night 5-6/2/18. The job consisted of clearing two adjacent small cellars, strutting the walls & roofs and inserting a 6' 6" periscope through the debris covering the smaller cellar
6 February 1918: Lt Col J.A. Mcqueen DSO. MC. RE, left the Company to assume command 50th Divisional RE 6/2/18. Capt H.A Baker MC.RE assumed command of the Company
8 February 1918: Handed over works to 446 Field Coy RE. and took over sector on right, the new work lying in the area enclosed by the Broodseinde - Passchendaele road, the zonnebeke - Broodseinde Road and the Ypres - Roulers railway.  Distribution of Sections, No 1 remained at Crest Farm, No2 employed on Reserve and Support Line Posts.
No 3 started work on a ferro - concrete T.M emplacement at P.17.c.3.8. for  two 6" T.Ms. No 4 remained on Corps Dressing Station, Ypres.
9 February 1918: Capt Baker left to attend Company commmanders course at the RE School, Blendecques. Lt Baldwin took over temporary command of the Company.
10 February 1918: Lt Haywood-Davis RE. was transferred to 351st E&M Coy RE.
11-18 February 1918: No 1 Section returned from Crest Farm and relieved No 4 at Corps Dressing Station on 12/2/18. No 4 commenced work on Duckboard tracks from Daring Crossing D.16.d.7.2. - D.23.a.4.7 and Alma D.22.a.4.6.- Zonnebeke Track at D.22.c.9.7. These tracks were completed by the 16/2/18. Lt H.A.Benson RE arrived as a reinforcement and took over command of No 4 Section commenced work on Reserve Line Posts.
19-22 February 1918: Work was continued up to 22nd when all uncompleted work were handed over to 212 Field Coy RE. of the 33rd Division. The Corps Dressing Station at Ypres was completed on this date. On the 21st the Coy transport less 1 GS wagon, 1 water cart and riders proceeded by road to rest area, attached to transport of the 149 Inf Brigade.
23 February 1918: Dismounted personnel and remaining horse transport were attached to 149th Bde group for move.
am. Dismounted personnel entrained at Brandhoek at 10.50am. 1 GS wagon 1 water cart and 6 riders entrained at Vlamertinghe at 12.50pm. Blankets etc came direct by lorry under Brigade arrangements from Ypres to Cormette in rest area.
pm. 7 Field Company detrained at Wizernes and marched to Cormette. Q.54.c (SH 27 SE) Horse transport arriving by road, arrived the same day.
24-28 February 1918:
25/2/18 Sections 2 and 3 marched to Nortbicourt to work on Fifth Army Musketery School. The remainder of the Company commenced training, special attention being paid to drill and smart turnout. During month the following awards were notified:

6/2/18 No 22435 Spr W. Abbott awarded Belgium Croix de Guerre
11/2/18 No 24914 Cpl J Bates Mentioned in Dispatches. Authority London Gazette.
A painting depicting Canadian Engineers draining flood water and laying duckboards on the route to Passchendaele
A Duckboard recovered from the WW1 Battlefields
Aerial View of Passchendaele before and after the Battle
1-8 March 1918:
At the begining of the month the Company was distributed as follows: 2 & 3 Sections working at Fifth Army Musketery School, Norbicourt. 1 and 4 Sections at Headquarters in training at Cormette. On the 7/3/1918, Nos 2 & 3 Sections were relieved at Norbicourt by Sections 1 & 4 rejoining Headquarters on the same day.
On 8/3/18 Nos 1 & 4 Sections were recalled Cormette
9 March 1918: 7 Field Coy moved, entraining at St Omer at 12 noon.
10 March 1918: Detrained at Moreuil at about 1am and marched to Castel
Fresnoy en Chausse
11-15 March 1918:
Marched from Castel  to Fresnoy en Chaussee arriving about 1pm. Period 11th -15th employed on Company training.
Monchy Legache
16-21 March 1918:
Moved by bus from Fresnoy en Chaussee to Monchy Legache. Here the Coy was employed on the defences of the neighbourhood of Tertry.
22-23 March 1918: on the 22nd, Sections 2 & 3 moved up to Tertry for work,the O.C. Major H.A Baker accompanying them. They were to be employed here on defences under 149th Infantry Brigade. At 3pm work was commenced on Battle trenches north east of Caulaincourt. The work was completed by 5pm, and the half Company withdrew to Caulaincourt where they received orders to hold the village against a threatened attack by enemy cavalry. At 6.15pm the enemy infantry attacked, in waves from the north east, and by skirmishes through Lake Wood to the east of the village. At 6.25 pm the troops holding the line on the right of the half Company gave way, followed by those on the north of the village. The half Company, together with  such infantry as were in the village, then withdrew following a party of the 4th Northumberland Fusiliers and retired along the road, leading north west out of Caulaincourt. Enemy snipers entered the village and caused several casualties the half Company lost 2nd Lt H.A.Benson wounded and five other ranks. The two Sections reformed at Tertry under Major Baker and acting under instructions from 149 Bde, dug in and held a series of posts on the bank of the river Omignon, east of Tertry, where they remained until 2.45 am having received orders from the Brigade at 2 am to bring up the rear of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers and act as a Flank guard as far as Meraucourt, after which the two sections were ordered to rejoin the rest of the Company at Mons en Chaussee. During this time the O.C. disposed the infantry in the new line in front of Monchy Legache and Douvieux.
The half Company left at Monchy Legache on morning of 22nd remained there until orders arrived from Major Baker to move to the neighbourhood of Mons en Chaussee at once.
Transport and 1 & 3 Sections moved off at about 9.pm and reached Mons en Chaussee where they remained in bivouac for the night. Part of No 3 Section joined in the early morning, but the main body of the two forward sections did not reach the Company before it moved off again.
Mons en Chaussee
23 March 1918:
At 6.45 am orders arrived from the C.R.E to cross the Somme at Brie and proceed to Villars Carbonnel. The O.C joined as the Company was moving off at 7.15 am
a guide was left to bring on such of Sections 2 & 3 as had not rejoined. The Company reached Villars Carbonnel about 1.30 pm and remained until 4.30 pm. While at this place enemy aeroplanes came over and used their machine guns upon the troops in the neighbourhood. They were fired upon and two brought down. One driver in the 7 Field Coy was wounded.
24 March 1918: The Company then marched to the neighbourhood of Berny en Santerre arriving about 6 pm. At 10 pm orders arrived from C.R.E and the Company marched to Foucaucourt arriving at 2 am.
25 March 1918: On the afternoon of the 25th the Company was employed on clearing the road running north out of the Estrees Foucaucourt road to Fay and bridging trenches cut across the roads. At  9.30 pm the HQ Transport was moved back to Harbonnieres, the section transport been left to wait for the dismounted sections at Foucaucourt.
26 March 1918:  These sections on completion of the work on roads held Fay until 12 midnight, without being attacked  and then moved back and commenced work on a defence line running in front of Vauvillers and Rosieres-en-Santerre, the Company being employed on a stretch 800 yards long on either side of the Harbonnieres - Lihons road.
pm: Work was completed and the Company moved off at 3pm to a farm south of Vauvillers and there received orders to hold Vauvillers against a possible attack from the direction of Framerville. Remained here until 6 pm and then marched to Wiencourt where they passed the night. The HQ Transport moved from Harbonnieres at 4 pm for Aubercourt.
27 March 1918: At 8 am on 27th the dismounted sections at Wiencourt  paraded and marched out to form a defensive flank about a mile north west of Rosieres. This portion was held from 10 am - 12 noon without fighting. They then concentrated at Harbonnieres where the O.C., Major Baker was wounded by shell fire. Acting under direct orders from the C.R.E. the  Company formed up north of Harbonnieres and attacked in an easterly direction, obtaining there objective the line of the Proyat - Rosieres railway, and then remained in the captured
28 March 1918: trenches until 4 am of the 28th when they received orders to fade away. They then marched to a position slightly to the north of Caix west of the Caix- Harbonnieres Road. This position was occupied from 7 am - 4 pm and the Company was then withdrawn, loosing 10 O.Rs in withdrawing, and were sent by C.R.E to Beaucourt.
HQ Transport remained at Aubercourt until 2 pm the 28th and then marched to Beaucourt, having picked up the section transport before leaving. At Beaucourt an open order was received ordering all transport back behind the Boves - Morevil Line, and the transport marched for Morevil in company with the 447th Field Coy transport. At Morevil orders were received from C.R.E for transport to meet dismounted sections at Castel.
29 March 1918: am.
Company concentrated at Castel at 3 am 29/3/18. HQ transport was moved to Boves during the morning
Boves. pm. Dismounted sections stood by at Castel for work until 6 pm when they rejoined transport at Boves.
30 March 1918: The whole Company left Boves at 10.15 am and marched to Sains-en-Amienios. Small parties of sappers were detailed during the afternoon to keep part of the Boves-Sains road open and the traffic moving.
31 March 1918: Company received orders to move with 149 Inf Brigade Group. Transport went by road to Bourdon. Dismounted personnel proceeded to Saleux to entrain for Rue.
7 Field Company Casualty Returns March 1918
1 April 1918:
Dismounted personnel entrained at Saleux at 6 am, detrained at Rue at 12 noon and marched to Ponches where the Company was
2 April 1918: billeted. Transport arrived at Ponches having marched by road.
3 April 1918: At 6.35 pm on the 3rd, 50 Div OO (
Operations Order) No 141 was received, containing following points of importance:
                      1. The 50th Div is to be transferred from IV Army to I Army
                      2. Division will move by road as follows
                      a. Dismounted personnel by bus on the 4th instant
                      b. Transport by road staging tonight (3/4 April) in Willeman. Transport to start as soon after receipt of order as possible. Transport moved off at 8.45 pm.
4 April 1918: Dismounted personnel enbussed at Ligescourt and proceeded to P.31.c (Ref sheet 36A) near Busnes debussed and marched to billets at Lenglet V22
(ref sht 36A)
5-7 April 1918: Training
8 April 1918: The Company marched complete with transport to new billets at Rue de Bois
9 April 1918: At 8.30 am received orders from 149 Bde to standby ready to move at one hours notice, this was confirmed by a note to the same effect from C.R.Es adjutant received at 8.45 am. At 9.20 am orders arrived from 149 Inf Bde to move and concentrate at L.26.d (sht 36A) south of the Merville - Estaires road. On arrival at rendezvous word was received from C.R.E. That Brigade movement order should have not included this unit, and instructing me to billet at the point of concentration if billets were available and if not to move to Neuf Berquin. Nearest billets were at Rue Provost L.8.d (sht 36A) where the Company remained for the night. The HQ Transport spent the night at Pont Rondin, about midway between Neuf Berquin and Vieux Berquin.
Rue Provost
10 April 1918:
Despatched one section by C.R.Es orders to Vieux Berquin to unload and park the pontoons and bridging equipment of the Divisional C.R.E. At 3.30 pm orders arrived from the C.R.E. for the Company to move up to site and dig a line of posts running north east from in front of Neuf Berquin. Digging commenced at 7.30 pm and continued until 11 pm on a line some three thousand five hundred yards long, running in a north easterly direction from the Courant de la Meteran Becque almost due east of Neuf Berquin. This line consisted of a system of twenty four platoon posts dug as far as possible in ploughed land for concealment. Company billeted for the night in adjacent farms.
11 April 1918: Work was resumed at 5.30 am. At 8 am a platoon of the 7th D.L.I (pioneers) was received to reinforce the working party. At 9.30 am, infantry fell back on our left and would not halt on the line. The sergeant who attempted to stop them failed to ascertain their unit. The situation being very obscure, I thought well to man such posts as I could with forces at my disposal. With the pioneers and sappers I occupied the twelve posts on the right, continuing to work on the same. Reported situation as far as known to C.R.E. and 149 Inf Bde. About 10.30 am, infantry from various units from the 29th and 40th Divisions and the fifthteenth Corps Entrenching Battalion arrived to man the line. I discovered at this time that the 29th Division had some posts dug about 300 yards in rear of my left flank, so while the infantry were occupying the line we had been working and employed sappers and pioneers on a switch line connecting our right flank with the left of the posts of the 29th Division.
The infantry from the 29th and 40th Divisions and the XV Corps Entrenching Battalion were withdrawn at about 1 pm. Received word from C.R.E that Division believed there were plenty of troops in front and we were to remain while we could do useful work. At 2 pm a half Company of RE of the 29th Div armed for digging. I showed them what had already been done and their officer agreed to inform C.R.E 29th Div, in order to allow of continuity of work, as their sector was the left half of that I had been working on. Visited 149 and 150 Inf Bde HQ to see if any definate work was wanted and was informed that the sector I was employed on had been taken over by 29th Division. Returning to the works I found right hand posts manned by infantry with machine guns in action behind them. Withdrew sappers towards Douliez at 2.30. Met C.R.E of 29th Div on road and learned that he had men working on the same posts that we had traced and started. Received orders from C.R.E. to go back to Pont Rondin where HQ Transport had been left. The transport had moved  back to Vieux Berquin owing to shelling, leaving guides. Billeted remainder of company at Verte Rue near Vieux Berquin. At 11 pm Capt Smith O.C. of 447 Field Coy RE called to say he had received orders to transmit to other field companies to send transport back on to the La Motte - Hazbrouck road while the sappers were to withdraw fighting with infantry.  I did not myself see the written order. Shifted the Company to a point near Lamotte with the 447 Field Coy, as there were no infantry about to attach the Company to, and the point billeted at was in good position for observing and holding the two roads that converge on Lamotte.
12 April 1918: Received instructions from C.R.E. to take up a line on the southern edge of the Boi d' Aval to the east of Cau Descure, hold this line as long as possible and if forced to, to retire fighting northwards through the wood.  We arrived in position about 10.45 am but the situation appeared to have cleared, as the infantry  had a line and were in touch well in front of us.  Those of the 150 Brigade, fell back behind the houses in front of us about 6.30 pm and went forward again. They came back again about 8.30 pm to the wood and proceeded to move back through it. At 8.45 pm I received orders from the C.R.E to withdraw.
As our line of retirement was up a perfectly straight glade that could be shot up for nearly a thousand yards from the farms in front (south of the wood) I thought it advisable to hold them until the remainder of the Company should have cleared the glade.  The section posted here met troops of the incoming 5th Division before being recalled.
13 April 1918: Company moved from Lamotte to Le Parc to work for the 5th Division.  Commenced work on line running from Haverskerque to Le Parc in front of these two villages.
The 230th A.T. Coy RE and the pioneers of the 5th Division were also employed here.  Ceased work at 8 pm upon direct orders from C.R.E. By this Company, six platoon posts were dug to a depth of three feet south of Le Parc and 1300 yards of single apron fence run out north and east of Haverskerque.
14-17 April 1918: 7th Field Coy RE worked with the 149 Inf Bde on a line running from the Canal De La Nieppe south of Lamotte, round the eastern edge of Bois Des Vaches and then across to the woods to the south. Owing to the marshy nature of the ground, the work was principally breastworks and correspondingly slow.  A double belt of double apron fence was run out along the whole sector before the Brigade moved out, and in addition a fairly continuous front line, an incomplete series of posts as supports and a line of fairly good posts as reserve were left.
18 April 1918: 7 Field Company RE marched to Glomenghem
19 April 1918: Training commenced, special attention being paid to cleanliness and smartness on parade.
20 April 1918: The Company was inspected by Major General Jackson DSO. G.O.C. 50th Div.
21st April 1918: The Company was obliged to move to Blessy to make room for the 149 Inf Bde reinforcements.
22-26 April 1918: Training continued (drill, demolitions and lectures)
on 23rd a warning order was received to effect that two Field Companies RE and 7th D.L.I. Pioneers had been lent to 5th Division for work. This was cancelled by a later order warning the Division to be be prepared to move to another part of the front on the 25th.
27 April 1918: On the night of the 26th the Company moved to Pernes, the entraining station, dismounted personnel by transport by road. Entrained 4.30 am 27th. Detrained at Fere en Tardenois at 3 pm and marched to Coulonges.
28-30 April 1918: Received training programme.
April 1918 Reinforcements
April 1918 Company works map
Some samples from the 1918  War Diary, April Reinforcements and Works Map for14-17 April 1918.  Click on thumnails
1-4 May 1918:
At rest. The Company did Infantry training. Received lectures from O.C. and Section Officers.
5 May 1918: 6.30 am the Company marched to Muscourt via St Gilles, Fismes and Basweux. The O.C. with advance party of Capt Slattery and N.C.O.s proceeded by motor lorry to Centre De Poitiers between Craonelle & Pontavert and took over work and billets from  the 1163 French Engineer Company. This taking over was completed on the 7th May.
6 May 1918:
Waiting orders
7 May 1918: 7.30pm The Company marched to new billets at Centre De Poitiers.
Centre De Poitiers
8 May 1918:
The O.C. & Section officers & N.C.O.s reconnoitred works taken over from French Engineer Company and works were allotted to respective Sections.
9-26 May 1918: No 1 Section work on wiring and reclaiming trenches and putting into state of defence Ligne de Reduit.  A deep dug out was commenced for M.G Emplacement has now completed.
9-22 May 1918: No 2 Section constructing M.G. Emplacements and construct Pill Boxes for M.G. Crew in Bois de Beau Marias and wiring same. Reclaiming and putting in state of defence, Ligne Intermediare from La Hutte to Bois Des Butte                                                     
22-26 May 1918: No 2 Section  working on the construction of a new Rifle Range  Beaurieux, working under C.R.E.
9-26 May 1918: No 3 Section were working and constructing machine gun emplacements, work on Pill Boxes, wiring trenches at Centre Hoche and Ligne De Soutien, improving sand bags and putting Ligne De Reduit in state of defence, Gas proofing all dug outs of 149 Brigade H.Q at P.C. Calvaire and all dug outs to A,B,C and D Batteries of 250 and 251 Brigades R.F.A.
9-26 May 1918: No 4 Section work on improvement and construction of new fire bay on Ligne De Soutien. No 4 Section moved into new billets forward, and gas proofing all dug outs in 149 Brigade area under149 Brigade Gas Officer. On 26th No 4 Section moved back to Coy HQ, Centre De Poitiers during the training.
26 May 1918: Orders were received to take all necessary precautions for an enemy gas attack.

