Memoirs & Diaries - The Diaries of Robert Lindsay Mackay - Somme 1916

British recruitment poster Contents:
Etaples, Albert, Martinpuich, Baisieuz
Resting (In The Mud), Up To Line Again
Attack Of 9th Division Opposite Eaucourt L'Abbaye
November 1916, Not In The Line
Behind Albert. Meet Gough, G.O.C. 5th Army
Mametz - And Snow, Still Mucking Around
1917, I Meet The Artillery, Le Sars
Division Relieved, Off To Paris
Amiens, Paris
Back To The Fold


Monday 4th. Sept. 1916. Recalled from Leave. Ordered "out". Felt very 'bucked' with life. Train to Dunfermline, packed a few things and then off to Edinburgh. Terrific crowds at the station to see our train off. Slept on the floor of a third class corridor with a few drunken Canadians, who, I believe, talked to me most of the night without getting a reply. Cheery souls!

5th. Sept. Breakfast in Regent Palace Hotel, London. Lunch at The Troc! Folkestone crowded out. Transports full, place looked beautiful in the sunshine. Usual escort of destroyers crossing over. Had no regrets, and did no moralising as I saw the white cliffs of Dover recede from view. Horribly sick. We draw a veil here! Put up at the Louvre Hotel, Boulogne, with S.R.Wilson (l0th. Argylls, killed 3 weeks later).

6th. Up to the Base, Etaples, which is the last place on earth. Tents, sands, horrible drill instructors, and a rotten adjutant are all I remember of the place, although I was there until 12th. Sept. The atmosphere surrounding the place was rotten.


12th. Sept. Ordered up to the 11th. Service Battalion Argylls - the one to which I most of all wanted to go. Train due to leave at 2 p.m. Left punctually at 4.30 p.m., which is not bad for a French train. Reached Albert on the Somme Front about 6.30 p.m. on the 13th. - a distance of some 70 - 80 miles in 28 hours - not bad going for a French train either! Albert is where the battle now going on began, so I hope to see something decent. Reported to the Details Orderly Room of the 11th. Bn. who heard next day that we were coming. Went along to a park after tea to see our latest form of frightfulness about which mystery hangs, namely, the tanks. They have not been used against the enemy yet. Heyworth (who joined with me) and I then went along to the Divisional Reinforcement Camp at Mericourt.

14th. Sept. Loafed around.


15th. Heyworth and I wakened up early in the morning and told to proceed up the line. Got our 'skates on'. By 11 a.m. we had passed Contalmaison, now a heap of ruins, then we got under shell fire on the Bazentin Road. Passed over the Switch Line, and down towards Martinpuich.

French shelters on the SommeThere had been a big show this morning. With the Canadians on the left and the 50th. Division (?) on the right, the old 15th. Scottish Division had gone forward. Martinpuich, Courcellette and Flers had fallen. Our people suffered heavily from our new gunfire methods - the barrage - to which our men were not accustomed. Found what remained of the Battalion in a half-dug trench just South of the Western edge of Martinpuich. Reported to Lieut. McClure, the senior officer. Found Orr, McAinsh, and others whom I knew. Quite a lot of dead all over the place. We had met large numbers of wounded on the way up.

Well! Here we were shelled for three days by the old Hun, fortunately most of his stuff went 50 yards over, though we did have a few people laid out now and then. Found a dug-out, but rarely went to it. Weather beautiful. It was somewhat interesting to a newcomer to watch the shells knocking Martinpuich into a heap of bricks, only about 150 - 200 yards away. Though not so amusing when the bricks began to fall around one. Hun used a lot of shrapnel against us - dirty stuff! We often picked up bits which fell all around us, but had to let them go at once - they were so hot. At night one of our tanks just on our right flank took fire. It blazed away for a long time while the Hun amused himself flinging shells at it.

