DIARY OF GEORGE ALFRED "ALF" GREGSON
War 1914 - 1918
August the 5th and England had declared war on Germany and the war had been on just two weeks. Sunday about 6pm I was thinking it was time I did something about it. Mr McMcKern got up 6ft 2 man puts his pipe away, came to the couch he said Alf not going out to night. You have not been to Bank Park to the boys and hear the band. No I am for going in the morning. Can't you leave it a while it's early yet. Mrs McKern tried , it was no use I was sure a bit later Mrs McKern said quietly Edwin, why don't you go, you have a good shot. Yes, looking over his specs 'glasses' yes so have the other 'buggers' Alf. It stuck with me, many a time in after months. Next morning I got to A.W. Howard for the office to open. Told Charlie Berns also Mr George Nelson I was joining up there like others "McKern family Bobby "Big Jim" Hewitt. Wait all seemed to think the Beamans would pack up at any time. I got home told Dad he took it very hard, mother without breaking down said you are old enough (not like our Bob) . Be on your way Alf your two youngest brothers with Paddy O'Neill have gone 20 minutes ago. When I got in the room Bob was going over to Runcorn Mr G.L. knowing our family well took Ralph (Rafe) and Paddy, Rafe 3 months to young so he couldn't take "Robert" Bob he took me. (Bob I'll tell you now got in the Navy. (We Rafe, Paddy and Myself) had to pass the Doctor at Warrington at the Police Station 10am Tuesday, I wasn't superstitious it was the 13th. We cleared then the Inspector took our names etc. Dependents, single/married, C.O.E. Then said one more, Army, Sea or Air "The Lancashire Fusiliers" was entered so from "Bank Quarry " to Bury the LF's head quarters. Put in tents given two blankets each. We put them down where we wanted to sleep that night. We strolled round. 12.30 by the cook house . A rough looking chap was sat with his back against the cook house wall , a big Dixie by his side. He had 1 bone picking the meat off. Come on help yourself you're in the army now. We selected one each and picked it. Good but not used to eating like that. We got to the gates, asked the Sgt. If we could go into Bury. Yes be back if you want some tea by 4.30pm prompt. We were sat down on the blankets when two LF soldiers came with a Dixie of tea and bully sandwiches. A mess tin between 3. So we did alright. They came back to see if we wanted more of each. 6pm a bell sounded to fall in. We got down to the square .Sgt. wanted 200 men for now. Paddy and brother Ralph said they didn't fancy night travel. I didn't mind, it was just the same war was night and day. So I fell in, marched to Bury with four Sgt's one a Sgt Guardsman "Keegan" Sgt. Bamber (East Lancs) Sgt Mellor, Sgt. (his name has slipped my memory). We arrived at Barrow in Furness, Cavendish Park, the home of Barrow Rugby NU another ground for sports. The third, Barrow Cricket Ground , some in tents some in the football pavilion. Two blankets. Next day was spent in forming A company. Those Sgt's worked overtime getting us into platoons of 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. I was in No.2 platoon. Sgt. Bamber loaned by the East Lancs. Our company was G Company and our Company Sgt. Major (C.S.M. Donovan "Irish" also loaned from the East Lancs. Next put into sections, No. 8 was mine. Each platoon made up of 4 sections, (platoons had Numbers 188.8.131.52. sections No 2 platoon "mine" had to take Numbers 184.108.40.206. No. 8 was mine. 16 section was G company 16 section 4 Sgts. 16 section leaders wanted so our platoon Sgt. Bamber asked for old soldiers to step out. He selected 4 and placed them as leaders. He was satisfied with Bob Crompton. He was too nervy. Too late with his orders. He got offered volunteers. When he said I'll try you this morning. I surprised him where did you learn all that from as you already know. "The Boys Brigade ". A day or so after ,we got a young platoon officer attached to No. 2 platoon. He watched us drilling our section coming up, he said halt them. What is your number, 5169 , Pte C.A. Gregson. Well tonight's orders will read L.Cpl . Gregson Lancashire Fusiliers Corporal or a N.C.O. I was given a red tunic with one stripe on each and a cap. With Pte H. Gardner and Waddington , Pte Jack Ratcliffe . I'll show you if you ask. Some day "with others" so now our company was G Company 4th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, Cavendish Park, Barrow in Furness. We had A Company B.C.D.E.F. and G Companies. Our "A" Company went into hutments at Bigger Bank, 2 miles away Walnes Island the C Company to Webb's Farm Northend, Walnes Island. It eased the park. G Company was the last to be formed. If more recruits wanted the Lancashire Fusiliers. These went to Hull 3rd Battalion our G Company was made up of Captain Wilcock our Commanding Officer (or C.O.) No 1 Platoon Officer Lt. McIver No.2 Platoon (mine) Lt. Ravenscroft No.3 Lt. Butler No.4 Lt. Garrett. C.S. Major Donovan. I was in charge of Section B No.2 Platoon Lt. Ravenscroft. Drill P.T. Lectures. If wet we filed into the Big Stand. Our lectures mostly rifle use, bayonet fighting, sights, finding targets to fire at "in actual fighting" distance, direction, kind of firing, range. I remembered by Rink range, indication number (of rounds) and kind. Sgt Bamber was a quite person but thorough in everything. No.1 Pl. Sgt. Keegan a guardsman on and off parade shouted. He was smart. No.3 Pl. Sgt. Eccles a typical Lancs 1st Battalion L.F.s could be (Keegan, Bamber and No.4 Pl. Sgt. Mellor) all in one we like his lectures. He kidded a lot. Just when we got excited with his stories he would put the damper on it. A false hood. If he did want to drive a point home we would start with Now you must pay attention , this is what you all will have to learn for your own safety and probably to save yours and others lives one day. The C.O. (Wilcocks) asked for anyone who had ever fired out of a rifle. About 50 stepped out. Sgt. Keegan took charge of them. Marched them off to a big hut which were being thrown up day and night the ...... and tent sleeping was getting chilly by then. The 50 men (platoon) got uniforms, rifles, full equipment, drill disciplined. P.T. route marched night opps down at the targets at Roose (Rifle Range) fired the course and all necessaries "for active service". Pte. Tom Cowley who's parents lived on Dalton Bank by Rolands Wire Works was one of those 50 men. His brother Bob Cowles was in the Battalion Orderly Room. We saw that party march off one Friday night to Barrow Station our Battalion Fire Band marched them up. We did not know where they had gone, which area. 3 weeks short of 1914 Christmas. About 4 months training true volunteers "step out anyone who has fired a rifle. Out stepped 50 without hesitation. Just after, we learned through Bob Cowles that their Tom got killed. The first I knew we had Jack Radcliffe, Bill Shinley (Rylands Association Plasterer) Jim Trotters, Bill Chesters (Liverpool Road) and some others. I mentioned these 6 because I gave them a visit when I was on weekend leave. They tried to do the same, Letters to mothers or wives, kiddies etc, to know we were alright and to take things back if they wanted us to. We had been provided with everything a soldier required and did all like those 50 men did in October and November 1914. But we did have a longer time to do it in. Also a bit of excitement. One Friday evening always 6 pm the Company Orders got pinned up outside each Co. H.Q. It read "All interested in Cross Country. Please turn out 3 pm tomorrow Saturday on the parade ground in gym clothes. A 3 mile run will take place, just for pleasure." About 20 turned up we had 3 Lt's. also a steady run Lt. Ravenscroft was in charge (the officers in college or university costumes etc.) It was a change and enjoyed. "We" the Companies did about a mile a little over. Every morning call rouse the parade. Each would set off from the cricket ground through the small wood into the main road then round the park in a chain by the cook house up to the start. Each guy did that then roll call was over 2 minute intervals. I love it a good wash out doors, plenty of cold water, taps turned on into bowls then into a v shaped trough to flow away, shave and ready for tomatoes cooked with bacon (plenty of juice) to mop up with your bread. Tuesday afternoon 3 pm the same party turned out quite volunteers, not that you felt like dropping out. Thursday then Saturday 4 miles round rouse. We got to look forward to it enjoyed it . One, A Pte Merry was keen and would make sure he got on and finished fast along the sports ground cement track to our barracks hut finish. I asked Lt. Ravenscroft what was behind all this running. I could understand the rouse parade was compulsory. He said the C.O. knows that a 7 mile Barrow Garrison Cross Country Championship was to take place but no one knew yet when . Each unit would be 10 runners, all ranks, well I told the boys and told them training would be stepped up bit by bit. A little longer a little faster. We got to know when the race was to take place, 3 pm Friday. I was told to take over from "Now On" Lt. Ravenscroft said you will be required to select the 10 men instruct them in so far as what is required of them. He told me the names must be in by 5 pm. Saturday . They had to be sent up to the Garrison H.Q. on Monday . 12 names but only 10 to run as a unit. 6 to count for the team. Prize £10 . £1 each if successful. Now a team is the winners with the lowest aggregate number of points. Just to give an example Bill 1st Tom 4th Joe 5th Harry 10th Alex 15th Dave 20th (6th Man). The other 4th must finish. But do not count for the team prize (not in this competition. The army had its own rules and regulations as I found out later (Do as Rome does). If we add up 1+4+5+10+18 and 20 17 = 58pts. If that is the lowest (6) unit the prize goes to them to share. I pick the best "and couldn't pick an officer" the 12 were better at staying so I picked those who would stick it out. Endurance was needed. I told them to run in pairs and I said pick your own partner. Let it be a couple who was about equal, I said because I wanted you to finish the race not to drop out. So I will expect you to come along in twos at the finish. "Try to beat each other when you know it was near the finish (Because the more soldiers you all pass) will lessen our points when added up . Our first 6 to count. That Saturday was a week before the (Fridays) event. I got up near the park Merry as usual 1st by the bottom entrance (Cook House) about two yards between us. He glanced round and on to the track 120 yards or so went full out. I still stopped two yards or three it doesn't matter. He was (1st) now I had to pick and at the same time got them to state who their partners would be. I entered all down leaving me and Merray. I said that leaves you and me to run together. I want our team to win more than the individual winner of the race. That's what I want. Why should I have to stop with you every Saturday I have done so what's to stop me on Friday, no I am going all out from the pistol start. Right so long as we stick it out that's what matters to me. I selected the two best reserves, 12 had to be named (so that if there was any change one of the running 10 took ill or accident etc. One reserve could take his place. Everyone numbered 1st unit 1 to 12 2nd 13 to 15 and so on. I'll tell you now 15 units. 150 runners (each Co from A to G had a unit entered, The Borderers RFC Manchester FR.M.C. R.A.S.E. Engineers Etc. We had out last run on the Wednesday afternoon 3pm (Like Friday) this time we went from the Cricket Pavilion it had a big clock I noticed the exact time Fridays race was from the cricket ground. C.A.V. Park 3 pm so we rehearsed it through the woodland of trees and on the main road turn left then we turn left again into our Camp by the main gate by our guard room (Friday we will turn right for Walnes we then ran our usual course "Saturdays Run" we had been out running. 42 minutes so that extra run at the start was 3 miles longer than our 7 miles out from the parade ground. I wanted to know how we felt as regards fitness. Thursday we all had a 10 mile walk, 10 am to 12 am. Dinner, afternoon bed if you felt like it. Our Captain gave me a free hand after Wednesdays run , walking was to take the soreness out, bed snug and warm by using your pals blankets, under and over oneself. Rubbing down we had plenty of help some Boxers, Wrestlers a Luke Teirney, Old Wrestler in charge I had to stop him rubbing me his grip hurt my muscles and I didn't want to be running sore. He was alright on big chaps, plenty to grip to massage. Well in time that run got started which was at 3pm by Capt. Madeley A.D.J. 4TH Battalion Lancs Fusiliers. We got told by R.Q.S. Roddy with his mike. How to run the race keep all signallers on our left. Turn left through the gate on to the main road next turn right to Walnes Bridge which you must cross. I took the lead just turning to the right as I approach the bridge to cross a youth "Butchers" I think he had a basket on the front with parcels in. He got in front of me, I tried to go on to the bridge turning left to do so. He almost stopped and I stumbled into the side of the bridge. Capt. Madeley after he had got us away followed us on a motor bike. It was then he swerved round on seeing what happened and asked if I was alright. "Yes Sir" I said getting into my stride (while he caught up with the youth) 3 runners in front. I got up to the leader, by his running gear he ran for some university or college, badges back and front. It was rather hilly from Walnes to Bicker Bank. Half was up I caught him he kept me behind going on. If I tried to go past him he would speed up. When I tried at the turn right along the coast road he looked at me level and meant to stop me no matter how fast he wanted to go. I had caught sight at that turn on the sand beach by a shelter. "Red capped generals etc busy with flag tapes and stakes" finish so I knew it was about 2 miles to the village and back so I intend to get on with it or be beat in the trying. I gradually crept on fast he still tried I spurted at the turn. We had to turn right on to the top of the sand hills running parallel with the coast road I could see the others following to the village. I had just got on top when our post man "Cpl Harry Howarth" 'Horwich'. He ran up the sand bank got in front a couple of yards. I shouted for him to drop out it could get me disqualified assisting he wouldn't pack it in so I got desperate tripped him from behind, down he went and on I went, 800 yards to win. By 80 yards the border "Capt" spoke to me at the finish. He thought it was funny to see the Cpl roll down the bank. I miss that jumping over him when he went down. "He said you didn't need help" he hindered you not helped you. We chatted until the General presented the prizes. He congratulated me, I refused the £3.10/- money only accepted the gold medal. He said you are alright L/Cpl .Gregson. Army running does not disqualify you from Amateur sports. I should like something for that amount. So you shall Cpl. he asked for C. Coy L.F. Captain to come forward. When he sprang up to attention saluted he told him to look after "His" champion a good runner. By all that he has put into the game he said I think being amateur minded he meant my team won the team race so I gave 5/- each to the 4 not counted in the 6 who won. (Pte Merry finished our 2nd man his position in the race 11th. When we got back to camp Merry said Cpl. You must have been pulling my leg. Our C. Coy did well in Barrow every bet was taken in pubs even in Y.M.C.A. A week later I was presented with a semi-hunter silver watch. The value of my prize money. The Captain said the chain is given to you "your Lt's bought you it, the captain had got it inscribed all round the back of the watch 5169 L/Cpl G.A. Gregson 1st in The Barrow Garrison 7 mile Race 1915. In the centre G.A.G. interlock . You ask to see it some time. Well the war was still on and our Company got put through its pacing 80 N.C.O.'s and men. Got 48 hours home leave. Got back on Friday night got marched to Barrow Station and travel led all night down to Davenport (Plymouth). It was a long night, no sleep would come, wondering where we would land. We knew it wasn't France, I thought of Jack Ratcliffe, Stanley Chesters Bob Cowley Micky Toghes "Warrington" two left behind. I thought a lot of Harry Gardner, a quite youth his dad a grammar school master. The other Jack Hague a coal miner C.S.M. Donovans No.1 nightmare (Jack would never be what a Sgt Major wanted he couldn't march his arms always swinging together forward at the same time, his shoulders leaning forward a typical miner. Speech "Surria Sonny WOB and But, all he had. He was upset when Good Bye Jack came. He was full. I will remember just after the race the same General held a general inspection he wanted to see for himself the much talked of and the company with the 4th Battalion best records, clean, smart, absenteeism none. Well Donovan was watching us file out of our hut "Jack Hague" just in front of me The C.S.M. got him by the shoulder pushed him back in the hut "God" he said book sick and close the hut door. Jack was happy no parade for him. "That was Jack Hague" Another morning it was raining and we had lectures in the hut the C.S.M. told us how cruel we would have to be when in conflict. At question time Jack shouts "Dust a think your Human. That started it he told Jack that if he didn't shape when out on active service he would be soon polished off your "useless Jack" am I "Sithy Mon" give me a pick and shovel I'd get more coal in 5 minutes than you would get in a 5 hour shift. "Yes" Donovan said and you can have it Jack lad you are good there old lad I try to be good as a time server "and I like to give you all good advice. He finished up saying. Im not saying this to find favour or soft soaping. I have never had a full company of men anything near like this. G. Coy from Capt. Wilcocks down to my nightmare Jack. He marched out. We had a competition on that race night. Boxing in the Y.M.C.A. and Lt. Butler a young Barrow solicitor, he was a university boxer heavy. He got in the ring straight from his billet didn't know that no one was out to box him he must have frightened them all. Big, tall, strong very robust 14 stone. Capt Wilcocks from the ring said he was sorry G Company had no one with guts enough to take on L.T. Butler. Hold on Sir hold on. We haven't any one in "our" Company anything like L.T.'s height and size but he wants to punish someone he can have me to punch. He took off his hat, tunic and braces and fastened them round his waist. Got some gloves put on by none other about it so you will be alright. I forgot it. Made the report out took it up to the Company H.Q. and told to wait. Our Captain said lets go out Cpl. you mention a gap wasn't in the wire where indicated. You don't mention the body of a dead Turk. We didn't see any bodies, live sir or dead. The word went up and down the patrol ( that means no shots were fired at all). We got to the wire, who did that. We did with that shaft sir I had to get on with the patrol. He paced up and down like I had done Yes I had got through holding the top strand of that spiked wire for him no he said busy twisting some loose ends up. When we dropped in the trench he sent the Cpl who was there on night duty to waken the last patrol up 12 pm (3 old 1st Batt. Soldiers) when the Sgt and 2 Pte's came I was dismissed. Next day our Sgt. said next time you go on patrol you will come to see me, why I asked . "Because I say so" I got sent out with orders from our Captain who watched us go out. We got so far. I will put you all on a charge if you don't do as I tell you "Do just that Sgt" I guessed the Captain had given him a bad time. I got to see Cpl Mc..... he told me that Sgt ......... had to go and bring the body in it was time to bury it. He got back" told the Captain waiting for him to get back. Told him they must have collected him sir. I did hear the Cpl say he was that night duty Cpl he told, Its funny our last patrol and our sentries had not seen a stretcher party by our wire where you reported the body. How did you get through the wire without a gap. Through the gap like we have just done sir. The Captain took him to his dug out. Cpl Mac ..... didn't know any more. Reading between the lines you know what they had been doing down in the shell hole until time up then copied each other's report. Young H.....t gave me that impression so natural getting down to it like he did his brother being sure he would be there when we got back. We got relieved down to the high cliff due out facing the Mediterranean sea, calm, clean, clear, warm. The sun blazing what more did we want. The first swim, most time we had stripped off . We never take all off. Always ready when in the line or supports. But out at rest here we could go 50 yards up to a marker buoy. If you go past, a whistle would be blown and a pilot motor would go out and bring you in (for orders) . 7 levels nights and days. In the best of weather every 2nd morning a Greek would be tied up to some sharp rock with two planks from the beach edge to his bow. He sold fruit and sweet chocolate, tinned fruit and fresh dates, figs, Turkish delight. You could only go up to him one at a time. He took your money, first asked you what you wanted he would say now dates or figs, Turkish delight to make it up to your monies. He never gave change. You knew in the first place he did not give change. You had two days to prepare for him. Went back in the dark and returned in the dark. Ready at day break. It was home from home when we got back, it was in supports then in the front more to the left front 1 mile from the sea shore. Our trench sloped down that way, we knew something like a landing was taking place in front on our extreme left. Shells, bombs, machine guns. The time 4.30 am it lasted 24 hours, quietens then started again. After 48 hours, two days our 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers went down that slope to the beach quite dark. We filled motor boats 30 to 40 in each the marines telling us we were for Sulva Bay where the new armies made a landing two days ago. We got out jumped in the water then across the beach into a small trench parallel with the shore when all was completed and we were told what to do, and when, to rush forward. It was by platoon rushes 50 yards down, wait then repeat. We with only slight losses reach some hurriedly dug trenches and at night we moved up through a communication trench still being finished. We got in support of Munster's Dublin, who had to go over early morning "Saturday". We passed the time improving trenches. The guns roared 3am till 4. The bombs, and machine guns could be heard. We crept up and up by the bushes. Well known to us now. Mid-day ablaze sun overhead and our A Company following up the advance in those rushes had all covered a hill top. Our No 1 Platoon (B Company) over. Our platoon was told to halt, half way up that hill. We had to keep down I was with M8 (No. 8 section on the extreme right, the hill sloped down to the sea 4 miles away the land got flat before it reached the water. I could see our new troops advancing under shell fire, some bursting right in the middle of the platoons. The Turks had brought up strong reinforcements when our heads had to call a halt because they thought fresh water and food would be best for the units taking part in that landing (it was a mistake, 12 hours of hardship would have been better than trying all over again (like now). They knew we would come. That landing had taken them by surprise. Our division was to advance from the positions facing Archa Babba keeping his force away from Suvola Bay. Our officer had been called to the rear came back. Gave us orders to get to within 4 yards, take off your equipment, put your rifles down. At the whistle go over and make sure you bring back a wounded comrade. "No Dead" when that whistle was blown I darted up, through myself over that ridge rolled down, looked about, saw a youth down on his side holding his knee, I bandaged it tight lifted him, he couldn't walk, fell, I moistened his lips, lifted him, struggled up, then got him on my back, arm around his neck, heaved up and over . He was hit again in his side around the hip I put him down, plugged as best I could the hole you could have put a penny into it. He was in pain I carried him, struggled, put him down , up and into that trench we had improved I wounded Irishman had been seen he helped my along the trench to the first aid post. The Sgt took us in to a dug out, we put the youth down on the earth table. A short time after the Doctor came out he said "Cpl. you have done your best, stopping the blood was the best thing you could have done. It could be you have saved his life. (I tell you now it didn't) (I found out a long time after). I got up that mount and put on my things and rifle then like the others only a few rifles etc. On that hillside later a section gathered them up and brought them in our trench. We had 7 missing when Lt. called the roll. We rested that night. Next day it was to dig and make the line fit for line soldiers to live in. 29th Division style line the trench with a wall of sand bags, they didn't trust just earth. It was sandy and gave when a blast came near it saved time and labour and it was cleaner to have to live with. It was just routine. The engineers out at nights putting up the wire (which always reminded me of Warrington (Rylands Wire Works). Time went on, nothing doing, we got visited on occasions by a plane or two "German Mark" but rumour had it he was a Turkish Ace. I know one afternoon he got cheers and flew round our lines. Everybody firing rifles and machine guns at him, and he got back we saw him get up and up and away. (the nearest I ever saw during the war) (I had been making Indian Gappaties we called them). I had Lew Knowles, Paddy Murphy and Eddy Hills all good chaps. Eddy was a good scholar. We had made a grater of a biscuit tin lid by putting holes in it with a nail and our entrance handle. The sharp edges used for scraping our hard biscuits on it became a meal. The scrounged bacon dip or beef dripping off the cooks. Making fat or dip with the meal (we used to put currants, raisins , begged jam was in tins in niches in any trench not opened. Sick of it. My favourite was shredded bully mixed. We four of us use to take our share of the paste, put in our own. We had a small twig fire on the trench floor, it blazed bright, no smoke, it took you all your time putting the fuel on. We boil some fat and put our Goodies in about 4 at a time like a mince pie, no bigger. When crispy brown, take out to cool. If you have any left you put them in. The thing that agitated me was the old regulars came along. They smell them or where told our Gappaties were ready. They would not go to the trouble and get cut finger tips scraping you caught up with those sharp tin tips made by the nail hole made for the job. I could now honestly try them. Perhaps they tasted so good because our meals were always the same. Days, weeks, months. Bacon regular when not engaged and couldn't possibly have it a quarter of a small loaf, about the size of a brown hovis. Biscuits a bit hard, as many as you like, tins built in the trench wall. Open any lid, help yourselves. Tins of bully the same you shouldn't go hungry. We got a surprise 10 days real rest, our Battalion was to have, we got to know not secret we got back into those motor boats 30 or so in each, and in the dark. Got over to the island of Mudros it was lovely not the small island nothing to get excited over. A couple of small farm houses, the few inhabitants would pass from the shore to their homes with the stores in a bungle on their heads. Never spoke to us, up they went on a path about a yard wide, they walked on the grass away back and to daily. I was taken short one full moon night and out of our Bivouac no covering. We use toilets surrounded with canvas sheets fastened to poles. I came out and walked round the back to see the background. It was almost like day, a bright moon, cloudless sky. I saw a figure crumpled up on the field, I rolled over a soldier, he was dead. I flicked his eye with my finger nail, I ran to our Battalion's sick and aid post, where the Sgt. got a stretcher and asked me to help him. Yes you are right he has been dead sometime. We told the sentry to wake the Doctor (before we went) so he was ready for us. Yes, "dysentery". Another incident happened, I was on duty "Orderly Cpl." for the day. At 9 am I took the sick over the field to the Doctor about 100 yards away across the field, The Doctor called me in, you have a Pte S........t in your party what sort of a soldier is he, what I know of him isn't much, but he is an old soldier in more ways than one. Meaning what? Not clever, slovenly, grumbles if ordered to do a ....... That's my opinion of him I want you to get a sample of his excreta. When I got back, I told the Sanitary Sgt. to provide a "closet" for him "No name". Told that the Doctor ordered a sample. I went over to the Doctor with it. He took the tin, after a time, he shouted me in to his place can you tell dysentery Cpl. ? Blood sir I would expect to see sir. I said yes but not sprinkled on it through it all not dotted like vinegar on chips. I was told to put him on a charge, Company Orders. I cut half way back, a soldier under some bushes was moaning. I looked at him, it was Pte Harry Gardner. I didn't know he had come out his pay book was signed for pay D. Company. I was in B Company so I never had seen or heard of him or others from the 4th Battalion L.F. Barrow. Now I walk him back to the Doctor, now sir I can give you this Pte's .....character. He was in my section in Barrow, quiet, well mannered and never disobedient. His dad a Grammar School Headmaster from Horwich. "You know him Cpl"? 