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An Extract of my grandfathers diary, currently being edited by myself for publication next
LT COL Arthur Henson SMITH. (1890-1973) See biographical details below.
22nd. July. 1916 (La Boisselle).
I came up to the forward OP at daybreak. It was a very misty morning and so consequently, I
lost my way in the trenches. I took the wrong turning and not being able to see the landscape,
I had gone a long way in the wrong direction and I found that I was about three quarters of a
mile from the OP and about seven hundred yards nearer the germans that I wanted to be.
The quickest and shortest way across was to hop out of the trench and go straight across
where there was no chance of me losing my way again. Of course, owing to the mist, the
germans couldnt see me out in the open but I breathed a sigh of relief when I was safely
inside our trench again.
It is still misty eta present and as I cannot see, I shall dot down a few details of this place now
that I have had a chance to look around.
We are right in the centre of the British offensive commenced on 1st July, just in front of
We are at present in what is now, just a shambles with a few dugouts left but which were the
germans strongly built trenches. I am living in a dugout which was probably just lately
vacated by a german officer. When you look at these trenches, you wonder how the Tommies
ever got the germans out of them, especially as they were manned by the Prussian Guard, the
Cockshafer regiment. The trenches are dug deeply and strongly, traversed and riveted
everywhere. Mile upon mile of cruel barbed wire was firmly staked in front.
The dugouts are forty or fifty feet deep, straight down on the earth and strongly timbered up.
Two flights of stairs lead down to a four room dwelling which always has a second stairway,
lest one gets blown in.
The Huns were driven out by the intense and demoralising fire that our guns brought to bear
on almost every yard of space.
The ground everywhere is ploughed up beyond imagination, just as a giant hand had lifted up
the whole earth and just thrown it down again everywhere. Great heaps of crumpled earth and
deep hollows are now all that remains of what was level country was a week ago. Hardly a
square yard of solid earth remains anywhere. Into some of the shell craters could easily be
fitted a four room cottage.
Just near our position are two mine craters, more like huge disused quarries than anything
else. These two mines were exploded the day of the assault and I am told that they were the
biggest mines exploded in the war, or any other war for that matter. (The Lochnagar mine and
the Y Sap mine)

Thought it is over three weeks since the mines were fired, they still hold the remains of the
german unfortunates who went up with the explosions. At this moment a party is undertaking
the work of covering up the bodies.
Although the town of (Pozieres or Montauban?) is four miles distant, the explosions
caused the church spire to rock and sway visibly for some time.
The troops of the British front line at the time, tell me that the great steel girders in the
dugouts were buckled and broken like tinfoil and the men were thrown off their feet, so
powerful was the concussion.
Many of the deep dugouts in the old hun trench (OG Line) have been blown in and in many
cases, entombed the german occupants. Five yard from our quarters is one of these dugouts,
similarly filled in, no doubt at the bottom lie the bodies of the germans, buried alive.
We are told that when the first wave of our attack passed over here, many men were cut down
by machine-gun fire, fired by germans who remained hidden in these underground caves who
had somehow managed to survive the force of our gunfire. Our people had many casualties
whilst occupied in descending to these dugouts in search of huns still lurking in their depths.
The barbed wire, which at one time was staked firmly in front of the parapets to further
strengthen the trenches against assault, bears ample testimony to the fierceness of the British
gunfire. Everywhere one looks, one sees barbed wire torn to shreds and blown about in an
extraordinary manner. Practically none was left standing despite the fact that miles of it had
been coiled around long iron spikes, firmly staked in the ground.
Thousands of shell cases of all calibres lie about.
Evidence that the german casualties were heavy is plainly borne out by the large number of
graves in most of the shell craters and also other places not so suitable for these purposes,
Bodies have been tossed hurriedly into craters and covered by a few inches of soil. In the
trenches where it is too risky to get out and bury the dead, they have just been buried in the
parapets or on the trench floor where they lay by throwing a few spades full of earth over
This latter idea is not at all a good one, as after a few days when one treads on one of these
spots, it sinks uncannily and bulges out a few feet on. People walking along the trenches and
disturbing places and shells bursting in some of these spots undo the little that has been done
to cover up the gruesome sights and limbs etc. have an unpleasant way of protruding horribly
from all sorts of places. The stench is vile.