27 May 1918: 1 am.
A heavy enemy bombardment commenced, which included a large percentage of gas shells. The Sections were warned and took shelter in their gas proof dug outs. It is believed that owing to the absence of orders, Lt Pottle MC was instructed by the O.C. to  reconnoitre and ascertain the nature of the situation forward of the Coy billets, but owing to the O.C. Major Baldwin MC and Lt Pottle MC becoming casualties, this cannot be confirmed. It then appears Lt Pottle MC, reported that he enemy were close at hand.
7.45 am; Orders were issued by O.C for the Coy to parade immediately in fighting order, this was in the act of being carried out when the Company was surprised by the enemy, and it appears from evidence that the Sections were overwhelmed and taken prisoners together with all documents and effects of Company office.
Immediately following orders for this I. A.  parade, the O.C Major Baldwin DCM was found seriously wounded by shrapnel near Company H.Q. and succumbed to his wound whilst being attended to.  Following this, Lt Pottle MC was shot in the arm  whilst engaging the enemy at close range with 2nd Lt King. Lt Pottle was evacuated by field ambulance.
9.30 am: 2nd Lt King and a few remaining men retired and joined No 2 Section at Beaurieux at 9.30 am. All communication during the above operation appears to have ceased as no orders for the Coy were received from the time of the communique of the bombardment.
Beaurieux 27 May 1918: No 2 Section on detachment, were clearing roads of all debris during the above bombardment and at about 10 am retired across the river Aisne with the infantry and there met C.R.E. Adjutant and took up battle position left of Maizy remaining there till about 12 pm. Meanwhile sending out patrols on either flank to keep touch. Patrols reported they could not find any troops on either flank. 2nd Lt Rebbeck decided to retire to receive further orders and get in touch with other units, and met C.R.Es adjutant who instructed him to join Coy transport moving to St Gilles. Communication was then established by cycling orderlies with C.R.E. and the Company transport was near at Baslieux and then moved to St Gilles. Here no billeting accomodation could be obtained, and the Coy joined Divisional RE Transport and moved to Cohan Camp.
28 May 1918: 4.30 am:
Orders were received for the Company to march to Savigny. Company moved off at 6. am via Lagery Lhery and faverolles where all transport was found moving back from the line.  Orders were received to move back to Villers Argon and billet for the night.
Villers Argon
29 May 1918:
Company moved back to Chatillon sur Marne where verbal orders were received from C.R.E to detail parties to standby in readiness to demolish 2 bridges, one bridge being near Montigny over Le Camp river, and a suspension bridge over River Marne at Pont a Binson. These two bridges was reconnoitred by C.R.E.  Capt Smith 447 Field Coy and 2nd Lt Rebbeck  & the Coy was ordered to standby and prepare bridge for demolition when ordered. At 4 pm  verbal orders by C.R.E were received cancelling this demolition & the Coy was ordered to move to Troissey to collect pontoons from C.E. IX Corps and to assist in constructing pontoon bridge on the River Marne at Troissy. Pontoons from various field Coys were collected and bridging site was shown to 2nd Lt Rebbeck by C.R.E.  At 9.30 pm C.R.E. issued verbal orders cancelling this bridging & ordered all pontoons to return to their Companies. The Company bivouacked at Troissy for the night.
30 May 1918: Company marched to Igny under orders to join Company Transport who had proceeded to Igny the previous day.  On arrival at Igny the Company received orders to march with the Division to Corribart and moved off from Igny at 2.40 pm & bivouacked at Corribert for the night.
31 May 1918: 3 am:
Orders were received for the Company's pontoons to proceed under Lt Gude of 447 Field Coy to Damery and moved off at 3 am.  At 10 am Company marched to Toulon Le Montagne and thence to billets at Aulnizeux
British 18 Pounder Shell
Casualties, Promotions, etc for May 1918,
Scroll Left to Right
May 1918 Missing Believed POW  1
May 1918 Missing believed POW page 2
1 June 1918: The Compay was stationed in billets at Aulnizeox and remained there until June 9th, during which time men were being rested and provision made for re-equipping.
2 June 1918; 11 am. C.R.E. conference of O.C Field Companies where instructions were given regarding the formation of a composite Field Company from the 3 dominant Field Coys RE, to be ready to move into the line if ordered. by these arrangements 3 sections with their transport, also portion of HQ transport of 446 N Field Coy RE, and 1 section with transport, and remaining HQ transport to bring the Composite Coy to establishment from 7 Field Coy RE, were to form up as a complete Field Coy RE. For purpose of work this body was named "A" Echelon and will be referred to as such in the following paragraphs. This arrangement necessitated preparations being made for the remaining Divisional RE Transport, not included in the above, and consisting of portions of 446 Northumberland Field Coy, 7 Field Coy and whole transport of 447 Northumberland Field Coy  to form a seperate body, this body to be known as "B" Echelon and to be under the command  of Capt Duith of 447 Northumberland Field Coy RE.
Arrangements were discussed and it was decided that each respective Field Company in the Division were to remain seperate and intact until such time as orders were received for the 50th Divisional Field Company RE to move into the line, when the Coys would automatically combine and form up into their respective "A" & "B" Echelons.
3-5 june 1918: Company paraded or Physical Training & Drill. vehicles were cleaned. Painting of the same.
6 June 1918; 8 am: The 50th Div Composite Field Coy were paraded for drill under orders of C.R.E
7-8 June 1918: Company paraded for Physical Training, drill. Cleaning and painting of Company vehicles continued.
9 June 1918: 8 am: Company marched into new area Mondement were bivouacs were needed, near a wood 500 yards West of Mondement
10-11 June 1918: Company paraded for Physical Training & Drill. Cleaning and painting of Company vehicles continued.
12 June 1918; 10 am: Inspected by G.O.C. 50 Division of 50th Divisional Field Coy RE at Mondement.
13-15 June 1918: Company paraded for Physical Training, Section Drill & field works.
16 June 1918: Divine Service.
17 June 1918: 9 am: Company moved into new area Les Essarts and new billets in the village of L'Ermite.
18 June 1918: Company paraded for inspection of feet and general fatiques for accommodation of new billets.
19 June 1918; 10 am: "A" Echelon of 50th Divisional Composite Field Coy RE paraded on L'Ermite - La Nove Road for inspection by C.R.E. Inspection was cancelled owing to inclement weather
20 June 1918; 10 am: Inspection by C.R.E. of  50th Divisional Composite Field Coy RE. owing to postponement on previous day.
21-22 June 1918: Company paraded for Physical Training, Section drill. Lectures were given on Trestle Bridges and Demolitions.
23 June 1918; 9 am: Divine Service
                          2.30 pm. Tug of War competition amongst Divisional Field Coys RE
24 June 1918; 4 pm: "A" Echelon 50th Divisional Composite Field Coy RE paraded for inspection by G.O.C 50th Division on L'Ermite - La Nove Road but inspection was postponed the last moment.
25 June 1918: Introduction to Sappers in Field Geometery.
26 June 1918; 9 am: Transport of "A" Echelon of 50th Divisional Composite Field Coy RE under 2nd Lt M.King new area. Jan Villers, preparatory to moving in to line.
27 June 1918: Company paraded for drill and gas drill, inspection of respirators. Transport of "A" Echelon of 50th Divisional Composite Field Coy under 2nd Lt M.H. King  received orders to return from Janvillers to Company HQ at L'Ermite.
28-29 June 1918: Preparatory training and introduction in Field Works.
30 June 1918: Divine Service
Missing presumed taken prisoner
& Medal Awards May 1918
Scroll Left to Right
May 1918 Casualties and Missing
May 1918 Promotions & Casualties
1 July 1918; 9. am:
Company marched from L'Ermite to staging area St Loup arriving 1.30 pm and bivouaced for the night.
2 July 1918; 7 am: Company moved from St Loup to Connantray arriving at 12 pm and bivouaced for the night.
3 July 1918; 3.30 am: Company moved from Connantray to Sommesous arriving at 4.45 am sustained at Sommesous at 8.18 am, arrived at Hangest at 10 am 4th July 1918.
4 July 1918: When Coy detrained Company marched from Hangest to L'Arbre A' Mouche arinving at 2.45 pm
L'Abre A'Mouche
5-6 July 1918:
Re-equipping and training
7 July 1918;6 am: Company marched from L'Arbre A'Mouche to new billets at Merelessart arriving at 9 am.
8- July 1918: Re-equipping and training
9-20 July 1918:
Re-equipping and training
21 July 1918: Dismounted personnel re-equipping and training. Mounted personnel and transport moved by road  Merelessart to Gamaches.
22 July 1918:
Dismounted personnel moved by bus Merelessart to Martin Eglise.  Mounted personnel and transport Gamaches to Bailey.
Martin Eglise
23 July 1918:
Dismounted personnel training and work in Camp. Mounted Section moved Bailey to Martin Eglise.
Martin Eglise
24-31 July 1918:
Training and working on 50th Division Camp. Pontooning started 27th & continued each day. Training consisting of close order drill, musketry entended order. Lewis gun instruction, demolition practice, map reading, field geometry, knots and lashings and bridging with pontoon and service trestles.