6 months training living in the same hut sir, one got to know each other. He got him away and from hospital he thanked me. We got back in the front line on the left of that "hill" I told you about and we got some 6 week old papers out and in one "The Guardian" not a local paper it had a photo of that Saturday mid-day scene I saw, just as I saw it. The troops going forward in rushes. The shells exploding amongst them. It must have been taken from that hillside that sloped down to that land. The photo read our troops advancing at Salt Lake. We did trench work repairs , improving, cleaning etc. Sentries night and day and patrols. We used to have some excitement, it was caused by a Turks Big Gun, from a position about ¾ mile to our left front in the hills, which turned suddenly towards us. That gun would fire then our guns would answer back sending the earth etc. up. Our ships had a go at it we would say that's put paid to that lot. We wanted to see if it was out of action. Then bang it would fire again and our guns pounded it with shells. He always fired again we think he was on a railway when fire sprang back into a tunnel a distance inside that hill. Now a sad incident, on duty one night putting the sentries up, one hour on, two off, during the night from stand to, till stand down, we called it. All the troops along the front in battle stood ready with bayonets fixed for 30 minutes till dusk (1/2 hour). Then sentry post took over. I had four posts to look after. No.1 on the extreme right of our B Company twenty yards to the left. No.2 post and so on 3 post then our end on last. "No. 4". Pte (I must not mention his name) was up first his post was in a position a little hovering out towards the enemy "Turks" and plenty of trees, 30, 40, 50 yards in front of our lines. A sniper fired "Johnny No. 4 post" fired back at the flame we saw, I ran round and told him not to fire back. "That's what he wants you to do" to draw your fire. Now don't do it again. It was his turn again, for the last hour before daylight when it was time I started at No.1, No.2, No.3 going round to take No. 4 off when crack a shot from that sniper, it got the youth in his forehead and killed him instantly. I saw him fall sideways. We had a long talk when I put him up, he would be 19 in the morning . In the last year, his parents bought him a new bicycle. He worked at Bibbys Oil Mills, Liverpool. What a birthday. Another night I was in another spot of trouble 2 am a Brigadier 8th Brigade(you could get his name out of the L.F. Annual 1915. ) He came down to me at No. 4 post. Are you on duty? "yes", who are you I challenged him (we had to do) Come, one of your sentries is asleep. No.2 post. He led the way and sure enough I could see his head forward on the sand bags. As the officer turned I shouted "Rogers" which was his name. All our Battalion knew about it. Rogers answered straight "Yes Cpl" The officer said "you were asleep when I came along. No Sir I wasn't. Give me your rifle then he couldn't it had gone. Get it Cpl I put it round the corner to your left I went and brought it. I was on the case 9am B. Company orders then headquarters. That was his second time. He went down to a camp for soldiers waiting trials. We all felt sorry for his brother a Sgt in C Company. He was decent for a regular, the most of them were bullies. We didn't try any advancements. Time went slowly. I got on a duty which we could have stuck for the duration it was well guarded. We "my section" had to relieve the musters. 14 days duty. We had to fill old petrol tins and stack them along the small trench round that well and when all units came at night take the returns off them and give them the number back they were allotted. One half work day cleaning then the other half the night. Took and gave them out it was carrying them from the well the heaviest job, hundreds of them. We had plenty of water flowed away all the while. Our clothes got twice washed. The sun dried them in time to put them on, we were sorry to leave. No sentry duty, not working all the time. The boys got a move on got rid then did all they wanted to do or get down to it at night. All night we heard crickets chirping it was going cool at nights, October, not cold but not like it used to be warm night and day. Nothing to break our rather dull life. We pass the time throwing biscuits on top of the back of our trench wait for a rat or rats to dash along the back top. We sat on the fire step waiting. A penny a time if you made one squeak with your bayonet. November out and a change in the weather, overcoats at night. But very quiet, even that big gun got fed up. I always said to the boys the Turks don't want to fight only to hold on to what they held. If we fired, they would and it was like that. We only had a slight dash of gas. I said that the "German" planes about twice in 6 months that was all, and not to drop bombs at that. December came and one night 6 pm. From my diary Rain - believe it. The big drops it splashed onto the sandy trench sending it up, it got worse with lightening, thunder, everything. Windy and cold, the trench started to give way. I, with Lew Knowles Paddy Muir, young Hill, he used to count the biscuits always. Put out at the back of the trench spades, picks, bully beef, tins of biscuits, some good filled sandbags giving way on the trench tops. I had visions of getting out water 2 feet deep flowing down to the sea on our left. The moon soon our Sgt. said we are for it everybody for himself. That remained with me for 48 hours after. We got out being night 9 am not a shot. Guns quiet, dark, we started to dig the sandbags full we had put out on top marked out our dug out. We got building two bags thick along the back then built two sides not the front the loose earth sandy was easy not much picking needed. It was keeping all busy and warm but wet sleet came in our old trench behind us about 6 yards away was three parts filled with water and trench mud. It got cold, freezing, our breath was like steam when we blew out. The Turks must have been like us they never fired. I had gone right and left early on, shouting to dig fresh dug outs or some sort of hide outs. Two hadn't a shovel at all. I went back and got two and a pick told them to go for biscuits and bully but not to touch their iron rations until ordered to. Don't waste a drop of water. At daylight it froze icicles everywhere. Our Rochdale Platoon Lt. came just as day was breaking shouting Cpl Gregson where are you. I bobbed up and got out we had finished and had our ground sheets over the sandbag tops, 4 or 5 holding them down, sloping down a bit so as to keep it to the back. The hilly ground sloped to the sea so we didn't get the flow in our hole, it ran away. The old trench got the water before it reached ours. It had stopped when Lt. R shouted he was on the front of the old trench and sopping wet and cold. I looked for the safe spot to help him. I got to an old buttress which had given way only a gap a good yard to jump. He got across. I got him down our trench then got his boots off, socks as well. He had dry ones in his pack. They dried him as best they could and made him comfortable. We had a fire in a old petrol tin our entrenching tool knocked the top out then knocked some holes in it with a candle or two. We had some we bought of that Greek with his boat I told you about. The branches, twigs etc. we gathered when we prepared for our departure out of our old trench. We had been given a cup of water each to boil in our mess tins. We had chocolate cubes from parcels the boys had received so these came in handy. We shared it between five of us. Out Lt. felt sleepy after so we moved in a bit for him to sit up in a corner and he got well away. Before he got down he asked me to try again to see who was on our left. He didn't mentioned to our right. He must have been alone on the right flank, when he got to our dug out. I went while he slept. I got in touch with some of our B Company boys but beyond that no other unit at all. It was now 36 hours after that first hour when the rain sent sand up "frost was the enemy now". Not Johnny Turk. I walk all over the place I tried to locate that well but everywhere I look is different, communication trench flooded, iced over the ground frozen, shell holes like small skating rinks. I got back hungry so it had to be bully and hard biscuits with the lads. Lt ...... said I was wonderful to keep on like I do, it was because I didn't want to be still and freeze. I found a night cap in the bottom of my pack I gave it to the Lt. He looked cold and our fire was dead, no more fuel and our candles gone. Our officer said Gregson lets go out a bit when we got out and away only a few yards he said in my position Cpl. what would you do. I would get going to H.Q. what use 20 or 30 of us (we are now at the mercy of the Turks. That settled it, go and get all here which I did. It took some time looking, shouting it was light yet so I could see small dug out places, not washed out, freshly dug. 28 all told our platoon 40 strong before the flood, 12 missing, our officer had got back in the shelter to make notes. When all was together he headed toward that old communications trench down a mile or two just to our H.Q. It was getting dark and freezing hard . Slip slip back at times we got weary tired sleepy but kept them going. It didn't quite turn out like that. After stopping at any rocky parts to sit down after a time. We got them going again it was trying going up to cross a narrow bridge our engineers had built so as the troops would save miles and time crossing the ravine. It was dark and all tired and weary. We finally reach our Headquarter Stores in a small wood. I saw and I knew he knew me. I said H.Q. Master Cox 4th Battalion Barrow our champion he said give me your mess tin half full of rum he put in saying the cooks will fill it with hot water. Give all a mouth full which I did. Our Lt. got to know where the Battalion had gone and was anxious to report in. He collected his men and made them walk on, it was hopeless, sleepless, tired no good hot food or drinks. They just stopped on the paths our Lt. asked me to get some food. I went with the two Ptes back to the stores half a mile or more. Got a sandbag each, bread, cheese, bully, butter then it was a case of making them keep awake to eat, one or two were asleep. Then the officers wanted blankets I went with two volunteers. Lew and Paddy and young Hill was down to, I cover him with his overcoat I went to the blanket store we had to help ourselves. A roll was too heavy so you can tell what state we were in, a nightmare, I gave four blankets to Lew Knowles and Paddy Murphy to try and get that 300 yards or so. We never made it, Lew went down by the road side I covered him tried with Paddy to go on. Paddy gave out, I can't say whether I covered him or not. I woke in broad daylight mid day in a bell tent a new one. I struggled out of "bed" on a stretcher I was all bandaged up, head, ears and my face just could see hands bandaged my feet like pillow slips heavy with bandages. I open the flap and guess what I saw. Yes down a valley banks on each side with huts on one side, stables on the other Australians , Ambulances etc. horses, mules at halter rails. I step out, a voice from behind the tents shouts "where do you think you're going". I had seen the hospital ship with a large red cross on its side in the sea at the other end of that ravine. I said to that boat. He shouted get going you bastard slapping his two mules which he had been putting harness on. They passed me and into the stable they trotted I stumbled down. Didn't think to enquire into how, when and where and who had looked after me. No I saw that red and I didn't want it to start without me. It took ages and I was dizzy it just happened that at the end of that valley in a kind of shelter the R.A.M.G. staff had hot carnation milk for all who called for it. I pick up a tin and got a hot drink. It was hot I kept on so as not to miss the ship. A thin line of tommies were going out over the shore to motor boats. When I was spotted two marines came running and took me by the arms and lifted me the remaining distance to their boat. We got to the ship. I was taken to the theatre first. The ship's doctor said now first how did you come to get on board the hospital ship. I started to tell him when he said you should have been given a tab of clearance with all the particulars on from the doctor who attended you. Well he was astounded though at first. He took all particulars, well his staff did. I was put in a big tent at Lemnos and given a warm bath by our regular nurses they did work hard, wounded, dysentery frost bite like I was found to have with Rheumatic Fever, frost bite severe she said (one of our nurses) you will have to be careful Cpl , your toes are going dull one is almost black. When I got into bed a small one but a real single bed. No sand, grit or rock , now to get down to sleep I soon went off 10 hours without waking. I got a bowl of hot soup with bread, nothing else. It was about 3 pm then I got a visit from a 4th Battalion Lancashire Fusilier a Cpl. Jack Heithan, he had a bullet hit his heal before the flood how I knew him was on two occasions I was a L/Cpl with a guard on the main gate at Barrow when Jack was in waiting trial, once for not obeying an order (Not keeping goal for the Battalion) he always did until a Lt. Sheppard came he got the4 position (But on this day Sheppard couldn't play) he told them to see Sheppard because he wouldn't. The next was breaking out of camp. That's how a knew him and Jack and me we talk of Barrow, Home and Gallipoli. He had been drafted to the 9th Battalion L.F.'s. I tell you of an incident that happened at Barrow whilst in that Guard Room. The time was almost 12 mid-night and dark we heard the main gate sentry challenge "Halt who goes there" "Halt halt I say" we dash along 20 yards or so, the Officer who had been halted was told to advance and be recognised. The Officer was saying it's alright sentry I am Best Dunkley yes and I am Best "Bloody" sentry. We all got back to the hut and the officer . He was a time served just come from being stationed abroad at Tientsin what I want to do is to tell you that Lt. Bertram. Best Dunkley rose from 2nd Lt. to Lt. Colonel B. Best Dunkley V.C. I wondered if that young keen sentry on duty at Barrow that night ever remembered challenging a Victoria Cross soldier. He got it on the 31st July 1917 for gallantry and died in hospital August 5th 1917 with 2/5th Kings Own Lancasters. He had been transferred from our 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. In the guard room he pulled his note book out give me the number and name of the sentry on the post. Cpl. I said you cannot charge him for doing his duty Sir. I am not putting him on a charge, I want to remember this night he frightened me, a raw recruit with a loaded gun "Halt halt slowly advance". Well we talked of that night then in hospital at Lemnos, with one who witnessed the Best Dunklery (before he got the V.C.) incident worth recalling. Now when the nurses saw Jack they asked me did I know him. They said he was conceited and knows it all. He had come in to look at the newcomers like me. He had been in 8 days. When first he spoke to me. I got on with him. He liked to leg pull and get his own way at Barrow he was the Battalion Butcher, and good at it. The days went on, the Doctor was concerned, my Rheumatic Fever was worse, one toe no feeling in it. They were doing all possible under tired circumstances night and day. One afternoon I was being looked to by two sisters when Jack was seen coming. "Its here" one said meaning Jack. The hospital boat is due in today and what do you think I am for it. He promised me and the nurses chocs etc. From "Home". He was told to clear off, not him, he got worse. They clearly loved it. Tea time one of the nurses said I can't stick your friend I said he isn't that bad as he makes you believe. If you just took notice and take it with a pinch of salt is the saying. He wouldn't tease you. The more when you get ruffled he gloats I know. I will see soon if he is down for the Ship which certainly is due in. It came at 6 pm to be loaded and ready for 11 pm next night. Jack came again just to say goodbye to the nurses. Half a dozen chased him (they enjoyed it) . Something of a change he knew how far to go. They were wonderful nothing to much trouble for them but tired. I got told 5169 L/Cpl G.A. Gregson was on that list and got a kiss she said Jack wasn't on their list. To be prepared to leave at 9am next morning. She wouldn't be on duty . Relieved at 6 am I was glad it was "England" she said first stop. She knew that buy not the "Port". At 5 am the nurses all of them, men, staff as well got washing, dressing doing everything that had to be done. 200 or more to see to for nine. Given early porridge, bacon and tomatoes then 6 packets of cigs and a box of matches under the pillow of our stretchers they were putting us on ready it was time and Turk prisoners carried us down pick up and went my turn came half way down that road to the boat Jack came hobbling after shouting stop. I told them best I could to put me down, they understood. Jack let fly with some oath it was his turn to go but over ruled. I go under my pillow took two packets of cigs I had given one Turk a packet. Jack snatched it and grabbed the other "not bloody likely Greg" giving Turks our rations I told them to get me to the boat. When they put me in line (they were used to it) Jack spotted some stretcher with someone he knew so I took the box of matches and the other four packets of cigs told them to have two each and share the matches. They watched out for fear they got called back before they could get them out of sight. Grins all over their faces they had done better. I was taken on by the prisoners. Jack shouting goodbye Greg I'll be seeing you soon. They carried me into the sickbay saluted slightly bowing down smiled and then took the stretcher for more, I suppose. We got loaded and sailed at 11.30 pm. I will now tell you it was Christmas Eve1915 sailing out of a Greek Island called Lemnos for Southampton didn't call any where. We got fog bound off the Isle of Wight held up and on New Year's Day January 1st taken about 6 to 10 miles away to Netley Hospital Queen Victoria's it was known as in those days. A trip to remember without a diary. Xmas, New Year on board afternoon I was carried into the welsh portion looked after by the rich welsh, we got plenty of rich people, chocolate, cigs, a bottle of stout or ale. 11am everyday cigs daily. All found. I missed behaved myself after I could get up and could make my own bed which we had to when able to. We all made beds the sisters would come in to look and see what sort of a job you had made of it, it was mostly the counter pane at the foot of the bed. We had to fold the corners from the side putting them in the centre turned under well and how they would come round and undo it without saying anything and do it themselves. I got tired of it and told my pals on the left and right I wouldn't do it again. They both said take no notice be satisfied you are in hospital in England I couldn't honestly take any more so I said if you do that once more sister I would put the pane on never mind how you want it on. We have done it for a week and each morning you and others snatch it up and do it your way. She remembered next morning , lovely Cpl, but the next was stripped off and done again. That did it I wouldn't do it next time never. I was reported, put on jankers picking blown paper etc. With a sharp nail in the end of a brush handle, putting it in a bag to burn. You will get moved on an old soldier told me. That didn't bother me when I did go it was with 3 others in an ambulance to Dartford, Kent. I was fit to go to convalesce but I had to. I got a telegram after 10 days there it came Monday, Dad Died, funeral Tuesday 2.30. This was verified by the police . My Doctor was all against it, the army captain thought it wouldn't do me any harm if I took good care and did nothing rash . He got me clothes etc. And away I went with the Doctor in the ambulance saying straight back no monkeying you are not fit to travel. I was for home and that was what I wanted. Well all went off and I got the first back from Bank Quay Station 4.30 pm London, the tube and to Dartford. Midnight no kind of transport, I* walked it got to my long ...............flopped on the bed as I was, but not for long. When I did wake I was in bed. Two nurses and the Doctor putting cloths on my head, saying you will be alright Cpl you will be alright. I was put back a month one male attendant told me. Just escaped pneumonia it has done you harm to the extent of a fortnight in bed, not to get up at all. That funeral was in February 1916 when I did get better it was April I was walking around our lanes into Dartford never dreaming I would have a married daughter with her husband and three lovely boys living there and I with a wife and mother visiting them 50 years that would be ago. I got 14 days leave then to report at Hull, the Headquarters of the 3rd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. 24 hours stay there, not quiet for on going in and out of the hut I had been put in. One of my boots got splashed with reddish mud and part only the other. Caused by loose duck boards from the huts. It had rained heavily for a day or two. The Sgt preferred a charge, I try to explain. Shut up don't answer back. Company Orders 10 am sharp and don't let me have to bring you. I didn't li8ke him a bit. He was doing his best to remain in England. Not afraid to bring soldiers up on a charge. I was hardened by now it got me thrown out of Netley. I got to the orderly room just to be marched "Cap off" in. The Sgt read out his charge. Coming on to the Parade at 9 am with boots that hadn't been cleaned. Well when he had finished the Captain, a jovial sort said "Your first day here and out of hospital I read." "Well what have you to say in your defence." "Just one thing Sir" "And what may that be L/Cpl G.A. Gregson" my full title he was smiling a bit and it helped . "Only that the Sgt. has charged me with not cleaning by boots to come on the 9 am Parade 1 hour and 30 minutes ago my boots shone as good if not better than his Sir." If you look down you will see what happened the loose duck boards getting out on Parade did it. He looked, "Do you always put a shine on like that?" "Yes but when you have got them into that condition Sir it is easy." ( I hadn't cleaned the mud off he looked and understood). Sgt. you worded your charge wrong now what to do is the thing (I was cheeky now scoring off the "Bully" "May I suggest Sir" Send me to my old 4th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers at Cavendish Park, Barrow. I get the idea I will rub the charge out and get rid of you. Come in one hour's time all will be ready. Which I did, without rations which I was told to pick up by going to the Sgt. Cook. I got out of Hull by the first train that could take me away. You change the station Master said at Leeds and I had to hurry over to another platform for the Furness Line. The Guard had seen me rushing, "Where to soldier" Barrow. He opened the door I got in slam and away. The elderly Gent on my right said "A near thing Cpl." Yes. On the other side two ladies 40 or so the Gent would be 40 to 50 all whiskered up but a nice person. The women wanted to know if I had just left hospital. Well I have but two weeks ago, that did it. Where have you been , When, how, what was. I said to the gent " it is our duty to ask the questions first " he said "yes you don't know who you are talking to. He gave me a card selected from his wallet. Mr George Tren with Sol, Sudden View, Kirby in Furness. The ladies had relations in the force s not anyone of their own but they convinced they weren't enemies. As if their northern accent didn't gave them away. It was really to get away from their concern for me. You do9 look poorly. We talked of my family only son I should say. One lady said , No one of 6 sons 5 of us in the forces. The Gent was surprised, your mother must be proud. What does Dad do, if I may ask. He died about 2 months ago. I was in convalescence in Dartford at the time. Are your brothers in the same regiment one asked. No my elder brother Jim is in Canada. He joined up there in The Canadian Motor Transport. I am next in the Lancashire Fusiliers. Our Bert (Ted) he is with the Navy, Mine sweepers. Ralph joined up with me in our lot L.F.'s. He went to Salowika. Robert (too young) giving his wrong age. With being tall joined up in another town where they didn't know him. The last I heard he was on the H.M.S. Davenport. The Gent was troubled I could see didn't speak although he hadn't asked much. More interested in when did you eat last. 8 am he looked at his gold pocket watch 4.30 pm and Carnforth all change was ordered. We got out, he vanished. The women said Good Luck Cpl. I didn't see them again. I got into the refreshment rooms just in time to be put in a chair by a small table for two or three. The young girl putting tea, a small milk and a meat pie. I was surprised at that, bread, butter and jam, an evening paper, book a packet of chocolate and cigarettes (20). I told him he shouldn't have gone to so much trouble. I wanted to. I somehow knew he wanted to "I was uneasy". He was kindness itself without going too far. When we (just us two in that compartment this time) when I got out at Barrow I promised him I would go over to see him and he wanted me to. I got to the park and told to go to C Company at Webb Farm North End Wales. When I was going across to the Orderly Room the C.S.M (Fletcher) known as Ginger met me with where did you stop- it. I said stop what Sir?" He laughed "right" was it homesick then ? Could have been I said got reported in and on parade. I took my time . Got the Orderly Sgt. to show me my hut. Got boards, bedding, blanket, rifle, bayonet all I had to have. By now it was 12.45 I was polished cleaned up my rifle cleaned without a smear of oil. 10 minutes to go for dismiss. I sloped and walked towards Lt. Loseby, acting as "Capt" he said Cpl. Gregson it is nice to have you with us. I am just going to dismiss the Company, which he did. Then he walked to his hut with me asking me all questions. I wasn't in "Gingers" favour. He gave me plenty to do until I told him he had gone a bit far. What do you mean ask Lt. Loseby he knows I am not for duties he was giving me. I was excused until medically fit, passed by the Battalion Doctor. He walked off grinning. I didn't mind, only I wasn't being pushed by him. I was detailed for pillar box cost patrol a (N.C.O.) and two Pte's 2 hours. One going, one coming back. We had to keep a look out for Sub's or strange boats or movement of any kind. Up to the extreme north end, put a letter in a box fastened on a pole then return and report to the Guard Room. We went out 11 pm till 1 am. Excused morning parade. The weather was at its best just then. One afternoon 4 pm just dismissed, Cpl. Webb had been hit by a bullet in his shoulder, it had made him stoop a bit 6 - 2 he was. Stammered a bit, he was waiting a medical board. He said lets put our things away and have a ½ hour on the sand hills. We walk up the lane at the back of the huts. The C.S.M. Fletcher was coming towards us. He pulled up saying they call you Tommy don't they (Cpl Webb) No Sir Cpl. do they buggery Tommy. Now do you know what they call me. Sgt,. Mason. "Oh no they don't Sir No they Don't. Its the Ginger "Bastard" and off he swanked grinning. Webb said "and he is bloody well right Greg. It sounded funny to me just pure swank. Ginger B and liked it.