Some trenches still hold unburied dead. These trenches are naturally not occupied by us but
used as a cemetery. Business is still too brisk at present, to attend minutely to all these
necessary details.
One particular scene, although gruesome, is intensely pathetic. It is a German ammunition
wagon complete with its team of six horses and three drivers lying dead alongside. No doubt
the drivers made a brave and daring, though vain attempt to dash through our barrage of fire
and deliver ammunition to their guns.

In a trench where there are still many dead, is the body of a German lying on the fire step
with both legs blown off. He is still grasping his bayonetted rifle, hit by a shell whist gamely
fighting to the last.
I have seen many such sights, such as field guns and machine-guns with their detachments
complete, lying dead around them. They had fought their guns until their last man had been
Some English officers have told me of many incidents in the first couple of days of this
offensive, of the brave stand of the Prussian Guard who had held these trenches. When one of
our regiments went out to the attack, let by their Colonel, fifteen years in front, the Prussians
came out of their trenches and manned the parapets, where they fought hand to hand until the
last Prussian was killed. Though our overwhelming numbers must have made it plain to the
Germans that they could not hold the trench against such odds, they preferred to die in
endeavouring to do so sooner than surrender.
The next day, the Tyneside Scottish did much the same thing to the German counter attack.
When the Germans counter attacked the Tynesides who were holding a section of the trench,
the Tynesides were cut off from the rest of the Division but they valiantly held out without
food of water for two days and two nights, fighting all the time. When they were relieved,
there were only six men left alive but they kept the trench.
Perhaps I have been a bit morbid but these fact are just as they are.
I these trenches one finds heaps of souvenirs that would be prized anywhere but here: spiked
steel helmets, once belonging to the Prussian Guard, with a big eagle embossed on the front
and the word Waterloo on top; gas helmets; rifles; bayonets; pistols; haversacks; packs;
water bottles; all sorts of bombs, ammunition and shells; german money; correspondence and
all sorts of personal belongings.
In these huge dugouts, one finds furniture, beds, electric light fittings, lamps. Mess goods,
crockery and like things all apparently left in a hurry. You may find it hard to believe but in
one dugout I found such things as a splendid carpet on the floor, the wall papered with pretty
wallpaper, bedsteads, cedar cupboards, heaters, glass panelled doors, cupboards stocked with
appetising eatables and beautiful china and, though you probably will find it hard to believe
me, unmistakable signs of the dugout being shared by at least one woman. One article left
behind was a ladys motor coat, veil and gloves.
Another remarkable underground dugout was big enough to accommodate a Battery, which it
apparently once did. It has bunks, each with its little cupboard, all neatly arranged in
corridors. From this underground home are stairways, one leading to each of four gun-pits,
close handy.
A nearby field dressing station is a revelation in neatness, comfort and ingenuity. Instead of
the patient being taken down stairs, they are placed in a trolley at the entrance. The front
wheels of the trolley are higher than the back wheels, so that the patient remains in a
horizontal position. The incline takes the trolley down into the pit where it is gently caught by
pneumatic buffers. As it rolls slowly down the incline, so it sends another trolley up to the top
by means of a cable connecting the two. .

When our people got to this field dressing station, they found two German doctors and their
army medical staff still in charge. These men had attended and dressed quite a number of our
wounded, who were already comfortable in beds in the dressing station alongside the
wounded Germans.
An English Captain, who had been wounded then captured and treated, had been taken away
when the Germans retired but before he left, he left a letter to his Colonel stating how well he
had been treated and suggesting that when we took these German medical staff, that they be
well treated.
Tonight there is to be an endeavour to take (Pozieres) by the Australian boys. This is a very
strong position and the Tommies have twice failed in their efforts to take it.
23rd. July.