In June 1918 Captain J Glubb MC RE, was in London nearing the end of his convalescence from an injury sustained in July 1917 whilst serving in the Company. We pick up his Diary again from this point. His diary is in black text.

I bombarded the authorities with requests for medical boards and for postings to France.
At last, in June 1918, I persuaded a medical board to pass me fit to return to the front. I immediately wrote to the Adjutant General's branch at the War Office, begging them to send me to France. On 11 July, 1918, I was given command of a draft and sailed from Southampton to Le Havre and Rouen.

11 - 14 July 1918: Dad had arranged for me to be posted back to the 7th Field Company, but I spent an anxious restless week at Rouen, waiting for the orders to come through. The base depot was a very unpleasant place. The permanent base staff was most unsympathetic and aloof, if not down­ right rude to officer reinforcements passing through. We were all treated like children, only allowed into the town once a week and so on.
Rouen has in places some very ancient houses, built of old oak, with overhanging upper storeys. Such old houses can rarely be seen in England and never in such numbers. But they are mostly on very dirty little back streets, and look squalid and dilapidated. The cathedral is beautiful. The public gardens on the road to the race course, where the base depot is, are fine by reason of the large number of magnificent old trees. Rouen is, of course, crowded with British troops. At last my orders arrived, and I set off, being told that the 50th Division was, of all places, at Dieppe, on the Channel coast.
I have seen a good many Americans in passing through Southampton and Le Havre, where the quays are swarming with them. Everyone is full of rumours of the number of thousands of them which are supposed to be landing every day. It is an extraordinary contrast to compare their men with ours. America, an enormous nation, just beginning to create an army, only accepts young men of about twenty­ four to thirty, and of the very best physique. She has no shortage of man-power. The result is that they are an extra­ ordinarily  even-looking  lot, an effect which is greatly increased by their all having their hair clipped short, and being clean shaven. To me they all look the same.
To these compare the British Army, any unit of which at this time contained men of ages from  eighteen or less (officially nineteen) up to fifty. Little children, pale and only half-developed, who had lied about their ages when they enlisted, mingle with stooping grey headed old  men. Between these two extremes, there is a mixture of old hands, with medals and two or three wound-stripes  on their arms, veterans now of four years of war and yet it is this unpromising-looking army, which is this year excelling itself, after passing through one of the most fiery ordeals which any army ever endure?. We appear to be now returning once more to the offensive . While I have been waiting at Rouen, we received news that the French and the British have counter attacked from Saissons to Chlateau-Thierry.
We  had  expected the Yanks to be very cocky and to announce that they had come over to show us how to win the war. (My impression that all Yankees were 'smart' and aggressive had perhaps been derived from an overdose of O. Henry!) In fact, the one or two American officers I met and spoke to at the base, were extremely modest, pleasant and polite.
Of course the French have suffered an even greater per­centage of losses than we have. Nearly all their men have been fighting since 1914. They fought splendidly in 1915. In February 1916, they went through the vale at Verdun. On the Somme, they were still in great fighting form and often left us behind. But since then their glory has been waning. In the winter of 1916-17, their morale fell greatly and with it their discipline. Absence without leave was frequent. The men ceased to salute their officers. In April 1917, their great attack in Champagne, timed to coincide with our Battle of Arras, ended in fiasco. Throughout the remainder of 1917, they  were quiet , though their discipline is said to have been pulled together a little by Petain. The Boche offensives in the spring of 1918 practically finished them, though they did not bear the brunt of them as we did nevertheless, it must be remembered that, for over two years, France bore by far the hardest burden, that her losses have been colossal, and that a large part of her country is entirely desolated. We must pay tribute to the many great generals she has produced and the very many gallant men who defended cette vieille France, with all the ardour of the Crusaders. But there is no doubt that now the French are inferior to us in discipline. No British army, on the whole, has ever been so well disciplined as ours is, after four years of war.

I at last left the base depot camp at 8.15 a.m on 23 July, in a pour of rain. It took two hours in a civilian train from Rouen  to Dieppe, where I arrived about lunch-time, with only two francs in my pocket, which I spent in buying some food.  The  Railway  Transport  Officer  told  me  that  the division was at Martin-Eglise,  an outlying village, so I set out to walk.  I got a lift in a passing mess cart, till I met Driver Thomas on the road, with Frenchman and Blondin. He was very surprised to see me; later I met Driver King with a pair of mules in a limber, and he took me to the horse lines.  On the way I met Rebbeck,  Sergeant Church  and Corporal Orchard, all extremely surprised to see me back. I looked around the horse lines. The horses were looking very poor, much more so than I had ever seen them before. Many of the drivers are gone, including Cullen, White, Pearcey, Enderby, Ayliffe, Palmer,   Vane, Armstrong, Milne and Houston: Seeing the drivers and horses again was like a very happy homecoming to me.
I walked over to the camp, where the whole division was under  canvas. Potts was still Adjutant of the Divisional R.E. I then reported to the O.C. of the 7th Field Company, a Major McGill, a territorial of Canadian origin. Rebbeck was the only officer in the company I knew. All the others were strange to me. The 50th Division had sustained the full force of the first Boche offensive on the Somme on 21 March, 1918, and had suffered very heavily. Baker had become an acting major and was commanding the company, but was wounded in that battle and evacuated to England.                               '
The shattered remnants of the 50th Division had been
moved down to Champagne, a quiet sector, to recuperate. But the Boche then switched his attack to Champagne, and the 50th Division again received the full force of the enemy offensive, and was almost exterminated. A great part of the division had been cut off and surrounded, and was either destroyed or taken prisoner.
I met, with very great pleasure, what few sappers of the old company had survived the battles of the spring, and I think they also were glad to see me. O'Connell and Matthews were both sergeants. Kelly, Cutts, Clear and Folkard had survived, and a few others from No 2 Section. All the rest had been exterminated, together with  all the officers, except Rebbeck.