I was told one night by a soldier coming in the hut who had been out on pass, they are talking in Barrow that the garrison is to place 4 each. I get out next afternoon up around the shore of the island and each day quietly when detailed for that patrol again I put my running clothes on under my uniform, when we got to the hut in the sand hills I stripped off and told them to look at the films I would run with the letter. I posted it and kept on round the other side then returned and put on my uniform again then wasted the time out. Returned to the guard room only to see "Ginger." I'll say Company S.M. Fletcher some will say the Ginger B. He told the two Pte's to go and get down to bed. Come out I want you Cpl. he gave me a blue letter to post at the post box. Walk it and observe as you go and return. No need to report back. Don't run it you are not an old soldier you know. That was Cpl Webb's remark when I told him I was going to have a go at that race again. "You are not strong enough yet Greg" and you will have had it A1 for you. Well C Company entered me Loseby asked me would I be going for it again, Yes Sir it's in the blood. He promised to enter me as an individual . C Company had no good team runners. I ran in it but that time a Lt. of A Company (Bigger Bank) 1st 50 yards between him and L/Cpl Gregson (this time C Company L.F's, a Captain of the Engineers 3rd. I was booked for active service after that. Webb and others said I told you Cpl you are sure for it.
It was 12 mid day, C.M.S. Fletcher at the dinner door Pte Brindle by his side when I got to him with his cane pointed out Cpl wanted. He said you will take all your kit and report at H.Q., Orderly Room by 2.30. It was about 36 minutes walk to the park over Walnes Bridge. Just us two out of 180 or more when we were leaving C Company Camp Lt.Loseby said don't be too hard on Ginger Fletcher. He had to pick the two best out of C Company. When proposed you two I told him he had selected the best. That's alright Sir but a bit hard on two who had been through it and going again before some had had a go. Anyway we got put in a hut with 40 or so. Some old timers "not in age" been out before we got everything required issued to us. Got a 48 hour leave home, now when I returned from that "Bank Quay" and got as far as Wigan. I look through the door window I was by myself and when we stopped I shouted . None other than Cpl Jack Heitman with three more , a post Cpl and two Pte's they got in for Barrow. Out came Jack's "Bible" he always called his pack of cards his Bible. The Cpl. said he never plays for money that didn't suit us so without him we got started.
All change, out everybody, we had to waken the Cpl asked where is it? The porter said you should have changed . Well you can't get to Barrow until morning 7am first train for there. The station wanted to put us up for the night in a first class waiting room but we all said we would have a walk round first. Went by the Police Station the policeman on the door asked us where we were making for. "Barrow" come in I will speak to the Sgt. he told us to sit down. The Sgt eyed us over. 3 Cpls 2 Ptes 5 teas with sandwiches please. I will put you up for the night now your numbers, name and ranks, Cpls first not me the posty said I am not absent your not No Sgt Right I am employed Jack said (surprised me) right I gave him all, and the two Pte's did. He wrote a note to our C.O. sealed it and gave it to me to hand in next day. We got wakened with bacon sandwiches and coffee. We shook and thanked. We had to appear at 2 pm C.O. special orders. The post Cpl called at Barrow collected his mail like he does daily and into camp. Three of us on the report of the police Sgt got off with one day's pay stopped (1/-) and continued to camp. Jack got 2 day's pay 2/- two day's confine to camp. It seems Jack intended to stop in Barrow until midnight with some people he knew he said he paid a Sgt (No name) who was on duty to report him in as he knew now to get in through the woods into the cricket ground then into his hut so to clear the Sgt who had booked him "Present" he said I stole out of camp Sir and over slept this morning, 2 days and 2/- stopped but saved the Sgt. (that's Jack). He told me on our way up to the firing line, not even in Camp (England) but out of reach of other ears yes it was Boulogne. We march to a farm land and join up to the (old Tenth) the 10th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. The C.O. was Col. Wade elderly. Col. Torrens, he would be in Command (if dotty Wade) got promoted or wounded, which he did in the face. But after two months with plasters was back again on duty. Well you know over the tops now to that farm. Posted to B. Company No. 2platoon 5 section. Do you know who was the first to meet me, Jack Hague the collier "well now sonny." "I'll die happy" I knew that was coming have you got a cig. Cpl., yes a packet Jack. Give us a kiss, a saying of his. I was glad to see him although it was in France. Yet it was "war" we didn't know what was round the corner. So all was alike Jack Heitman got posted to D. Company. I had Jack Hague, Brindle in No.5 section so we could talk of old times etc. We went through the Somme into Amiens in the line beyond it was to hold on to some small holdings our troops had taken. We dug all night, filled bags, built the top front first throwing the other earth out on top. The back could be built under cover of the high front. It was our orders so it didn't matter much. D. Company had to improve the communication trench up to our front trench. We had 8 days and when left it you wouldn't have thought a week of digging could have changed the battle ground from bits of small dog holes not connected up. If you wanted to go to your other section you waited till darkness. The first night made it better. We got down to Meaulte for a rest. Then on to Gullimonte. It was wet low lying ground we had to place duck boards down. We knew something was to take place. We were navvies for at least 14 days and helped to dig pits for store shells. The big guns coming up some smaller ones going up ahead at night the Gloucester's and others going up some coming down but it was hard graft. The weather got better and sunny and warm we got on the Somme front at Fricourt Memetzs short of Pozziers and went in the front line to hold on whilst our guns fired for 5 nights and days without stopping. If one battery had fired for so long the next who had rested an hour or two and got more stones ready would carry on and so on fresh gunners coming and going. Out each morning we got it, the Germans thought it was a bombardment for an advance at day break. Then before it could take place Jerry would pound our front lines with shells, shrapnel at the time of daybreak. That went on for "as I wrote"5 nights and days. On the last night about 10 pm the Gordon's moved in. I was relieved by a Sgt. he said we are over in the morning. He, like his platoon shelled . I wish him luck "I, we will need it Cpl. Good Night" When our Company B got down and out of that long communication trench, lined up and headed off. We met another Company going in, two pipers playing and a Colour Sgt. with a flag lone staff he was absolutely "Blotto" swaying from one side of the road to the other . Some Officer (and capped) rushed over and with the side of his horse pushed him into the sidewalk hedge. He didn't get up. We were passing at the time, but my last glance was he was still down. I spoke to a Pte, he was one of a few "M.D." men (not to good) sick . They had to clean up after the Battalion of Highland Gordons left "believe me" it was the filthiest camp I was ever in. Whiskey bottles , cigarette packets match boxes the place was in a state. Canvas bivs, small tents etc. Anything to cover in case it rained "It didn't" the weather was at its best. Perhaps some of you will remember the "Battle of the Somme" well that was the night before. Only just the night before, 10 pm our Company relieved and we were the first of four. The communication didn't allow a Battalion going in one going out went in single file carrying allsorts , machine gun boxes of mills bombs etc. Now we got wakened with both sides firing at the same time, shrapnel, shells, bombs from the air, mills machine guns, the lot , around about 4.15 am. We couldn't get off again. Big guns blasting away. I got up and went and looked in the gun pit 20 yards along the main road just down in the field.
Tall trees lined each side of this fine straight road. They work hard, some with shorts (vest and pants) . Sweating wiping on towels I held with a cup of tea handing it round their Lt. Officer asked me to help, after a while they stopped. Then one of the other side opened up . I was fascinated so much so that I almost missed my bacon and tomato breakfast.
The guards had the headquarters over the road the Lancs. (us) on the other. About lunchtime their band played by their officers mess. I go over and sit down on the bank by those tall trees listening to If you were the Only Girl , Pink Lady, Blighty, and Just a Song at Twilight. Bang a shell drops just behind that camp 50 yards away. Who's Your Lady Friend going on. It was marvellous, no one bothered to move, it was in a safe place. No transport troops so the band played on.
Another thing of interest was prisoners, in batches, some wounded carrying badly wounded ones on stretchers helping German, English, Jocks all that afternoon, ambulances back and to. A big concentration wired camp 800 yards down that road for those Jerries. The war as regards fighting was over for them. On banged the guns the Sgt. told me they had to go up two miles in fact their motors were loading shells ready to go clearing everything. It was getting dusk when a German Plane came down dropped more bombs on a very big railhead. It was a mile away. There were big flames very high our A Company had to go and help. It was to release rail vans and push them back into safety. To save as much as possible. Little did I think with my section that we were due to pass by 50 yards or so from it. A runner (messenger) from our H.Q. L/Cpl. Gregson wanted at once , Capt Ormrod (Adjutant 10th L.F.'s) . He gave me a note with a diagram of a trench. My section had to reach with spare parts for the machine gunners. Picking them up first at the H.Q. in Gullimont and to see that they get them. They go over at day break. He said Cpl. you have been chosen by your C.O. If anyone will get through its that 29th Div. Cpl. Gregson. So it is up to you Cpl. We got rations, no rifles two mills each one in each side pocket found the M.C.H.Q. their Captain told me which was the best and he thought the safest. It was very dark shell bursts lighting up our way on the main Contal Maison Road we had to abandon night planes dropping bombs on it as well as the Germans. Big guns to hit reinforcements or transport and Alfy Gregson and his 10 Pte's in his charge. It was tiring and slow the fields all shell holes. After 8 days and nights never ceasing it was I am a (Police Red Cap told me) he wanted to know why the L.F.'s were going out there. He hadn't been told to expect them. He said you have something on Cpl. its wicked at the top of this road a mile or more. "You can't keep on it spare parts or not" Cpl. don't take unnecessary risks. It was ages when we got there. 47 looked 100s of yards away from the main road at times we got in away from big lumps of shrapnel flying all over the place. At the crossroad at the top were two Red Capped soldiers "We didn't stop to examine if they were officers or Police stretched out dead. Two or three others. The dug out opposite a Crucifix corner. A Lt. Police Officer shouted us over asking the same as one of their Pte's 2 hours before who what etc? You have two hours to do it in. If the old trench is in good condition you could do it but he doubted it. Our gun blew it to bits and their own gun planes bombed after our lads captured them. He told us to dash over to the trench after "three bangs" He had got used to the gun fire in the trench but not for long. The old German wire had got into our tunics and pants and got fastened up in places . Pulling ourselves free our clothes torn like ribbons. We had to risk it, out on top, shell holes we had to walk round or go down in them to tiring climbing out. I had two petrol tins of fresh water the machine gun spares, chains and bullets etc. Heavy enough. Warm night, shells coming heavy and our time is running out. When a flare got fired up lighting all around we knew it was near, I ask them to go all out to reach the newly dug trench. Talking of trench shells coming fast squealing bursting machine guns mills bombs. It wines on and two or three minutes later we got round to that place. A Manchester soldier wounded in his shoulder being seen to by another. I ask if the machine gunners had gone. All went over. I said, nothing for it lads follow me, when I drop you do the same. 200 yards of no man's land to traverse, we did it in three rushes but Pte Brindle who was picked by ginger C.S.M. Fletcher with me at Webs Farm Walnes. He had got a piece of shrapnel lodged in his jaw hanging down he clung to my tunic back. We had another 50 yards yet I said when I shout go, get as fast as you can I'll come after you. I look inside his mouth he was spitting, well it was dribbling, not a great deal. When I got in one of my tins was emptying itself. Do yo9u know who told me a Red Cap a Brigadier talking to Burgess he said I saw you coming over Cpl. leave all the heavy stuff with me. One of your water tins is hopeless. "Did you know?" I was too busy seeing to it that Pte Brindle got in this trench. He promised the parts and all we had safely brought would get into the proper quarter. But we must get him first aid. I said is it possible something could be done. Now his aide de campe went off he hadn't gone far when he shouted for Brindle to be taken to that part for treatment. Something he had to rinse, a pad with something on then a bandage to keep it still. Something like that. It is hard to remember. Our troops ready for another advance orders being shouted, shells blasting , German planes dropping bombs German machine guns going off before those lads got over and when they did the Brigadier took all particulars, who, what , how many. Brindle's pay book for his home address etc. Go now Cpl. you have done well up to now I'll see your Col. Wade hets to know his Cpl. delivered the goods he went as far as to shake with us all, told Brindle he had been brave and stick to your Cpl. When I got to the crossroad back a Sgt Red Cap advised me to go cross country not near Contal maison road it is a death trap. When I got to the first aid post and Brindle got took in (time didn't matter) We were dog tired, got a hot milk drink off the orderlies at the post. Welcome we had had nothing since 6 pm the night before. We had bully beef sandwiches with that drink. When the Doctor came out he said you did a good job Cpl on your friend. I told him all, he was flabbergasted, "You took a risk on that last lap that was the time that most casualties occurred. Your companion will be on his way to Blighty in an hour. Waiting for the Ambulance to return."
" We got back, I reported to Capt Pugram he said I have to let H.Q know when you report in. I was sent for to give them an account, they said I had done better than they had dared to guess. It looked too late to expect anyone to find the taking off place never mind deliver those parts. I told the Col. about the Brigadier seeing us from the back of the newly taken trench (going over in rushes) he also said "I see your Col. Wade gets to know his Cpl. delivered the goods ." He shook hands with us all, told Brindle he had been brave and trust your Cpl. a bit longer. It was dinner time and I gave it big licks, we all did. We had from them 12 mid-day and next day excused duty only to go if the Battalion moved, which they didn't. I got over straight for 1 pm. Officers lunch, music (Guards) some like 24 hours before even shells , bombs as I said nothing mattered. Prisoners from .....(which strange as it seems) We took part, some of that Ammo, for the machine guns and new guns etc took part. Well it was sunny pleasant so it didn't matter The Arcadians, Maid of the Mountains, Tipperary, Love's own Sweet Song, Blaze Away, Over the Waves. One didn't care what was flying around, planes, shells etc. Good players, the nicest of music. I couldn't wait for 7 pm. Perhaps my favourite Pink Lady such a soothing sweet tune. I am humming it now and living by the road listening to the Guards. Hundreds must have heard them sometime when they passed a Guards Camp. I was in Bank Park dreaming of those Sunday afternoons with Charles McKean, two cousins Tom Pickford and Clifford Mercer (from Shadwell who got me in McKeans). Our H.Q. got to know from a Captain Machine Gunner saying the Cpl. got through with all his parts. I know he got in that trench because I went back for Brindle's "ammo" he had dropped it that last 50 yards. Just before we moved off (2 hours before) our H.Q. got the Brigadier's report. Dogby said that's our C.0. Col. Wade. He said Gregson you have made a friend, a Brigadier. He watched you all the while you got into the battle ground. 200 yards of shell holes with shells bursting all over the place. Well now you know it by heart. We (Our Battalion) had to go mopping captured trenches. The first was a fine big one. Big deep dug outs they had twelve steps down, and then you turn right or left to get in. Throwing mills was no use. A thick wall of earth protected them. We started, the first had three Prussian Guards , 6 or more Germans 3 days dead. Up they had to be lifted out and put on top of that big trench. It took 6 of us to get him up and out of a 6 ft trench. A hoist would have been a lot better than mucking about with 3 day old dead bodies. ( I would have enjoyed it better if they had been 5ft English our own). I only helped with one my platoon officer L.T. Bingham came to me Cpl. take two Ptes with you, I want to know exactly our position. I said we are well back sir "I want to know". I got two and made straight for a big gun pit the Sgt. told us to jump in . We talked he told me the Kents 250 yards ahead in support. We got on the Sgt told us to be back in one hours time. Char time meaning tea. The Kents said the "Dans" Manchester would be 300 yards in front, then Guards in front so I made it as we would be at the least 800 yards from "Live" Germans . We get cheese sandwiches with a cup of strong tea off the artillery men. He the Sgt. was a Salford man, so we weren't far apart, here or at home. It was all "in" even with w3ar. One had to make the best of it and do your best to help at all times. When we got back our trench was cleared, cleaned out it was a good safe one, weather proof a sloped trenched floor each side of the dug out's entrance. If it rained the slopes would take it away. Made to last they built communication trenches winding a bit like a wriggling worm. Not to straight like most of ours, they (perhaps had civilian help "Forced Labour" (which I did know they got) . We had some spade work at nights quite near the front. Trenches being repaired improved helping with ration carrying parties. We had 5 days in the line . Two raids took place, one by our B Company No.2 Platoon "mine" we had to take some Germans. So just before day break we crawl out when 20 yards or so the platoon Lt threw his mills bang we threw running up to the trench 40 of us, the Germans put up their hands "Camrade" we took 20 at least and a dog came after them. Jack Hague put his belt round that dog and went back and fed him with hard broken biscuits then a drink. Our lads sparing a drop each. Our R.S.M. Newman "An ex London Police Sgt." spoke a bit of German. They got searched for bombs, revolvers etc. More important was who they were, what age, service, how long in the front line everything that could help. Now I said two raids, because we only had two casualties slight. Our Battalion decided to try with D Company "Jack Hietmans Lot". He was a full Cpl now. They did it in the dark by bombs with two flares fired from their trench like us crawled out ready when "The Flare" shot up in went the bombs, raw jump in with fixed bayonets with same again some prisoners, no casualties. Taken by surprise (we had black faces so as not to be seen too early by the "Flares". A white face 20 yards away a sentry could spot but he wouldn't be sure with black. Now that dog was with me and others. Tell all was over so you will read more about him. Now I will say he did not favour anyone, I gave him bones at night when on night duty. I used to go down to the H.Q. Quarters and ask Sgt. Swash, Liverpool for leftovers. His cook saved things for him. They hadn't heard of our Regt. Dog, what's his breed and name were the questions. A kind of a bull dog and Jack Hague all knew Jack if not the dog. Jack Hague christened him Drummy yet to drum me with bones scraps of meat dinner scraps in a half petrol tin. We had made two. One to call at officers dug outs, the other at H.Q. the cooks would save it until called for. It was water, the worst I could go long times without we had to try and have a shave and a lather brush wash with the same water. If rain came we put a ground sheet up on to pick handles and spades tied. It dipped in the middle then go out of the dug out two of us tilt the oil sheet till a mess tin was full. We say he got all possible. Yet he never thought anymore of a soldier looking after him or not. You will see later on he was a dog on his own. Now we got down and out of that line we tried to coax him to "come on Drummy" we are going. He only wagged his ears and tail "No he just blinked his eyes I said "Come on". Jack fall in. With a final "Come on Drummy" from that miner feeling broken hearted we left him. We fell in. No.2 platoon in the trench into right quick march. Before our platoon reached the Com. Trench to go out off to the front line Drummy was with Lt. Bingham and the platoon get in the centre leading . Then when we got down and out a mile or so down, motor transport for us for the first time we must be winning was the saying Drums didn't want asking when we climb up and in the back of our transport 8 to a company 25 in each (only ours) 25 Jack just lifted him up and in going to the others on a lidded box the width of the wagon. He got off to sleep until we woke at Doullens. A lovely town small, but the river running along its length. General H.Q. in there. Red Caps of allsorts our Captain now a Red Cap "Ormrod" our old adjutant. We had a Capt. Milne now, was (A.D.J.) We had seven days rest. Turkish baths, change of clothing, my section needed then after that night of barbed wire etc. I had time to have 3 good runs for the first time in France. It was nice to strip, run, Turkish bath, rub down with a big rough towel, dress all in the camp. We got paid out twice whilst there. I liked that river flowing swiftly clean. When we moved it was May 12th and to the north of the river Scarpe, in the line and from trenches called Cuba and Conrad attacked "Green Hill" we took a bashing. My platoon Lt. Bingham with two others, Lt. Knight, Lt. Hastings and 3 N.C,.O.'s and 6 Pte's killed 12 killed 18 wounded on the 16th , the Germans on our right "Our A Company" tried a break through our B Company with Capt. Pegram had to support A Company. We countered and back they got we brought Lt Pollard back, but died before our Doctor could do anything. Lt Sheppard didn't report in at roll call, we had a long spell i and to hold our ground at all costs. It was vital to hold it. Al fronts were active we could see flashes, shells, bombs, day time planes flying low. When he flew back he was drop0ping bombs. We were only 10 yards from that Com. Trench, ran in and down it. He was past in a thrice and we got back his bombs didn't quite hit our trench, lucky that time. We had to march for two days, resting in Bivs etc. at night. Then off again marching now on the second day we fell out for dinner. The cooks now did it on the line of march. When we got over to the roadside and down to wait for the dixies of stew to come, Drummy came from the front, A Company leading "We" B Company next, and when Col. Wade gave the Fall Out, Drummy a good soldier came to Jack for some dinner, he was followed by Col. Wade, I was ................. him Jack collect a drop all round of water for the Col, said your dog Cpl Gregson no sir he is the Battalions sir he is a queer chap in or out of the line it was yesterday when I first saw him up with me and Col. Torrens good company a rare soldier a stray dog only needs to turn a look at us he just charges and over they go "Whats his name again" well "Jack Hague" here Sir has christened him Drummy Sir why Hague "Well Sir he looks like one" and it was the first I could think of. How do you look after him, he said to me still on his horse I whispered the scraps from Officers Mess, yours as well Sir. Don't neglect him, all have spared a drop of water if he could have more I will go down to the cooks and try Sir. I was very fond of him. Some other time I will want to know "Who brought him". Well you all know but Doggy Wade didn't. When Drummy had finished he wouldn't stop off to the front 100 yards along the road down waiting for the leaders then on guard I suppose. Our Col Wade and Torrens would say we got into hutments in a lovely village, hills and plenty of trees and better still no big gun firing or German shells reaching. We could hear a rumble at times like distance thunder a very far away sound. Our brigade was 3 miles further on and was to hold brigade sports in two days to late for anyone to do anything about it. 6 pm then when orders came out so next day I got out and did 3 laps of a field. Some sharp runs 200, 300 yards. Our lads Pte Bowers (won the 100, 2nd 220) I won the mile. Pte Sammy Potter 2nd in the three miles. We won the relay. Guard Mounting 2nd Tug of War in all our L.F. Got 2nd place in the points in our Brigade was West Kents, Manchester Borderers 10th Lancs Fusiliers, Engineers, RAMC Rad Corps, Artillery etc. So we did very well. In our H.Q. was a Lt. Fryer he was with his older brother at Barrow he told me he placed a bet on me to beat a certain "Winner" a Captain of the West Kents who was 10 yds away 2nd. He didn't say what it was, I didn't ask him. Glad he had faith in me. I won £4 or 100 Francs for winning, also 4 shares of £4 for winning the relay. I ran 880 yards 1. mile relay 2. Ran 220 yards each then another the 440 yards and I did 880 yards just a mile £1 each almost 30 francs (28 or 29) then for an English pound. A nice day 125 francs. We, our Battalion held 4 7 mile runs all to run who wasn't on some duty, or sick or old which we had. C.S.M. Toms had two sons fighting, R.Q.M. Whitworth, Cols. Wade Torrens, Majors Thatcher and Forwood. and R.S.M. Newman. Now it seems that Pte Sammy Potter was the Battalions Cross Country Champion in England and out in France before I joined them he had won all the Regimental races easily. We had Sunday then Monday 3pm race. It was nice to see the villagers going to Church not I was a regular attender. The bells chiming, it was different from Guns. Now the excitement was mounting we had been paid out, advancements if you indented for more first. C Company almost to a man Potter will win 7 miles is not a mile was the idea. With them our old (4th LF from Barrow) the two Jacks, Ginger Moss some of those 40 who join the old 10th with me. They snapped up bets the best was about 5.30 pm the best was about 5. 