Hughes Diary 1917

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Collection Hughes
Date 1917
Abstract James Herbert Yelverton Hughes's black paper covered diary, with the first entry in April 1917 and the last entry in this book on 20th September 1917. Includes a few addresses.
Transcription of diary made by Jillian Johnson [MHS office assistant] August 2014. Some changes to transcription made by Registrar, Jenny Pierson:

April 1917
It is about two years since I left N.Z. I made a few notes for the first year & will start on a few more for the third & what I hope & believe will be the last one. About the same evening that I got this book I saw one of our aeroplanes, after putting up a great fight against big odds come burning to the ground. A horrible end for the gallant men in it. Later the same evening saw liquid fire shells bursting over our trenches. They are diabolical & it is a discredit to the world that they & other such like instruments of destruction are allowed to be used, in fact war at all is a slur on civilisation.

About the middle of the month we (the brigade) went back to Tattingham beyond St Omer for training. It was a three days trek there.

The first day was cold & cloudy with a strong wind blowing, the second somewhat similar & the third snow & rain so the elements were unkind to us.

However the weather took up after our arrival & we had a pleasant fortnight there. The return journey was begun on may day & accomplished in the same stages as going but with perfect weather. On the 2/5/17 I saw the first swallow & also heard the first cuckoo so I suppose spring is firmly established with us.

Indeed the last fortnight has made a wonderful change, from snow to beautiful warm days that would not disgrace the days of early summer in New Zealand.

Crops, grass & leaves are coming on well & the sparrows are busy building nests in the trees round the stable. In many of the trees there are two & three nests. It seems peculiar to see nest in trees that as yet have no leaves, only just leaf buds.

May 14th
I seem to be a long time getting up to date with these notes. Since writing the first & after returning from St Omer we have left our old stables owing to the proximity of hun shells. Two of our hacks were killed at the battle lines. Yesterday while our transport was away at divisional show four shells landed in the neighbourhood of these lines, I couldn't quite make sure from what direction they came; they made a great noise in the air but not much of an explosion.

Our transport took first prize at the show, the Sergeant got 1st for N.C.O's hack & our mule team was h c so we cannot complain, though the men surely earned their honours by the work they put in. we have had some very sultry nights lately.

Three more shells over to day, I really thought the first one would land on the stable. They are said to be 12 inch shells, fired from a range of 13 miles, probably from Lille.

Yesterday I got six letters & today a parcel from the Wastneys.

6th June
About time I had another scribble. I am just about "bored stiff" at the mighty duration of the war & don't seem to care for writing.

About three weeks ago a great brain wave came over some of the heads & they decided to form a Divisional Pack Transport Company. All the pack cobs from the different battalion transports etc along with their leaders & custodians were duly collected at a shell swept situation for a weeks preliminary training.

Luckless * was a pack cob leader, though I have evaded the leading pretty well so far.

Well they didn't waste much time in tuition but put us straight into practice, packing ammunition, barbed wire, concrete bursters, water or any old thing up near the trenches.

We were very lucky for awhile managing to dodge any part where the shells were falling, sometimes only by a whisker but the main thing is to dodge them at all.

After about a fortnight of this we shifted back a considerable distance to comparative safety out of the way of what seems to be a will-o-the-wisp bombardment.

The pack cobs & their leaders continue to go out though one night a sergeant & horse got gassed & next night our brigade was out & got three men wounded, one horse killed & several wounded.

24th June
Cant seem to keep up to scratch with these notes somehow. Writing seems to be a bigger effort as time goes on, the fact is one is tired of the war & everything concerning it.

The pack cobs did their work in connection with the messines stunt & have been disbanded for an indefinite period. They have returned to their respective transport lines.

Fritz has waged war on our observation balloons lately. He has got as many as two & three on one trip over lately.

Yesterday after getting three he made another trip after one, & what I have been watching nearly fifteen months to see happened; the first shot too it was no doubt a fluke shot but did the trick alright.

This morning again a fritz plane was away up a tremendous height & after our anti-aircraft guns had been in action awhile they got him too - good luck to them.

The weather has been cloudy & cooler lately, we also have had a few decent showers & thunderstorms the lightning often proves fatal about here.

Went to Foster's lines last evening & found he is away with mumps.