24 July: The 50th Division, together with the three other divisions who were entrapped at Reims at the end of May, are out here re-forming. All the old division is broken up and completely new infantry battalions have arrived.
Last spring, for  want of men, all infantry brigades in France were reduced from four battalions to three.  The same has just been done in the Near East. All the odd fourth battalions from the Mediterranean are being brought back to France and used to reconstruct the three divisions which had been destroyed at Reims. There are no longer any Northumberland  or Durham battalions with us.
All the men from the Near East are suffering from malaria, and go sick every wet day. They have to parade several times a day to take a dose of quinine. There is scarcely a soul I know anywhere. Instead of coming back to old friends, I am asked by these people when I joined their division. Only Hearn the Vet is still at Divisional Head­ quarters. No one on the brigade staffs has pulled through.
I forgot to mention that Rimbod is still with the company, and has been given the French Medaille Militaire and the British Military Medal. After the disastrous battle at Reims, the head of the French military mission at divisional head ­quarters had asked  McQueen if he could recommend Rimbod for a medal, on the grounds that all the other interpreters had  been recommended, so it would be bad luck if he were not. McQueen, who was always . conscien
tious, had replied that, as Rimbod never went near the front line, he could not, of course, recommend him for gallantry. However, he was a nice fellow and had done a very good job at buying food for us in the back areas. On the strength of which he had received the above two medals.
Martin Eglise
1-20 August 1918:
Training and refitting. Work in 50th Div Camp
20-31 August 1918: Company Chiefly employed on work on Divisional Camp with training, when time allowed, with pontooning, marching. A field day was held weekly, with remainder of Div RE

10 August -16 September: At Martin-Eglise. At the beginning of this period the weather was glorious beyond words, but in September we had a good deal of rain.
The division is being formed into brigades and the new battalions from the East are being put into training. It is impossible for us to move until the doctors have, to some extent at least, combated the malaria at present, fifty per cent of their strength go sick after every wet day.
I bought some bathing drawers at the canteen and, three or four times a week, I took the drivers over to Les Puits. We climbed a spur of the hills, along a shady lane, then out on to the open downs beyond which, sparkling far and wide, lay the sea. We dropped steeply into a narrow valley in a crack between two towering chalk cliffs, and left the horses tied in a shady orchard, deep in cool, tall grass. Les Puits was a typical little Norman seaside place, but very small.
On the front itself was a huge building with damp, peeling walls, which had begun life as a big hotel, but was now a hostel for Belgian refugees. There were a very few civilians about. We walked down the beach and undressed under the cliffs. A good many of the fellows could swim but very few did so well, excepting old Corporal Rennie who can do anything. We were about the only unit in the division who came regularly, I think. The idea was mine. The sappers only came once, when McGill was away and I was acting O.C. I enjoyed these drives and bathes tremendously. At first all the men used to want to come, (all bathing was voluntary) but the novelty wore off after a bit.
I have received a letter  from the Chief Engineer of a Corps offering me the job of his staff officer. Of course this would be priceless experience for my career, as it is a very valuable asset to have been a staff officer in wartime. But sentiment and affection for my comrades overcame interest, and I wrote back refusing, saying that I would sooner go up the line again with the boys. I am afraid that this will be a blow to Dad, both because he will be thinking of my future advancement, and because he would have preferred me to be at a Corps Headquarters, almost completely out of danger.
At Martin-Eglise, we did a number of divisional training operations. On one occasion, a skeleton force of the three field companies, acting as infantry, held a position which was attacked by the rest of the division. I was O.C. at the time, as McGill was on leave. When riding round with the C.R.E. and the officers commanding the other two companies, my new horse, Monchy, put his foot in a hole and turned  a rare somersault.
Company returns for July 1918. Reinforcements, Casualties etc.
August 1918 Casualties
August 1918 Reinforcements
August 1918 Reinforcements
August 1918 Reiforcements page 2
Company returns August 1918
Martin Eglise
1-16 September 1918:
in Camp at Martin Eglise, Dieppe; Company employed on training and improvement of the camps in the neighbourhood. Pontooning was carried out both by day and night. Huts and horse standings were constructed.
16 September 1918: On the 16th the Company entrained and proceeded to 3 Army Area, detraining at Bouquemaison and marching to billets in Brevillers.
17-25 September 1918: At Brevillers- Training and refitting.
26 September: Moved from Brevillers to Esbart Farm near Agincourt. Transport by road. Dismounted personnel by bus.
27 September 1918: Dismounted personnel at Esbart. Transport moved by road to Fricourt.
28 September 1918: Dismounted  personnel by bus to Nurlu. Transport moved by road to Nurlu.
29-30 September 1918: At Nurlu standing by.

16 September -26 September: At last we are off. A great and glorious surprise. With all this malaria in the division, I had not thought that we should go up the line again this year. We left Arques-la-Bataille by train, via Doullens to Bouquemaison, and thence marched to Brevillers. I have been commanding the company for a month, but the O.C. returned from leave on 18 September.  On 26 September, the mounted section and myself started at 07.00 hours, and marched with the brigade transport to Contay, a very long march. The sappers went by lorry. Let us hope that we shall not march again tomorrow.

27September: Orders for the mounted section to march at 09.30 hours  were  received at 08.30. Route Warloy­ Henencourt - Millencourt - Albert. Warloy was a little damaged by shell-fire, Henencourt more so, Millencourt completely flat, and nothing whatever is left of Albert. The Virgin has fallen, the church has almost vanished. The Cafe du Jeu de Paume is no more. This occurred during the Boche advance in March 1918, when Albert came once more under fire, though the Germans did not actually take it.

28September: At 5.30 a.m. received orders to start at a quarter to seven. Great haste and commotion. We were on the road ready to march off punctually all the same, but then had to stand for a whole hour at two hundred yards distance from our camp!
Moved off finally and crossed the whole desolate wilderness of the Somme battlefields by Fricourt - Mametz - Montauban - Guillemont - Combles - Sailly Saillisal-Manancourt-Nurlu.  Arrived  at  6 p.m,  after eleven hours on the march.
From Albert onwards, the country presented the most frightful picture of desolation. Nowhere was there a living soul to be seen. Great bare hills ploughed into a wilderness of shell-holes, a fine, grey misty rain, not a house - not even a tree between Fricourt and Manancourt, a distance of some fifteen miles.

29September: The dismounted portion of the company is near Moislans. Standing by all day with the horses ready, waiting for orders to march. Eventually night came, with still no instructions. Slept on the ground with no covering. Rain. Sent the men's blankets up to the company, but the driver lost his way. At eleven pm, I went myself pitch dark and raining. Got back to bivouac at 1.30 am, and tried to sleep in the rain and the wind.

30September -1 October: Still in Nurlu, standing by for orders to march. Nothing doing. On 1 October, succeeded in getting hold of four tents from the Town Major.
From the Field
1-6 October 1918:
Company in dug-outs in front of Epehy. Reconnaissance of St Quentin Canal in Vendhuile with a view to bridging. Stores for same purpose collected in Epehy.
On Oct 5th, infantry attacked. Company cooperating constructed two footbridges over canal and one pontoon bridge.
6-10 October 1918: Company moved up to De La L'eau.  Vendhuile-MacQuin Court-Le- Catelet road repaired. Bridge for all traffic constructed in Le Catelet over L'Escaut. On Oct 10th Company moved to neighbourhood of Clary.
11 October 1918: Standing by at Clary.
12-14 October 1918: Company marched to Le Trou au Soldat.  Reconnaisance of forward area carried out.
14-19 October 1918: Bridge for Horse transport constructed west of St Benin, and watering point at same place. Pontoon bridge put in across River Selle in front of St Benin.
19-23 October 1918: whole Company clearing roadway blocked by demolition of railway viaduct,
1/4 mile N.W. of St Benin.  On 23rd Company moved up to Mill. 1/2 mile due west of St Benin church.
24-27 October 1918: Assisting 25th Division to clear road from Le Cateau - Basuel, where blocked 1/4 mile west of Basuel by demolition of railway.
28-31 October 1918: Company resting in Mill, west of St Benin. Company suffered very heavy casualties this month commencing about Oct 15th from "spanish" Influenze. About 50 men went sick to an isolation hospital, about 30 of there being drivers. For a fortnight, the horses and waggons were almost all driven by dismounted men.

2 October: Started at last. The major having gone up the line to loqk round and take over, I lead the  company up to Epehy. We are back up, the line here, in the middle of the guns.
Marching up with the company, saw a pretty little exhibition. A Boche machine dived unexpectedly from the blue on to one of our kite-balloons. We could just hear the rat-tat-tat of his machine gun. The observers were out in their parachutes before you could say 'knife', and a second later the balloon burst into flames. The Boche then flattened out and flew at the next balloon; out popped .the two parachutists from it also, and the balloon burst into flames. A very neat little performance.
Having arrived at Epehy with the whole company, we were then told that the mounted portion should have been left behind, and they were sent back to Saulcourt. I followed them later and reached their camp at 9.30 pm.

3 -5 October: Comfortable here in dugouts. The division is in the line. The Boche are holding a section of their great Hindenburg Line. Our particular front is in the village of
Vendhuille. Here the enemy is holding one side of the canal and we the other.
.We are expecting to attack soon, and immediately this is done, the company is to erect a bridge over the canal at Vendhuille. For this purpose, we have been reconnoitring the place where the bridge is to be. This is not easy to do as the Boche is on the far bank of the canal. I went up to Vendhuille at night and had a good look at the whole place. Things were fairly quiet.
We were quite busy on this job. We were first to fix some light footbridges in front of the infantry, when they assaulted across the canal. There was some excitement over the construction of these floating footbridges, which were made alternatively of cork, petrol cans or other improvised materials. Number 283 Army Troops Company R. E. were near us at Saulcourt, with one of the new Inglis bridges, packed  on  motor  transport.  Eventually,  after  the  assault  bndges, we put in our pontoon equipment on a deviation leaving  the   main road gap clear for 283 Company; subsequently to erect their heavy Inglis bridge .

6 October: The division attacked today and took Putney, Le Catelet, Gouy,  and La Pannerie.
5 - 7 October: _working all day carrying up bridging material for the bridge at Vendhuille. We put in a pontoon bridge at Vendhmlle and Seels, with No 2 Section, put  a bndge across at Le Catelet, to take up to six-inch guns. The Boche are now holding the Beaurevoir - Masnieres line. The company is at Dela l'Eau.

8 October: We attacked again today and took Aubencheul ­ au-Bois, Villers-Oureaux  and Guisancourt. The enemy is now expected to withdraw to the Valenciennes  line. The

army on our left, however, report heavy fighting still going on at Cambrai. Pontoon and trestle bridges erected at Vendhuille were dismantled today, heavy bridges having been erected. The pontoons have been loaded up to follow the infantry. They will be required in a day or two to cross the river at Le Cateau.       .
The division is advancing north east approximately up the straight road from Estrees to Maretz, Reumont, and south­ east of Le Cateau. We hope thus to turn the flank of the enemy, who are still resisting at Le Cateau.
I carried out a reconnaissance of the roads just behind our advancing infantry beyond the Masnieres-Beaurevoir line. As I was returning at dusk, I could see the villages on fire miles away ahead towards Maretz and Busigny. We did not know at the time the exact result of our attack, but I wrote in my report to the C.R.E. that the enemy seemed to be retiring right away, burning the villages.

9 October: We attacked again today and took Maretz, Clary, Bertry,  Maurois,  Honnechy,  Reumont,  Troisvilles.

10 October:   Woken  up at 3 a.m.  by orders to march  at 6 am. Dark and cold. Marched via Le Catelet, Guisancourt, Serain, Maretz and Bois de Gattigny . We occupied a large deserted factory at Clary. Very comfortable quarters and the horses under cover. The villages here are once more intact, or only very slightly damaged.                                /
The Boche seems to be very shaken. He seems to have been only delaying us from the 6 to 9 October. Once the Hindenburg Line went on 6 October, he probably decided to move back to his next position. On 9 October, he melted away and by the morning of 10 October was back holding a line St Souplet - St Benin,  south of Le Cateau.