We had a very lively three days of it. One old rascal (Old Stevie) showed me some eight or nine watches which he had 'souvenired'. We used for line Headquarters an old dug-out in the near end of Martinpuich with eight entrances - five of which were blown in by shellfire, one actually while I was inside.

17th. Relieved by Seaforths on night of 17th, and went back to trenches just to West of Contalmaison, near the Chateau. I spent about half an hour looking for the Chateau, but could not find it, though I could see for miles in every direction. I believe the foundations exist in parts! Took a tremendous feed when we got back, and then slept with the rats (my companions for the next 2 - 3 years). Rain came down and soaked us through in our shelters.

18th. Sept. Relieved by the Durhams. Then walked to Melincourt. It rained the whole time. I believe I slept on the march! Not a man of my platoon fell out, though they must have been on their last legs. Had No. 6 Platoon of 'B' Coy. (Capt. A.G.Cameron).


19th. On the march again to Baisieuz. My servant Milligan calls it "Bazooks". Found we were to camp on a mud field. Waited three hours until the tents came. Just like the Army!

20th. Sept. Roll Call. About ten officers and 360 other ranks from the battalion 'absent'! That's War!

Note from RLM, 1972: Divisional History showed 7 Officers killed and 6 wounded 15th. - 19th. September, and of the men, 45 killed, 245 wounded and 30 missing in the whole of September, i.e. Battalion Casualties.

21st. Found out that there was a bigger population of beetles, wasps and mice in my tent than I had ever seen in any place in England.

Resting (In The Mud)

An easy life now. Men recuperating after the show. Weather the limit! Men complimented by G.O.C. Division and Brigade. Am in a splendid battalion. Officers and men grand. "Hard drinkers and hard fighters", as Phillip Gibbs described them after his Christmas dinner with them in 1915.

24th. Sept. Joint Church Parade with the Camerons. Padre's words mixed up with the boom of a gun or with the screech of a motor bike doing 50 miles per hour.

26th. Sept. Range work. Met the Brigadier. Tried to 'bluff' him twice and succeeded once - not bad for a 'greenhorn'. Out riding at night. Alarm at night for lord knows what.

Life fairly uneventful. Usual 'rags' at night with the officers. Came off fairly well. Artillery fire seemed to liven up from day to day. The Hun must be getting it 'in the neck'. We are now supposed to go up for a short 'stunt' again next week, and preparations are being made for it.

Up To Line Again

October 4th. Camp flooded - gratuitous bath! Move to Bresle, the Durhams again taking over from us. Told to act as Signalling Officer by the C.O. Told him I knew very little about the game.

5th. Oct. A month since I landed in this place and big changes have taken place already. McCallum joins 'B' Coy. Captain C--- just back from Paris - and he looks it.

6th. Doing signals. Find the sergeant is a bit lazy. Wakening him up a little.

7th. Reveille 5 a.m. Eugh! Rain, mud, confusion - march to Bresle, Albert, Becourt ("X 27"), halted for a couple of hours, once again. (Damn these lorries which cover us all over with mud!) On to Martinpuich. Shell holes and shells. Only a few casualties.

8th. Lovely morning. In afternoon 'A' Coy. (in Martin Alley Trench) were shelled. The Hun threw 402 5.9"s at the trench. Only two killed and a half dozen wounded. Heard Ian Morrison had been killed on the 15th. just about an hour after I left him.

Attack Of 9th Division Opposite Eaucourt L'Abbaye

11th. Oct. Detailed to watch bombardment of ours over the front of the 9th. Scottish Division, on our right, preparatory to their attack. Found out where their (the Huns') retaliation fell, and reported. Glorious view. C.O. quite pleased. It was very funny to watch the sky-line go up in bits and then disappear in the smoke. S.R.Wilson killed in this attack.

12th. Oct. Gas shell attack 5 to 6 a.m. Made me wild. Don't want to take prisoners after this. Some bad casualties owing to gas.

