3rd July 1917

At 2pm the trek was continued for a further 9 miles to the pleasant village of Sus-Saint-Léger.  The day was again hot and the estaminets undoubtedly suffered from lack of custom.  I was not feeling too good in the boiling heat and turned my head to seek moral support from Bradley on my left only to find he was in a worse condition.  With chin resting on his chest, body drooped, legs faltering; he began to stagger like a drunk.  Murmuring a few words, I know not what, he departed at a tangent.  My last glimpse was the soles of his boots protruding from a hedge at the side of the road.  Overcoming a strong inclination to join him I gathered my resources and struggled on, having first discounted the pleasant idea that lorries might be provided by a thoughtful RSM to gather in the fallen.  By 6:30pm in the evening the main body reached the billets in Sus St Leger which were home for the next days.  In the brokendown cowshed with pigsty adjoining we dropped to the floor, every man too exhausted to remove his 95lb pack.  I spent the next few minutes marvelling at the fact that the mileage performed in the two days exactly coincided with the extreme limit of my powers of endurance.  I said nothing on earth could make me take another step.  I was quite wrong of course.  Nemesis with the three stripes on his sleeves appeared with notebook in hand and within minutes I was “jumped to it” on cookhouse fatigue.  Bradley rolled in later in the evening thoroughly dejected as a result of his performance.

The excitements of the day were not yet over.  With some apprehension Bradley and I reported at Company Office to which we had been peremptorily summoned.  There was always the chance that some peccadillo contravening King’s Regulations had been spotted but after much heart searching we judged ourselves blameless.  To our great relief we were instructed to proceed to Divisional Headquarters Le Cauroy some two kilometres away to undergo an observers course.  This was indeed a gift from heaven.  True, the Battalion was now ‘at rest’ and expected to remain so for several weeks, but as every soldier knew, ‘rest period’ was a misnomer.  Moreover, the Colonel, having taken a very dim view of the Battalion’s poor showing on trek had ordered route marches with full pack on every evening for the next seven days.  Instructions from Company Office were to travel light under our own steam immediately after first parade on the following day.  One final inspection by the Sergeant and he pounced.  Pointing to a small sore spot on my face he said “Impetigo”, unless you get that treated it will spread all over your face in no time.  “Sick parade for you tomorrow morning my lad and we’ll see what the MO has to say.”

On trek again 2pm-6:30pm.
About 9 miles to Sus-Saint-Léger.
Billeted in old barn. Wire Beds.
Dozens drop out.
Fearful heat.

Original diary entry
Original journal notes

"On July 2nd the Battalion marched, via Wailly, Beaumetz and Monchiet, to Gouy en Artois, and on the following day, via Barly and Sambrin, to Sus St. Leger. The weather was exceedingly hot and a good many ment fell out on the march. This could not be tolerated in a Battalion which had always prided itself on its march discipline; and the men who had fallen out, most of whom belonged to a large draft which had recently arrived, were sent for a series of route marches during the hours when the estaminets were open. This proved a most effective cure for bad marching, but it must not be thought that the estaminets had been in any way responsible for the men falling out."
Excerpt from "The War History of the 1st Battalion Queen's Westminster Rifles 1914-1918" [ISBN 1-84342-610-2]

Google Maps entry for Sus-Saint-Léger here
Google Maps entry for Le Cauroy (Berlencourt-le-Cauroy) here