Bert Henson Diary - 8

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The War Diaries of Bert Henson

Diary 8 of 10 is summarised below - View full text of Diary 8

Summary of Diary 8

1918 August


Couin - Trip to find dentist.


Couin to Rossignol Wood trenches, near Gommecourt. 1st Battalion Dinks. Ted Arnold.

11 - 14        

Rossignol trenches. Good weather. Germans sniping people going to W.W.C, and continued activity and retaliation. Collier from Lower Hutt killed and several wounded. Reports excellent. Many German prisoners and guns captured. Germans have pulled out, our patrols now on outskirts of Puisieux and beyond Serre. Still got toothache. Shortage of cigarettes


Relieved by 2nd Auckland and went to Gommecourt. Using dug-outs that had been made and used by Germans during their occupation here.


Gommecourt to Marieux to relieve Ted Arnold who is going on leave. Walked to Souastre where I still tried to get tooth fixed. Got a lorry ride to Pas and Thievres and then walked to the camp in Marieux Wood.

20 - 31         

Back to dentist in Souastre, walked and biked. Was sent on to Couin to another dentist.  Hopefully tooth is fixed.  Ambrose Long, Innes and I set off by lorry via Doullens. Did some sightseeing. Coulston turned up. Some French returning to their old homes as we advance. Heard a successful “push” has been made near Arras. Captain White and Padre Walls wounded. Mr Lee killed. Great collection of German phones and other signal gear captured. Bapaume now secured. Hall, Matthews and Evernden up to from line.                     

September 1818

2 - 9          

Marieux - Jack Laurence and I went to Thievres for a swim in the river Authie. Laurence, Long and I walked to Beauquesne which was full of Americans arrived from Kemmel. Ambrose, Long and I went for an amble, got a lorry ride to Doullens, lots more Americans. Jolly fine chaps, keen, fresh and very optimistic. 2nd Auckland moved up, we go tomorrow.

10 – 14       

Bapume - via foot and train, passing much of the country we had spent time in, in trenches. Norman Tingey was also here. Weather rainy with wintry wind. Major Hume (“Pullthro”) has been wounded. Charlie Bargh awarded the M.M. About 700 German prisoners captured in Bourlon Wood passed near camp under escort. Went to look at an old German tank. Rumour of Americans securing 25,000 prisoners after a push in Alsace.

15 – 27       

Biefvillers - Bivvy got partly flooded due to storm. Saw two German bomber planes shot down. Managed to get a German wireless repaired and working. Met up with Norman Tingey, Wally White and Spencer Ingham. Inspection by Lord Milner and General Russell. Watched a rugby match with 1st Wellington and our battalion, they won. Weather still bad. Combined church service 1st and 2nd Wellington battalions.Tom Bullick, Dib, Oscar Johnson, Bob Ferguson, Sam Hardy. Bapaume is now a heap on ruin and devastation. Examined a couple of German tanks – big ungainly things, much heavier amour than ours. Train-loads of tanks and numerous guns have passed through here. Our planes are very active. 2nd Brigade moved forward. Saw Norm Tingey. Big push launched between Verdun and Rheims – progressing well. Heard General Allenby’s forces captured 40,000 Turks. Bourlon Wood has been taken. Push about Cambrai progressing well.


Dib, Hardy, Stewart and myself recommended for O.T.C. Norman Tingey out of it – PBC2. Either Rouen or England. 5:30 am start, travelled by lorry to Neuville, and then into position in the Hindenburg Line.


La Vacquerie Valley – in an old German dug-out we established Headquarters. Engaged Germans and soon had prisoners pouring in.


9 - 10                          

Put Tom Bullick’s grave in better order. Moved out – marched across recently captured ground, across Cambrai – St Quentin road, through the battered village of Crevecoeur, across a magnificent canal towards Caudry. During the night saw glows of fires the Germans were setting as they fell back. Crossed the Cambrai railway that had been thoroughly blown up. Marched across country arriving at Beauvais. It was hard to realise that we had left trenches and the old warfare behind.


Beauvais - billeted in houses on mattresses. 3:00 am moved forward to Haucott. Ran communications wire to 1st Auckland. 8:30am moved up to 2nd Auckland’s old position. 42nd Division came onto our farm.


Rations rather short, so cooked some potatoes, carrots, onions etc, from farm buildings and garden. We are in support of Auckland and 1st Wellingtons, but quite well back from the Germans. Relieved by 42nd Div and set off for Longsart across country.

13 - 22        

Longsart - Dallinger got us all out on fatigue, cleaning up. Joined by “B” team. Prince of Wales visit accompanied by Gen. Russell and Col Cunningham. Tom Hogan and I went to Fontaine-au-Pire to Brigade and 1st Auckland hdqrs. Temporarily looking after repairs to our equipment that was previously Ted Arnold and Tom Bullick’s job. Went with Tom Hogan to Fontaine-au-Pire to Brigade and 1st Auckland hdqrs to recover a phone we had lent them at Crevecoeur and some urgently needed cells. Watched several football matches between various teams. Decorations awarded to A. J. Butler and myself. Ostend has fallen to naval forces, Lille is pretty well flanked and Bruges has also been occupied. Weather still wintry. Salvaged a lot of wire, put it on reels and packed up ready to move out. “B” team list includes Berry, Taylor, Askew and myself. Marched to Beauvois-en-Cambrensis

23 -31         

Beauvois-en-Cambrensis -  Residing in an old factory – it is barn-like with a leaky roof. Scrounged straw for a mattress. Heard our flank is now on the Dutch frontier and the Germans are well off the coast. Lots of prisoners being taken. Went to cinema with Bagley. Battalion now in Solemnes with Div hdqrs.

V.C. Nicholson killed after declining returning to NZ. In luck tonight, I found some cigarettes at a British canteen – Craven As. Joe Mackie and I went to Caudry. A lot of traffic through here – civilians returning, refugees brought from front line, prisoners passing through. Saw Norm Tingey who has just returned from leave in UK. Horace Reid and Dib went to see the Brigadier re their commissions. Planes are very busy. Germans putting up stiff resistance at Foret de Mormal. Jack Miles arrived on his way to UK. Battalion still in Solesmes. Joe Ward said there is mail on the way for me.

Bert Henson Diary - 8

Sources:Transcribed by Dion G. Minhinnick