German soldiers marching through Bapaume during the Battle of the Somme, 191613th. When the the 13th. of the month falls on a Friday, BEWARE! A shell came into our dug-out bursting through the roof, shattered the mirror near where it had entered (worst of all), dirtied a few people, and wounded the Adjutant and one or two others. I was out at the time, looking at the line with the C.O. So I had to carry on as substitute adjutant until Tobermory Maclean came up and took over as Adjutant. We relieved the Royal Scots in the front line. Got to sleep at 3 a.m. and rose at 7 a.m.

14th. Round the line. Filthy sights around Le Sars where our artillery must have given the Hun a little anxiety. Got chased by pip-squeaks along with W.C.Smith. Livens one up a little and keeps one fit! Relieved at night by H.L.I. Tiring tramp back to Shelter Wood. Of course, no sooner had we sat down to our midnight meal than the Hun, with his usual sense of humour, began shelling us. No damage done. More shelling about 5 a.m. Our tent covered with muck, while one or two other tents got holes in them. Nothing worse, fortunately.

Sunday 15th. Had a bath.

16th, 17th, and so on till the end - MUD, MUD, MUD!

18th. Our 'rest' is now finished - when did it begin? Left Lozenge Wood, for Martinpuich.

19th. Rotten ration party to take up to the Royal Scots. Bed 3 a.m. Half a bed is better than no bed at all!

20th. Round the companies. The C.O. (MacNeil of Oban) got a mouldy haggis, which he ate all by himself. It came in a parcel labelled "CAKE". He had kept it for three weeks!

21st. Canadians on our left attack the "Quadrilateral" and village of Pys. Partial success. Bombardment all night.

Back to Martinpuich from the line. Frost came on us suddenly and played the mischief with the mens' feet. Had to send a number to hospital.

24th. Oct. Relieved by 7/8th. K.O.S.B. Back to Lozenge Wood. Roads heavy on way back. Got stuck in the mud.

30th. Oct. Still at Bécourt, "X 27" district, as bleak and as barren a place as the Western Hebrides. Note from RLM, 1972: I first visited the Hebrides about 1967! It is said that grass once grew here!

31st. Front line again.

November 1916

2nd. November. Chased by snipers. Relieved by 5th. Bn. Gloucesters, of 48th. Division.

3rd. Left Bécourt Dell for Albert and a bath.

4th. Albert is knocked about in the most up-to-date fashion, in accordance with the most advanced ideas. There is not a pane of unbroken glass in the place. Every house, if not entirely demolished or with a gable or two missing, has a few holes in the roof, which help the ventilation and also assist materially in the disposal of surplus rain. Ye Gods! It is a funny life!

Albert Cathedral and legendary "hanging Virgin"Albert Cathedral has been very badly smashed but the tower still remains with the figure of the Virgin and Child held out at right angles to it at the top and threatening to fall at any moment on the heads of countless people who pass below. It is commonly said that the War will not end until the Virgin falls. As the French don't want it to fall (preferring to keep it as a monument of the Huns' occupation of the place), what can we do? [Fortunately in the 1918 German Offensive, the Hun recaptured Albert and so gave our gunners the chance to knock the thing down by mistake! That's how the War ended!]

Not In The Line

5th. Nov. Billeting ahead for the Battalion in the delightful place known as Baisieux. Things went well. Back to 'B' Coy. and No. 6 Platoon as the proper signalling officer has now returned.

8th. Nov. Got 16 letters and papers in 24 hours - the accumulation of several days post. Must say we do appreciate cheery letters out here!

Behind Albert. Meet Gough, G.O.C. 5th Army

9th. Billeting again at La Houssaye. Had a row with the Brigade Major. We were both right, only our adjutant had given me wrong instructions and I was only doing my duty by obeying them.

12th. Rugger against A.S.C.

Humdrum life. Snow fell occasionally.

18th. To Amiens with Heyworth. Aired my French and emptied my pockets. Motored back.

25th. Nov. Billeting for Battalion in Contay.