The attack is in full swing and what a bombardment it was last night! Hundreds of guns from
little 18 pounders to huge 18 inch, pounding away, side by side.
A person with the most vivid imagination could not imagine the roar and din, nor picture the
scene of these hundreds of war machines, all doing their hardest.
The flashes of our guns and the gun-bursts of the enemy shells, showed up vividly in the
night darkness, until it seemed that the whole earth was just a sheet of flame.
I could not make myself heard from one gun to the other in my section, although they were
only ten yards apart and I have fairly healthy lungs.
The atmosphere was full of choking smoke and gas from our cordite, NCT and ballistite but it
was bearable. What was not bearable was the fumes of poison gas that were in the shells that
the Huns sent over: Chlorine and Prussic Acid, one good whiff of which is enough to send
you west.
We had to put our gas helmets on for a while but the blasts from the guns kept the gas pretty
well dispersed after a time.
I learnt this morning, that our lads had been successful for the most part but at certain points
were driven back.
I can see them from the OP presently engaging in a fierce assault on a barricade right in front
of me. The game chaps now in the captured trenches are being tried severely, as it is one
thing to take a trench and quite another thing to hold it.
Just now, the Hun is putting in the most merciless fire of 8 inch stuff, which is proving very
unpleasant. Fragments are ricocheting and spraying near me far too frequently for my peace
of mind.
To my right, where the boys were quite successful, I can see them digging in like blazes.
Long streams of wounded are coming down a sunken road. Along another track are men and
vehicles going through a curtain of fire, rushing supplies and ammunition up to the gallant
lads who are hanging on for their lives.

Along other tracks and communication trenches, streams of reinforcements are slowly and
methodically, winding their way up to give aid to those so badly in need of it up at the front
line, for they have been cut up pretty badly.
Away, on the crest to my right, is a party of perhaps a hundred men outside the trenches, right
in the open, engaged in an earnest hand to hand scrap the Huns, who are either just being
ousted, or is endeavouring to wrest that particular portion of the line back again.
My Dear Pater,
My last dispatch was interrupted whilst I was telling you what I was seeing from my OP on
23rd. July.
I had just mentioned seeing a hand to hand go between Fritz and a couple of hundred of our
lads. To go from there.
Everywhere that I look are huge clouds of smoke, earth, dust and debris. All day long, there is
a continuous, monotonous boom and roar.
I can only at times obtain a glimpse of (Pozieres), where all the strafe is going on, so thick
and complete is the barrage. Truly, a battlefield is a wonderful and interesting sight, an
experience entirely on its own, to watch minutely as I am in a position to so.
I am now patiently awaiting details of the whole show. I am told that by now (7 pm) our boys
have got pretty nearly all that they went out after and are rapidly consolidating. I believe that
our casualties have been very severe but not over great considering the importance of the
project and the gigantic scale of the operation.
Speaking to a Corporal of one regiment a few minutes ago, I learnt that his platoon was fortytwo strong yesterday. Today it was fourteen strong. They had three hundred casualties in the
8pm. Both sides are now bombarding the front lines rigorously, making them veritable
infernos and throwing up immense columns of smoke and earth. About thirty German
prisoners have just been brought in.
24th. July. Fired all night last night. Deadly tired today. Relieved Wallace at OP at midday.
About 6 pm, the Huns came out of their trenches towards the right. Our artillery immediately
opened up on them with great vim and stopped his little game.
25th. July. Huns made many attacks through the night but we kept them well under. This
morning, our position is well in hand. Fired all night again and Im dead tired.
Heard this morning that the boys have gone even further and have taken many more strong

All day today, the germans shelled our newly acquired trenches unmercifully with 8 inch
26th. July. All night firing again. Heavy artillery active on both sides the whole day. The roar
and din is becoming unbearable.
27th. July. Not much doing today for our Battery, is we did not know exactly where our new
line is and consequently are rather diffident about firing.
Four Taubes went up over their own lines today but were flying so high that they were hardly
discernible. Three of our battle planes went up but the Taubes did not wait. This shows what a
superiority we have over the Bosche in the air.