30 pm Sunday night after tea our R.S.M. Newman used to have Sam Potter for his batman when he was C. Company C.S.M. but not now. Potter did it for his C. Company Captain Woods Charles Newman in the Sgt. Mess no one to beat Potter tomorrow gentleman. That did it Jack Heitman (Like myself now a Sgt). I should have told you I got Cpl after the Conthilehison affair 2 weeks ago Sgt. acting (with pay full Sgt). Well Jack asked him how much did he fancy Potter. 100 francs Heitmen right I take Sgt Gregson he won't beat 7 miles Jack boy (at that rate you win) The monies were handed over to the R.Q.M. Whitworth C.S.M. Toms spoke to Jack and he got 50 francs on with Newman. He said I'll have a run round to Gregson's billet I want another 50 francs I could do with it. Jack dashed up the village to me Greg the R.S.M. is coming he wants a bet on, he wasn't gone long when Newman came. Sgt. Gregson they tell me you are a good runner who are they, Sgt Major in the mess. I was wondering if you would have a bet. I waited he said do you fancy yourself to win tomorrow. I never go about saying I am a good runner and I don't have big bets. Come on Cpl not even 50 francs. I bet you 50 I beat Sammy Potter. The same thing he said no its not we don't need to win the race to win the bet. One man to beat each other. Yes it does sound different Gregson hold on to the bet. A soldier Old Tom Chadwick held the bet saying I won't be giving yours back Sir you have had it. We will see. About 7pm McToohey a H.Q. runner "Messenger" came Major Forwood would like a word with you Sgt at 8 pm outside their H.Q. Mess. When I got there he walked down the village a little we stopped saying Sgt in the mess before dinner we with other Company Officers were discussing tomorrow's run. It turned out a betting race one of our young L.T.'s put his cheque book on the table saying I bet one to beat Pte S. Potter. He got mobbed yet he didn't flinch 100 francs. When Col. Torrens said your man must be Sgt. Gregson, Yes was the answer. Well he won the one mile nicely at the Brigade but didn't enter the 3 miles like our Potter. Can the Sgt do 7 miles? No answer. So now you know why you are here Sgt. Your mess L.T. Sir must be L.T. Fryer. It was "Why" he said (we were at Barrow when I won the Barrow Garrison 7 miles. Garrison he said well now I must back Sgt. Gregson to win. If I may say Sir Bet me to beat who ever their saying will win. I am obliged to come in first . No your right. I don't know sir all the 10th B L.F. some have joined up like me you know those like Potter came out from England with "the old tenth" we parted, it was going to be a two soldier race. Potter to win Gregson to beat Sammy Potter "Captain Woods C. Company" batman. A pure blond not a great deal between us as regards build. 180000 turn out of a large park land flags lead us to the big gates onto the main road turn left out of the park was our instructions keeping all flag signallers on our left to the church in the next village your own Company Captain will be there to see you round him take a ticket from him then return by the same way. It was Potter who made the running out of the gate he was 5 yards or so ahead and looked strong enough "Keen". We looked alike white pants, red vests but I have really dark hair (Yes I had some in those days before I married). He was silky white blond his body, limbs where pale white. He looked clean enough. Said we had each other to beat so I got on, tried to go on to pass, but he wanted to keep in front so press on to make him go faster or let me get on and away. I knew I could stick this faster pace another 4 miles. We must have done 3 miles because we could see that village's church. I rushed past him took him off his guard, 20 yards ahead I took my ticket off our B Company Captain. He was L.T. Freer (not Fryer) . He acted for C. Company Capt Pegram. Sammy shouted "Swanking Ain't You" I passed on back and go over to the left side I increased slowly as I said feeling I could stick it out passing signallers. They would say take it easy Sgt. you are winning easy. 100 yards at one point when I got to the park gates they were closed a Police Sgt L.F.'s Moody said keep straight on Gregson down another 100 yards then turn right into the village street "Lanes they were" I past C.S.M. Toms and R.Q.M. Whitworth. He looked glum, not a smile (a grin may be) Toms with his big heavy eyebrows and "Tacher" roaring like made good old Greg, Good Lad(He was on a winner) yes I took the tape, 300 or more yards the 1st man it was all smiles for the 4th Batt. L.F.'s. Old boys Jack Hague, the die happy miner, Liverpool Hietham (Sgt)Fryer, Forwood , including myself. Col Doggy Wade. When given £4.00 (100 francs) said not much Sgt for such running as you have shone for us but you have won a barrel of beer for your boys of B Company. I was thrilled, something for the lads When I was promoted Sergeant I had been asked to run a canteen for the Battalion. I said it would be a pleasure to do so, but I would like to sell at cost price our Reg. Q.M. Whitworth was against it we cannot run a canteen at a loss. Our P.R.I. Col Torrens President Regt. Interests liked the idea if I could make it work. I did by starting with 800 francs. The B.E.F.C. Sgt helped me to begin. Only gave me quick selling stores, Cigs, biscuits boxes or cases, large ones 200 packets mixed spearmint (very quick) tobacco, slab cake "Mother Scribbins" etc. When the 800 francs was spent he allowed 5% discount not only 40 back but let me spend it on chocolate. So now to first deal with 840 in stock. Pte Tom Chadwick a confectioner in civilian life in Rochdale and Pte Bill Smith, a Salford Corporation Worker, looked after the troops our P.R.I. Torrens was pleased. Now when I had been given my prize. After the boys had mobbed me I trotted off to my billet. Went by our B Company "Farm Barn" gate straight across was a "Cafe"a "Estaminer" two "Frogies" pushing a barrel of beer into the farm. Captain Pegram leading "Grins all over his face" I got pressed and went to see how they had gone on. The barrel was in its position stillaged ready for 7 pm it would be 4.30 pm tea time then. Tom gave me the two 50 franc notes buying cigs and chocolate spearmint with it. 4 boxes of (50 packets) 4 spearmint 30 in each chocolate small bar, Cadbury and Nestles for T.T. men (7 pm) and the barn nice and clean straw pushed back. The boys down on it some on farm yard machines etc. comfortable, mess tins at the ready . Sgts. Cpls waiting on and enjoying it. Sing songs chorus and solo. One Cpl sang "Just a Song At Twilight" it sounded lovely. The H.Q. staff had come in just in time to hear him. Glasses for the Officers lent by the Estaminer who supplied the beer. Our staff got up with the boys when they thought it was time for another. They jumped up rocked round the centre of the shed singing another little drink wouldn't do us any harm. Our Captain Doctor Smith was first up and helped himself ......... a dozen they had just the right smell. Fraser came over to ask me could he have a packet of biscuits with some milk chocolate. Help yourselves its free tonight yes Captain Pegram has told Col Wade you have over spent your prize money on the boys. Major Forwood had brought a bottle of whiskey and soda. A very amusing incident occurred , one Cpl was Blotto he would insist on wanting to sing, Major Thaker a callous sort shouted "let the Cpl sing". (in chorus from all who knew Cpl Randles) "Well you've ask for it" Drunk no voice or tune slowly came Shine on Silvery Moon on a Soldier in his Grave. He didn't get that far, mess tin lids as well as potatoes and anything else got thrown. Col Wade with a handkerchief to his eyes (we didn't know if he was really crying) or he was crying with laughter like Doc. Smith they saw him carried by half a section face down thrown into the hay. It was fun. The place was in an uproar. Another little drink about 5 pm. Dinner for H.Q. so they went not before the Col had said they had enjoyed our hospitalities. He walked to Jack, patted Drummy "Has he had his pint" he's TT Sir but not his trainer". I like him, "For he's a jolly good fellow" was sung. Waving as he went out so did B Company 9 pm fina. As regards beer so the Estam over the way and two more in the village. A night to remember, it would take another book to relate songs, comic verses. Good classic songs by that Col. Not the one in the dog house Col Randles in the Company orderly room not on parades. Jack Hague 11 pm crept up to Tom's Canteen woke them up, Bill get us a tin of tripe and a bottle of vinegar "Sorry Drum's is hungry" If we had stocked bottles of Worthingtons Pale Ale (which I could ) we could get 6 dozen each time we bought in 72 pale ales. Our Battalion 800 to 900 all told wouldn't go far. We had a lot of TT chaps our R.A.C.E. B Company Parys told us that. When we left it was in the line in the wooded front line at Fonquavillers. A place high up and it got shelled more than any I knew day and night. The German's did not like us L.F. (10th Battalion) . One night I was set in charge of B Company's ration party. Being down at the dump waiting for our transport to come 5 Limbers in all it must have been near mid-night, very dark, flares going up at regular intervals lighting up half a mile or more. When it arrived the German guns firing shrapnel by the main road. B Company (ours) was about half emptied the front Limber to unload. 1 shell dropped in the field 20 yards away, all duck down. The two mules in our ration limber slewed round and got loose and off back home. I being at the back jumped up and in the back half by the time I got over and climbed over the goods or rations the reins had smashed hanging down one none at all. It was hold on we rock all over the road. They kept on their right side. The Manchester's transport going up about a mile from their dump ( had pulled up to watch). They knew their way. We turned (well they did) into a path across to our base H.Q. transport and stores pull up in a "Lather" quivering. I was sore and bruised but alright. The transport night duty men took over, transferred the rations into Bob Batemans two wheeled van. I went back with him (after I had hot tea). The shelling had died down 2.30 am. B Company got their rations and Bob got off back as soon as we unloaded. It was 4am when I got back in the trench just in time to start another day. Not double time just 1 shilling per day for a Pte. The night before our Battalion was to go out I went back midnight with them "6 am" off to the B.E.F. canteen 10 miles further down bought in over 1000 francs (Tom Chadwick) kept the books straight. Each night takings and stock or cash in hand stock on hand we were ready for the boys. The Battalion paid out, cake was a favourite it cost 5 francs to buy. Cut each cake into 10 portions each 2 an a half inches square, a good buy and our lads knew they were getting value for their coppers. When they bought from the Kents, Manchesters and others 2d or 3d extra on everything. We couldn't sell spearmint as we bought 30 packets in them "Boxes" 4 francs a box at 1d a packet loss at 1 and a half per packet 5d profit. It pulled up for a blown tin of fruit or a bad condition they would change a genuine tin or bad stuff but we could be weeks or months before we could take it back. I told Tom to dump all spoiled. The 5d 3 boxes 1/3 would help weekly or fortnightly buying. I never put it in the accounts I told Tom to always make the accounts balance. If cash down I would make it up just a franc now and then. Spearmint pulled that up so it was OK. That gives you all an idea how (our boys) got looked after. I had taken Biscuits, Chocolates, Cigs Woodbines in tins of 50 they went in no time. Tripe only one tin for Tack Hague and Drummy. Midnight 1 am perhaps 2 am if Jack had just finished his sentry. Not every unit would risk it (you see it took space in the transport limbers at night when it should be for rations, mail etc. Cases of biscuits, boxes of cake, boxes of fruit, milk and it had to be taken into the trenches. Just after Fonquvillers I was sent down to base H.Q. for leave I had been on two drafts and sent back. I was no 1 for leave this time. I went and bought in that morning to save Tom going. When I got back all particulars taken Sgt Atherton wanted mine. Pte Barns Caine was down for leave. Knowing my mother's home address gave it to the Sgt "James Street, West Bank, Widnes". I was with McKerns Latchford, Warrington. I didn't get him to alter it. I would be going home in any case. B. Caine, Midwood Street, Simms Cross, Widnes had to go back to the front line with 6 more 10 for leave this time Capt Thompson said "Caine said Sgt would you take my medal I won for boxing in the Brigade Sports. Home call and tell them I am OK. I said"you will follow next week Barny you would like to show it to them yourself" Yes it would be better he said Sgt have a good leave you deserve it. His last words to me ever. Whilst at Widnes one of my days I was going to Moss Bank to visit Lizzy and Uncle Jose Smith when Barny's older brother coming of shift (2 pm) just by Dennis's works (I had called round on Sunday afternoon) and told them all about Barny's bout when he won and a lot in general. He pulled up "Sgt" did you hear about poor Barny? No he got killed returning back to the trenches. I asked him how he knew so quick he said a letter from Pte Harry (I am sorry his name won't come at the moment). I knew him like I did all but they want a lot of remembering. Only outstanding ones like Jacks, even Drummy "Doggy" Cheeky Charlie Little Hales . Company (Cook Sgt). Now I will tell you what the Wines address did for me. Poor . Caine could not possibly have known that 14 days leave at Widnes got me 28 all told. My mother hadn't had enough, 6 sons 4 daughters Dad died February 1916. I told you when I was at Dartford she took in a baby boy his mother neglected him. Going drinking leaving him to the mercy of anybody. She signed for him, christened him William (Billy Gregson). Whilst I was home he got measles, the doctor sent me to The Peninsula Barracks S. Lancs Depot the Doctor asked me was I in contact with food, biscuits, chocolate canteen work. That did it extra leave. He left it with mother's Doctor to send me back. If I had given I would have put Warrington like I did when enlisting that Monday August 1914. So I was lucky missing two drafts. Barny unlucky missing his draft. The French would say "Sel La Chre" "it is the war". When I did get back to our base early morning Capt. Tiddles Thomson Q. Master he would walk about looking for metal etc. to salvage. He would call you like he did then. Sgt pick that shell case up put it with this junk. He hadn't time to salute back. With his short cane tucked up under his arm pit he would wag it say pick that this etc. stop down Gregson . The boys are coming out now they reach this Camp 6 am so I bought6 in when I got a cheque to meet the bill of store. Our 800 francs start had doubled 1,600 to buy withy. We had 800 profit now. Whitworth we could'not run a canteen on losses. It was hard work sometimes the B.E.F. canteen had moved they had to it belonged to the 17th Division on all division transport. If anyone saw it when out "1914 1918". I will hear tell you that we or some quarters helped themselves to luxuries or what seemed as luxuries to them. A brick setter got a permanent job down at the base building cooking ovens, fireplaces to cook , brick from knocked down buildings. Bri8cks, mud, iron bars, rails etc. Joiners for Bedposts to hold hammocks etc. She repairs. If one was handy building or could do something useful down the base. He would stay there. Well all those things happened as time went on cold November and December. We were in the front line, quite now and Christmas Eve 1916. We could hear Silent Night and it came from 150 yards away Germans. They must have planned it because it sounded loud and plenty of singers not half a dozen in a trench 50, 60 or more. It was nice all though from the enemy. 24 hours was a quiete spell. We finally left those lines. Got down to a rail head after two days marching out of the trenches. We got out at Proven about 5 miles from "Pop" (Popperhinge). Marched through there passing the main road down to Ypres. We were put in huts and a good job to, it was bitterly cold, rain, sleet, snow on that march to Evverdinghe. Col. Wade told me to go to the brewery we passed in Popperhinge "Pop" I got half limber and went (my transport) driver with two mules was Sam Potter's brother Tom, Nelson their home town. I didn't know his name until he said I lost a packet over our Sam, you were far to good for our Sam he is only an amateur not a pro like you (so now you know). I was surprised he did resemble Sam, in build and looks fair hair. We chatted he didn't bear any malice. I liked him better than Sam (he had a skeering way of saying things). The lady at the Pop brewery was very nice yes she said come in Sgt. bring your driver as well. Coffee and homemade cake. She could speak English a sight better than us two English men. How is your Major Thraker I haven't seen him for a long time. Then he was wounded I said he was back 5 or 6 weeks ago. She gave us 3 apples each her own trees. A parcel for the Major if it wasn't any trouble. When we had finished our two barrels in sheet up all ready she asked to try and bring the empties back as soon as possible. Tom and Bill had got everything in order and with the help of driver Tommy Potter still need it Sgt lets have first pint. I said not now Tom it would be cloudy not fit but I will see you have the first at my expense thays (real Lancashire twang) a promise Sgt.. Tom come in the back door when you do (15 minutes early) bring your mess tin (6.30 pm opening time) and a queue formed pints only we only had a pint pot to measure with and it was a good job it made it go round to all waiting. The engineers RAMC near had got to know so they were pleased we could serve them (not all canteens did supply (outsiders). They got called next . (afternoon back with two empties) she was surprised, so soon Sgt ,your unit she said are thirsty boys. I told her Major Thraker thanked her for the apples they are good tasting ones. I knew that before the Major got his , he said if possible he would call and see her. I saw a photo hanging up, a smart airman. I got up and went over to see it. She said Maurice my husband got killed, shot down 12 months now. She ran and owned that brewery. She told us the Aussies and New Zealanders were bad customers . Came for more not bringing barrels so we can fill again (we try to find them at the camps some hit by shells left out in the fields. It we could get the material to make or repair it could be better. I can't keep turning a brew out to fill 10 or 20 barrels then the next day the same and so on we want the vat or vellels to brew again. I got back late because I had to buy in at Proven where the British Exp.Forces canteen (B.E.F.C.) was placed. We had to go in the front line from Elveddinghe (a line I said) Two pill boxes cement affairs, shell holes and half full of water. Our first job to dig connecting those shell holes, in other words making trenches. It was quiet on our sector but about 3 to 4 miles over on our right Ypres getting allsorts of shells. It was in flames. We had my section got to a hole too deep and wide to make it into the trench. We got our Lt. to have it in front of the hole with sloping down to the back. The new trench would be drier and way before we got relived. We had connections and a communications trench to come out down. Back to the same huts. More cake , chocolate, cigs and beer. I saw to it. Wet and dry only I advised three barrels if Madam could spare them, which she did. We got rid in time to take them in. I couldn't bring and back we had another spell up in the same sector. (Most of this is by diary and 1917 Lancs Annual) although it is badly knocked about. You should see it (borrowed out) in Warrington. At the brewery Jimmy Walsh had it twelve months (he lent it out) Jimmy Clayton had it also lent it to Stockton Heath's old soldiers club. All units of the Lancashire Fusiliers from the 1st 2nd line Battalions 3rd and 4th then Territorial's 1/5 2/5 6 ,7,8,9 (10th ours) 11th/ 1916 /17 period photo's of all ranks, killed and V.C. listed . It is very interesting. When we did move it was back almost to where we had come from near St. Omer. It was here Lt. Young, his dad was the Sankey Street Chemist, got killed. He was our Bombing Officer and he was demonstrating how to fire a bomb called The New Town Pippin when one exploded prematurely killing the Lieut and wounding two Pte's. We lost the Catholic Priest Fr. Berkley and had Fr Waters in his place, young Irish person he soon got busy, coming up to me he said Col .......... recommended Sgt Gregson to help me. I want to go and bury some dead. Early morning we reached a first aid post. He looked at some labelled dead, sorted out the Catholic we buried them in a separate part of the field. I said how about our lads, C of E, Methodist etc. Their minister will bury them. When we got back he asked me in his tent. Have a whiskey while I make you a cigarette. I refused both, to his surprise. Well I will and he did, the tobacco hanging out of his made cigarette. It lit up when he struck the match and applied it. I was asked a short time after to go with Lt. Fryer to look for his brother's grave at another burial ground. He heard his brother could be buried there as he got killed there. We searched but no luck. I knew him both trained at Barrow. We had brothers Fryers and Ravencrofts. We look at every wooden cross no Fryer at all . It got dark when we got back from the St Omer. We move by motor transport Brummy as well to the Arras area St. Catherine. The weather was vile, rain, sleet, cold not letting up for 48 hours. Going up to the front line it was slipping and sliding clutching to stick on your feet. A lot better when we got in, as duck boards were down. It was quiet their chemical works we knew as we had made an attack on it last time we were in . Holding on was our job. Not to give in if the Germans attacked, which they didn't. The weather was too bad for rushes, mud sticky. So all was quiet on the Western Front. Letters or cards for home usually was the programme. We received parcels and letters, it took 5 or 6 days at times to receive them. Mr Trenwith sent me a parcel, a lovely but crushed a bit. I wrote and thanked him told him not to send me any more because by the time it takes the contents are crumbs mixed and ruined so I told him what we get regulars cigs, cigars, cake, biscuits, tins of pears, apricots, peaches and carnation milk, chocolate, spearmint and above all tripe in tins "Libbys" and small bottles of vinegar if required. Worthington pale ale. We have already finished off 7 barrels of beer from local breweries. I won a 7 mile Battalion race and it was a large barrel (more than our 36 gallon barrels) it was for my B Company. He wrote saying our L.F's were very lucky to have commanding Officer's looking after you. He understood how I felt and he was relieved to know we didn't need anything. I explained that the boys got paid out at every convenient time out of the line and all the goods were sold at cost price, a lot cheaper than at home and all of the best to surprise you sir I wrote I with Tom and Bill are spreading best butter out of a tin on to cream crackers then snips of cheese in rations. Butter could be bought. Groups of 4 or 5 or so would buy it, tin fruit, milk, tripe and vinegar so as to finish it quick for fear we had to get on the march again. A favourite was packets of Huntley and Palmers currant biscuits, crispy and tasty, large ones (8 large ones 4 per packet) our buys appreciated it they knew we sold at cost. We only relied on 5% discount on our spending on the boys. Started with 800 franc, 40 francs each buy, it increased 1,00 2,00 after a time. That when the wet canteen came into service. (our canteen sold to any unit that passed or was in the vicinity. They would say cheapest yet our lads coming off leave or going they bought some to take home. Well they knew the different charges. Lets get on with the war. Not living in luxury all your 6 or 7 days. We got billeted in Arras and had our Minden Day celebrations. The L. F.'s Officers had theirs in some hotel still standing (well some of it). We Sgt's in a large hut. The UMT platoons in huts just extra rations, beer, cigs. The day off ........................................extra pay, sing songs, dance, if it could be done with or without music. A good time was spent by all our report said. Drummy not neglected. All gave him whether he liked it or not bits of chocolate. Snips of biscuits, bully and cheese they tried everything. He couldn't go hungry or thirsty. In towns we always had plenty of bread, we could buy a loaf or two (water was to be got) at one place we bought cats lights for our Drummy. He liked them (boiled or cooked) he as you would say, was spoiled, patted by everybody. But you couldn't spoil him he di8dn't come or go for fuss. Food, drink, sleep, wag ears and tail turn about and down to it, took it all for granted he was just a soldier. Uniforms to him was all he wanted. The weather took a turn for the better we hung about areas for rest. After spells in on different sectors, one sector we had to take over was the newly captured ground and trenches just beyond Bapaume. In extended rushes our B. Company line had to get passed the ruins of the place, shells pounded into it we had to drop into holes and take cover at every possible thing . Buildings everything had been hit blown up and men, horses killed and had been for at least 12 hours. One didn't try to drag them away, shells destroying the place intent on wiping it out and the shelling was awful. Perhaps some of you people know having been there at that time. It was here after two nights and days of making new trenches and communication trenches that I got orders to leave the line and go down to our base to find some sports ground. The 17th division artillery was holding a sports meeting and Col. Torrens had entered "Sgt. Gregson" 10th Bat. L.F.s in the mile. Now this was a nightmare I got orders just before dusk to go out and stay the remainder of the night in the transport camp, out of those trenches over to some gun pits firing away. I stopp0ed enquiring my way to ........ I had to go under a bridge and the Germans shelling it, half knocked down the officer. Got me a drink had a talk to the Sgt with a watch he was counting how many sec and minutes during each shell at that bridge. Finally the Sgt said its fully 100 yards to the road under that bridge so when I say go you must run to get under and away. But take cover as soon as possible. I got up ready we heard the shell going, go yelled the Sgt I did before the explosion , all sorts flew up I got there under round and down the next there so I got going. I got 4 hours sleep, breakfast and got on my way 6 miles, after two I got a lift in a limber ........... unit. I had one mile to walk across an old battle ground jumping old trenches, dug out etc. I got there in time to get No.1 cards on back and front I didn't know anything "Who, What or Why". The Capt. (Red capped, he was on the staff) told us just 5 laps for a mile, the bell to ring for the last one. On QM. Sgt said hey Albert Sgt Gregson is running "right" Cpl A.G. Hill, he was then our English 4 mile champion, his unit. Aviation Corp "Observation" balloon section near to. He sorted me out and said, glad to meet you Sgt. ( it was then he told me who he was as if it mattered. Everybody was there not as who or what. "it was war", day and night Pte's Generals. One of a cog in a wheel helping out. I was Alf Gregson , it made no difference. I let you see what I mean. The officials handled us two putting 1.2 at the start by the line we had to run alongside it, 5 laps. He said how do you run your race, said from the gun. I don't know whether he thought I was sarcastic or not. I had an idea why I was thrown in him trained ready for a good trial. Sgt Gregson just left the line, 4 hours sleep, dodging shells, get to the sports and run. Him there with his balloon on the same ground "Off Bang" I went straight in the lead, 20 runners of us he just behind 1,2,3, 4 laps just the same he never tried to pass. At the bell las lap I was faster knowing it was shorter than a (4 lap mile 440 each) 5 laps 350 yards each or 90 yards shorter. Well I knew I could knock the stuffing out of anyone. A quick pace all the mile. It was a sprint finish I wasn't good he tried to pass 100 yards to go I held him off faster and fast as I could go. Tired I was he came past rolling 5 yards he won then down on the field sat up head and shoulders forward down between his knees. I picked up by coat and got a big surprise. Will the 2nd 3rd and 4th of that mile come over at once for their prizes. I got 58 or 140 francs. The Red Cap informed me Col. Hill wasn't in our division, not eligible for the prize. He is training for the English Mile Championship. I was thrilled with my luck. I felt I was there for people to command, do this , do that. At notice that suits them. That race was got up for Hill (it was a sports meeting) only one race mostly officers running, all officers officiating. When I was going across the field I walked into a Warrington officer he had been transferred to a labour corp. He was L.T. Rhuben Bennett. I think a Wesleyan General Insurance Official I do know he was a club collector 1913. I did a bit with him he had been a good 120 to 220 yards and sometimes a 440 yards runner he was like myself a Warrington A.C. member. He said he had heard a race was to be run and he was going to see it. I told him all about it from the time I left the line until I met him, he said it was the ground he wanted from Monday 4 days time he wanted to run a sports only for his Company 120 all told (it was nice to have a chat if on a balloon field, not near a cafe or .............. I had 6 miles to go so we parted we didn't meet again in France. The Labour Corps seemed always repairing roads leading to the front. They had to duck and dodge not fight with the enemy broke threw they would pick and spade charge (my joke). When I gave Col. Torrens the account of the race he was surprised he had a message it read, obliged if you would let Sgt Gregson run in our mile race. When I told him all he said never mind Sgt you got two days less in the line, yes and missed 12 hours sleep, dodged shells (I told him the artillery Sgt etc). He only smiled at it all. As I got to the tent flap it was a tent camp we got into, he said you have told me what that 1st Prize was 120 francs sir, good any betting? No sir . Only one race meeting A.C. Hills sir. We had a spell or two in out of the green line in and around Arras. One afternoon warm and sunny all down to it. I asked if anyone fancied a swim. 10 Ptes a L/Col and myself we got our towels only, went over our camping ground to the river Scarp round a bend it flowed clean only about 25 to 30 yards on that bend the bushes and trees on the opposite bank thick . A field on ours we swam across played about for an hour ran wild to help to dry ourselves. Rubbed ourselves walked back for tea and into trouble. The orderly (who do you think Sgt Jack Heithan. ) Greg you and your "Channel" swimmers are for orders. When your B. Company gets back the Chinks have killed a Yank. Revolt 6 pm I had to see the Captain. Leaving camp without orders punishment at once collect your swimmers and rating for 3 days and guard those Chinese. Now believe me when that Motor stopped at their guard room their officer shook me by the hand "Verly Wecom" Sgt. Everything emptied carried in to a scrubbed hut with chairs, tables all made in camp by the Chinese, bunks with bed tick on our ................ put up on hooks. We got a cup of tea straight away. We didn't see where our bacon, cheese, meat, beans, bread bully tins of tomatoes, tea, sugar tin milk etc if any they took all out of the transport. That Lt. could "Spleeck English" good. They had their own guard as well as ours. They said we had to shoot the Yanks if they come again for a fight. Our boots polished , not buttons, not in wartime. They laid the tables with toast, bacon, tomatoes and bread. Tea milk plenty and good. We seemed to get a better ration than we did with the Battalion. We had the best 3 weeks of the war, no trouble, plenty of waiting on dominoes. Draughts, cards. They were sorry when we go "nice boys we were", not like those bullies the Yanks. They kick us out of the road when that day they march past. On e Yank knocked a Chinese out with a blow then kicked him, one of my men hit him with a spade. "he die now court martial" for my man. I had bought from that B.E.F. canteen the Sgt gave me 5% on what I bought for that party of Chinks who had looked after us, Cigs, biscuits and cake. They liked that. Our Captain said that will teach you a lesson Sgt (yes Sir) (I wished it could have been a longer punishment) Don't you think we got punished. We went out of shape eating rice puddings, not in rations tea between meals late at night. Our Battalion moved up for a spell in 8 days the Germans made a raid but it failed. B Company had dug a trench straight out towards the Germans and were in when Jerry came over. He got caught from his flank and front, they got confused, retreated with losses. When we went out of the line it was to the same camp by the river. Whilst buying in I spotted a 29th Division transport. I asked where was their camp, St Catherines north of Arras. I got back and asked permission to go over to see if I could find my platoon Lt. (Rochdale) to cut it short they got ordered to march when I got near I followed and looking at every officer until I reached the one I wanted to talk about New Knowles and Paddy. He recognised me, he had to shout, see me when we come out. He didn't, when I went they told me a shell exploded in the road and killed the Lt and the Sgt leading up with him so I don't know now what happened. He got away from Gallipoli to be in France. The weather was grand August 1917. We were out5 for changes, rest and pay. The Manchester's were to hold a sports day with a special mile not just for their Battalion. All in the 17th Division who could possibly get to the village (we could, 3 miles away) . I was on good form after the Artillery mile we had camped as you know (when I got punished for swimming) on the field by the Scarp. Good level grass land so I took advantage to do some training. Be Prepared (Baden Powell) saying (B.P.) a Boer War Officer. I had a few days easy 3 or 4 running, walking, baths, plenty of water and helpers with rubbing down etc. It struck me funny that bets were taking place between officers and the "Happies" Manchester's nick name "Happy Dan's" (Sgt Jack Heithan through C.S.M. Moody D Company (Moody from Halebank, Widnes). Got to know the Manchester's had been reinforced and a Cpl Thomas was 1 good miler never been beaten since 1914 with different "Mancs Units" home and abroad. It goes to say Heithan, C.S.M. Moody, C.S.M. Toms went over on Sunday. Got in their Sgt Mess and took bets at two to one. I thought he must be a good runner or he hasn't run against any (A.G. Hills) our time was 4.12 seconds but I didn't take it seriously timing with any sort of watch with no second hand and not to particular measurements. It wouldn't be longer than a mile, could be shorter. 4.12 seconds. I gave Jack Hague 70 francs to put on the tote, 50 for myself 20 for Jack. Sgt Heithan running his Crown and Anchor Housey Housey called those days take bets if any one fancied Thomas. Major Forwood told me just as I got to the tent we got stripped in. He got 100 at 271 with a Kent C.O. They have a Capt who would win. So Kents, Mans the Engineers Sgt was backed. The totolisation should pay odds out on someone. It was funny when I got inside I asked the Captain, A Manchester, well he had Mancs badges for my two cards with my running number of each Sgt are you superstitious, your number is 13. No Sir I have won with 13 on it was for a Gold chain. He said I'll only be a minute. I watched him go into the next tent tote place a bet and come trotting back. He just winked I didn't nosey , it could be me it could be Cpl Thomas (Mans) . Our faithful 50 or more not including the L.F.'s H.Q. and Officers from A.B.C.D. Companies, Whitworth R.Q.M. C Newman, R.S.M. C.S.M. Toms all in happy mood. The Manchester's Sgt Mess with whistles. Worthington Pal Ale on sale during the Meeting 11 am until 4 pm. I looked up the runners on a sheet pinned on the tent pole two of them both alike. Thomas's number was 18 so I was out to look for that card. He was very strong if his build was anything to go by, dark hair and look of tan, fresh air and sun. Red and White Rugby stripe vest not down stripes but hoops. I had him in view, 4 laps to run, 3 laps then the bell , he sprinted. At the start 19 runners ( my diary tells me numbers, times, dates etc.) it could be remembered, otherwise I remember 13 once at Widnes Sports. I couldn't let him go too far without doing something so I got into a speed I knew I could stick it out like I ran my last race start to finish. I lost by 5 yards. He was an English Champion , so I could try again, I gain some back we had finished 1 lap a fast run race he was either very good or he was chancing me packing up, running us all off our legs to catch him. 2 laps gone (my book says) 20 yards behind Thomas and half a mile to go. At the bell 75 yards, the last 4.40 yards and I was going as I started fast but not sprinting to catch. He was tiring his backers cheering yelling and shouting him to keep at it 10 yards and two more bends with a 70 yard straight finish 5 yards now I sprinted all I could all out I won by 10 yards. Our crowd ran in and got hold of me. To get me up C.S.M. Toms with his strong voice told them not to do so you might hurt him, let him get his wind back, go and get your winnings . Our H.Q. "C.O. Doggy" Wade waving Col Torrens, Major Forwood, the lot in good heart, 168 francs was handed to me by the Commanding Officer 10th Manchester's he said Sgt you ran a good well judged race, it looked at one time too much for "even you" if I may say so. I with pleasure present you with your 1st Prize (a packet) with one hundred, one fifty and 10 franc notes and 8 francs in 3 notes. The tote paid 3 to 1 so the Manc's , Kent's, Artillery Engineers' and some others for the sake of trying to get big odds if their runner won. For those who do not know how the tote works I will just say all monies taken is totalled counted say 1,000 (...........) some ex pence is taken so much per cent. The winners counted so many say 50 they work it out so much to a shilling (francs in this case) (to one franc). So for every franc you put on you got 3 and your franc back. All others lose their money so I got 150 francs winnings. Jack Hague 60 winnings he wouldn't have his stake so no "Sorry" it wasn't mine he said no. Then is given us a miss. I got in that tent when I could get free. The Manchester's Canteen Sgt who I knew well said our R,S.M. would like to see you before you go. I with Sgt Jack went in the mess ................... I was congratulated by all from the R.S.M. R.Q.M. down to the Sgt. A grand race to watch, was the comment. They supplied me with salad sandwiches, beer, pale ale at their expense about 6 Lancs (Toms, Whitworth, C.Q.M. Harvey, Jack and myself. We stayed half an hour, left R.Q.M. Wait, C.S.M. Toms C.Q.M. Harvey they wanted us to stay I will put on transport tonight. I told Jack Heitman he could please himself. No he would walk back slowly now it was nice and warm. Although 6 pm some Cpl's and Pte's had waited for us to come out they had been in that cafe of "......" not in the Sgt's Mess side they could buy all sorts they had all won or they wouldn't have made that trip. Others got back after being paid out 3 miles would be done on the march in half an hour or a bit less so they would be back for their tea if they wanted it, if not they would go in the .................. in our village. I didn't do so bad did win 10 francs less 4 francs (in value). Happy (Dans) or was it (Lanc's) I hope you all understand it all. I write as I saw it acted, in putting it in words something like it was spoken by all . If you read our printed annual it says our Sgt won the mile race in good style the 7 mile batt Sgt won the batt 7 mile race rather easy from Pte Potter. I tried to get you going with me to feel as if you were just behind me wanting me to try and win. I hope I did do just that. Drummy was their when he saw 50 or more going. He fell in surprised Jack. I was pleased when I saw Jack with him. When I told him to put our bets on. Another day to be remembered our 10th L.F.'s were lucky to have sportsmen at the head. We got ordered to go in on the right of Cambria, rushes through Inchy, Beaumont half a mile beyond. Our canteen with Tom and Bill in the ruins of a house by the main street. I bought in because it was easy to supply our lads if they wanted cigs etc. I took a look round in the house just of the main road. I heard shouts, to small boys came trotting up to me .....They got hold of my hand pulled at me, I went down in a cellar, 3 women, mother and two daughters. Sickly one Isabelle wounded in the shoulder all had a touch of gas. I knew were our Doctor's dug out was, I ran to it. Told Sgt Harold Nolan, one of those kind of chap nothing was a trouble Salford man young very clean, fresh complexion. He straight got a Doctor's bag out put things in. The Doctor was shaving at the tap in the back he heard, shouted to mix a bottle for the sickness. He said where are they? I told him up this street at the top towards our Batt. Harold rushed on, the boys 4 and 6 waited. I told them I would bring the Doctor. They shouted "Ally doctor". He gave them a dose of something in a small measure then I held on with Isabelle, put her on a bed mattress we had brought down that cellar. He did all he could by the time Smith (Our Capt Doctor) MD. He was if you were half dead you would get medicine and duty "Carry On". He never had a queue like Capt Thomas had. When Smith had to go in himself "wounded" then came back. I told them I would call back an hour later "cheeky Charlie Little Hales"always called Cheeky, a good hearted chap and Bob his mate, cooks, Wiganers got some hot soup with bread our B Company cooking kitchen only 100 yards in the village. Tom and Bill need spearmint for those boys, chocolate biscuits for the ladies Georgette the youngest 12 Isabelle 15. She was asleep when I called with the "Goodies" she had soup then fell off to sleep. Harold promised for 3 pm so they would be all right now. The cooks Doctor canteen hands, one French family were fortunate to be looked after. The village looked deserted. An old women was down. The tea time call I gave she had something to eat. I got a tin of coffee it was the Red White Blue brand. I left a tin of carnation, got sugar from Charlie the cook. We had digging etc. to do for two days called consolidating our position. The weather was at it's best. Then our Battalion moved up, the Essex's took over our position so the "Wanerous" family would have their Doctor to take Harold and Dr. Smith's place. I left biscuits and pears, milk and chocolate so I couldn't do anything else and they could look after themselves and Isabelle. We took over the trenches on the right of Cambria which was getting it hot and on fire. We had to repel twice. German attacks we did with casualties . In a week's time we got out and in a camp "trenches" just short of Cavory. I bought in at our B.E.F.C. in Cavory nearest I have ever gone to buy 5 6 7 10 .......... always. About 7 pm our Cpl postman Cpl Holden I knew him as the post Cpl only. He had finished his collection ready for morning. He asked me to go with him to look round the town. I had been in buying in the morning not to go around. We go by a lane along side a row of houses, lets knock and ask for coffee Sgt. First door no answer 2nd 3rd no answer 4th a tall lady peeps out of a partly opened door, coffee madam "No no messieurs" par coffee. He insisted coffee her husband open wide "Entre Soldiers " Sgt he said I had spoken he took me to the cupboard on a scrap an inch square of fat, of a kind a piece of bread about the size of a half of a small Hovis brown loaf, only dark almost black "stale". I was sorry and disgusted with Holden still asking for coffee , come posty these people have nothing to sell or give . No they hide I'll wait Sgt. You will be on your own if you don't come. When I got outside I waited for him to come, when he didn't I went back to Tom and Bill. Bill put in a sandbag (new ones) always handy. A tin of pears, milk, Tom jotting down all biscuits, cigs, matches, candles, chocolate and red and white coffee and cake. Then I took it to Cheeky Charlie and Bob Martin B Company cooks told him all he said, I am more and more surprised you go out with that scrounger. First time and last. I ask him for some sugar, bread and some cheese if he could spare it. I then went over to Sgt Swash H.Q. Caterer and asked him to spare 2 bottles of pale ale 2 of stout and 6 bottles at his expense. He said it's time we treated you it's been you who treated our H.Q. and staff. We all did well with the Happy Dans (meaning the Manchester's Mile) When I got back they (the cooks) had attached the two sandbags together. I gave them two bottles each pale ale they didn't want any (I had to leave one each behind). Then I got back, Posty still there sat up to the fire stove talking or trying to speak French not successfully to their daughter Naomi I went with the bags with the mother to the cupboard put in what I had got. You know what I had got of Tom and Charlie. Gave about half a pound of bacon and half a pound of cheese, a loaf, sugar, tea, each in a linen bag . Two nice thin slices of beef (steak) a tin of dripping and salt. Then without anyone seeing I went back after asking the daughter to put some water on, I pulled from my pockets two pale ale Worthingtons and two stout Guinness. I opened two of currant biscuits, large ones. We had to use carnation milk, tea, they were a bit doubtful about tea, but liked it when tasted sweetened. They asked if they could share another. I said it was theirs all theirs, mother cried, the dad couldn't speak, Naomi was busy giving biscuits, they liked them believe me. They would have enjoyed bread and butter, nothing else. I gave Posty a cup of tea, told him the others were for people who had been on starvation diet for 3 and a half years, not like us. On the way home I told him it was time with him but it would be the last, all he said, "How was I to know". I didn't argue with him (How was Sgt Gregson to know). It didn't take 5 minutes to know that he was lazy. I call next morning early only 10 minutes from my due out. I was in time to cook (two breakfasts dad and mam.) The daughter was washing up helping etc. at the Y.M.C.A. for the troops. I cook bacon tomatoes (tinned) bread, I got it just right then two rounds of toast, butter, a jar of marmalade. Tom had put in coffee (it was all coffee in France). Dad said he liked tea but preferred coffee they thanked me (mother got busy with the dishes I could see no soap "sand dry in a tin box" plenty of water from the well, just attached to it, nice and cool. I tasted it. I got back to letter answering from Widnes, Warrington, Barrow, Birmingham etc. I also wrote to Mrs Needham our 1st Battalion L.F.'s my old platoon's L.T. who took me with him to shoot that Turk the first morning in a trench. She had sent me a parcel that was the 2nd. I wrote and told all those who sent (food, chocolate, cigs) not to do it, was all in a broken state and a shame. Boy we could get all fresh at cost and the boys all well in credit. Two, three weeks sometimes. No pay up in the line but they buy in before they go in, cigs, spearmint, biscuits in their packs etc. Then they put in for more pay if they told the Q.M. Sgt before hand it wasn't being unkind it was such a waste of good food. I could send if possible the same foods chocolate, cake cigs etc. Then they would see for themselves the state it would be in, well we just rested, just a matter of roll call, washing shaving, boots and buttons, badges on active service. It was handy for me that week 10 minutes and I was first at the B.E.F. Canteen. I called at the house to see if I could do something for them. They wanted to buy bully beef I got 6 tins from Sgt Jack, Jack Hague, myself, Tom and Bill . I scrounged 6 tins. We could replace them. We in the trench it was our own to eat. When told if we had it so long we had it changed. It was dumped by us before it did get old. We got fresh for our iron rations. If I was going to the B.E.F. I could buy them a tin or two. I got back quick as I could. It was back to the front next night so the boys "Tom and Bill" busy giving the boys their requirements. They said well dad did "Moi Payee Sgt" "Met Hai" (now). I said where do you get money "Naomi work now" I told him Comrade Donne gives and glad to do so. I called at 5 pm the next night we had to fall in at 6pm. Mam and dad kissed me on both cheeks she cried quietly just tears. Neomi at work Y.M.C.A. something like (Y. Egreck) AM(M) CE(C) HAA a (Y.M.C.A. ) I understood a lot without having to speak. I only write it by sound (like shorthand) how it sounds. Back this time 2 miles on the right front of Cambria. Still smoking and flames, a few shells going in, it rained all night, ground sheets on those on duty like I was, some battery of our dropping shells too near our trench 10 yards short 10 yards just in front. I rushed to our platoon L.T. Delmere told him those shells dropping too near our lines, something was wrong. 100 yds or more short if it was the German trench they wanted. He got our H.Q. to send some flares up as of S.O.S. lift your range, which they did something about it. Some artillery Captain came along our trench wanted to know exactly where the nearest shells let, I soon showed him, 5 lots 10 yards was the nearest 20 the farthest. I went out front and back it was dark. With the aid of flares we got down when we heard the cartridge was hit by the Sgt firing it off. Anyway we had no more near us after. A Company made a raid, 7 prisoners a Cpl and 6 Ptes, young ones just in the line. They had been rushed up from another front. Now it wasn't the amount of prisoners it was who, when and where from which front they were taken from. The weather got warmer but damp after a good spell of ....... Company advances we captured 30 Germans and 200 yards of ground without much opposition. One Sgt killed and 5 wounded from our 13 Company. Those Germans look in poor shape didn't show much heart for fighting some already with hands up "Camrade" our R.S.M. could speak German so he came in handy. Got to know a lot. He got to know why we hadn't much trouble taking them prisoners,. They had to hold on whilst the main troops got back to new positions. So we made another quick advance in the dusk with dirty faces looking like "Niggers". The guards took over and when they went over the top it was to meet stiff opposition. They got back to where they came from with losses . We in support got it early morning from German Planes, we got down to our old reserve trench near Inchy Beaumont. Isabelle was doing fine, walking about now. Two units had been to Inchy billeted since we left. So they had been looked after by Doctors. They were glad to see me we didn't stay long I went over to Chudry, the Germans had retreated a mile or so. It meant all troops moved up so we went. I looked in to give a few biscuits, cigs and chocs at both houses I had an idea it was for the last time. We started a big offensive from the Cambria area. Our troops seemed to advance taking prisoners when they trooped past our position "Supports". They looked a mixed lot, young, old, tired , grimy, some wounded . Had first aid, some helping to support each other to the concentration camps. We were moving up each day following the Kents, then they came out. The Manchester's going on. We took over after the Dans had a spell. We had the Germans giving ground along a big front. German planes dropping bombs not so accurate, kind of drop and get away. When we rushed on all we captured was about 6 Germans with a few bombs (we called them "Tatter Mashers" nothing like our Mills Bombs. The prisoners glad to be taken, left behind to bomb us and machine gun us all. They did in my sector when our platoon went over throwing bombs was down covering up for fear of being hit. Jumping down in the hurriedly made trench more like a dry ditch shouting Comrade they hadn't fired. We asked our R.S.M. got to know they had orders to hold our troops up for as long as possible. But they knew the main troops "Germans" had been withdrawn in motors rushed back to some trenches made for them to retire to "Good Ones". We were still going on slowly but surely. We got held up not on our (L.F.'s) front but away on the right flank, so the centre (us) had to wait for orders. The weather was kind to us and the going getting better we came across big guns that had been put out of action or hit by our bombs (planes) or a direct hit from our long range guns, not long before we reached them. Dead still there. We had time to bury them and put something sticking up to say when, who he was Reg. all taken from their pay book and letters and photo's etc. I can skip on some for a month we didn't need to go down or out, we inter changed with other troops so we got night sleeps. Just had sentries posted to waken us if wanted the Germans quite on the run now, prisoners came steady. We advance on into open country, until we got held up 24 hours. The Germans had managed to entrench and hold us up but a couple of days our extreme flanks had almost surrounded them so they got going back again. All this was round about September. It was every day going a few miles, just pockets of machine guns nests long range guns a few shots, then on back. We got nights of 7 or 8 hours sleep then on hills and farms was the Germans stronghold our guns spared buildings of all kinds now. The farm hands would meet us all 1 man going 6 hours 5 8 hours gone with pig, cow, horse for Captain to go. They had dug out wine etc. from somewhere hidden from the Germans. If our platoon about 56 then got to a farm or village we slept in schools or barns. On and on not much doing with us. Fresh unit in motor transport going on fast that told us we had him on the way to Berlin. It was long range firing gun a Big Bertha, Lizzy, Anne or Ruth chalked on them would be firing then pack up and on passing us again. We halted for dinner with our Battalion the old 10th L.F. once again all together, our transport with us in our rear. Cooking on the march. I am afraid my war recollections are coming to a close . It was November 4th 1918. We got to a farm called German Petticoat Farm, our B Company billet for the night. In the yard were 200 or more prisoners. Some Scottish Regiment was with them. They were to rest for the night. Two big barns with straw, was handy. It was a shell every half hour or it seemed like 30 minutes our R.S.M. Newman, I told you, in civilian life a London Police Sgt. With his knowledge of German he was in his element, when, where, why, and who. When the very last shell was heard in that "War" game I was with Charlie Newman he was telling me what the Jerries had told him. Glad to pack up (no real food, stealing it, tired, foot sore, going back on foot.) The Tommies rushing fast towards them. They threw all uniform away, rifles, bombs, turned and gave up. Glad to have finished with war. Well we were talking when the last shell hit the big gable end of the barn, down all ducked. I was unconscious, woke at 3 am, Sgt Harold Nolan with Doctor Smith saying a packet of biscuits Sgt. They had a farm yard oil lamp, lit the R.S.M. his arm in a sling, broken. My head nose and chin where all bandaged up. 5pm November 4th it was almost a "Birthday Gift." November 5th and I was 29 you would think so. "You look younger than that" they were saying. You can't beat time born as I stated in Widnes in 1889 had 11= 1900 + 19-18. 