26th. Moved to Contay. After dark, when having my dinner, I was told that somebody outside wanted to see me. Said something, and went out. Found a little officer and another bigger one, who wanted to see Colonel MacNeil. I said something like "Come along, old boy, up this way!" and raced the little fellow up one of those filthy little streets to the C.O.'s billet. Found it was General Gough, G.O.C. 5th. Army and Gen. Malcolm, his M.G.G.S. Gee! He was out of breath and could scarcely speak to the C.O. when they met!

Mametz - And Snow

29th. Felt rotten. Had a cold - owing to being billeted in a house!

30th. March to Mametz Wood. Took about 3 hours. Tents on a white hillside.

Area near Albert following German evacuation1st. December. We are to make roads for the next few days. Out occasionally on work parties. Those officers not on duty all stayed in bed (valises!) and so did the men. We ate, slept, read in our valises. It was so cold outside. We had no fires, absolutely nothing, yet I really believed we enjoyed ourselves. There was practically no shelling.

Found two Russian guns in Mametz Wood. Their date was 1882. They had been used by the Russians early in the war and then been captured by the Hun, taken across Germany, and then used to stay our Somme Offensive. Judging from their appearance they'll never be used again, unless for the scrap heap!

7th. Waited two hours for a train to take us the 4 mile journey to Meaulte. This is absolute truth! Billets in Albert.

10th. Dec. Amiens with MacCallum.

11th. Inoculation. Felt that the end of the world was coming. Out riding to Scots Redoubt with Fyfe. Had a beastly pony - stumbling at every step. When we got into Contalmaison our guns began to go off all around us, then a few German shells came in and the poor old pony 'got off its mark'. Found myself faced with the problem of how to go over the horse's head decently without injuring my inoculated arm. Fortunately managed to stop the brute in time.

14th. Out, officially this time, to take over at Scots Redoubt.

15th. Took over for the Battalion from 12th. H.L.I. in Martinpuich. Found them in a bad mess, having arrived in darkness the previous night, and their men were all over the countryside! Got a working arrangement and saw our battalion in safely - except D.T.M. who, of course, lost his way. Our dug-out flooded, but I managed to find a dry part of the floor. Men's shelters very bad.

Sunday 17th. Left in a hurry for the Front Line. Relieved 6/7th. R.S.F. at 6 p.m. Our line of defence here is not continuous - consists of piquets, posts, and sentries. Had rather a difficult corner to hold. The shell hole occupied by some of my platoon, and just about 10 yards from my H.Q. having been raided and bombed that very morning. Got extra Lewis Gun for the post. Work party digging a new piquet line. Had to do every damn thing myself as my platoon sergeant was hopeless. Had a very busy couple of days.

19th. Relieved by 8/10th. Gordons. Back to Scots Redoubt - a long, long trail. Thank goodness there is a soup kitchen halfway.

20th. to 22nd. Cleaning up.

23rd/24th. Fatigue Party, hard driving work, Pioneer Camp.

Preparations for Christmas dinner at the front, 191425th. Dec. This is Christmas Day by the way! Left at 4 p.m. with 60 - 70 men to carry trench boards from Martinpuich to the front end of Le Sars. Men did well, however, and I did not have very much trouble. Battalion up in Front Line again. 'B' Coy. in dugouts behind Eaucourt L'Abbaye. Had to remain below all day because our movements could be spotted by the Hun, who had two or three guns always trained on the dugout doors, which he was always smashing. Shelling very severe and accurate in this part of the line.

Still Mucking Around

26th. Carrying party at night.

27th. Relieved by 13th. Royal Scots who had an officer and two or three men killed on the road up. Back to Prue Trench and Seven Elms at night. Awful place. Freezing cold.

28th. Dawn did not improve matters much.