Fritz put a shell in a civilian church during service this morning, killed six wounded ten, mostly women & children. Modern warfare in the twentieth century. Civilised eh.

1st July
The weater has been showery for the past week with odd thunderstorms.

A remarkable thing happened during one of these storms; the lightning struck one of our captive balloons ripping it from stem to stern of course it came down tout de suite. Fortunately our observers were not in, they having come down via parachute some hours previously owing to the hun getting his shells to close to be safe or pleasant.

Why the balloon was left up I don't exactly know.

Fritz seems to be increasing his long range guns, & does some exceedingly good shooting with them.

There has been lively artillery fire on our front the last two days; I don't know what it is all about.

3rd July
Fritz does a good bit of bomb dropping behind our lines now. He was over again last night & dropped a lot all round us but not very close tho his planes were right over our lines at times.

Australian Brigadier Gen killed & premier of N.S.W. wounded by Antiaircraft shells yesterday; also a traffic control sentry was killed by a nosecap.

Fritz comes over bombing nearly every night now, perhaps because the nights are moonlight. Heavy rain & thunderstorms early this morning.

We have had a fairly quiet time lately until today, when Fritz is heaving allsorts of projectiles about, some fairly close.

We went back a few miles for six or seven days & returned here three days ago.

This is a perfect day (or rather morning). Sunday too. The worst of these bright days is that aeroplanes & artillery are always more active on them & one has more pieces of antiaircraft shells to dodge than on cloudy days.

Sept 20th
Cant seem to keep the entries up "no-how".

Three of our brigades have been back round Lumbres for training etc this last three weeks or so. We are in the quietest & most secluded little spot I have yet been in in France, it would do me for the duration, but I think we are soon shifting back to line, amongst the shells & aeroplane bombs again. I had my leave from 30th August to 9th September.

More peace talks in the papers, suppose it will remain at talk, but have an idea that Germany might accept terms that would be satisfactory to us.

Trooper W. Shannon
Paddington V.A D Hosp
37 Porchester Terrace
London W. 2

Paris leave
Sunday 16th
Dear Charabain drive (under guidance of Miss Butler of Corner of Blighty) passed Tuileries place where Kings & Queens of ancient times were executed. Then on to Arch of Triomph, erected by Napoleon to commemorate his victories, past there to a place where a beautiful shepherdess lived who afterwards became wise & learned & became St Germain? Who saved Paris from the Huns in the 5th century, by pleading so eloquently with the Hun General Atillia, that he withdrew his troops. We afterwards went on to the Chateau St Germaine which was once the residence of Kings but is now a museum, the chapel there is said to be a perfect gem of Gothic architecture.

Another place of interest was Malmaison where Napoleon & Josephine once lived, and another the big water wheel of Versailles. Coming back the journey was made against driving sleet but was none the less enjoyed; this morning there is a few inches of snow on the ground.

Strolled around the Boulevards between the opera & place De La Republique & also along part of the Rivoli.

Visited Notre Dame Special attention was called to the stained glass windows & the Statue of the Virgin Mary.

There was a place of worship on this site in the 3rd or 4th century, the present church was three centurys in the building.

The Clune museum was also built, it is in one of the oldest buildings in Paris dating back to the 4 century, I think, & there is a lot of legend & history attaching to it.

Afterwards looked through another church & in the evening went to the finest Opera house in the world where Romeo & Juliet was being staged in Opera.

1st C I B [Canterbury Infantry Battalion]
Pte 6/1881 Hughes has permission to bring on a sick horse in rear of column.

7/2245 Clinton
38302 Pte H Murray
Cpl Dolamore
51st er C.O. Class
Trentham M Camp

Weight of Oats. July 1918
Bags Lbs Total
8th 6 @ 100 600
9" 5 @ 100 500
10" 6 @ 100 600

Scale of Rations for horses 5/6/18

Oats Hay
H.D 9.15 lbs 135 1 4 126
L.D 38.10" 380 1 1 418
Packs 7.8" 56 1 0 70
___ ___
Total 571 lbs Total 614 lbs
_____________ _________