11 years and 18 years 29 and I favoured Father Christmas bandaged head, eyes, nose and chin, what more a bag of toys. One German had his head badly hit by a coping stone, down on his head. Sgt Jack Heitman heard Sgt Gregson and the R.S.M. had been hit. He had been round, D Company was a mile away where we were billeted in a large village, lucky D Company. They would have to search the houses etc. The village helped. They knew who would have "Germans." We carried on each morning following up just stopping for a rest, then dinner, rest, off again, then put up for the night. We didn't have or hear any shells. The night of the 10th of November we arrived at a nice size village "Beaufort" well up their church steeple had a shell hole made through it, in the front and out the back. I killed the two occupants a week before the 11th November when Jerry was firing long range shots, hit and run. We patrol the streets searched, the villagers told us the "Soldat" had "Re Garedy" looked and found 3 Germans wounded. Our Company B slept in a large barn. I was in the bay by the farm gate only 10 yards from the road. It was 4 am when shouting and a knock on the gate. Open up, someone I heard, got my pants and tunic and boots opened the gate bolted top and bottom. It's Sgt Gregson, yes Sir, it was our C.O. Col Torrends, good news I bring Sgt I heard this very morning the armistice will be signed, well "By Eck" I said you don't seemed pleased Gregson. He went to tell our Captain Pegram, I went up to the house door, A French farmer came, our Col spoke French, soon the Capt came he got orders to have his Company march down to the Church in clean walking out dress, no equipment but polished, shaved etc. As all units within our area were to attend. He told Pegram I wasn't pleased with it, why my Capt said when we had them ready for a knock out beat, he is getting away with it, come on Sgt close that gate after me he was on horseback when he got through. He looked at me closing the gate. Then said you have been a good fighter Gregson I suppose the 1st Battalion 29th Division taught you (No Sir "The owd tenth" "10th Battalion L.F.'s".) He galloped on, I suppose to tell the others he had been to the Division H.Q. all night and was telling our Battalion the news and orders. 10.30 am all on parade. On the church steps Padre's from all denominations . There's our Divisional C.O.E. he gave the service, singing hymns, sermon, more hymns 11 am (five minutes silence) (signing I suppose was taking place). Then marched back for early dinner and 12 hour leave till 12 pm in the villages. I had a day with Sgt Jack Heitman and Sgt Novan, we didn't drink much a couple of dashes was enough till tea 4.30 pm . If you wanted to go back for it, bread, butter, and jam, Cheeky Charlie gave us three (fried rounds of beef dripping fried in a roasting tin, just brown, knife, fork, plate, sauce supplied in his farm yard shelter, strong tea, farm milk. Jack Heitman had bought 6 eggs and in a mess tin lid fried them. Two each on our fried rounds it was the first tasty tea I had ever since we rested at "Boullons." We walked back to Beaufort had a look round then sorted out a fresh estaminer with music going on. A Cpl of D Company playing all sorts, just what came into his head, marches, waltzes, songs (George Formby's ) An Engineer Sgt sang to them we joined in, all the boys did. By that time they were merry. The French people elderly men not many, farmers they had been from 1914-1918 in German hands "La Care Finish" "War Finish Now" "Vive Angelere" "Francaise" Mademoiselle from Armentiers "Parlie Vos" etc. till it was time to get a good night's sleep (9 am breakfast) Bacon, Egg and Toast we got the (Sgt Mess R.S.M. Q.M.S. C.S.M Sgts) out of our messing account and extra we paid for when we could get it. Sgt Swash the H.Q. Catering looked after that. Tins of tomatoes, sausage, extra cheese, eggs, french bread, when it was possible. So now to know why I told my people and others to stop sending it awful to see good food etc wasted, when we could get it fresh, not always but by the time your spoilt goods reached us "we had dined". Now it was a case of going back, weeks of marching, transport needed for the troops who had to go into Germany dump off iron rations shells etc would have to be taken away cleaned up all sorts. Our Battalion on our way back filled a big gap in a main road so as transport could get on to it, save going miles out of their way. It took 12 hours. It looked like a small fishing pond but deep down it took 4 limbeds going back and to, 20 or 30 mts at a time. We filling them, others emptying them into the crater, a direct hit by a plane (English) I should imagine. It looked old earth round about it. I get to the camp we had a weeks complete rest nothing to do just on parade each 9 am morning roll call. Now it was shave, buttons etc "Spit and Polish" equipment washed. There had been a reinforce camp fresh soldiers from England report there first then sent to their units YMCA. We got Blanco for our equipment. Guard Duty as well. We march on and on December 5th got settled in a lovely village "Vercese". I had to find the B.E.F. Canteen about 8 miles it was to the centre of the 17th Division. Tom and Bill had put our stock two big old biscuit boxes with tins of all sorts of stuff that could keep well. We soon got going when Col Torrens told me to start. He said I want to spend our profits on a Christmas Dinner Gregson for the Battalion. So just get in what you think we will want to help out. He said it was to be Pork for our Brigade so he must have got to know from H.Q. Brigade I told him the B.E.F. allowed 12 dozen each unit when they bought in he said stock it up for a bottle each, Xmas Dinner, 800 bottles would do a lot of T.T. and dash men I was one we got 144 that 6th December so by the time Xmas was at hand we had enough. It was always Worthingtons Pale Ale. Twice as strong as French Ale. Our canteen was at the village end as we had marched in B Company Quarters, school rooms and clean ones with toilets etc. The canteen had got lent by the farm house lady with a small boy, Emile 6, Marie 10 Sophia 14 and an elderly farm hand, a happy company helped us to clear farm things out of the out house and cleaned up. Tom and Bill made it comfortable to live there. Sold out of the window all stocks in doors. The boys came and got what they wanted . Tom said Sgt you will be going every two days. Why I said the boys are (Overspending) buying butter, tins, double biscuits, Cake to be cut in larger sizes, Cigs, Cigars, Candles, Matches, Spearmint going very fast. They were buying it for the village. I told the Col when I called next day for more money he smiled "as usual" well it will keep you off parade and all the better for our Xmas Party he told me to keep quite about the extra's. If we move it might make a difference it would be down to the base next. Christmas came (B. Company, Officers, C.S. M, Q.A.S. Sgts, Cpls, looking after the platoons, French Women, 12 cooked, dished it up the N.C.O.'s put it out for the troops, Pork, Sprouts, French Beans, Apple Sauce, Bottles of H.P. Sauce and Tomato Sauce. The Pale Ale Bottle, we could not supply glasses so they drank it from the bottle some from cups belonging to the school, not many, Christmas Pudding set of fire with rum, also in sauce, cigs, and tobacco were on the tables. Chocolate given to those not wanting beer. Each Company looked after itself, Church Hall A Company in an ............ D Company in the next village 2 miles away school hall. We had all day to enjoy it so our B dance old time, about 24 french women and some daughters (Our farm house mother with Sophia and Maria). The young ones dance with some of our young tommies. They sang and danced liked they did at my school, and played games. Tea was salad fresh from the farm with more pork and apple sauce, salad cream, bread and butter, strawberry jam, Xmas cake's. I knew because I had to get what I could for the troops, chocolate, spearmint for all who wanted it, they all took it, cigs after tea. 7pm we were just starting with our piano player playing our Regimental March "The British Grenadiers" Our H.Q. Staff came in he asked the boys if they were enjoying themselves. He said it was four years since the Battalion had Xmas Day out of the trenches, he spoke of achievements, our old Col Wade now Brigadier Wade. He sent his wishes hoping all have a good Xmas and he would be with his old Battalion the 10th in his thoughts. Before they went Col Torrens, Major Tharkier Forwood, Capt Smith "Doc" Capt Milne (A.D.J.) and Capt Fryer Intelligence Officer. I must mention you Sgt Gregson we have a reason to thank him, not only for thrilling us on a few occasions and winning our bets he has worked hard since taking over our canteen, losing nights rest and away early scouring the area to get you everything you asked for even tripe and vinegar. Above all we sold at cost thanks to him (he wouldn't be happy selling for profit like other canteens. So your old C.O. "Doggy" told him to have a free hand. The results, today's celebrations. (some of this has come from my diary, the wording is something like it was said). Now Jack Hague and Drummy had a good time the young boys and French girls giving him tit bits, Jack dancing with the ladies he was a favourite, he was awkward but willing they roared at his "French" Tray Bon, Wee Wee (about his limit). But language did not count. We sang, danced and played games. It began to thin out. The bear "Walers" went out to the estaminers. I helped to wash up and pack up the borrowed articles mostly from the French. It was as good as over when the musicians went out. 10.30 it was over. I thanked the helpers. Our Officers only came at dinner and tea times to see if all was going to plan. I went home with our farm house family. Drummy with Jack he had a chain with a collar, so Drummy came along they put him in a kennel and fastened him in. Tom and Bill where in the farm house "Van Blanc Van Rouge" the farm hands going out for whatever they wanted, the girls retired after hot milk and kissing all when we went to our billets. Jack stopped with Tom and Bill they opened a tin of "Yes you have guessed" tripe with salt pepper vinegar, bread and butter. He had some, 1 am we all got down to it. After a good Christmas Day 1918. New Year was only one more day off. I was at the B.E.F. canteen, buying in and the canteen Sgt was doing his best to sell half a pig. He couldn't like our lads "Grunting" we looked liked it twice on the same day "Filed up" the French seen it off. I told him I wouldn't know what to do with just half it wouldn't be dip butties for a Battalion, no Sgt you could "Sell it to the French" that's more than I dare do "Lancs". He said if I had flogged anything to them I would have been like you, up back in the front line, like when I was with the Manchesters. Well I got my stuff and driver Bob Bateman, the driver who took me back after the mules took off back to their stable. Helped to pack the limber. The storeman with the Sgt came out with that half a pig cut right down from head to the tail, pull your sheet up Lancs. Take it off I don't know what to do with it (Neither do I but away with it) something like that. I do know what Bob the driver said on the way back, "Sgt doesn't know what to do with it." Colne youth like (Danny Hudson killed Gallipoli) get it cut by D. Company on our way first give their cooks it to cut a share. When we enter drop your canteen stuff then carry on to the others B and C and at our Transport Camp. We did that the cooks thought it was smashing C.S.M. Moody, C.Q.M. Sgt Heitman cooks one or two more cut it in five parts after the Companies Cheeky Charlie was ticked . Half a pig (what happened to tuther half), run away we have a New Year dinner tomorrow Happy New (Pig Sgt) I'm not joking, him and Bob Martin, his Wigan chum and cook were real comics, full of wit. When I got to our canteen I said to Tom I have some pork I was thinking of giving a party night if I got Madam to cook half of the piece of pork . Bill said hold on he shouted , the handy man asked him he said (Tray Bon) so I went up and in the house I asked Madam. She was delighted to help me. So on paper she wrote Vev Sprouts or Cabbage, Cauliflower, Roast Potatoes or boiled and mashed, Sauce. Well it was settled. (She cut enough for 9, 5 from the farm Tom, Bill, and Sgt Gregson. Now I was in the dark. The children played with me (guessing) (who the 5th would be) I said all sorts. Have I spoken to him, No, have I seen him, No. Has he seen us, No not yet. (Beentoe) or something like that "I comprehend alright soon one envied it Papa come home. 4am this morning "Demobbed" "Infantry". We would have a very good meal to celebrate. The remainer, I asked Sgt Swash to do what he liked he wanted to pay me, I said no. Swash you and the mess boys have an extra for dinner "8 of them" 6 bateman, cook and the Sgt it was a good joke a real one. We had to be go in 6.30, 7 pm dinner. Bill did all he could took in biscuits, cake,cigs, cigars, matches, chocolate, spearmint, fruit and carnation, three nuns tobacco. The handy man told Tom his boss would take some cigs with it, he liked strong ones. Sgt Swash gave me a dozen pale ales. The girls got lemonade from the cafe. Well at 6.30 we got introduced to Papa. He wasn't what I expected. About my size and build as I was then and a bit more hair, a bit less "Panneh" he was a happy kind man. A good family man the 3 children climbing up on his knee, the boy up the chair back his arms round his Dad (He hadn't known much just 6 years old "four years" away perhaps a leave or two August 1916 till New Years Day January 1st 1919. So he made a fuss of his Dad he I am sure they had always told him about him,(We got polished up shaved etc for this dinner. Madam placed us I want to help carry the hot plates from off the stove No No the "Ladies" said Mama Dad Sgt Tom Bill on one side then it was the boy next to Dad the two girls and the handyman. We started with a French grace for food, sign of the cross (Bless us oh Lord these they gifts which we are going to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord Amen)(I know it off by heart now). It is the same today as it was in 1919. We tidied up and had biscuits coffee (hand ground). We talked best we could to the girls knew a lot of soldier talk English "Good Morning" "Ow Do" "Very Good" etc. eggs, cigs. We sang some of our comics. Tom liked hymns he had a fairly good tenor. Bill and myself helped out the farmer, some French marching songs good he was. 12 bottles with glasses out on the table. Bill jumped up started with another little drink wouldn't do us any harm. Tom and myself followed him round the table then handed a bottle to them. Madam said no I don't want one so four got opened, Dad and Marcel (handyman) said "strong, good" about 3 times stronger than their beer. I open a bottle and got Sophia to bring a jug and two bottles of lemonade, I mix a pale ale with them and pour out a drop in 3 glasses, ask Madam to try, Dad tasted then encouraged his wife to try, she sipped at it then tray the son, nice cold. I said "Piccanines Wee" Sgt she said they wanted more and Madam, Dad wanted to know the name. I said England had two or three names North, Centre, South East and West (two I knew were shandy and "A wash") of beer and pop lemonade mixed , he understood. When Bill jumped next time they all got up and start going round, Another little drink Bill started them off "Drink" Marcel shouted it was fun but it finished the other 6 bottles. I asked Marcel to bring some from the Estaminor No Dad said it No Bon Not good English. We broke up about 10 pm after a Christmas and New Year better than we had ever dreamed of. I settle with Madam next day but it was Papa's celebration and she said it was Gods doing, it had to be just on Dad's home coming (even the Cushsion (Big) given for us. (Sgt We Jamie forget never) January 1st 1919 never. Every year (Sgt Gregson L.F.'s Party) yes I often look back on other occasions. It was parade now all spit and polish. It was January second week Saturday mid day, a runner from H.Q. with orders to turn out for a cross country run from the village pond 3 pm. I thought it was silly to run in such weather, freezing hard, cross country in our boots. I got there and was told by C Company's Captain it will be 7miles . I asked where were the others, only C Company he said, he started just as if it was a race, ready, steady, go 12, 13 with me 3 C Company Officers and 9 others. We had gone about half way I said to one of the boys, you have been out before, Yes Sgt, 6 times with this. I could tell, flags on 3ft poles, fixtures. I said come on lets catch up with your Officers. I can't go any faster, we are running faster today I caught L.T. (no name) he said Sgt I am going back I am feeling sick. I told him to take a cut across towards the church. A short cut. Then when I reached Lt Knight he said I was wondering where you had got to. I told him. LT. no name had cut in sickly . Yes, I am not surprised, its hospital for him. Can you catch L.T. Chalmers, I don't know he is well ahead, I tried. Got 20 yards behind by our canteen where I got to the gate he shouted can't you stick it out. I got back sprinted that last 100 yards 10,11,12,13 Capt Gale who started us was shouting it had been a trial. I was used as a trial horse. At night Col Torrens H.Q. I was asked to go Sgt Swash told me to sit down they are at C. Company Mess, so I had dinner first. When they had finished theirs Col Torrens told Sgt Swash he wanted me so I went in. Now Sgt what happened this afternoon, you ordered me to run sir against my better judgement. I said it wasn't fit to race in. We could have easily have got hurt, twisted ankle even broken a limb. I suppose you are right Sgt we have been to C. Company H.Q. Mess. L.T. Chalmers said he had you beaten you would have packed in if you hadn't have shouted to you to stick it is that right? Yes Sir, he must be good don't you think, yes sir (we answered each other for some time agreeing with everything he said. I remember saying will someone tell me ( or words to that effect) 1st why I was told to turn out 2nd why only C Company 3rd only me out of our other companies even Pte Sammy Potter C. Company the once 10th Battalion 7 mile Cross Country Champion, he didn't turn out with his C. Company. Why? It was Capt Milne our adjutant he said L.T. Chambers is our Battalion Sports Office Sgt. He was before Christmas at a 17th divisional sports meeting and got to know that the 17th division would hold a 7 mile cross country championship soon after the New Year. So he thought we should be prepared for it. I said it would have been better to have had it put in our daily orders. He couldn't do that we hadn't been told a race was to taking place. That's alright Sir do you know C. Company have been out with today's run, six times, just C. Company why our Battalion should have some other lads interested. (we talk on) until C.O. Tottens said (L.T. Chalmers is confident he will beat the Sgt). Well I am not concerned in what he thinks Sir it is you saying he is confident he will beat me in what sir that 17th Division Race (can I speak my mind Sir?) Major Forwood said let him Col. By all means go on Gregson. I had to have coffee when Swash brought it in "to me Sir that run will take place soon" what makes you say so (C. Company is being trained for it) with a stray throw in From B Company Six cross country runs round a course which is marked out with flags permanently placed around. I should like to know why Pte Sam Potter is not ordered to run like it was against the grain Sir. Just one more remark Sir something like this would you like to make a match between L.T. Chalmers 7 miles next Saturday round the same course Battalion run if you like but the winner of me and the L.T. takes the (Bet). I left them after I said Captain Milne when you do get official word of the date I would like to know as soon as possible because I want to enter as an individual , C. Company intends to run in it as a team. For the team race I want to beat him, L.T. Chalmers. I am in my spare time going to get fit. No one has helped me up to now but if anyone wants to accompany me I would be surprised and if anyone fancies the Lieutenant let me have their bets. I left them six of them in laughter (perhaps they had been pulling my leg to hear what I had to say) (it was that remark can't you stick it). He had nothing to say at the start. He could have said I want to run a trial . Sgt would you mind helping us out or something like that (it was a trial) because Capt Gale (started us was counting seconds when the Lt. then me (I didn't know the minutes I do know 13 seconds when I passed (unlucky 13). He was counting well I did get down to it. Going for walks and runs , when buying in. I would trot behind the cart or Limber. Run then walk with the mules. I was getting some good exercise three times in 7 days round that course, no one volunteered to come along. The A.J.D. sent word the race was to take place (February 13th unlucky) that is why I can write with a certain amount of correctness. But the main object is to give you an account of my recollections. What took place under army conditions etc. and commands. Two more weeks I was helped by Marcel the farm handyman he had warm water ready for a wash down and a shower from a watering can, hard towel rub after. He was excited couldn't do enough . The two young daughters look after my running clothes "washed and ironed". My rig out was the Warrington Athletic Club colours red with the "Warr" coat of arms on a sown on badge. A white star (the coat of arms in the centre) our pants white with an inch wide black tape sown on each side the length of the legs 12 to 16 inches long. A very nice turn out. I look well looked after . Each time I ran out the youth of the village ran as best they could. I had to go 300 yards down the main road past the pond to reach the field we had to get into the start I say we I meant myself C Company stood aloft. (what tickled me was when Fryer called to see me he told me that it had been arranged I ran as a C. Company Sgt. with C. Company no other Company had entered all teams had to train 12 all ranks 10 as a team 2 in reserve (entered named and received numbers to be stitched on back and front of your vest (I'll explain it now) every runner will sport his numbers on the vest when in the race officials jot down your number as the runners pass a two mile post 3,4,5,6 miles other officials will do the same (so if a runner was to cut in some where got back with the runners who had been all round the course they would be accounted for when a check was made. For instance the one who came in first wouldn't receive his prize until all had checked him in past the post and at the finish all runners stood still in the position they finished 1st 2nd 3rd 4th and so on. Officials taking your name rank unit number on your vest and position you finished in the race. In the army like we did at Barrow. All your ten runners in your team must finish the 7 miles because the 1st prize money will be given to the team with the lowest aggregate (for 10 finishers) 9.8.7. won't do, all must stick it out. I hope you understand all that lot. Now, that village was agog with excitement it had got out that a Lieut and a Sgt was racing. They knew something was to take place because C. Company had been training for 6 weeks. Our handyman Marcel knew what where and when. Tom and Bill told him to back Sgt Gregson to beat C. Company L.T. Chalmers with and of the C. Company's backer. Soldiers or French Civilians. Our old French, Civilians , our old Barrow the "Jacks" C.S.M. Moody D Company paid extra out. Bets being placed. The Sgt Mess or C Company in a cafe each night. Sgt Heitman with his crown and anchor housey, cards taking bets evens (Sgt Gregson to beat Chalmers was Jacks bet not to win the race to beat the Lt now it turned out the Thursday evening just after tea I strolled round to the hairdressers when Dick (Pte Richard Poole) the Catholic Priest's batman he was as well. I saw a pair of boots under his two seater stool so when he had finished I went and picked them up (Officer's Sgt) yes I see that if you want them and they fit they are yours. I got them off an Aussie Officer he had a shave, hair cut and he asked could I give them away or use them I tried them on fit like a glove. How much? nothing Sgt . I said look I am going to run on Saturday in them they are a bit lighter than our boots. All Officers were in our Battalion at any rate hob nails in and heel tips. I tried on our farmers fields I was pleased (don't think I was taking advantage of the others in the race). It was the 17th Divisional Race called a Championship everyone to be in boots with a vest and pants to represent his unit. So all Officers would be in his light boots, scores of them so I wasn't going to run against our C. Company L.T. at a disadvantage, why should I? We were out to beat