29th. Dec. Front Line again. What an affection it has for us! Heavy journey with two days rations. The going was so hard it took an hour for the party to move 3/4 of a mile. None of my men fell out, but I've had more trouble with the sergeant. He'll go at the first opportunity! Mud a tremendous hindrance. It prevented large patrols going out. Hun did not seem to worry. He was content to sit in his trench and 'poop off' Verey Lights.

Farquharson and I were nearly shot by one of our own Lewis Gun men while taking a walk in "No Man's Land". (We had gone out without warning ALL our front line men. By chance the gunner got a glimpse of my bare knees and kilt, and recognized we were not Huns).

The Butte of Warlencourt looked very strange at nights under the glare of Verey Lights. It is shaped just like a coal bin, only it is white in colour from the chalk. The 8/10th. Gordons raided it a few nights later and killed about 80 Huns.

30th. Dec. Longest day in my life so far. Could not move about. All the trenches had fallen in, and our men just lay about in shell holes. The Hun treated us to aerial darts and grenades and we had a few casualties, chiefly in my platoon.

31st. Dec. Repetition of the 30th., only we had the additional trouble of some short shooting on the part of our own gunners. Relieved at night. Got back to Scots Redoubt at 11.30 having carried some 400 rounds of machine gun ammunition in addition to a few other things. Went round with the rum and whisky to my platoon, and so we brought in the New Year. Later on some of the people in the hut began mixing their drinks. We had a terrific meal also. I had about four huge parcels from home containing everything from soap to St. Ivel cheese and Scotch Haggis!


1st. January. Wrote a few letters and got into bed at 3 a.m. Slept like a top, as we had had very little sleep during the past few days. Wakened along with the rest of the officers at 10 a.m. by the C.O. Think some of us must have fallen asleep again for he returned at 11 a.m. and found half still in bed. I was out of bed but was garbed like Venus at the well when he reappeared. Devil of a strafe over this. A new major has rolled up - he does look new - to the War!

2nd. Jan. Major A--- died - had too little to do. (Suicide).

3rd. Jan. Signalling again. Away up 26th. Avenue (a trench) taking over from 10/11th. H.L.I. Tried to get some souvenirs out of an old tank used last September - nothing doing - the whole business blown to bits.

4th. Jan. In charge of advance party for the relief. Trouble with the cooks, who, of course, had to get lost. Caused me a lot of walking. Shelled a bit. One landed 2 - 3 yards in front of me but it was a dud, and I was well down anyway, even although it was in the open.

I Meet The Artillery

5th. Jan. Detailed by the C.O. to go out shooting with a 6" Howitzer officer who was to meet me in Martinpuich (i.e. about 1 1/2 miles behind the lines and about 1/2 to 3/4 mile behind our battalion H.Q.). Apparently Farquharson, my O.C. Coy., had reported the short shooting by 6 inch howitzers of ours on 31st. Dec. The gunners of course denied it. As some of their shells had been falling all day all around my platoon I rather backed up Farquharson. Unfortunately he gave my name as a witness and the whole business went to Corps. H.Q. Looked as if I had been complaining, tho' I know that our gunners must necessarily 'put the wind up' us at times.

Belgian artillery firing on German positionsAnyway, Mr. 6 inch How. said he would take me to his Observation Post "which was very far forward in a dangerous place", and he would repeat his 'shoot' of 31st. Dec. The beggar took me to a spot not many yards from our battalion H.Q.! He fired off some 50 - 60 rounds at £3:10:0 per round for my edification, taking two hours to do it. Then I told him I was bored, fed-up, hungry, and was buzzing off. As I left him I heard him shouting down the telephone to his battery. "Infantry Officer fed up and hungry and has left me. Stop shoot". Never heard of him again.

Le Sars

5th. Jan. Round the line at night. Some of the Huns' dead still unburied (killed in October!). We had not had time to look after them.

6th. Back to Acid Drop Camp about midnight.

8th. Jan. Front Line again. Glorious night. Laying out lines as usual - 1 a.m. Away out by Chalk Pit. Snowed like Billy-Oh. Lucky to get back by 3 a.m. Got tucked away in a number of sandbags for the night.