11October: Our billets at Clary were too comfortable to last. The Chief Engineer, V Corps, came round and told us we were in his area . We seem to have lost our division!
12 October: Marched out of Clary via Maretz to Le Trou aux Soldats.  A  good  billet  here  too.  It  is  very  delightful  and comfortable being In undestroyed country. The mounted section is in an old German bakery. All the horses are under cover.
The Boche is holding a line through St Benin and St Souplet, two villages on a ridge. On our left, the 66th Division is in Le Cateau. We have relieved the 25th Division in front of St Benin and St Souplet. The 2nd American Army Corps is on our right, supported by the artillery of the Anzac Corps, the infantry of which is out resting.

12 October: Our front line is in the bottom of the valley of the River Selle, overlooked by the enemy on the St Benin - St Souplet ridge. An operation for the crossing of the River Selle is being planned. We are making up light infantry foot bndges, which the sappers are to run out in front of the assaulting infantry and throw down over the stream.

12-20 October: During this period, the wagons were employed on the road Le Trou aux Soldats through Busigny ad Honnechy. In front of the Honnechy cross-roads was in view of the enemy and could only be used at night. One of Pearcey's horses was wounded here one night. It was hit in the face. I asked the vet to try and save it-it was a beautiful chestnut -but it had to be shot in the end.
I went up several times by day on foot to recce, and we selected a partially damaged farm near St Benin, which the company was  to move up to directly after the attack. As Field Service Regulations state, 'time spent on recon­naissance is seldom wasted'. We are on something like open warfare here, with almost undamaged country and no trenches. The front line is merely a chain of little posts, dug in under hedges, at road corners etc.
On one occasion, I took some wagons up at night to the farm in front  of St Benin, carrying timber  and materials which would be required on the morning of the attack. It was rather rash, as the wagons were only a few hundred yards from the Boche front line, and they felt very conspicuous then the Very lights went up. But we got away with it all right.  There is an old German engineer dump just  south­ east of Honnechy, from which we take stores. The Boche
likes to shell the Honnechy-Reumont are a bit.
It was just round here that the Battle of Le Cateau was fought  in 1914.  I think  that Smith-Dorien 's corps was holding the open ground east of Reumont - Honnechy . Le Trou aux Soldats, our rear billet during these days, had quite a mixed population. Our old bakery building was also partially occupied by some American horse transport. They did not seem to be very well disciplined. They used to send their mules off to water on their own, the driver merely beating them across the rump, and shouting affectionately, 'Git on, ye God darned son of a b - !' They attracted the notice of their officer by shouting, 'Hi!'
The village also contained part of the 13th (I think) Hussars. Haig and the powers-that-be, being all cavalry­ men, are determined to use the cavalry someday. But they have never been any use yet, and are a cursed nuisance here and take up a lot of room. The officers affect something of elegance, but their horses look poor on the whole. Being all clipped, they suffer from the cold. I don't approve of clipping. If you take trouble to groom thoroughly, you should be able to avoid mange better that way. The cavalry might well be
re-christened 'the look-ons', as they were called at the Siege of Sebastopol.
The Australian gunners are covering the Yankees. Two Anzac officers I knew came in to see us. They say the Yanks are the slowest thing out. I have noticed the same myself. Most of them seem to be slow and simple country bumpkins, not at all what we expected. We imagined they would be too smart and clever for words.
The Anzacs live on the fat of the land, pinching the Yankees' equipment and rations. They told us the story of an American driver, who left his wagon and pair in the street while he went into a house. An Australian immediately mounted and drove them off and neither wagon nor horses were ever seen again. The Yankee could not figure it out at all, and was left scratching his head in the street.
Such American officers as I have met have been very quiet and modest, and anxious for information. Their troops are said to have fought very dashingly " but not always very
successfully, being very inexperienced. While we were at Vendhuille, they did an operation on our right, in the course of which they penetrated quite a distance, but made no arrangements for mopping up or for consolidation.  As  a result, they were cut off by a Boche  counter-attack,  and large  numbers  of  them  were  taken prisoners.
'Booby traps' are now the order of the day. The Boche have mined many. of the houses and dugouts they left behind, so that our people move in comfortably, and then the place suddenly blows up. As a result, people are now rather suspicious of too comfortable a billet, until they have been passed by the sappers, who write up in chalk, 'Passed by such-and-such a company R.E. 'A delightful job, feeling around a deep German dugout to see if it is going to blow up. A delay-action mine has blown up  the railway near Busigny.
The Boche are also very good at road demolitions. In addition to just destroying bridges, they have one or two other ideas, such as:

(a)Tunnelling into the side of a road embankment and blowing a great breach in it.
(b) Dropping an overhead bridge onto a road passing underneath it. This not only cuts the railway, but also blocks the road with hundreds of tons of twisted steel girders, very difficult to remove quickly. We front­ line engineers have no equipment to do this kind of thing. We can only make earth diversions, or build wooden trestles or pontoon bridges .
(c) Mining the crossroads in the middle of a  village. Either the crater has to be filled, or deviations made by knocking down the houses. Either job takes time and being at a crossroads, the obstacle creates a maximum of delay.

23 October: The crossing of the River Selle and the capture of the St Benin - St Souplet line having been successfully accomplished, we moved forward  and occupied the farm outside St Benin. We followed the infantry on, in order to clear  the  roads  through  Basuel,  where  a  heavy  railway girder bridge had been blown down on the road.
On one occasion, I rode up at night to the Basuel area and rode Peter, a chestnut horse who had been in the company since before the war. Cantering back in the dark over the open ground between Basuel and St Benin, he suddenly fell head first into a large shell-hole. We turned a complete somersault and I foolishly let go the reins. Before I could get up, Peter scrambled to his feet and galloped off into the dark. Not only did we lose a very good old horse, but also he had on all my gear, saddle, white head rope, corps breast­ plate and brass rosettes!
I went into Le Cateau once or twice. It was not very much damaged. In a large house at the south end of the town, the Kaiser is supposed to have stayed in March 1918, when he came over to watch the great Boche offensive against the British on the Somme.
We were shelled once or twice in our farm at St Benin, as the enemy has not gone very far. On one occasion, something about the size of a 4.5-inch shell pitched against the back wall of the house, while we were having dinner, and made the deuce of a bang . We stood to our horses, but no more came. We built two bridges across the River Selle near St Benin. Standard bridges are now all the fashion. They are all ready made up at Corps or Army dumps, of steel joists which only require bolting up.
The Third Battle of the Aisne, 1918.   This is the Battle that 7 Field Company RE was part of when most of the Company was captured May 1918.

Whilst the first two battles of the Aisne were conducted by Allied forces, predominantly French, against the German army in France, the Third Battle of Aisne, from 27 May-6 June 1918, comprised the final large-scale German attempt to win the war before the arrival of the U.S. Army in France, and followed the Lys Offensive in Flanders.
The focus of the offensive was the Chemin des Dames Ridge, held by the Germans upon their retreat from the Marne in September 1914 until their ejection, at huge cost to the French, during the Nivelle Offensive, also known as the, Second Battle of the Aisne in April 1917.
Erich Ludendorff although subservient to Paul von Hindenburg within the German Third Supreme Command, effectively dictated the planning and execution of the German war effort.  He determined to reclaim the Chemin des Dames Ridge from the French with the launch of a massed concentrated surprise attack.  In so doing he anticipated that the French would divert forces from Flanders to the Aisne, leaving him to renew his offensive further north, where he believed the war could be won.
At the time of the offensive the front line of the Chemin des Dames was held by four divisions of the British IX Corps, ironically sent from Flanders in early May in order to recuperate. General Duchene, commander of the French Sixth Army, was responsible for the continued defence of the sector, and Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander Hamilton Gordon, commander of IX Corps, was required to place himself under Duchene's direction.
Thus, when Duchene decided to send the British divisions to the front line, Hamilton Gordon, although reluctant to see his fatigued troops further exposed, was obliged to dispatch his men forward.  He however recommended to Duchene that a policy of defence in depth be adopted for the eventuality of an attack.  Duchene disagreed, preferring to mass troops in front-line trenches.
The attack was launched early on 27 May with a ferocious heavy artillery bombardment of 4,000 guns across a 40 km front, against four divisions of IX Corps.  Owing to the heavy concentration of primarily British troops in front-line trenches, casualties from the bombardment were severe; IX Corps itself was virtually wiped out.  The bombardment was accompanied by a gas attack, designed to disable defensive gun crews, after which 17 divisions of German infantry, under Crown Prince Wilhem, began their advance through a 40 km gap in the Allied line.
With the Allied forces entirely taken by surprise, the rapid progress of the German troops was reminiscent of the more fluid war of movement of the opening months of the war.
Between Soissons and Reims the Germans broke through a further eight Allied divisions, four British, four French, reaching the Aisne in under six hours.  By the end of the first day the Germans had gained 15 km of territory and had reached the River Vesle.  By 30 May the Germans had managed to capture 50,000 Allied soldiers and 800 guns, arriving within 90 km of Paris by 3 June.
Once again a German victory seemed probable.  However, as before, problems with supplies and reserves, and troop fatigue, in addition to prolonged Allied counter-attacks, halted the German advance at the Marne.  By 6 June the German advance had run out of steam.
French casualties were heavy, with 98,000 losses; their British allies suffered 29,000 casualties.  General Duchene was dismissed by Petain, amid an atmosphere of crisis in Paris.  Petain's own position was placed under threat, with his role being made subservient to that of the recently promoted Allied Supreme Commander, Ferdinand Foch.
St Benin
1 November 1918:
Preparing Le Fayt Farm for Bde HQ
2 November 1918: Preparing Le Faty Farm for Bde HQ, No 2 Section moved to Bousies to be attached to 50th Div Artillery
3 November 1918: Taping out assembly position and cutting gaps in hedges for 149 Inf Bde in front of Fontaine au Bois, bridging equipment handed over to 447th Coy at Pommereuil
4 November 1918: Repairing roads near Fontaine au Bois, fixing notice boards between red line and old front line, reconnoitring roads, searching for mine at G16.c.  Company moved from St Benin to Fontaine
5 November 1918: Repair road Landreceis to B26.c.2.0 Sht 57a
6 November 1918: Coy moved from Fontaine to Hachette. Started work on Cadway road with P of W labour at diversion to bridge at B27 central Sh 57a. Built service Trestle bridge over R Grande Nelpi at Novelles C25.d.2.7.
7 November 1918: Coy moved from Hachette to Novelles. Bridged gap at C25.d.2.8, improved approaches to bridge at C.25.2.7. Searching for mines at 3 points as showed by civilians, erecting notice boards.
8 November 1918: Coy less 1 section moved from Novelles to Monceau. Putting wooden ? and clearing road blocked by demolished bridge.
9 November 1918: Coy less 1 Section moved from Monceau to Sars Poteries to form part of a mobile column under command G.O.C. 150 Inf Bde.
10 November 1918: Started work on bridge at F13.c.90.25. Started work on filling craters at Le Savate. Section 2 attached for operations to 50th Div Artillery moved from Sassignes to Semousies and rejoined Company. Coy moved from Sars Poteries to Semousies
11 November 1918: Cleared roads part of Maubeuge - Avesnes and Mont Dourlers - Sars Poteries with 3 Coys Infantry. Completed bridge at F13.90.25. Worked on La Savater crater
12 November 1918: Started work wooden bin culvert E13.c.7.0.  Sht 57a
13-17 November 1918: Work on wooded bin culvert  ------------"-------------
18 November 1918: Do. Sent party for demolitions of salavage to 149 Inf Bde.
19 November 1918: Wooden bin culvert E13.c.7.0 completed.
19-30 November 1918: Training, educational work and improving billets.

