There were twelve machine gun companies.
There were mules and officer’s horses and the limbers to transport. It took two train loads. We travelled down to Southampton arriving at about 4 or 5 in the morning.
We had to wait around all day on account of enemy submarines in the English Channel.
Then onto a troop ship, or something to take us over to Le Havre. It was accompanied by a destroyer. We spent all night on the ship. They were watching out for submarines. I had a walk about on the deck. We got a cup of tea and a bun. It was packed. The following afternoon we landed at Le Havre accompanied by a Destroyer. It was a beautiful hot sunny day. I remember the cobble stones.
We just got out and fell asleep; we were dead beat.
Eventually we were loaded into cattle trucks, not carriages.
We crawled up to the rail head at Bethune. We passed a farm, an orchard, the thing was travelling so slow the lads jumped off and pinched apples then got back on the train.
When we got to the railhead we were near as possible to the Front Line at Neuve Chapelle.
There was no real action when I was there, no one went over. There was plenty of sporadic shelling, otherwise it was quiet. They were getting ready for the Somme do.
I was in four places:
Vielle Chapelle, Arras, the Somme and Passchendaele.
We moved about there.
We were gradually taking parts of the line over from the French in the South.
104th MCG arrived on 28th April. They were in Peronne by 22nd May. (From the History of the 35th Division)
- Download The Somme (ojwatiti.wordpress.com)
- History: First day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916. (17thmanchesters.wordpress.com)