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The War Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Leonard Harcourt Maynard (Royal Field Artillery) 09/04 - 15/04/1918

9th April. I was living in the line at Cavan Line and expected to be relieved at 6 a.m. At 4 a.m. a terrific bombardment started which continued for several hours and we could do nothing but wait, to see what happened, as we were out of communication with all HQs, and to attempt to get to anywhere through the barrage would have meant almost certain death. There was a very thick fog and one could not see more than 10 yards in front, and owing to this the Germans were able to walk right through the Portuguese lines and to come right along the rear of our divisional front, so that we were absolutely surrounded. At about 9 a.m. someone came to the door of my dug-out and called out something I did not catch, and of which I took no notice, but a minute or two later a small bomb was thrown in, and I then thought it time to clear out and on doing this I found about 30 or 40 Germans outside. As there were only 2 men with me, the only thing to do was to surrender or be filled with lead.  I was then taken by stages with big intervals to Salome, where I spent the night, and I was very pleased when I got there as I had had nothing to eat from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and so was simply ravenously hungry.

10th April. We started today about 2 p.m., a party of about 25 English officers and 50 Portuguese officers and a lot of men of both and we marched to Provin, a distance of 6 or 8 kilometres, where we expected to entrain for Lille, but after waiting for about 2 hours at the station, we were marched another 2 or 3 kilometres to Carvin where we stayed the night. So far we have been treated pretty well, and the grub has not been too awful.

11th April. We started about 11 a.m. this morning to march to Lille, a distance of 19 kilometres; owing to having the Portuguese with us, the going was very slow, as they are a very poor lot of beggars as regards spirit, and it was 4 p.m. before we arrived. At various villages en route the inhabitants came out with gifts in the shape of bread, coffee, cigarettes and matches, and also at Lille they tried to give us things but were stopped by the military police, and it was very easy to see that the inhabitants did not love the Germans. After marching about Lille we were taken to the Citadel for the night.

12th April. Today we have spent in the Citadel, having just a small courtyard, about 40 yards by 15 yards, in which to take exercise, except for about ½ hour during the afternoon, when we were allowed out into part of the main square of the Citadel. The food here consists of black bread, coffee (made from acorns) unsweetened and without milk, soup with an odd bit or two of horseflesh and potato, jam; the soup or stew whichever one likes to call it, does not look up to much, but tastes rather better than its appearance.

13th April. This morning my name was called out amongst a lot of others to go away to another camp and we were marched to another part of the Citadel. Amongst our party was a padre who had permission to say a few words to the British troops at the Citadel, so he held a short service at 11 a.m. at which there was a huge congregation, including a lot of the German garrison besides the guards. We left the Citadel at 1 p.m. and went straight to the station and into the train, which left Lille about 2.30 p.m.; before leaving we were each given 2 loaves of bread (2 day’s rations), and there was a bucket of jam for every 20 officers.

14th April. Today has been spent in the train so have very little to write about. We got to Metz about 2.30 p.m. having passed through some lovely scenery through Lorraine. I believe this is Anniversary Day at home, and my thoughts have been there many times.

15th April. Today we arrived at Karlsruhe about 1 p.m. only to find we had come too far and were sent back immediately by another train to Rastatt.  We marched about 1 ½ or 2 miles to the camp and on arrival were detailed to various huts. These huts hold about 80 to 85 and have bunks made in two tiers like boats have and they have mattresses of wood shavings. After we had had a meal we were issued with 2 highly coloured smooth blankets, 1 white sheet, and a big blue and white thing which is evidentially intended for a mattress case, but everyone here uses them for covering themselves at night; in addition to the above, one very minute towel was dished out.

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Published 2 years ago by Project Officer - Somerset Remembers

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