A hostile plane is rarely seen up and when one is up, it flies so high that it is very doubtful
that it can observe anything. It never comes over our lines and always clears out on the
approach of our machines. Our machines on the other hand are continually up, from dawn till
dark. They fly quite high enough to see everything that goes on and they go right over the
German lines. If a hostile machine appears, our fellows invariably go in for a fight.
28th. July. Artillery very persistent all day long on all sides.
Three Taubes sighted again today, flying, as usual, at a great height. Two of our FEs went up
after them and strange to say, the huns waited for a battle. They fought for some minutes
when suddenly we saw one of the Taubes turn three distinct summersaults then a righting
itself and clearing off.
10-30 pm. Our boys are out for blood again. They are endeavouring to take more strong ponts
in the huns lines. As I write, there is a willing scrap on the right.
Now dear Mater, that finishes a rather rambling account of the last couple of weeks. It has
gone forward in six different letters to you, so I think that I have made up for my long
silence. Have to go now but shall write again tomorrow if time. Tons and tons of love
Your loving son,
Ive had a most interesting time, the last few days, meeting old pals who I havent seen for a
long time. Two days ago I was at HQ talking to Herb. Morris, when along came Jim
Campbell. You will recall Jim as a fine, big fellow, whose dimpled chin you used to admire.
Well Jim came along to see us. He left the Gallipoli Peninsular half way through the
campaign sick, went to England and obtained a commission in the RFA. His Battery is now in
action very near us. He is awfully keen to get back to the Anzacs again but his chance has
now gone.

Two minutes ago, I saw one of our machines brought down by German anti-aircraft guns. Of
course it is depressing but we must expect such losses, considering the number of our planes
that are always up and the daring the pilots show in flying so low.
At about 6 pm the night before last, a fleet of our battle-planes went over to tickle the Bosche
up a bit. I counted thirty machines up all at one time. Can you imagine the thrilling sight of
thirty machines sailing majestically over to strafe the old Huns?
On Saturday, our General Birdwood came along to have a look around and after some time
spent talking with the officers, I was sent with him to show him the way to a certain part of
the line. Naturally, I was honoured at being sent.
He appealed to me as a man with a wonderful personality and when he talks to you, he makes
you feel that his interest is entirely centred on you for the time.
The weather here at present is just glorious. Hot, pleasant Australian weather, which bucks
you up immensely and makes one think that the war isnt such a bad affair after all.
C. 3rd Sept. 16 (Belgium South-East of the Ypres Salient, moving from the town of Ouderdom
to Godewaersvelde).
The War.
My dear Mater,
I am at Half Brick and whilst the spirit is upon me, let me tell you about it.
Half Brick is our OP. OP stands for Observation Post.
Half Brick was once the palatial residence of a once comfortable Belgian farmer but owing
to the war, its usefulness has been turned in another direction.
The name Half Brick has been conferred upon it owing to its Heath-Robinson-like
appearance. It has sometime suffered from shell-shock and so that it will continue to do duty
as an OP, some ingenious amateur engineer has contrived to keep it together. His ideas were
apparently modelled on the famous Heath-Robinson style and while the architecture is not
altogether beautiful, it is at least unique.
The two walls facing the enemy have at some time been asked to stand the impact of a 5.9
which they found impossible to do. Consequently, the walls now consist of pillars of bricks.
This left the roof supported on two side only and the pillars of bricks did not reach the beam
of the roof by about two feet. The bright architect placed single bricks, one on top of the other
on this remnant of the walls until the bricks reached the beam of the roof and so supported it.
If I could draw the picture of a man trembling, I should appear in this picture but as I cannot
do so, you will have to forgive me for the oversight.

This is a sort of attic of the farm and up into it, we four poor benighted misguided subalterns
creep, not daring to breathe or touch the walls lest they fall.
Should they fall outwards, we are exposed to the tender mercy of the vigilant and energetic
snipers on Hill V, right opposite. Should they fall inwards, we would cease to worry about the
snipers or our job as Forward Observation Officers (FOO).