10th. In charge of guides for relief by 6th. Camerons. Things went well. Reached Villa Camp by 10 p.m. and got settled down by 12.

11th. Jan. Had a bath in Albert, an event always worth chronicling.

12th. Shifted to Scots Redoubt South.

16th. Jan. To Pioneer Camp. 6 inches of snow on the ground. Ugh!

18th. Into line again. Ground heavy with snow. Atmosphere thick with haze. Strange quietness all around. It was odd to walk for mile after mile along a staked path or on duckboards in the snow. Shell holes all covered up, so we often went in up to the knees. Held up fairly often. Shelled outside Bn. H.Q. and had four or five beside me wounded, not very seriously.

19th. Round the line with the C.O. who 'strafed' everybody. Got down for a sleep about 6.30 a.m. Fairly busy afternoon. Out at night. C.O. Still strafing. Got back at midnight. "C.O." here does not refer to Colonel MacNeil (of blessed memory - he was probably on leave at this time), but to "Conscientious Obstructor", Major H.A.Duncan, temporarily i/c.

Three of a Lewis gun team killed, including McShee who was a master at my school, Hillhead High School, and some wounded. They were in an advanced post at the time. Short shooting as cause. I suppose difficult to avoid, but most embarrassing to infantry who have enough to do to keep out of the road of Hun stuff.

20th. Back to support trenches at Seven Elms - a bleak feature-less desert. Nothing but snow everywhere. The C.O. was lost for 2 hours on the way back - he had only 700 yards to go but took all that time. Battalion fearfully pleased when they heard about it. Heard afterwards that C.O. had visited Eaucourt L'Abbaye and Martinpuich in his wanderings. Lovely!

21st. Trouble with old F. but got things squared up before C.O. came home. Good thing for F. Conference re. raid.

22nd. Line again.

23rd. Hunnybun on patrol had a man knocked out. Very hard time. The C.O. told me he wanted me to act as adjutant while Maclean was on leave. Told him I didn't want to as I was too junior in the Battalion. He wasn't very pleased.

Division Relieved

24th. The Black Watch relieved us. They had some 16 casualties. We were very lucky.

25th. Bath.

27th. Working party - these are the banes of an infantry officer's existence.

28th. Line again. What an affection we have for it!

29th. Good dose of trench mortars and whizz-bangs while going round the line.

30th. Jan. Milligan, my servant, off to hospital with fever. 8/10th. Gordons raided the Butte of Warlencourt. They passed me by, clothed in white shirts and nighties, white helmets, and rifles part white bandaged, in the snowy night. They didn't bring back a prisoner. Put a terrific wind up the Hun. Splendid show!

Note from RLM, 1972: They brought back twelve prisoners, as per War history.

1st. February 1917. At Acid Drop Camp.

2nd. Sent to take over camp at Fricourt from 26th. Battalion Australians. Arrived there about 7 a.m. Found them all packing up. When their C.O. found there was a Scotty in the camp he sent for me and before I could state my business placed a glass and some 'ammunition' in front of me. He was quite surprised when I told him I never drank before 7.30 in the morning. He told our C.O., so the Battalion had a laugh at me!

Off To Paris

Paris trenches, Aug 19144th. Did billeting in Franvillers. Very cold cycling. Roads were the last word for all that is bad. It began freezing at this time, and for two weeks there was not a moment's thaw - even at midday the frost held. The men could scarcely hold their rifles for drill - of course, the Staff considered that the War would not be won without drill! Remained in Franvillers till 18th. Had great ride with Jimmy Orr one day on a couple of fresh horses. Fine omelettes ˆ la francaise in Corbie. Alan White and I granted Paris leave. Got a lot of good-humoured advice from those who had been there before.