each other. I got Marcel to black lead the bottoms of those boots, the shank mostly, so as if it was wet sticky it wouldn't stick for long. I wasn't taking any chances. Saturday morning 4 motors at the disposal of the Battalion to take all who wanted to go to Chaulette, 10 miles away. Our canteen, Tom and Bill went with our farmer and his wife and family and my Marcel , all dressed up, first time since 1914. First day excursion. In the farm long cart, two horses . We had to be at Company Sgt's Mess and cafe. I saw them going by. Red and white paper streamers, rosettes (linen ones). I told Tom to put 10 francs on for Mr & Mrs Marcel with the totetaliasion. Don't bet with anyone. Tote meant the people who put their bets on the one who wins they paid on when money or number has backed the winner (suppose 2,000 francs) 60 put their bets any numbers of Francs 1,5,10,20,50, 100 and so on. The officials take out first their share say 200 francs leaving 1,800 the bets will be counted to a franc say at 3 to 1 to a franc so if you put 10 francs on, you receive for your ticket which you save to hand in 10 francs three for each 1 30 and your 10 francs as well back which is plainly taking 10 francs on at 3 to 1 means you are entitled to 30 francs winnings with your stake money 10 francs back = 40 francs. Our C. Company Sgt was so sure of their L.T. beating me. They were getting their dinner ready at one o clock. Tables two large ones with white linen, glasses etc. for 7 pm. C.S.M. Silcock when I got to their cafe (mess) invited me to their celebration , I said I would. Our motors filling up when I got outside, for 14 runners. Got filled with youngest their parents seeing them climbing up and in. I was their favourite by the red and white rosettes and their pattering, I couldn't tell what they were saying, too quick. We arrived safely one hour before the start. I went with Tom and Bill and watched the bets being placed. Quite a queue plenty of white colours C. Company L.F. soldiers. I spent sometime with Sgt Swash Sgt. Jack Heitman , Sgt Nolan (Harold) Jack Hague (No Drummy) the barber just to pass the time on. Our H.Q. were in the tote tent when I went to our motor to get stripped off. On the programme our C. Company L.F. where drawn 2nd team a good draw it meant No.1 team engineers No.2 10th Battalion L.F. C. Company so No.1 to 12 (No.13 to 24) our numbers 10 or each team to run. No. 11 and 12 (Reserved) our reserves 23 and 24 we ran our team No's 13 to 22 our L.T. No. was 13 he was letter C, C for Chalmers (Gregson No. was 16) a card pinned on our vest back and front with big safety pins. We got told to run straight down the long field passing flags keeping them always on our left, round the haystack to the left. The 17th Divisional General with a pistol ready just to our right (on horse back). When we were all reported present he fired and off we went. I shot off not being left in the ruck. 400 yards down to the stack I took the lead just by turning left when I was obstructed an Alsatian big dog leapt across at my back, legs over I was knocked just a scratch on my calf. I picked myself up just as the General (cracking his whip) shouting "heel heel are you alright" "Who are you Sgt Gregson L.F.'s Sir "right". I went on and saw 20 or more on, not grouped 50 yards or more in single line so I hadn't much trouble in passing it. Meant going faster to get up which I did a (Capt. Of the Engineers No 9) was leading No 13 Chalmers (No 16 third) . We got to the two signallers waving their flags it was the entrance into a big wood, a path about 2 yards wide they shouted take a ticket getting out of the path in the centre we had to get over a large uprooted tree I had taken the lead. I jumped on to the trunk looked back 20 yards behind was the Captain and our "Chalmers" neck and neck. We got out of the woods the Sgt's gave me a card with 1st past on it. I suppose when we handed them in at the finish 800 yards up. By that hay stack to the roped off finish it was like a "Vee" shape something like that it went into a yard wide lane and we had to stop in our positions until our ticket no. name ranks units were taken 1st No. 16 Sgt. G.A. Gregson, C Company, 10th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers and so on. The next thing was to put down (the position or number each unit had finished in. I never enquired into (our 10th L.F.'s) numbers. C Company did not interest me then (I knew our lads stood a chance) if all had finished the course all ten of us. We had 1st and 2nd (Lt. Chalmers) and together was a possible 3 points only. All positions added so our 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 lads must have finished and ran well up. I received two medals the winners and a 1st team medal. Now you could imagine those lads of our old 4th L.F.'s Barrow the two Jacks (C.S.M. Moody D Company) Hale Bank (Widnes). The French kissing me and each other our two girls Sophia and Maria and the young boys clinging to me excited, shouting to everybody. They knew the best surprise was 3 to 1 Sgt Gregson paid out at a franc stake. Tom handed 40 francs each to our farm owners. Marcel put his own on he was all smiles, I didn't ask him how he fared. I was on 100 Sgt Jack did it for me 300 francs plus 200 prize 1st plus 30 francs each team prize. (I gave it to our two who couldn't take part, No.11 and 12 reserves. It made them happy, 15 francs each about 10/2. Well it was all excitement Captain Fryer had put his great coat on me it was cold after sweating. The Engineer Captain came to me, well run (shaking my hand) Well Run Captain. I am Sgt Gregson Sir I don't care what you are you run splendid the farther we went the more you left us, 200 yards or more after "that dog incident" My name is Captain Greison, Engineers we have almost the same name but not the same speed. I looked up Captain Fryer in the brigade H.Q. Captain Milne was going in the hotel. I got him to tell Captain Fryer to come out I wanted him so I got rid of that coat and got to our motor the others had gone before we had got dressed so we got off later. The village was all in good humour. I couldn't get down before they smothered me, old and young. C.S.M. Silcock rescued me, almost dragging me in to their mess. I got out the back way to go down the village to my billet with Tom and Bill. It was just the same the kiddies chanting and singing, marching and holding hands. Went to our H.Q. with a brigadier 3 cars of them hooting wanting to pass. I got them to brake lose our C.O. and all waved as they got clear. I finally got cleaned up with the help of all (French and Bill). Buttons, Badge, Boots (my own this time) shaved etc. (Marcel had a shower ready when I entered the farm so that was a good start.) I felt a kind of guilt, when I went into C. Company's Mess. They all lost Officers and N.C.O.S. mess who had plunged for him who asked me Can't you stick it Sgt. He never even spoke to me at the finish. He was next to me waiting (it was the engineer Captain who was very interested we had a good dinner with free drinks with it. After it was buying at the Estanimer C. Company mess. I was sent for at 8pm H.G. Mess so that's where you finished up about 30 minutes. I was congratulated when the Brigadier spoke he said we have Regt. Sgt I said yes sir "Contalmaison". How did you leave "Pte Brindle" looking first in his note book. The Doctor told me he would be in Blighty that time the next day. He got to a northern hospital said I would slightly alter his speech so he was really lucky. Well it was over with another day worth remembering. It would take too long to write all what took place fights with two lots bets etc, it was just another day. 500 francs about £17 not a bad day's pay and good entertainment. Soon after our Battalion started demobing, twenty thirty, weekly. Jack Haig one of the first, Drummy wouldn't go. Jack Heitman gone. I got pally with Sgt Bert Langdon, Blackpool he was in our Battalion orderly room. Time went on had to pack up the canteen. January gone two weeks of February I asked Bert when was he going to get my papers. Greg he said the "Adjo" told me we would be the last. Not married not even engaged. They new something our Captain Milne did a lot of censoring of letters. I remember him coming along the front trench, spotted me. Gregson would you give this letter back to your Sgt pal Heitman I don't know how you got matey with that kind of man. Tell him he ought to be ashamed of himself. When I gave it to Jack all he said, the next one I write he won't get chance to read. So Capt Milne "ADJ" knew I never wrote to my wife because I wasn't married, not even courting. Sgt Bert a day or two after said I am going to sign on for 12 months more. So I did and our Adjutant did the signing on part for us February the 18th 1919 signed on again not had enough. Now this is what happened. Me and Bert got 14 days leave, when 5 days at home a telegram came return at once to the 55 Division H.Q. Brussels to run for the Army, from Capt. Milne. Well as a true soldier I got straight back and I found 11 Officers N.C.O. PTS there and had been for 8 days. We trained daily running and PT. On the next Sunday morning we ran a 10 mile cross country race against the Belgian Army. I finished 3rd "Capt Bells" Sgt Wally Garside 2nd, Sgt. Gregson 3rd. 150 yards behind not bad 10 miles without training. This time it was the honour of representing the English Army. I stayed two weeks all told. That afternoon after our race we all had free admission to the soccer game Belg v Eng Match, our lads won 4 - 0. I remember one very well he was a first class cricketer as well as a footballer J.W.H.T. Douglas (we knew him as Johnny will hit today) J.W.H.T.D. now he asked Major Brown to find out where the 4th Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment was stationed, it was no use he gave up 4 days later. He gave me orders to report to Etaples On the west coast of France. I got in to Brussels and was busy weighing up my movement order. Left Brussels 9th March 1919 for Etaples. I got off at the nearest stop,5 miles from Caudry. I show the Station Master my movement order, he could read English and didn't care either. The war finished that was all I could understand. When I got to Vanagues, only Madam was at home she was pleased to see me. Apologised for not having something for lunch now I asked her if I could stay for a week or so. Yes you are welcome. I told her I had won with running and betting I showed her my two 17th Divisional Medals, she was glad I had done so well. I gave her 5 twenty franc notes to buy in with. Now I will pay 30 Francs per day she went out. So I found pen and ink and did what I wanted to ever since I studied my movement order. Left on the 9th I just put a 1 with the 9th it made 19th March. Figures not writing so know one would doubt and our (new unit to me the 4th Battalion Kings lost on the move I supposed then and to tell the truth didn't care. I was welcome so nothing mattered. I went early Sunday morning after breakfast to Inchy Beaument they were glad to see me again. They expected their (Dad and son) home soon out of the Army. I wouldn't stay quietly I spoke to Madam gave her 50 francs. To buy something good for Sunday Dinner. After a while she took it. I didn't want to make it look like pity. I said take this and buy in for Sunday Dinner and think of me when you have it, almost 2 francs should buy some meat, potatoes, veg, pudding, coffee, bread for five. I promised if it were possible to call again someday. The same at Caudry. The Dad was doing morning work for the "Corporation" cleaning the road etc.. He was still at the YMCA but they told her that if she could get work somewhere she should take it, so that didn't sound to good. Before I left on the morning of the 19th March for Etaples I promised to get back to see them (never dreamt I would) at Etaples this put me in the Sgts Mess after enquiring they said nothing known yet so go and get your bed ready for the night. I did two nights, I got movement orders on the 21st from Etaples to Harflery Le Havre. I reported in, nobody interested only Sgt Berry and 40 (Old Battalion LF's) now like me sent to the (4th B.Ks Ls). What I saw didn't please me that first glance Young not had much active service, or discipline our 40 could be picked out on parade. The R.S.M. "Big Jim" a real Liverpudlian Scouser. It would be better not to mention his name. He was 10 years younger than me. Got rushed into R.S.M. You have come to a regiment of honoured fighting men. Looking at him and some of the others I didn't think of their honour, I wouldn't know about fighting (perhaps street corner boys more to their looks and ways. Big Jim the R.S.M. had set himself against our old 10th boys. He would come over to where me or Bert were drilling our platoons give them P.T. give them a double give4 them ceremonial parade, believe me they didn't know what it was (give them ceremonial) just to make me feel sore. It so happened as Capt. Nichols came along. "I was fed up, Big Jim shouted "Shape yourself Gregson". I saluted the Capt. saying the R.S.M. blames me for most of the Platoon not knowing what the ceremonial drill is. Never done it. Let me pick my lads, they know it Sir. You do your best Sgt. teach them. He took the R.S.M. away. I got 8 old 10th lads who were i my platoon and put them through with it. Then I told our boys to help them to get in their places. Tallest on the right, shortest on the left. We got through with it. I told C.S.M. Bird what the R.S.M. gave me to do He said "Well done Gregson I bet you got your platoon to do it." I will give our lot that tomorrow. Now Jimmy went too far one morning Sgt Burt was detailed for the main guard. He picked his own lads 8 of them had all ready cleaned the night before I mean washed blanco equipment, boots polished. When he got to H.Q. the L.T.(no name) on duty and his orderly Sgt . the R.S.M. inspected Bert's guard the worst Big Jim had ever inspected, not the Officer. "Go back I give you an hour to return something like soldiers. Now that was where Jim dropped a clanger half way back to his hut a Brigadier with his Aide de Camp was coming towards Bert who gave ~"Attention Eyes Left" diluted (I bet someone who was at Harfleur knows that road running at one side the pimple thats where it was, he stopped the guard wanted to know where they were going he had never met a guard going that way at 9.30 am.Bert told him what the R.S.M. said. He said Sgt march them back, will inspect your guard. When Be4rt got back (all were there) The C.O. K.D.J. orderly Sgt Officer R.S.M. whilst inspecting "The Brigadi8er was" talking all the while (what he liked) the packs for instance no boards to make them square. They are neat and square without. In future tell your guards to not use wood of any kind in future. Excellent he asked the Col to look down one of the lads rifles. You know he said after he had finished his inspection standing in front of Bert you know who these boys belong to the Twentieth of Foot not Kings Liverpool. Did you know Sgt Major they still put the double cross in their Puttees. You must take it out now just plain no two crosses we used to put them in as instructed all our Lancashire Fusilier service. It was done half was up from the boot top, by going round and round then half way to the under part of the knee we turned the cloth down one twist round twist it up to make a neat cross we did that twice. We liked the twist your puttees never looked as if they had come loose, which they did at times. The Brigadier spotted it, not Big Head. The laugh was with Bert and his old L.F.'s Squad. That night it was in orders, a guard to be proud of clean sharp marching like the "Guards Do", heads up, pack neat, square. Congratulations Brigadier So and so. Also signed by our A.D.J. Capt Dawson 4th Kings Liverpool. Bert told me and C.S.M. Dicky Bird all that took place. He said you can knock spots of our lot. We have not always been like this Bert he said our best are home by know "Yes Sgt Major" Bert said my boys just like yours not enough service in to be demobbed. Big Jim that night never mentioned what was in orders. Bert still on till 8 am next morning. So he tried me in the Mess. Have you learnt the ceremonial parade yet Gregson it was "Gregson" from him I didn't like yes "Jim" "Sir" he shouted, quietly I said say Sgt Gregson then I will respect your "Rank" "Remember it was taking place in our Sgt's Mess not on parade. So the Mess Sgt was in charge it was in their Mess Rules. He tried to provoke me . I told him next time tell me to teach them because if you had taught the first order fall in tallest on the right surely they could have shaped better. Then that "your Capt. Nichols told me to be patient with them and teach them two or three other items wants to be taught yet. Such as what Sgt Gregson well "Sir" its evident you haven't read tonight's orders with permission tomorrow I will have 30 minutes on how to pack with a soldiers kit place it in a knap sack so as to make it square without boards. He just listened Sgt Langdon will be pleased when he knows the Brigade praised the 4th Battalion K.L's guard a real 4th .13. K.L. He knew Bert had told me all about that Brigade telling Big Jim to see as the Double Cross is not done in the Kings Liverpool Regiment I said it's a pity we have to take the 20th of Foot out Sir our puttees don't fit to or appear the same shape. You belong to the 4th Kings Liverpool and don't forget it. No Sir I won't. Our Capt. Doctor saved me just then a message came it read Sgt. Gregson I should like five minutes talk if you would kindly call at our H.Q. Mess 5 pm tonight. It was nearly that, so I told Bird I would play with him again. We were playing draughts when the R.S.M. interrupted us. I got to the Mess the Doctor told me I had a staunch supporter a L/Cpl Moss "One of our old 10th L.F's Sir. Yes at sick parade I asked him what his old Doctor had given him he said our Dr. Smith only gave H & D every morning he only had two or three. I knew Smith well he was a case. The Cpl when I asked him had he brought any athletes with him (10th L.F.'s) yes one a Sgt, you haven't any in this mob to beat him from one mile to 10 miles. He wanted to bet me. Asked him was Moss very sick , nothing that I cannot cure. Two days off with medicine will put him back again . Now we are holding a Battalion Sports up on the pimple top on Saturday so I will watch you. I am the sports officer I represent the 4th K.Ls on the General Committee and the Committee have decided to hold a France and Flanders Sports Championship in the near future, so I have arranged sports to see if we had any fit to represent our unit. I told Bird all about it when I got back he asked me what I had done for the Doctor to know. We talked and played. He played association football for Hoylake before the war. He could sprint a bit but not long distance. I asked him if the Regiment had any milers, no our best have gone. You will see our best on Saturday, a poor lot I am afraid. I will be interested watching you. Will there be any betting, I can't say, the Company Officers A.B.C.D. might back thei8r men I should like to have a bet on to make me try. What prizes £2, £1 and 10/- only for the principle events 100, 220, and 440 ½ mile and mile. Money and other events are the comical ones for whoever wants to have fun. 3 legged wheelbarrow race etc. Saturday 2.30 till 4.30 pm on a parade ground of the engineers. Measured, marked etc. by them, they seem older soldiers but good natured. I went up on Tuesday and Thursday 3 pm to do a bit it was too late to do a lot of heavy training. It would make one stiff and sore for Saturday, so it would be better to run without soreness. That would come on the Sunday and Monday after the sports. Well those engineers got quite pally. Keen they said it will be you Sgt. we will bet on on Saturday if we can. Well to cut it short it doesn't need a running commentary. It was a classic sports. I entered on a note to the Doctor, I would take the 880 yards and one mile. If they had a relay race (not mentioned on the form) I would do the 440 or 880 yards for my B Company. I won easy the 880 yards and the mile. Had a bit of fun being the wheelbarrow in the event with Sgt. Jackson holding my legs up as shafts, we were 2nd. I won the 40 yards blind race. Those prizes were all sorts. In a linen bag, razors and blades tooth brush and Colgate Paste. Writing pads etc. and £4 for a nice training day. C.S.M. Bird said the relay fell through as Sgt Gregson with the 880 yards running last would lick anyone of their runners. It would be hopeless. I didn't mind it was just nice to start training for the big event as the Doctor had mentioned. I went up Monday afternoon for to loosen up doing what I thought was necessary. I was training for the mile. I always judge that my best, although I did it once at Warrington Sports 1 minute 56 seconds, winning time on the board a large £7 7/- case of cutlery a present to Bernard and John those old soldiers were quite enthusiastic, I got to like them. The Sgt A Scott, a fine man, he wanted to look after me but I told him 1 man a L/Cpl was doing just that. They got bits of bets on the Saturday Sports. Just for "Bacci" one Irish man said. Now I got detailed for Guard Duty at Bethune Railway Station. Placing three men and an NCO in charge when the train came in at Bethune we released the Guard who had brought it up from the base. We took it to the next relief near the Belgium border, then returned by the passenger train to our camp, just next to the station. I didn't know who picked me for it but it turned out just what the Doctor ordered I had L.T. Delmer suppose to be in charge he left it all to me 14 all told a L.T., Sgt, 1 Cpl 2 L/Cpl 9 Pte's and a batman, one of the Pte's cooked for us. The batman looked after Delmer. I was out on the roads doing a bit of distance running to take a bit of surplus off and get down to 9 stone or 8.12 my lowest then. Mr Carpenter (direct opposite our Camp Billet) asked me why I was running ( he had been an athlete, French, running long distance races he told me to run on the Artillery Training Ground 300 yards down the road which I did. I asked an officer on parade could I use the centre to run round, he said "Avec Pleasure" but it was a small grass circuit. A big enclosure cindered, earth for the horses with gun carriages "1914" not many motors till later. I used to run about 20 laps, dash back to camp. L/Cpl Ginger Moss (Old 10th L.F.'s Soldier) with a warm water bath, a large tin barrel with fairly hot water, plenty of soap. The best was his old petrol tin with nail holes made in the bottom he had cut out the top and fastened it up nailed to a post I stood under he mounted some bricks poured warm water in the petrol tin and I got a shower that way. I*t was fun as well as doing me good it took place in our Camp ground in a broken down out house which had been bombed or hit with a shell. I was feeling good when our Captain Nichols came to visit the camp and examined all the duties we had done and who had done them. He said I see you went on one guard why Sgt. because I was the only N.C.O. available on that afternoon the other two guards hadn't returned so I took the remaining two Pte's and carried on Sir. He handed me a sealed letter "Private Sgt. Gregson" it was from the Doctor. You are entered for the Mile Race and it takes place at Bethune (You lucky blighter Sgt) sport Committee 1 -30 till 5 pm at the artillery ground on Saturday 10th June 1919. It was 10 days off then the end of May and the weather at its best. Warm, sunny in the evening I went fishing with Mr Carpenter in the Bethune canal. It was relaxing and quiet we made ourselves understandable pech fish? We became good friends. I was lucky that way always had pals. Mrs Carpenter washed my clothes including the running things. I sharpened my spikes said it would be better for me sharp in sharp out. Two days before the race Bethune began to get excited. I went to the hairdresser just up the road he said will I win this race and which one was it. He wanted to back me I told him "1 mile at 3.30 pm" he copied it down, he noticed me training gone past to the sports field. He had two more customers in, they got on to the Beckett v Carpenter fight. Carpenter capput Beckett. "Kill him" they said I said No Beckett kill Carp they wished me luck on Saturday. The Barber said he was going to the sports to bet and have a good time not since before "La care" they haven't rejoiced. So now he said he will put his flag out which I saw him do. That started others doing the same. Now L/Cpl Ginger Moss on Friday night came back to camp about 8 pm. Sgt do you want a bet. I took on a R.A.M.C. Sgt he is spending his leave knocking about France. He is in lodging by a cafe in the next street. He laid me 3 to 1 to name the winner of the mile, why the mile I asked because their officer is a good thing. I put all I had on 20 francs told him to wait I would go and get more. He said who is your man I said Sgt G.A. Gregson the 4th Battalion Kings Liverpool he booked the bet, and handed over our 40 francs plus 60 francs 100 all told. To the madam of the cafe if L/Cpl Ginner wins give him all, wee wee Sgt he wanted me to go and see him. I said no my bet you will place with the Tote. The town on Saturday morning was filling with soldiers from 20 miles around. Estaminers Cafe's doing a good trade Mr & Mrs Carpenter busy. She found time to do my washing. I run in spikes, I had my numbers sent to me for the one mile only, it said G.A. Gregson 4th K.L'S Regiment No 5. I gave ginger 50 Francs to put on that officer might be a good thing so I didn't plunge yet I thought he would be backed well on the Tote with other runners of all units within a 20 mile radius. It was like the first round for all events running 100, 220, 440, 880, 1 mile and 3 miles, hurdles, jumps, shot puts and hammer all but not a marathon. Our Capt Doctor with my Company Capt Nichole L.T. Bulmer. Went after 2 am lunch not in camp at the Bethune club. I saw them at the sports. The Doctor coming out of the Totalisation Tent, he spotted me. What do you think will return I told him Ginger Moss he knew Ginge 3 to 1 against a R.A.M.C. Officer whose Sgt said was a cert. So he must get heavily backed with others so if I was lucky we would be better off if you bet with others fellow soldiers. It would be evens or 2 to 1 at the most. Ginger's bet is that I would beat the R.A.M.C.'s officer (Capt. Ollier) so I was out to beat him for "Moss's Sake" (20 francs at 3 to 1 60 winnings. I appear to be popular with the French Artillery Soldiers seeing me in training on their ground. Also the Bethune people all dressed up and out for excitement. The barber waited by the runners tent you must "Victwa" it sounded like that to me. Well must seem to Moss (Ginger putting my 50 francs on in the Totalisation. They are doing a good business. 