dinsdag 26 augustus 2014

William J. Hayman -- 27 augustus 1914

• Uit: Diary of William J Hayman, boy soldier

Foucaucourt-en-Santerre. Wed. 26th Aug.1914.
Up at dawn – the usual breakfast. and we swing out from the Cornfield and move off. The horses are very sore, they have not yet learnt to lean on their collars which rub great raw red patches on their shoulders. They are not used to this kind of work. Their galls are smothered with flies.
My own horse has a red patch under the saddle blanked and I walk a great deal to ease him. Refugees are streaming alongside us again to day and our progress is slow.
Our shoeing Smiths cursing and sweating are busy at each hourly halt and are finding it an impossible task to cope with the loose and missing horse shoes. Many horses are sick – some with strangles – (a large yellow mucus outbreak in the neck.) They are taken to the nearest ditch – they know something is going to happen and won’t stand still – a revolver is pointed at their forehead – a loud bang and a large bloody hole appears - a huge bump as the carcass falls in the ditch – with the hope that it will be buried by someone. If not it will swell to enormous size and become a seething mass of maggots and smell to high heaven! They do not want any horses to fall into German hands. I am feeling hungry.
The weather is changing, and the long straight elm tree lined road to Amiens seems endless (20 miles) from one rise to the next it never varies. We pass through Ville Bretonneux - there are good views over the Countryside. I am humming ‘Marching through Georgia” to keep myself cheerful. It is beginning to rain as we enter the city of Amiens. The advanced British Base. (we had marched 36 KM = 22 miles this day) We cross the city with its beautiful cathedral and turn into the racecourse on the far West side. The place is full of troops. It is early evening and everywhere there is great bustle, and confusion. All the base stores are being put onto South going trains and we have a hard job to get supplies. We need a great deal of hay for the horses. We hear that the Germans are Beyond Bapaume and St-Quentin? and that their Cavalry could be here soon. There are plenty of rumours but everybody is feeling too tired to worry much about them. I am hungry. We have three meals a day – at dawn – at midday and at dusk. It is not enough for me.

Amiens. Thursday 27th Aug.1914.
Up before dawn. The horses are wet through including the saddles. It is still raining but it cannot make us any wetter. Miserable – and we wait for 3 hours – leaving in pouring rain at 8 a.m. On the march all day going South West. We go down into a valley and pass through Poix and arrive at the village of Eplessier at dusk and pull into a large orchard. (we had covered 31 KM = 19 miles)

Eplessier. Fri. 28th Aug.1914.
Up at 3.30 am with sudden orders to move. It is very difficult to see in the dark. We get the horses ready and pull out after much trouble and move off without breakfast – but the weather is improving and we are passing lovely apple orchards and golden cornfields. I am thankful for some apples – but they are not too sweet. At midday we pass down the valley of the River Breie and on into Aumale. It is beautiful Country. We arrive this evening at the village Of Mortemer feeling tired. (29 KM = 18 miles this day) slept in a field.

Mortemer. Sat. 29th. Aug. 1914.
Up at dawn and moved off riding and walking alternately all day. Passed through Neufchatel-en-Bray and La Boissiere till we reach the level crossing where we camp in a field nearby. (31 ½ KM = 20 miles) The cooks prepare our tea in a camp kettle (called a dixie). When the water has boiled, on a wood fire, they put in a tea bag. We then dip our cans into it. No milk. 2 hard biscuits and ½ tin of bully beef Fray Bentos from the Argentine. Water from the water cart (and now with an apple from an orchard of a mangle- wurgle from a field.)

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