A couple of hundredweight of bricks on ones commissariat department or three ten by five
beams, twenty feet long on ones neck, curiously enough takes a great deal of interest from
ones view of things mundane, to wit, snipers and war machines generally.
Yes, through the apertures in the accompanying work of art, does the wily and enthusiastic
subaltern, sometimes known as Forward Observation Officer, peep fearfully, that he may
collect data on the compiled artillery activity of either side for his two-hourly report,
trembling the while lest an observation officer of the opposite side should chance to catch the
glint on of the sun on his field glasses.
The strain of watching the frail supports is far more nerve racking than a severe
bombardment of 4.2s and 5.9s. Each time that we look, we feel certain that one of the gaps
has widened, or that the top of Half Brick has shifted its position. A quiver is sent through
us when a sudden hurrying gust rushes past or a shell bursts one hundred yards from the
I like to white away the time musing about the German position at present. I like to picture
this pile of bricks as the German Army. The room is the German Empire and myself, the
German Emperor. The German Empire, represented by the roof, will assuredly come toppling
down if the German Army, represented by the shaky pile of bricks on whose shoulders the
stability of the Empire rests, should fail. I am in the position of the Emperor, fearful lest the
Army gives away the show and so causes the downfall of the Empire which will, in all
probability, put the Emperor out of action.
That is the seat of war from which I write this dispatch. Do not wonder than that by brain has
become a little unhinged, that I write this ridiculousness.
By the way, coming up to this OP this forenoon, I was preceded by a humourist with a piece
of chalk. How I have deduced this along the track that I came where I passed quite a number
of nine-inch German shells which had failed to explode and did not wreak the destruction that
was intended of them. My friend the humourist had chalked on these shells such legends as
Not to be taken away; Dud; Let sleeping dogs lie; Not to be carried in the haversack;
Pas Bon and Made in Germany.
But I have got off the track a bit.
3rd Aug. I was sent as liaison officer to Infantry Headquarters in (censored Contalmaisson ot
Thiepval ?) Wood (probably the 25th and 27th Battalions). This was a very hot shop, being
continually under shell fire. During the night, the Huns gave us a very severe time, with gas
shells and 5.9s cutting our communications several times. During the night, the infantry on
our left captured a strong point. At about 5 am, the Germans counter-attacked but the result
was a complete failure.

4th Aug. Relieved at midday from liaison duty. I was very pleased to get away from what
turned out to be a very unhealthy stunt.
5th Aug. Celebrated the beginning of the Guerre by attacking the Germans in good
Australian style. Everything that we went after we got. Our Artillery fire was fearfully intense
and proved a wonderful sight. Our casualties were very slight and the Germans were very
heavy. (Battle for the Windmill, Pozieres heights).
At daybreak the Germans counter-attacked in an endeavour to retake the lost positions, but to
no avail. Many German prisoners brought in during the day.
6th Aug. Last night the enemy bombarded us willingly with heavy stuff. Our Battery position
(Sausage Valley La Boisselle) got it very thickly. The wagon lines copped out pretty badly.
The hun did his observing by means of a Zeppelin in the rear of us, which lit up the country
with a searchlight.
This morning, the ground our Battery was cut up terrible. Great craters, ten or twelve feet
deep all over the place. The ground is not the only thing cut up. Whilst talking to the Major
during the night, a shell burst near us and I was hit on the arm, probably by a stone. Today my
arm is very painful and stiff. (My luck is dead stiff too, inasmuch as I didnt get a trip to
Blighty out of it.)
7th August. Many severe attacks and counter-attacks, hostile bombardments and violent
retaliation, during which we lost Lieutenant Pat hare and other good gunners.
Just preparatory to handing over to a relieving Battery, we moved out of position at 2 pm and
proceeded to the wagon lines, moving out from there at 4-30 pm and proceeded to
(censored St Leger or Vadencourt?), where we outspanned for the night. All night long, we
were kept in fear by a big gun: probably a twelve inch which was apparently trying to tear up
a railway line about one hundred yards from our camp. Some shells burst hear enough so as
to make us very homesick.