The C.O. told me what to see - the Louvre, Napoleon's Tomb, etc., etc. but we did not see any of these places. Buzzed off to Amiens. Dined in style at the Gobert Hotel. Soup, omelette, fresh fish (the first I had tasted for 6 months), duck, souffle, chocolate, fruit, etc. All for 11/-.


Spent night at Belfort Hotel. We were unfortunately given rooms on the very top storey, and only 100 yards from the station. Of course, the Hun came over to bomb the station. As we knew how often his shells and bombs fell just 100 yards short of their objective we were almost frightened. However, we turned over on the other side, resolved to die like gentlemen - in bed!

14th. February, 1917. Up at 5.40. Train late by 1 hour, owing to air-raid, so that wasn't bad. Paris 12.45. Bolted in a bee line for the station restaurant, and remained there till they had produced the finest lunch of the week. Embarrassed temporarily after lunch by the many gratuitous offers of guides, official and otherwise. Soon learned how to deal with the whole beastly crew, and showed them we were not as green as our kilts indicated. I object to guides of any sort.

Our first move was to the Banque de France where we got about 250 francs each. I think we caused some amusement there.


Got into the Continental Hotel, the finest in Paris - this after the C.O.'s advice as to hotels. He had given us an address where we could get bed and breakfast for half a crown, or something. Guess a waiter in the Continental would hand back half a crown if he got it as a tip! We got a bedroom fit for a King. Tea at Maxime's - disappointed with it. Of course, that's not the fashionable hour! Reported to Maurice Brett, the novelist (A.P.M. at Paris) - rather a well known character. Dinner at the Continental. We had some Melba peaches at 2/3 each! Rationing is beginning in Paris tomorrow. Why could they not put it off for three days!

14th. Bed fairly early.

15th. Breakfast in bed! If I ever get back from this war I'm going to have breakfast in bed every day of my life. I'll have coffee and rolls to it. Notre Dame, Hotel de Ville. Lovely streets and buildings. Lunch at Ciro's. Omelettes were most expensive there. We had two each. Perhaps that was why. Our uniforms saved us from dressing for all these places. Rumplemayers for tea. Very nice. Tremendous number of monde and demi-monde there! Think a great deal of the style and dress and of the looks of the Parisiennes, but that's all. They don't compare with the Rue de la Sauchie. Felt myself becoming quite Frenchified. Alan does not know French, so I get plenty of practice. Visited the Banque de France again just in case it would be necessary. Opera House at night. Romeo and Juliet. Magnificent show. Wonderful acting. Glorious singing.

16th. Taxied round the Bois de Boulogne. Full speed along the Champs Elysees. All out round the Avenues in the Park. Had the hood of our car down. These Parisians who hate the cold must have thought us mad. We didn't have coats either. Back by Quai d'Orsay. Thought of old Monte Cristo.

The place is full of Americans just now - all rushing out of Germany. We are scarcely in it. Uncle Sam is running the show, and is far more popular. Wait till he sees how nice the war is!

Olympia at night. Found some Gordons from the 15th. Division. They had apparently been drinking success to the Division! We were the only Highlanders in the place. Nearly mobbed but got out with all our party. Some night! Bed fairly early, as we had to leave next day.

Back To The Fold

17th. Left with 1.15 train. Four English nurses in the compartment. Got into an argument with them about Scott's poetry. Proved to them that Scott was a greater man than Shakespeare!!! Amiens again. Belfort.

18th. On to Frevent. Division has shifted from the Somme (high time too!). Expect offensive in the North. Lorry via St. Pol to Roellecourt. Lunch, and then walked to Maisnil-St-Pol. where I found the Battalion. Maisnil lies behind Arras and Vimy.

19th. Old job again and here endeth this chapter!

Robert Lindsay Mackay: Arras, Part I

Reproduced with permission of Bob Mackay, website

Photographs courtesy of Photos of the Great War website

The "linseed lancers" was the Anzac nickname assigned to members of the Australian Field Ambulance.

- Did you know?

Robert Lindsay Mackay