1 November 1918 The  front  line  now  runs  along  the western  edge of the Foret de Mormal, the 50th divisional front  being  from  Fontaine-au-Bois  to  Robersart.  A  very large operation  for two or three armies is being prepared. The major has gone ·sick with some kind of influenza and has been evacuated. This gives me the chance of command­ing the company during the coming battle. The front line consists of scattered posts of infantry, lying up in ditches and hedgerows   through  Les  Grands  Chenes,  Robersart  and
The group of villages in our front line are in very close country, consisting of small orchards and gardens, enclosed by high banks and  thick hedges. The front line is by no means easy to find, and the unwary are liable to walk through into the arms of the Boche. The troops for the attack are to come up to their jumping-off positions during the night previous to the dawn of Z day. Owing to the denseness of the country and the high strong hedges, it is feared that confusion may occur in the  dark. We are, therefore, detailed to carry out the following work:

(a)To tape out a jumping-off line in front of our present front line posts, to enable our  attacking  troops  to form up on a  straight  line  before  advancing  against the enemy. The jumping-off  line will be marked with a continuous white tracing tape. Most  of  our  work has, of course, to be done at night,  the actual taping of the jumping-off line may be quite tricky. But the thickness of the hedges gives us quite a lot of cover.

(b) To cut paths through the hedges, gardens, and other obstacles of which  the village of Fontaine-au-Bois consists. The troops will be guided to the rear end of these paths, and follow them up, in order that all the assault troops may reach their deploying positions before Z hour, without noise or confusion.

(c) All these cleared paths leading forward are to be notice boarded with small boards painted in luminou s paint, giving the names of the battalions and an arrow indicating the route. The tanks will also move up just before dawn.

We are part of XIII Corps, of which the 25th Division  is on  our  right,  we,  the 50th Division,  in the  centre  and  the 18th Division on our left. The 50th Division is to attack with the  149th  Infantry  Brigade  on  the  right  and  150th on left . The  151st  Brigade  will  be  in  reserve.  We, the 7th  Field Company,  are  to  accompany 149th  Brigade,  and   are responsible  for  getting  them  correctly  deployed  on  their jumping-off   line before  Z hour.
The  infantry  have  been  given  three  objectives,   marked with coloured lines on their maps.  We are to follow behind them  clearing  obstacles  and  re-opening  the  roads  to  allow horsed  transport  to come  up  behind  us.  When  the  second objective   is  taken,  the 151st  Infantry  Brigade  will  pass through 149th and 150th, and will continue the advance. We are  also  told  to  detail  one  section of  sappers  to  join  the artillery  at  Z  hour,  and  to  assist  them  to  get  their  guns forward  quickly across country.  For this purpose,  Seels has with  him  some standard  light  artillery bridges  loaded  on a wagon,  to get  the  field-guns  over ditches  and  streams.  He also has pack horses to move, his gear across the fields with the gunners,  and  one of  our trestle  wagons.
Our brigade will attack with the 3rd Royal Fusiliers on the  right  and  the Scottish Horse  on the left. The 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers will be in reserve. When the jumping-off line is taped, small notice boards will be laid on the ground saying, for example, Right of Scottish Horse, Left of 3rd Royal Fusiliers.
We do not yet know when Z day will be, but we expect it
in two or three days. Meanwhile there is an immense amount of work to be done. We have to make and paint a great many little notice boards, with the initials of the regiments and an arrow painted on each, to be used to mark the tracks leading up to the front line. I have ordered all hand axes, hand saws and billhooks to be sharpened.
Then I have to meet the infantry battalion commanders, and inform them of details of all the signs, tapes and arrows we intend to use. We also had a little advanced practice in cutting  through  hedges  in  the  dark  on  the  night  of  1 November at our farm billet at St Benin. On 2 November, we went up to- Fontaine-au-Bois and cut through some of the hedges  at ground  level, but without  removing the brush­ wood.
Z day was first fixed for 3 November but has now been postponed  to 4 November.

4 November: I was in Fontaine-au-Bois before dawn on Z day. Taping out the jumping-off line was quite exciting, as we were working in front of our own front line. There was a certain amount of desultory shooting, but the country was so thick with trees and hedges, that the Boche did not realize what was going on. Our infantry got deployed without any confusion. A certain amount of shelling came over into the village of Fontaine, and the infantry were held up for some time by machine-gun fire. But once the Boche front line was taken, resistance ceased and so did the shelling. Their gunners were doubtless only too busy trying to get their guns away before our infantry arrived. By 11.30 am. we had taken our second objective and were advancing with very little opposition anywhere.
The enemy has melted away before us like snow. Perhaps he will not stop till he gets back to Germany. As soon as the infantry had gone forward, roads were our chief immediate concern. Indeed so rapid have been our recent advances, that they will probably soon be our only concern. Railways are already left far behind, and after each advance so many of the roads had been demolished or blocked as almost completely to prevent our following up the enemy.
On the afternoon of Z day, 4 November, I carried out a
long mounted reconnaissance through the Foret de Mormal. There were already no signs of troops anywhere, so rapid had been our advance, and very few casualties about. At a crossroads, there was a shell-hole in the middle of the road and a young German  soldier lying on the edge of it. His helmet had rolled off, his face was snow white and a stream of blood flowed from the top of his head. He looked so young and innocent, scarcely over sixteen I should think. I am afraid the Boche army is in much the same state as ours, all children or old men.
The sapper's this afternoon worked on clearing the roads through Fontaine-au-Bois. The enemy has vanished without sign or news.
5 November: The company, less one section still with the gunners, marched today from Fontaine-au-Bois to Route de Landrecies - Carrefour d !'Hermitage - Hachette. The sappers came along splendidly, singing,

'Oh it's a lovely war. Form fours! Right turn!
How shall we spend all the money we earn? Oh, oh, oh, it's a lovely  war!'

A new job arising during these advances is the signboarding of the roads. Dozens of signboards have to be painted before each advance, and fixed at all cross-roads as soon as captured.  Otherwise,  when  penetrating  new  country,  the columns of transport get lost and endless confusion results. It was raining in sheets when we got to Hachette,  and parked the transport between the road and the river. We got into a bare but more or less undamaged house. All soaked
to the skin and very cold.
I was just thinking of something to eat, when an order came to reconnoitre and repair a destroyed bridge over a river at Noyelles. I rode off at once myself to have a look at it. It was a brick arch bridge over a small stream, but it was completely demolished. Still pouring with rain.
We overtook our leading infantry here, but they have completely lost touch with the enemy . Our own cavalry might have been useful here, but there do not seem to be any of them around, now they are wanted. Our infantry were just moving up into Noyelles, the leading files climbing down and across the debris of the ruined bridge in single file. They were, of course, all. like drowned rats, with their waterproof sheets hangmg shining over their shoulders.
Two  Frenchmen  were  standing  on  the  far  side of  the stream, helping our fellows to scramble up. Our boys were laughing, and all of them thanked the Frenchmen for giving them a hand. I heard one of the Frenchmen say to the other, 'Mon Dieu, mon ami, quelle difference apres les Boches!' These are the first civilian inhabitants whom we have found behind the Boche lines.
Back to Hachette after dark. Done to the world, soaking wet with a horrible backache. This moving warfare is very interesting but a bit strenuous.
6 November: Back to Noyelles with some sappers and the pontoon wagons. Completed a bridge during the day. We put a trestle bridge on a deviation, so as to leave the main road gap for the erection of a heavy bndge.
7 November: The company marched to Noyelles.
8 November: Marched to Monceau St Waast. It was night when we got there and received an order from the C.R.E. to reconnoitre and report on a crossroads somewhere ahead  where a crater had been blown. I set out in the dark on a long ride, armed with an electric torch and a  measuring tape. Having measured the crater and ascertamed the damage,  I  got  back  to  Monceau  in  .the  small  hours.
.At Sassegnies there was a pontoon bndge someone had put over the river. The poor fellows thought that if they double-decked the roadway, it would make the bndge passable for 60-pounders. Of course the first one that went over went through, and its nose was sticking up sadly out of the water. I believe some men were drowned too.
Life is very exhausting at the rate we are going now, though I am enjoying it. The worst of moving warfare is that one has to do a long march every day, and the fighting and working are thrown in on top as extras! But the Boche has gone so far and so fast this time, that we have completely
lost touch with him. We have such enormous long road communications behind us that we are held up for supplies and we just cannot keep up with him.
9 November: We marched from Monceu to  St Remy Chaussee -St Aubin -Mt Dourlers -La Savate and to billets in Sars Poteries.
The first troops to enter Sars Poteries, accompanied by our ·advanced billeting party, had a tremendous reception.
Rimbod went with our billeting party, and was the first man in French uniform they had seen. He was kissed by every woman in the town! Everybody here is hugely enthusiastic . People constantly stop us to present flowers, or to compel us to come in and drink coffee.
The division seems to have completely reached the end of its tether, as far as supplies are concerned. Most of the artillery Divisional Ammunition Column has been put on to bringing up rations instead of shells.
There is now a great scheme for forming a single brigade to carry on the pursuit, and to put all the divisional transport including the D. A. C. at their disposal for supplies. I am to command the Royal Engineers with this column of pursuit, with the massed bridging equipment of all three field companies.
We shall accompany the advanced guard, of course, and it should be quite exciting, if only we can overtake Br'er Boche. I always have looked forward to a chance to bring my pontoons into action at a gallop and slap down a bridge under enemy fire!                                          .
The infantry are having a hard time marching, and so are our own sappers, who have to work as well.

Notice taken from 7th Field Company Orders dated 9th November.

On the present muddy roads, all mounted ranks should take great care to avoid as much as possible splashing or hustling dismounted troops and civilians on foot.
Mounted men should not trot past troops,  but  make their horses walk quietly.                               ·
Signed J. B. Glubb,
Captain  R. E.

10 November: The brigade of pursuit scheme is still in the air. At Sars Poteries station, there was a large accumulation of German stores, vehicle parks and equipment. I found a whole stack  of cavalry lances, complete with red and white pennants, and took one away as a souvenir. The Boche lances are hollow steel, ours are bamboo. There were  also some British  wagons marked  with the 25th Divisional sign. These must have been captured by the Boche in their May offensive in the Reims sector, where the 25th was one of the divisions involved. There was also a park of German guns, with the words, ultima ratio regis - the king's last argument - cast in the metal above the breach.
The company is fairly comfortably installed in a big farm and barns, but the horses are out in the open on picket  line in a field.                             ·

11 November: Bulk forage such as hay has been almost non­ existent lately, owing to difficulties of transport. This morning we visited a deserted farm nearby, where there was a loft full of hay which we commandeered. As I was standing below, watching the drivers throwing the hay out of the loft window , a mounted orderly rode up, and told us that the war was over. A dreadful blow! I was just beginning to enjoy it, and this  will finish my dreams  of the dashing column of pursuit. Raining as usual.

11 November - 5 December : Alas, the war is over, at the moment when it was beginning to be exciting and enjoyable, after all these years. At first we got orders to rub up, inspect boots and clothing and get ready, with a view to a triumphal march into Germany. But soon that hope was destroyed also.

Notice  in 7th Field  Company Daily  Orders.