Now Mater, I shall continue this is another letter, as it will otherwise be too big for the
Love from
The War, 10/9/16.
My dear Mater,
I broke off the other day in the middle of retelling my doings. Although theres not much of
interest to tell you, I shall go on from where I left off on 8th (of August?)
8th After breakfast, we started out from where we were camped the previous night. On the 9th,
we arrive at the town where we were to billet for the time being (St Leger or Vadencourt?).

En-route, we passed many pretty and interesting towns and villages. The country that we
trekked through was typically gorgeous French countryside scenery: hills and valleys,
splendid roads and beautiful avenues of trees.
At one place, where we outspanned for lunch, it was more like a huge enjoyable picnic than
soldiering. It was in a deep, shady valley with a beautiful clear stream running through it.
From the 9th to the 14th, we stayed in this town, occupying our time mostly in Battery drill.
I went for various excursions to different towns nearby and met various interesting people.
One day we marched passed and were inspected by General Walker, who extended his
congratulations to the Brigade for is wonderful work during the previous few weeks of
On the morning of the 15th, we received orders to move and by midday on the 16th, we were
again in action a few hundred yards from the position we had evacuated a few days
previously (La Boisselle and Sausage Valley, near Pozieres). We came up to the position by
forced marches through a continuous downpour of rain.
17th. Saw a fearful sight. One of our machines hit a Taube, setting it alight. It took a steep
nose dive straight down into our lines about a thousand yards from our Battery. It burnt
fiercely and had all the appearance of a comet. It seemed to take two minutes to reach the
earth and some of our men say that they distinctly saw one of the occupants jump from the
burning machine whilst in mid-air. (According to the War diary of the 3rd FA Brigade, it was
actually shot down by AA fire over Pozieres.)
18th. I went up as Forward Observation Officer and registered the Battery onto various
objectives. Whilst I was up there, a gun in the rear had a premature which caught one of my
telephonists who was out repairing the line at the time.
19th Had a big stunt during last night which, in places, was not overly successful.
20th I was sent up as Liaison Officer to the (censored) Battalion, (probably either the 3rd or 4th
Battalion, 2rd Brigade) Advanced HQ, situated on an old German trench just to the rear of the
new front line. The German trench is now practically wiped out and is simply a series of shell
craters, debris, bodies and stench. More stench than anything else.
The dugout that we occupied was about eight feet by six feet (2.5 by 2 metres) and this space
had to accommodate six of us, crouched up in the most uncomfortable positions imaginable.
I went up to the front line two or three times during the afternoon and it is hard to realise
what our grand infantry has gone through unless you had seen those chaps as I saw them. One
company was holding four hundred yards of trench with their remnant of thirty men. Another
company was holding six hundred yards, including a strong point, with about sixty men. The
third company had only a few men left out of their original total of about two hundred. These
remaining men, about twenty, were sent to reinforce the first two companies. The fourth
company went out with the rest in the stunt two nights before and never came back.

In places, the trenches were about thirty yards from the Huns. Our boys had been in the line
for eight days, the last five of which they had spent actually in the front line, digging-in all
day and watching for signs of attack during the night.
During that five days, they had hardly any time to eat and had not had a wink of sleep. When
I went up there, I found that most of these fine chaps were more than half asleep on the fire
steps, hardly caring whether the Hun attacked or not. They seemed half dazed. The men were
in such a pitiable state that the officers had to continually give them tots of rum to keep them
from losing heart altogether.
Just outside the parapet were lots of our dead, men killed in the stunt two nights previously.
On one occasion whilst I was up there, the enemy blew in one companys strong point, killing
three men and wounding eight, including two of the three remaining officers. This
considerably weakened the small garrison. The stench, owing to so many decaying corpses
everywhere was almost unbearable.
I ran a wire up to the line but owing to the incessant shelling of 5.9s we could not keep the
line intact and had to abandon it and resort to runners who had an awful time.