1 Dixie = 1 2/3 lbs 15 lbs = 9 dixies 8 1 2/3 15
Heavy D 3 per meal 573 24 x 1 3
L D 2 " " 500 5 3 15 x 3 = 9
Hacks 1 3/5 " " 570 5/8 ____
536 in place 571 500 1 3/5 5
593 6/3216
480 536

May 31st 1918
Oats lbs Hay
5 bags 100 }
1 bag 73 } 573 lbs 4 bales (L

June 1st
3 bags 100 } 147
1 " 90 } 500 lbs 4 142
1 " 110 } 153
585 lbs

1 " 110 } 3 = 320 lbs
1 " 85 } 570 2 straw
1 " 90 }
3 " 95 }

5 " 100 = 500 4 bales 480

2 " 105 }
1 " 98 } 593 2 " hay
3 " 95 } 2 " straw

5th 145
4 " 100 } 480 4 124
1 " 80 } 158

Oats Sacks Received in July
1st 6 9th 7 17th 5 26th 6 August 7 590
2nd 6 10" 6 18" 6 27" 7 31/18300
3rd 5 11" 6 19" 7 28" 6 155
4th 6 12" 6 20" 6 29" 6 _______
5" 6 13" 5 21st 6 30" 6 280
6" 5 14" 6 22" 7 31st 6 279
7" 6 15" 8.2 23rd 6 __ ___
8" 6 16" 5 24th 6 37 10
25th 6 55 Average weight per day
__ __ __ 49 590 1/3
47 49 55 47

Empty oats sacks returned to Q M Stores

June 12th = 30 107
" 18th = 20 68
" 22nd = 17 175
" 28th = 20 636
87 13

July 1st 20 Aug 3rd = 12
" 4th 30 636
" 7th 27 8268
" 13" 40 570
" 18" 22 18
" 23rd 20 456.0
" 27th 25 570
" 30" 32 1026.0
___ 826.8
216 1852.8

Oats Hay
8 Heavy Draughts 14 lbs = 112 8
32 L D 9 " = 288 8
13 Hacks & Packs 7 " = 91 8
___ __
Total = 491 424

Horses on line
12/3/18 49
Grooms 3
Hickey 3
Total 55

C. Loader 1 50
A. Head 1 0
A McD 25 ?

8 H.D. @ 17.lbs = 136
7 8
8 Packs " 10 = 80
39 L.D. " 12 " = 468
Less 2 LD & 2 hacks 48
Total lbs 636

22.8 18"6'5
20/216 30 1"2'0
31 _____
10.16 30 17"4'5
7.10.5 9
_____ __
18.6.5 108 2 Rue Coporic

Dates of issue of feed bags
Sept 19th J. Clinton J. McMillan (1)
" 21st S. McMillan

23rd {Gates. McConnell
{MacMillan (1) McHinley (1)

Oct 24th Heats & Wilson (1)

Nov 18 G.R. MCMILLAN 1.5 Mc (1)
" " WOODS 2

Cpl Dowell. Sgt Brown
Joe McMillan. Gates
S. McMillan. J. Adamson
Straight C. Loader

H.D. 14 55
L.D. 11 16
__ __
8 H.D. 17 lb
8 under 15 hands 10

14 136
11 80
18 492

285 285
8 98 110
2 210 85
___ 90
593 ___

9 bales straw
7 " hay

100 lbs = 68 dixies 68
1 17 lbs per Dixie

Hacks 14
Limbers etc 34
Packs 6
Spare 1
Total 55

(unable to read) pay book 15"12'5 21/6/17

Thomas Hughes
C. Company
11th Engineers

Purchased this book in the village of Romain about 6/4/17

6/1881 Pte J.H.Y. Hughes

12th Coy
1st C.J.B.

Mrs James Hughes

Object ID 2013.031.0003
Object Name Diary
People Hughes, James Herbert Yelverton (Bert)
Hughes, Sydney Amy (nee Severne)
Severne, Sydney Amy (later Hughes)
Hughes, Foster Augustine
Shannon, W.
Butler, Miss
Clinton, J.
Murray, H.
Dolamore, Corporal
Loader, C.
Head, A.
McMillan, Joe
McMillan, S.
McMillan, G.R.
McDowell, Corporal
Brown, Sergeant
Adamson, J.
Hughes, Thomas Anderson Francis
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Last modified on: January 16, 2015