In a recent official statement, the following numbers of prisoners captured since 1January, 1918, were given.
Captured by the British Army200,000
Captured by the French140,000
Captured by the Americans 50,000
Captured by the Belgians 50,000

J. B. Glubb
Captain R. E.

During this period, as the war was over, I paid a visit to Dad. He sent his car to fetch me. While with him, we did some sightseeing, and went to Lille, Courtrai, Ghent, Bruges and also to Zeebrugge. At the latter place, we were able to see very vividly how the British naval attack on the submarine base had taken place. It is almost incredible how our ships sailed straight into the port in the teeth of modern artillery and machine gun fire. The scrapes of the grappling hooks of Vindictive could be clearly seen on the parapet of the mole. The ships were still half visible, sunk in the mouth of the canal, to prevent the German submarines using it.
The towns which had been behind the Boche line all the war struck me as being perfectly luxurious. Ghent and Bruges were full of smart shops and  well-dressed women. There were even chocolates and cakes and  luxuries, which are  absolutely  unknown  in  England.
A very unfortunate incident occurred during our stay at Semousies, near Sars Poteries. C.Q.M.S. Church and his two storemen, Sappers Hamilton and Girdler, were sleeping in a cellar, which they used as a quartermaster's store. They had a lighted charcoal brazier. During the night, a bale of clothing near the brazier caught fire and charred slowly, producing a dense smoke. This the sentry eventually noticed and gave the alarm. When we broke in, they were all three unconscious. Girdler was lying on the floor half way to the door, having obviously come round and struggled to reach the door before collapsing. We gave them artificial respiration and everything we could think of, but all three died without regaining consciousness.
Poor Church had been out since August 1914, and died just after the armistice. He had his leave warrant in his pocket, and his wife was expecting him at Dover two days later. Instead she got a letter to say he was dead.
Misery in the Mud

Life in the trenches was nightmarish, aside from the usual rigors of combat. Forces of nature posed as great a threat as the opposing army. Heavy rainfall flooded trenches and created impassable, muddy conditions. The mud not only made it difficult to get from one place to another; it also had other, more dire consequences. Many times, soldiers became trapped in the thick, deep mud; unable to extricate themselves, they often drowned.
The pervading precipitation created other difficulties. Trench walls collapsed, rifles jammed, and soldiers fell victim to the much-dreaded "trench foot." A condition similar to frostbite, Trench Foot developed as a result of men being forced to stand in water for several hours, even days, without a chance to remove wet boots and socks. In extreme cases, gangrene developed and a soldier's toes -- even his entire foot -- would have to be amputated.
Unfortunately, heavy rains were not sufficient to wash away the filth and foul odor of human waste and decaying corpses. Not only did these unsanitary conditions contribute to the spread of disease, they also attracted an enemy despised by both sides -- the lowly rat. Multitudes of rats shared the trenches with soldiers and, even more horrifying, they fed upon the remains of the dead. Soldiers shot them out of disgust and frustration, but the rats continued to multiply and thrived for the duration of the war. Other vermin that plagued the troops included head and body lice, mites and scabies, and massive swarms of flies.
As terrible as the sights and smells were for the men to endure, the deafening noises that surrounded them during heavy shelling were terrifying. In the midst of a heavy barrage, dozens of shells per minute might land in the trench, causing ear-splitting (and deadly) explosions. Few men could remain calm under such circumstances; many suffered emotional breakdowns.

The Legacy of Trench Warfare
Due in part to the Allies' use of tanks in the last year of the war, the stalemate was finally broken. By the time the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, an estimated 8.5 million men (on all fronts) had lost their lives in the "war to end all wars." Yet, many survivors who returned home would never be the same again, whether their wounds were physical or emotional.
By the end of World War I, trench warfare had become the very symbol of futility; thus, it has been a tactic intentionally avoided by modern-day military strategists in favor of movement, surveillance, and airpower.
1-4 December 1918:
Training and educational schemes. Fire in billet night 2/3, 3 O.R. killed, as shown on attached.
5 December 1918: Coy moved by march route to Taisnieres.
6-19 December 1918:  Advance party to Orsinval on 16th. Training and educational classes.  Advance party to Herbignies on 19th.
20 December 1918: Moved by march route to Herbignies - Villereau.
21-31 December 1918: Training and educational classes. 1 Officer and 43 O.R.s to Le Quesnoy on 23 Dec to repair roofs and billets of 149th Inf Bde.   6 O.R.s to Frasnoy on 27th to repair Mairie.  Dec 21st commenced work with RA working party on demolished culvert near Gummegnies.  Dec 29th 2 officers and 34 O.R.s, 5th R.I.R arrived at Gommegnies to work on demolished culvert.

5 December:
Marched back from Semousies to Taisnieres.

20 December: Marched from Taisnieres to Herbignies, through the Foret de Mormal. The company is billeted in the village of Herbignies, which is undamaged by war. I have a room in the house of the Desmarets family, which is just inside the forest. Monsieur Desmarets is a forester, employed as such in the Foret  de Mormal. Their cottage consists of the usual large kitchen and living room, with the stove in the centre. Several small bedrooms open out from the living room, of which I occupy one.

30 December: I have almost become a member of the Desmarets family, which consists of Monsieur and Madame and of two daughters, Gertrude and Gysele. We all spend the long winter evenings sitting round the stove in their parlour. The tell me stories of the long years they spent under German occupation.
Gertrude is a school teacher at the school in the next village, and has to walk several miles, there and back, to her work. Once or twice I drove her over in the mess cart and fetched her back from school. She is very serious and I think must have suffered.
The war really seems to be over this time. We have already received a circular on the subject of the demobilization of horses.
Herbignies 1-31 January 1919: Demobilising and overhauling of stores and equipment. Parties attached to 149th Bde HQ, 3rd RF, 2nd RF, and 13th R.H. for repair of billets, and demolition of dud shells. Party at Gommegnies in charge of RE Dump.

On 25 January, 1919,
we had a dinner for the 50th Division R. E. at Le Quesnoy. Gallantly assisted by Rimbod, we produced the following menu.
Name Regimental
Rank Cause  of
Auld Robert 177744 Sapper Died 24.1.1918
Fancourt Claud 13997 Sapper DOW    4.2.1918
Reid William 40355 2nd Corporal KIA 22.3.1918
Coldbeck Thomas Jacob 169655 Sapper DOW 23.3.1918
Farrer Alexander McGregor 22445 Acting Sergeant DOW 25.3.1918
Clay George John 159552 Sapper Died 28.3.1918
Baldwin. W.F.   Lt. Acting Major KIA 27.5.1918
Clarkson. Tom 178254 Sapper Died 27.5.1918
Denham. William. Thomas 486568 Sapper KIA 27.5.1918
Moses Joseph Charles William 48528 Sapper KIA 27.5.1918
Parker Frank Herbert 12820 Acting CSM KIA 27.5.1918
Pinnegar Bertram Theodore 11001 Sergeant KIA 27.5.1918
Churchill Henry 35007 Acting Sergeant Died 10.7.1918
Wright David 420375 Sapper Died    7.8.1918
Philips George Frederick 203358 Sapper DOW 10.8.1918
Machin Frederick William 183257 Sapper Died 29.8.1918
Sayer Charles Edward 20577 Sapper KIA 29.8.1918
Weaver C.W. 494991 Sapper Died    1.9.1918
Duncan Archibald 95841 Sapper Died    2.9.1918
Abbott William Henry 22435 Sapper Died    4.9.1918
Turton Henry 442622 Sapper KIA    6.9.1918
Burrows  Arthur Henry 44712 Sapper Died    8.9.1918
Churchill Walter William Elderfield 486191 Sapper Died 16.9.1918
Robson Thomas 459678 Sapper Died 16.9.1918
Clark Henry Alma 185900 Sapper KIA 23.9.1918
Trim Frederick Charles 508532 Sapper Died 23.9.1918
Molr Thomas 164418 Sapper Died 28.9.1918
Ward Philip 183752 Sapper Died   2.10.1918
Taylor Benjamin 107552 Sapper Died   9.10.1918
Black Tom 45064 Acting 2nd Cpl Died 12.10.1918
Bran Harold Samuel 65478 Sapper Died 12.10.1918
Mooney Charles 113781 Sapper KIA 14.10.1918
Stevens George 488594 Sapper Died 16.10.1918
Thompson Mark   33032 Acting LCpl Died 17.10.1918
Hassall Clarence 207294 Sapper Died 19.10.1918
Hooker Percy Edward 541696 Sapper Died 19.10.1918
Camp Francis George 506467 Sapper Died 20.10.1918
Arnold Bertram James 26302 Driver Died 23.10.1918
Camp Charles Thomas 49498 Acting 2nd Cpl Died 24.10.1918
Letten Alfred John 28801 Acting Lcpl Died 27.10.1918
Whitworth Charles 224777 Sapper KIA 27.10.1918
Butcher Percival Edgar 217570 Sapper Died 28.10.1918
  Smith Horace Arthur   489879 Driver Died 28.10.1918
Light Lawrence Harold King 80696 Driver Died 29.10.1918
Atkinson William Bridger 66859 Sapper Died 31.10.1918
Bates Frank Willie 100708 Sapper Died    2.11.1918
Rebbeck W.H   2nd Lieutenant Died    4.11.1918
Shutt Ernest Charles Hird 134903 Acting Cpl Died    9.11.1918
Stannard Charles Henry 548647 Sapper Died 10.11.1918
Maxwell George 412843 Sapper Died 23.11.1918
Company  Returns Sep 1918
Hors d'oeuvre
Huitres d'outre Rhin
Soupe Ubique
Merlans  frits
Oeufs   farcis   a  la   tomate
Filets de ros-bif au Genie
a la  jardiniere
Asperges sauce mousseline
Crepe  aux fruits Compote a la merveille
Sardines du Quesnoy
Cafe Royal Liq ueurs
Vins LiqueursGrand Marnier
Gin Vermouth
Vins   Bordeaux .Sauterne , Medoc Champagne.Heidsieck.
Portugais .Oporto.
It will be seen  that  the  menu  owed  as  much  to Rimbod, as did the dinner. I am not sure why the oysters were described as from across the Rhine. Perhaps Rimbod had found German oysters abandoned by the retreating enemy. Ubique - everywhere - referred to the R.E. motto - Ubique qua fas et gloria ducunt. Le Genie was, of course, the French for military engineers. A most pleasant evening.

In February 1919, I received orders posting me back to the Royal Engineers Depot at Chatham on what was called No 1 Supplementary Course. As the drill instructors were quick to point out, 'all this business about a war was all very well, but it was time for us now to get down to some real soldiering'.
I went up to London to watch the Victory March, when the
army marched through London. So much hardship, so much courage, so much comradeship, so much heroism - and now such overwhelming glory. I am only twenty-one, but I feel that the crisis of my life is past. Anything which happens to me after this can be no more than an anti-climax!