Although we greatly feared a counter-attack, none took place during the night though the
enemy shelled us incessantly, right through the night.
A few shell landed right on top of our poor shelter but luckily, the only damage was a couple
of split rafters. Three men who were at the mouth of the dugout were sent down with shellshock.
Owing to our cramped position, we could not sleep and so we just sat there and wondered
where the next shell would lob. It was one of the most miserable nights that I have ever put
Runners would come in at intervals from the line and as soon as they had delivered their
dispatch, they would fall down unconscious through the awful strain of coming through the
enemys fearful barrage.
During the night, the two companies who were holding the line in front of us, dug through
and connected their respective trenches to make them easier to hold.
A patrol sent out from one company found one of our fellows lying wounded on No Mans
Land. When he was brought in, he was identified as a bomber who had been missing since
the night of the attack. He had lain out there for two days and three nights, without food or
water. He was in a very low condition and terribly flyblown.
21st. I went up to the front line and registered all the Batteries of the Brigade on the Hun
trenches. I was shelled out of the first position that I took up but succeeded in my object from
a bomb post further along the line. As the trenches were at this part only thirty yards apart, I
had to bob down pretty often owing to the vigilance of Herr Sniper.
Later, I amused myself for twenty minutes with a rifle and though I wont lay claim to any
hits, I certainly made the old Huns keep their heads down pretty low.

The trench that the two companies dug to connect up with each other, gave us a position from
which we could enfilade a little bit of trench packed with Huns. A company commander and I
waited at this position and as soon as the first ray of daybreak broke through, we had some
excellent revolver practice and caused no end of confusion amongst the Huns who could not
understand from what point the trouble came. It cleared the trench entirely.
The Company Commander said that he could have easily sapped around in front of this little
bit of trench, instead of behind it and so have taken all the Huns prisoners, about twenty in all
but he was afraid that his company was too weakened to attempt it.
Half an hour later, we saw crowds of Germans moving about in the rear of their trenches, just
below the crest, in full marching order. This seemed to point to the fact that their trenches
were strongly held at night but early in the morning, the majority of troops moved back,
leaving only a few men with machine guns to hold the trench during the day time.
These Germans were too close for me to fire the whole Brigade but as luck would have it, a
Battery opened up on its own account, right in the very spot where they were moving and I
had the complete satisfaction of seeing the Bosches bowled over galore. They became quite
panic-stricken and ran in all directions across the open, chased all the way by eighteen
At about 9 am, a Hun aeroplane swooped down from the clouds and flying at a height of
about four hundred feet, he let his machine-gun go, right along our trench. He was the gamest
Hun in the air that I have seen to date. They usually fly very high when they do venture over
our way.
An FE* was soon after him and flew right on top of him but they both flew into a cloud and
our machine apparently lost sight of the Bosche, who got away intact.
The enemy were pretty busy with artillery all around us during the morning, no doubt
endeavouring to avenge their earlier catastrophe.
At midday, I was relieved from the job, which I decided was pas bon. I arrived back at the
Battery at 2 pm, deadly tired and hungry and Ill admit, a trifle shaken.
The Huns made a raid over our wagon lines and caused a bit of trouble but we exacted some
reprisal by bringing down three of their machines.
One of our observation balloons broke away from its moorings and floated away over the
enemy lines but our observer got away by means of a parachute. Later, one of our 4.7s set fire
to a Hun kite balloon.
22nd During this afternoon, the Huns tried to make another aeroplane raid but our machines
got to business quickly and cut them off. Some very thrilling air battles were witnessed.
Later, our planes went over their lines on a raid. It was a ripping sight to see them all
returning, over thirty machines, flying at different heights and distances.
23rd Yesterday, the Huns made a counter-attack on some trenches that we had taken on the
right. They came over dressed in our uniforms and on that account, they were partially
successful in regaining that part of the trench.

Later, we retook it and capture twenty prisoners, still dressed in our uniform.