3.30 pm came I was ready, 26 runners G5 was from 5 to 8 numbers 4 Gees Sgt G.A. Gregson was No 6 (26) on a course all bends 7 laps the bell will ring to start the 7th last. Bang and off so was, not to be left and in the ruck. Cuttings out on bends was difficult liable to get tripped or spiked was running 2nd for the first 3 laps I wasn't pushing so I stepped it up a bit passed the stocky leader, 4 laps gone. The 5th and 6th I had 6 yards lead when the bell went hadn't waited for it to ring I shot off half way round the 6th lap, then the French let themselves go. Sgt, Sgt, Sgt bravo yelling shouting chanting, it was all encouragement but I won rather easily by 50 yards. I was the only runner in red so I was easily picked out. About 10 had to run their last lap when I had finished. Now the Doctor first got to me at the finish. Well done Sgt, I said that wasn't a mile, it was you know ,can you ask for the time keeper. Ask for the time of the 3 mile which had been run at 2.30pm. The mile at 3.30 in our sports the longer races are always last. The Doctor came back with the 3 miles 10 minutes 20 seconds, 1 mile 3 minutes 13 seconds just around a minute faster than our English Champion in those days 1919. I could tell it was short that was why I shot off before the bell for the last lap I was350 yards short of a mile it was ridiculous. To think our English Sports Committee should mark out a circle so small and not work it out another 4 laps, 11 not 7. It was the same for all the 26 runners no one had an advantage all had 7 laps to run off the same mark. The tote paid 4 to 1 Gregson to my surprise. So I wasn't the only one fancied. The Captain Ollier R.A.M.C. was 50 yards behind 2nd Ginge got a note of that Sgt on the sports ground to pick up his money on his way back to camp 60 francs just over £2 win. £5 1st prize or 140 francs, 200 francs off the 50 tote bet at 4 to 1 about £6.10/- on the day. Our camp did well the barber Mr Capentiers kissing my cheek with hugs. It was all strange but nice, they were happy and it had been a long time since they could let themselves go, it was overdue. L.T. Delmer did well at the officer's club with bets, Mr Carpentier had 20 francs on the tote 4701 80 francs profit. They were delighted they were trying to make me see it would pass for I suppose like us rates etc. It was very nice to have been able to help out. Perhaps the barber the same rates etc. I took Friday night guard 9 pm. The train came in Bethune so it was 10 pm when the driver the French guard in his last van were ready for Belgium. We got back to Arras, got into the train for Bethune. 3 of us in a compartment by ourselves. A gent and a young lady got in just as the train started. They came along the corridor , looked in and saw we were soldiers, went on along the train, came back he put 3 cases on the luggage rack, She had a large cardboard box on her lap. We chatted on laughing taking no notice. She said Sgt. did I hear you mention Bethune, you certainly did we are4 in camp at the station next door in a billet. Would it be too much trouble for you to take my box to your billet. We are going to Len's the mines. We will call about 3 pm for it. I told her not to worry I would personally take and look after it. She said my brother is buried in a cemetery outside Bethune but she did not know exactly where. We got out at Bethune I told L.T. Delmer it was a cross for L.T. Sission. Bethune was on the label. He got washed, shaved and changed his batman going dizzy, boots, buttons, badges, sponged his clothes off L.Cpl Ginger did not mined after two days on that guard. I got to know from over the road where the main cemetaries were. Go passed our fishing spot first turn on the right down the main road 300 to 400 yards down on the right. They came, I got the box out to give to them. The gent (a Yankee) said put it inside they had chartered a French soldiers motor transport, 2 seats on the front holding 2 on the front includi8ng the driver 3 on the second one she asked if I would like to come. Yes I will go inside if you don't mind. We went over the humped back bridge over the canal, turn left passed on our left our fishing place along that canal road. The driver flew passed the first turn on the right. I shouted stop driver he did. The Yank asked what was the matter, I said it is down the road we have just passed we know where we are goi8ng. I'll get out and have a walk if you don't mind, I got back trotted down that road on the right, a solitary soldier was weeding and tiding up with a spade, rake and barrow. I spoke him after I had got in and fastened the gate on the road side. I told him a party of three were looking for a L.T.Sisson. I have one Sisson only it could be it, do you know what unit he was in, no only the name. Will you help me, I will do. You start at the top one in row 15 5th. It could be the same. It will look better for her, I got up to "Sisson" which he had done so I went up to his cabin wash and cleaned up then went and watched him carrying on about 12 done. Sisson's was the 4th down so it didn't look it was done just for them. He had 900 to look after. I told him they were coming, he met them at the gate and took them to his cabin office . Took all particulars, it was her brother's grave. We all went with the keeper to that Sisson grave. She placed it on knelt down in pray tears streaming down her face. I strolled on a bit then Delmer came. Why were you so sure you knew this place? Mr Carpentier told me all soldiers killed in and around Bethune got buried there. They went to the first big service for the dead. The soldier thanked me for letting him know he said she could see the graves were well looked after, she would probably call again before she returned home to England . When we got back she wouldn't have a cup of tea. Ginger was just brewing. The Yank said they had ordered tea. She thanked me saying you knew Sgt. where he was buried. How Mr & Mrs Carpentier there at their cafe door told me. She looked across and waved to them. Mrs Carpentier, through her a kiss. They went on their way and us to tea. We got relieved after 6 weeks of Guard Duty. We had to join up at Dovia, in a French Barracks a big fine place, gardens in front with a band stand in our 4th K.L's band played, Tursday, Thursday and Sunday 7 pm each night. The French love it each night they clapped cheered shouted for them to play Dar, Rha Rha Rha. We'll make a bonefire of our troubles. I was told to keep up my training. The Doctor wanted me to get off parades. But I didn't want that. When on parade your mind was on your next order. Not moping about your next race. Drummy was with our (40 L.F's some of them). Ginger Moss mostly he fed him. It was strange he had been on a root march since signing wi8th this lot. Stray dogs came in the camp but he didn't bother, sleeping and meals were his only care. A Sgt Graham was his pal, I don't know why. I had him in the trenches, fed water etc. for months but he didn't show any signs of coming to me for a good walk, he was a bit heavy to run with me. Well I trained seriously running round the parade square walking round the outskirts of Dovia. I had to be at Valenciennes for the 22rd July Friday at 4 pm the mile my number enclosed No.3, 170 francs for 1st , 85 francs for 2nd and 40 francs for 3rd. When I reached the Sgt Mess, A Sgt Renolds of St. Helens he was down for the 220 yards he said he felt like a soft bed. Lets go into town and book a bed and breakfast room which we did. We retired at 10 pm in our beds about 10.15 pm about. 11 pm our room all lit up from a fair, just at the back. The nearest organ a big load one when in tune got about half way it would miss for about a minute. It made a terrible noise trying to go but couldn't for some time then it would start again. Just the one tune out of The Last Walz 2 am when they shut down. He got out two or three times I didn't, tried my best to forget it but you couldn't it was most annoying but one of those things one could not do anything to alter it. They brought out two boiled eggs with bread "French cobs" butter and coffee 9 am. It was so we didn't do so bad, I had been disturbed on occasions all night. One was the five nights and days on the Somme Offensive in July 12 months earlier. We had a light lunch in the Sgt's Mess then up to the sports ground. I was getting ready for 4pm my time to be out on the mark for the mile when Sgt Reynolds came running he said I ran awful, 4th I didn't qualify, you haven't much chance Gregson he said a South African named Cpl Scwaze a 6 foote4r blond, big built soldier he has a big following, stationed with the Engineers in this area. I spoke to one of them they have backed him of the tote. I got out a 50 francs they were large notes I never say notes so large folded 4 times and then a lot bigger than our £1 note, Bluish Pink colour . I told him to put it on for me now. He looked amazed. You haven't seen him he said. Never mind his looks get that on please. The odds will be good I haven't anybody with me so I will scoop the odds. He said I risk it 20 francs I'll bet Greg, he told me there were no bets taken on you Sgt only ours. Whilst I was there A.C.S. Major was backed No.1. The Cpl No.9 you No.6 he told me. We got the usual instructions, the bell will ring for the last lap of 4 to the mile. All present, 20 runners (the first 3 to run at Calais in August.) We got told before we started. We all dash off the big youth with only short pants on and spikes his number pinned to his shorts No. 9. He took the lead 5 yards No.1 just in front of me 3rd was we finished like that the 1st lap I got passed The C.S.M. No.1 he ran in red but black pants he looked a regular soldier, straight up shoulders back bronzed. I went up to No.9 the South African he thought I was going to pass so he rushed on and kept at it. I didn't let him get too far ahead we had two more laps to do. He got anxious and spurted on. The bell started, he was 10 yards half way round that last lap I speeded up at a pace I could stick out. He sprinted when I tried to pass, I went all out then and beat him 10 yards. He collapsed after he passed the line. Sgt Reynolds was delighted. I won alright the Brigadi3er said you rana tactful race had the Cpl worried all the while. Sgt Gregson you will run in the final on the 8th of August. He shook hands gave me a packet with a 170 francs and a card saying Winner Sgt G.A. Gregson 4th Battalion Kings Liverpool Regiment, in ink just been written. 60 to 1 the Tote paid on the winner so not many backed me. Reynolds was pleased 120 francs to the good he said our boys will be annoyed they could have come to the Sports but they didn't think it was worth it. He did just over £4 was good going almost £6 winners prize 300 francs Tote so on the day it was about £16 18/- so I thought it was worth it don't you? We used to sing Ho Ho Ho it's a Lovely War. In the packet was a note please3 report on Monday for training so I was in again just a week mostly walking it was alright I managed some runs round the field the 1st 2nd and 3rd runners etc. their training told to be in good form to represent the Donia area a Calais on the 8th August 1919. So I had a week to play with. I did long walks running was short quick stuff 440 yards 880 yards my longest was 3 laps. It was for speed I did it for. I knew I could stick the mile, it was speed I was short of our old L.F's were pleased the Doctor said it served him right for not going along with me. I never get much following, the best was the 17th Division 7 mile Championship. All the village went (and half the 10th Battalion L.F's). Captain Nichols sent for me he said they should have put a pass in. We wouldn't have got paid 6 to 1 if it had been run again at Bethune. My platoon L.T just said he was pleased when our Doctor told him Gregson won again. In the Sgt's Mess it was dull only Sgt Jackson C.S.M. Bird Sgt Graham and Bert a Sgt Wilson was very pleased I got through big Jim the R.S.M. I see our L.F. Sgt Gregson scraped through again. Now that was too much for Bert Landon will our R.S.M. like to have a bet as Sgt Gregson of the Kings Liverpool's Regiment wont scrape through in the final next Friday he never answered how about your disciples ( that was A and D Coy C.S.M. (his yes and no sir) . The R.S.M. always right, Yes Sir no Sir (Bird spoke his mind always). We ought to be proud of our Sgt he is out miles on his own in our Regiment no one to give him a race no one has helped him. He goes on and on and no one encouraging him, only a scrape through from his R.S.M, E.S.M. Bird. He said you appear to lean to those old Lancashire Fusiliers, No I don't, but I do like fair play. I give credit when I see it is needed. You must know those L.F's can be picked out easily amongst our lot. "Clean Smart" and above all disciplined at all times on or off parade and I say good luck from me. He said on the 8th at Calais. Sgt Bert asked if anyone had the guts to bet (their wish for Gregson to lose). No one spoke right. The Kings Liverpool's at least the 4th Battalion can't sport a good soldier never mind an athlete. How much service have you in Sgt Landon, Length of Service doesn't come in with fair play. If you are trying that one Sgt Major. I got Burt to have a drink at the bar with my pals Bird and Dash I said C.S.M. Bird you have the best Sgt Cattener can give you no no Greg thanks I enjoyed a dash. I told them to have another we calmed down. By 10.30 pm. I got down to Calais about 4.30 pm on the Thursday in the Mess I met a Sgt Colhone he was an Army Champion shot putter 6'2" 14 stone a fine athlete. He had me out after tea in Calais to a camp of Irish Horse Depot. His pal a Cpl Cook we chatted then he brought 3 bowls of rice pudding, bread and butter and cheese and tea. Paddy said get on with it "Joe Binks" called me Joe he was so happy go lucky. Next day I just tried a 100 to 200 yards to try my spikes and the feel of the grass. A sharp walk with Sgt Paddy he was full of fun. I like him. One felt at home with him. He said put all in this afternoon Joe don't leave it to late go out to do it win 3 pm game. He had won the shot championship. He helped me with my gear examined the spikes that a good idea polished soles don't leave anything to chance. My number 8 was pinned on back and front the South African Cpl was No. 11 striped like before just shorts only 12 runners the quarter finals. 4 areas supplied the 1st 2nd 3rd each four threes 12 of the best in France and Flanders after we had answered our names and got our instruction. We got on the mark to start. The Q. Master shouted Sir a telegram for a Sgt Gregson, Kings Liverpool, the Officer (Red Cap) Major Brown (he was with us at Brussels). He said do you want it now or after the race Gregson. I asked the quarter Master to read it. He said wishing you the best of luck your platoon L.T. right at last someone remembered I was running for the Kings Liverpool it was a pleasant thought all the same you needed something to break the nerve racking time waiting for your race. Bang 4 laps to do. I was off at the shot in front at the first bend clear not for long the blonde got in front and away, I went with him, what he can do I can equal I did at the quarter final, so we ran like that until the bell. A tall athlete tried to come past but I ran faster and kept him behind I was only 2 yards behind the Cpl half way the last lap I tried to get up into the lead but the Cpl wouldn't let me he sprinted on I couldn't sprint all out 220 yards so I ran as fast as I could without sprinting. I lasted better the Cpl started swaying so I sprinted for all I was worth as Paddy had said don't leave it too late, 20 yards I passed him 5 yards the Winner and the mile France and Flanders Champion at Calais August 8th 1919. Swank Yes but true all the same Sgt Paddy just picked me up like a cork, hugged its treat he said such a big man with a big smile. Now the General presented me with a large silver medal a battle ground on one side a target for firing on the other, a square left for it to be inscribed , which they did a few days later. That was it no more bets and it was the final race as I thought. A funny incident happe4ned Paddy put me down just near to that Quarter Mast6er's Table where all had to wait for our medals. A L.T. Price smacked me on the shoulder Sgt Gregson in turn I said Hello Sir he said with his loud voice have you been running Yes Sir I didn't see you Sgt. The Quarter Master heard and knowing me by that telegram which he handed to me then said you did not see him. No L.T. Price said why you must have all the way Sgt Gregson won you were 3rd 15 yards away. Well well and I didn't know you. We thought it funny. He said after he was to worried in the race to give it much thought and he never bothered at the call over. I was too anxious wondering now and what that telegram was all about to worry about who I had to run against. We ran for the army at Brussels that Sunday morning 16 days all told ther4e we got to know each other. I got back to Dovia I was greeted a bit better that time. Company Sgt. Major Bird met the train at the station with Bert, Jacko, Wilson, Sgt Ashcroft A.C.T. C.S.M. Graham A Coy their C.S. Major one of Jimmies Yes Sir No Sir's was in hospital sick or something like that. We stopped at an Estamier and celebrated for an hour. I reported in at the Battalions Orderley Room, you are to report at the H.Q. Officer's Mess. The first thing so I washed, polished etc. and went there. The Doctor let me in, expected me they had enquired by telegram our sports finished altogether by 4 pm so they would know by six pm it was 8.30 pm so they all knew. The C.O. shook hands saying don't think *I have been interested in your running success our Doctor and Capt Nichols saw to that. We are all proud you have honoured our 4th Battalion Kings Liverpool's. @We boast a champion, all share it they examined the medal. It is a medal to be proud of Sgt Gregson. I went to B Coy with Capt Nichols who was at H.Q. waiting for me to report so when got in B. Coy Mess our 4 L.T's platoon officers congratulated me I thanked L.T. so and so. I told him we were on the mark when I was called out with a teleg5ram for Sgt Gregson it bucked me up Sir I was on my own, no following like the others. Capt Nichols said we all appreciate it Sgt. B Coy will be told on parade,. In the morning I reported back to the training quarters at Calais 3.30at the latest Monday if I get permission Sir that I will see to at once said my Captain. My platoon L.T. asked why I had to go back all winners and 2nd and 3rd represent France and Flanders at Aldershot on August 22nd the Army Finals from all our troops no matter where they where stationed Germany, France Flanders, South Africa, Italy, India, Australian, New ~Zealand and in Great Britain. The Champions from everywhere. I returned and Sgt Colhorne was waiting for me after tea. He took me out for a long walk calling round for our Supper that Cp0lo with his rice pudding and do you know I eat thin bread with butter on (and I gave it big licks) with the pud. We trained mostly P.T L.A. Jock Sgt drilled us all together, Officers, Major Brown over us all. We didn't do anything like the amount of running I trained on, it was P.T. to keep you fit, my idea which I told Jock was walking and running, all sorts, long, short, saunter sweat on the job. Now we got over to Aldershot I went to bed, it was a rough crossing and I was sick terrible. I almost ruptured myself nothing coming up and wanting to be sick but just a little would come. I am sorry to write that, but it is what happened. Sgt Colhorne looked after me, brandy etc. I didn't feel like breakfast the worst was my race 11 am and not too good. I came 4th only 20 yards behind the winner. Sgt Thomas a welsh guardsman, Cpl S. W Schwarze South Africa, san Indian 3rd only one yard in front of me. Well I hadn't done bad from Barrow 1914 till Aldershot 1919. We all got 14 days home leave. Reported back the 1st week of September. When I did get back about 100 all told had been demobbed. Our old 10th L.F.'s gone Bert still at Dovia. It looked as if not being married had something to do with some of the Kings Sgt Jackson due but not mentioned to go. The 4th Kings Liverpool look 100 all told by October. I was put in charge of the Sgt's Mess no more running now all Regiments being sent home or some like ours being demobbed. I had one or two arguments with our R,.S.M. Big Jim which I won't mention, I told Jim not while I was in charge.When I ordered 3 L.T. out of our Sgt's Mess he went off the deep end. I showed him the 4th Battalion Kings Liverpool's rules to be obeyed. The Sgt's Mess rules I mean the Sgt in charge must see to all rules being carried out. I hadn't much love for two of the officers but that didn't come into it. Our R.S.M. insisted they stayed, I told them to stay. So the guard room only 10 yards away was the place for me. I told the Sgt I wanted him in the Mess. He came I told him to ask the Officers out. Big Jim still objected so I locked up the bar. I said I'll see who is in charge of this Mess you or the Mess Sgt Stop where are you going, to see the Officer who signed that "Rules and Regulations Notice." The Officers left without a drink on the their own accord. Big Jim was a kind of meekness for a time only 60 N.C.O's and men the Officers too had gone. The Doctor Capt Nichols l.t. Delmer No wonder what they would do with me and Bert our time not off till February 1920 and it was the4 end of November 1919. We got orders to pack up for Boulogne in the cap up that hill as hundreds of thousands know going on and off leave. Before you left for home (anything to declare if so step out in front. C.S.M. Bird, got work straight away a kind of orderly Sgt sick para's complaints, meals etc we had nothing to do would go into town until 10 pm each day. Bird one morning asked Bert did he want an office job with General H.Q. Boulogne, Bert flew at it straight away after breakfast he went came back , he passed for it thanks to C.S.M. Bird he told Bert before the C.S.M. Posted the notice . I think I told you Bert was adopted by a Blackpool couple Mayor and Mayoress during the war. Bert said to me he wouldn't go back home to live. So he like myself then not having any ties could please ourselves even to sign on again. We I mean Sgt Ashcroft6, Graham, Jackson myself used to meet Bert in a special Estanimer . One evening he was with a French lady about his age he introduced her as Madame, she worked in the same job as Sgt Bert only with the French H.Q. so it was natural for them to know each other. Bert told me he liked her very much and she liked him she had lost her husband in the war so that was alright you might as well enjoy life as best you can. We could see they were matched, both respected. Bert could speak French fair and was well educated, good with the pen. We at the camp got sudden orders to be out by 9 am next morning to be demobbed. I said to Sgt Bird when he told me but I can't be demobbed my time is not u until February. It was then 22nd December) you are for Prees Heath he said and showed me his official list. Bert was on the bottom S.M. Bird rang H.Q they said they wanted him to stay.
One Dece4mber evening at stand to, 6 pm rain began to come, it came heavy. By midnight our trenches had two feet of water in and the sides giving way. At that time I was in the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers 29th Division a L/Cpl and section leader. Having put some sand bags picks and spades out of the trench at the back I gave orders to get out and dig fresh dug outs. Pte Louis Knowles and Pte P Murphy dug with me a portion large enough for four when finished. We placed ground sheets over the top we got in and dried ourselves as best we could, soaked, tired and cold it had stopped raining but was freezing keen. I roamed about and located sixteen others it was very quiet. 4 am not a bullet or shell being fired. The Turks must have been like us if not they were human didn't fire on my sector.
One evening 6 pm at "Stand To" the rain started to fall it came in torrents. By midnight our trenches started to give way, water knee deep in the trench so I put 3 spades and picks out at the back opf our position at that time I was a L/Cpl in the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers 29th Division. Two of my section Pte P Murphy stuck to me all the time, we got out and dug a fresh trench big enough for four it took 4 hours. The we placed our ground sheets over the top and got in. We dried ourselves as best we could by then it was daylight not a shot was heard so Johnny Turk must have been in the same plight. After a while I roamed about and connected up with 16 more Lancashire Fusiliers. By now the rain had stopped but it was freezing. I got back to our dug out to find my Platoon Officer there. I reported all to him we got him to get down with us. Helped to dry him he was cole shivering he got me to go out and tell the others to eat half their iron rations but to go easy on their water bottles. We thought it was best to leave our trench and go down to the base head quarters 4 miles back. We had stayed 48 hours cold a hungry wanting something hot. I got the party of 20 all told together and with the LT. (a Rochdale person) leading and myself in the rear to keep them from straggling. The cold was severe our trousers and overcoat bottoms frozen stiff after what seemed never ending we arrived at our base about 48 hours after the flood. Tired, sleepy and cold. Our officer was keen to get on and find our Battalion after about half an hour the lads 300 started falling out and lying down by the road sides it took us all our time keeping them awake. I with two Ptes volunteered to go back to go back to H.Q. for rations which took us just an h0ur so our officer said tin milk tea sugar a few small loaves, cheese and two cleaned out petrol tins for fresh water. Then the LT asked for Volunteers for blankets. I said I would go again so Pte Louis Knowles and Paddy Murphy went back with me a roll of blankets got heavy for us half way back 400 so gave four each and struggled on but not for long. Louis toppled over. I covered him just after Paddy stopped and got down. Now still to this day I never knew if I covered him next I remembered was in a bell tent my head heavy bandaged also my hand both feet like balloons. It was light I struggled up and opened the tent flaps I was in a gorge and at the bottom in the bay was a ship and on the side a red cross nothing mattered now off I started not to miss the boat. I could see I had been with an Australian Medical Corps. I hadn't time to inquire. After a while I reached the end of that ravine . Army Service Corp giving hot ideal tins of milk to all who passed. It was the best drink I ever had although from a tin over the sand beach. I got going two sailors came at the double to hold on to me and led me up some planks and onto the small craft. Soon I was taken on board that hospital boat and sisters looked after us. Now it was from there my most memorable Christmas started on the 24th December when two Turk prisoners carried me on a stretcher down the path to a big hospital ship I remember the Turks saluting and bowing I had given them my cigarette issue six packets. The ship sailed out that night. The eve of Xmas 1915. I woke up and heard Christmas carols being recorded all singing. Happy in clean bed linen sisters looking after us nothing a trouble to them. We got handed out presents, cards all good things oranges apples nuts, dinner and pudding.