1977: Many  of  the officers,  N.C.O. 's  and  men of  the  7th, Company  wrote to me after  I returned to England  and some continued  to do so for  many years.  Corporal Rennie,  who was much older than I was, died many years ago. Sergeant Adams, who was with me in Sanctuary .Wood in 1915, kept in touch  until  he died  three years  ago.  The last of  them was Driver  Clemmitt,  who  became post - master  at Appleton-le­ Moors  in  Yorkshire.  He  kept bees on the moors and  every year at Christmas he used to send me a present of honey in the comb, and continued to do so until he died in 1975, nearly sixty years since we had been together in France . Such were the comradeships of the Great War.
Map 24   The Last Battle

4 November: 50th Division attacks on the line Robersart to Fontaine-au-Bois
5 November: Enemy disappeared. Company marched Fontaine-au-Bois--Carrefour de L'Hermitage--Hachette
6 November: Repaired demolished bridge at Noyelles
7 November: Company marched Hachette to Noyelles
8 November: Marched Noyelles--Monceau St Waast
9 November: Marched Monceau St Waast--St Remy Chausee--St Aubin--Douriers--La Savate--Sars Poteriers
11 November: End of the war
5 December: Marched Semousies--Taisnieres
20 December: Marched Taisnieres--Herbignies
20 December-February 1919: in Herbignies
Below: Company returns, Reinforcements from base and Release to England to be Miners November 1918.
March 1918 Casualties 1
March 1918 Casualties 2
List of men missing presumed taken prisoner 27 May. To view close up, click on thumbnails bottom left
July 1918 Appointments and Casualties
July 1918 Reinforcements
July 1918 Reinforcements 2
Above: Company Reinforcements  for July 1918. Click Thumbnails to view
Oct 1918 Sick and reinforcements
Oct 1918 Sick
Oct 1918 Casualties and Sick
Company Returns for October
More Company Returns for November, which includes 4 deaths from the
1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic
Nov 1918 Casualties and Sick
Nov 1918 Appointments and promotions
Nov 1918 Hospital Discharges and Reinforcements
For more on the 1918 Flu Pandemic that killed millions of people world wide. Click on the link:      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic
Company Returns for December 1918. Reversions and Appointments & Transfers to England for disposal
Transfers to England for disposal continued. 
Demobilisation and discharge

The process and timing of the demobilisation of a soldier after the war depended on his terms of service. Soldiers of the regular army who were still serving their normal period of colour service remained in the army until their years were done. Men who had volunteered or who were conscripted for war service generally followed the routine described below. Although pretty well everyone wanted to go home at once, it was simply not possible. Not only would it have been practically impossible to process all men in a short period of time but the British army still had commitments it had to fulfill, in Germany, North Russia and in the garrisons of Empire. Men with scarce industrial skills (including miners) were released early; those who had volunteered early in the war were given priority treatment, leaving the conscripts - particularly the 18 year olds of 1918 - until last. Even so, most of the war service men were back in civilian life by the end of 1919.
Before the soldier left his unit he was medically examined and given Army Form Z22, which allowed him to make a claim for any form of disability arising from his military service. He was also given an Army Form Z44 (Plain Clothes Form) and a Certificate of Employment showing what he had done in the army, Z18. A Dispersal Certificate recorded personal and military information and also the state of his equipment. If he lost any of it after this point, the value would be deducted from his outstanding pay.
He was not allowed to bring back to the UK any Belgian or locally issued French banknotes. Official government-issued French or Italian banknotes could be taken home and exchanged for Sterling at a Post Office. If he was returning from any other theatre of war he had to change the local currency into a Postal Order at an Army Post Office. The soldier would spend some time in a transit camp - an Infantry Base Depot - near the coast before being warned for a homeward sailing.
On arrival in England the man would move to a Dispersal Centre. This was a hutted or tented camp or barracks. Here he received a Z3, Z11 or Z12 Protection Certificate and a railway warrant or ticket to his home station. This certificate enabled the man to receive medical attention if necessary during his final leave.
He got too an Out-of-work Donation Policy, which insured him against unavoidable unemployment of up to 26 weeks in the 12 months following demob. He received in addition an advance of pay, a fortnight's ration book and also a voucher - Army Form Z50 - for the return of his greatcoat to a railway station during his leave. He could choose to have either a clothing allowance of 52 shillings and sixpence or be provided with a suit of plain clothes. If he chose the latter he would hand in his Z44. His final leave began the day after he was dispersed. He left to go home, still in uniform and with his steel helmet and greatcoat.
While on final leave he was still technically a soldier although could now go about in plain clothes. Legally he could not wear his uniform after 28 days from dispersal. During leave he had to go to a railway station to hand in his greatcoat. For this he was paid £1. This was counted as part of his war or service gratuity payment. Any other payments due to him were sent in three instalments by Money Orders or Postal Drafts. These could be cashed at a Post Office on production of the Protection Certificate. The man could also take his Demobilisation Ration Book to the nearest Food Office and exchange it for an Emergency Card, which he could later exchange for a civilian Ration Book.
Some men could claim repatriation to an Overseas British Possession or a Foreign Country. The man completed Army Form AF.Z7 to do this.
As long as the Military Service Act was enforced, all men who was liable for service under the Act who was not remaining with the colours in the regular army; or who had not been permanently discharged; or who was not on a Special Reserve or Territorial Force Reserve engagement was discharged into Class Z Army Reserve and liable to recall in the event of a grave national emergency. His designated place of rejoining was shown on his Protection Certificate and Certificate of Final Demobilisation.
Above: This "other ranks" Z11 Protection Certificate was kindly provided by Graham Stewart. This soldier was being demobilised at Chiseldon Camp in Wiltshire in January 1919. Note the three Post Office rubber stamp marks, denoting his visits to pick up his final pay.
British Soldiers handing in their rifles before boarding ship  for home.
The above article including the 3 Army Forms are by kind permission Chris Baker on behalf of Milverton Associates Limited.

For more information on the above and many other subjects on WW1. Click on this link to
"Chris Baker's" site: The Long, Long Trail   http://www.1914-1918.net/demobilisation.htm
In November 1918, the British army had numbered almost 3.8 million men. Twelve months later, it had been reduced to slightly less than 900,000 and by 1922 to just over 230,000.
The Battle's O'er

I returned to the fields of glory,
Where the green grasses and flowers grow.
And the wind softly tells the story,
Of the brave lads of long ago.

March no more my soldier laddie,
There is peace where there once was war.
Sleep in peace my soldier laddie,
Sleep in peace, now the battle's over.

In the great glen they lay a sleeping,
Where the cool waters gently flow.
And the gray mist is sadly weeping,
For those brave lads of long ago.


See the tall grass is there awaiting,
As their banners of long ago.
With their heads high forward threading,
Stepping lightly to meet the foe.


Some return from the fields of glory,
To their loved ones who held them dear.
But some fell in that hour of glory,
And were left to their resting here.


7 Field Company Royal Engineers Roll of Honour 1918
1-20 February 1919:
Demobilizing, repair work at Le Quesnoy overhauling stores and equipment
21 February 1919: Coy moved to Le Quesnoy by road.
22-28 February 1919: At Le Quesnoy. Repair work on billets and recreational halls

Le Quesnoy
1-31 March 1919:
Company situated in Le Quesnoy and employed upon general repair of billets in the town --- checking and controlling of mobilization stores and reduction to Cadre A of regular personnel and animals. Reduced to Cadre A at segments, men 18th day and as regards animals 25th day.
Capt M.H. King took over command of Company upon transfer of Major J McGill RE to the Rhine upon  18.3.19.

Le Quesnoy
1-30 April 1919:
The Company engaged on works in Le Quesnoy, running electric lightening sets and providing guards over RE Dumps in the vicinity of Le Quesnoy
7 April: Lt, acting Capt King M.H. Transferred to 288th Army Troops Coy RE.
Lt S. Wilson RE from 447 Field Coy RE took over command of the Company.
22 April: Two copies of AFG1098 taken into use according to instructions in demob instructions France part 1

Le Quesnoy
1-31 May 1919:
The Coy has been engaged upon works for the Division, such as running electric light sets and helping the infantry to make their billets comfortable.
On 13th May instructions were received to reduce the cadre to two officers and 40 O.Rs -- this allowed 9 O.Rs to be sent to UK for disposal. Stores have been received from ordenance to make up mobilization table of stores for the Coy, under demob. Instructions part 1 France.
The last page of the Company WW1 War Diary 31.5.1919
Pip                Squeak             Wilfred
British Campaign Medals WW1

There were five campaign medals available for individuals who saw service in the First World War. An individual, male or female, could be issued with a maximum of three of these medals, although there are a small number of exceptions to the rule.
In addition to the five campaign medals a badge was available to officers and men who had been honourably discharged or had retired as a result of sickness or wounds from war service.
Three of the British campaign medals: The 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Pip Squeak and Wilfred

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred are the affectionate names given to the three WW1 campaign medals — The 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal respectively. These medals were primarily awarded to the Old Contemptibles (B.E.F.). and by convention all three medals are worn together and in the same order from left to right when viewed from the front. The set of three medals or at least the British War Medal and the Victory Medal are the most likely medals to be found among family heirlooms.
When the WW1 medals were issued in the 1920's it coincided with a popular comic strip published by the Daily Mirror newspaper. It was written by Bertram J. Lamb (Uncle Dick), and drawn by the cartoonist Austin Bowen Payne (A.B. Payne). Pip was the dog, Squeak the penguin and Wilfred the young rabbit. It is believed that A. B. Payne's batman during the war had been nicknamed “Pip-squeak” and this is where the idea for the names of the dog and penguin came from. For some reason the three names of the characters became associated with the three campaign medals being issued at that time to many thousands of returning servicemen, and they stuck.

The 1914 Star
Established in April 1917. Also known as 'Pip' or the 'Mons Star'.
This bronze medal award was authorized by King George V in April 1917 for those who had served in France or Belgium between 5th August 1914 to midnight on 22nd November 1914 inclusive. The award was open to officers and men of the British and Indian Expeditionary Forces, doctors and nurses as well as Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Navy Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who served ashore with the Royal Naval Division in France or Belgium.

The 1914-15 Star
Established in December 1918. Also known as 'Pip'
This bronze medal was authorized in 1918. It is very similar to the 1914 Star but it was issued to a much wider range of recipients. It was awarded to all who served in any theatre of war against Germany between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915, except those eligible for the 1914 Star.
Like the 1914 Star, the 1914-15 Star was not awarded alone. The recipient had to have received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The reverse is plain with the recipient's service number, rank, name and unit impressed on it.

The British War Medal 1914-1918
Established on 26 July 1918. Also known as 'Squeak'.
The silver or bronze medal was awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive.

The Allied Victory Medal
Also known as 'Wilfred'
It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon.
The Territorial Force War Medal, 1914-1919
Only members of the Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Service were only eligible for this medal. They had to have been a member of the Territorial Force on or before 30th September 1914 and to have served in an operational theatre of war outside the United Kingdom between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. An individual who was eligible to receive the 1914 Star or 1914/15 Star could not receive the Territorial War Medal.
Mercantile Marine War Medal
The medal was established in 1919.
The Board of Trade awarded this campaign medal, the Mercantile Marine War Medal, to people who had served in the Merchant Navy and who had made a voyage through a war zone or danger zone during the 1914-1918 war.
The Silver War Badge
Was issued on 12th September 1916.
The badge was originally issued to officers and men who were discharged or retired from the military forces as a result of sickness or injury caused by their war service. After April 1918 the eligibility was amended to include civilians serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps, female nurses, staff and aid workers.
The two British campaign medals commonly found as family heirlooms nicknamed Mutt and Jeff: the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
              Date                                            Place Event
April 1920 Company re-formed at Chattenden
April 1920 Cologne as part of the British Army of the Rhine
Nov 1929 Return to UK, Colchester
Read Philip Gibbs account on the occupation of the Rhineland December 1918: www.firstworldwar.com/source/rhineoccupation_gibbs.htm
38 cm German Shell
The Memorial Verdun
Where have all the flowers gone? Vera Lynn