As an example to the enemy, these twenty men were placed out on the parapet and shot, in
sight of their fellow Huns, to make them understand that we do not countenance such
This morning, the enemy tried hard to regain to some extent and equal place with us
regarding aeroplane reconnaissance. They set up quite a flock of machines and we, in turn,
sent up dozens to keep them off, until at one time, the sky was literally covered with planes.
All the morning, we were kept interested watching exciting air duels, although this day we
saw no planes actually brought down. Many machines of both sides went back to their lines
in a damaged condition however. One Hun we noticed get a bad hit which caused him to
retreat to his own lines in a series of steep nose dives, side slips and spirals. One of our planes
came back with the upper wing practically shot away and just hanging by a spar.
The Taubes apparently did a little good whilst in the air, for they poured in an intense fire of
eight inch armour piercing shells around a couple of batteries and caused a huge column of
debris, earth, smoke and awful detonations but did not hit the guns, although a couple of men
and a few horses were killed.
We handed over to a relieving battery after lunch. As we were taking our guns back, we had
an anxious time passing through a barrage of eight inch stuff just in the rear of the position.
We left the wagon lines in the evening, trekked three miles back and camped for the night
(the Brickfields area).
Just before turning in, we saw a big column of smoke on our left, followed by a lot of
detonations and then a fire. The Huns had apparently hit one of our ammunition dumps.
24th After breakfast, we got on the move again and proceeded via many pretty little towns and
villages to (censored) (Amplier from Unit Diary, via, Bouzincourt, Hedauville, Forceville,
Acheux, Lovencourt, Marieux, Sarton, Orville ) where we arrived at dusk.
The route was magnificent. The same good roads, tall trees, green grass, hills and dales that
are so prevalent in this part of France.
After sorting ourselves out, we found a nice little farm on top of a hill, where we arranged for
the officers billets. We were greatly taken with the place and its glorious view.
Just near here is an aerodrome and at about 5 pm, we saw a squadron of planes coming home
from a raid. I counted thirty-nine above us, all at the one time.
At 6 pm, the major, Wallace and I got on the bikes and rode into (censored) (probably
Amplier), a big town, three miles distant. Here we had a gorgeous dinner, a very cheery
evening and returned home at 11 pm.
Now then dear Mater, I am at present at the OP and the writing paper has just run out so I
must finish for now.

To be continued.
Love to all
Much love to your dear self,
Your ever loving son
Le Guerre, 10/10/16. (Zillebeke, Belgium)
LT COL Arthur Henson SMITH. (1890-1973). Army Number VX13994 Regimental Number
1539 Enlisted in the 1st AIF, 31 August 1914 as Corporal (Bombardier), 2nd Brigade
Artillery (Ammunition Column). Embarked for Egypt 20 October 1914 aboard the Transport
A27 "Southern". Landed on Gallipoli 26 April 1915. Promoted in the field on Gallipoli
Sergeant 2 Aug 1915, Battery Sergeant Major 12 Sept 1915. 9 May 1916 to France 3rd Army
Field Artillery Brigade. Commissioned Lieutenant 12 March 1916. Captain 1 October 1917.
1918 CO 103rd Howitzer Battery. Returned to Australia 6 Jan 1919 aboard HMTS "Lakoda".
Embarked at Sydney on SS "Willochra" on 27 May 1919 for "Special Duty (Sea Transport)".
OIC POW return to Germany. A notable prisoner was Freiherr (Count) von Lueckner, who
had been the Captain of the German raider, the "See Adler" and had been captured in Fiji
about 1916. Arthur and he became firm friends. Finally returned to Australia 23 Sep 1919.
Demobilised 21 November 1919. Served in CMF 1924 to 1931 (2nd Medium Brigade AGA
CO 6th Battery).Enlisted in 2nd AIF 1 May 1940 as Major. Seconded 2/9 Field Regiment
then 1 Aust Corps Staff. Promoted Lieutenant-Colonel. OC Port Moresby Sub-Base Area
January 1943 to May 1944. Discharged 1May 1945.