Private John Cushnie Collection

Gentleman's Diary & Letters Home - March 1918

Diary & Letters March 1918

Private John Cushnie wrote approximatly 91 letters home from 1916 to 1918, and a diary with 220 entries from 1918. These letters and diary entries, gratiously provided by Anne Hales and describe John's life in the CEF, from the telegram that he sent saying that he would be home for his first weekend of leave after enlisting, to the telegram that announced that he was back from Europe.

Diary March 1918

Friday, March 1
The draft paraded at 8 AM when we were handed over to “C” Company – the draft company.  Had to fall in at 10.45 am for MO’s inspection.  Stood around at attention but for an hour and they told us to come back in afternoon.
In afternoon had our cauderming? Board and after that had our medical inspection.  We all got there although he gave me a start about my heart.
Went up to Tintown with Bill had supper & did some shopping

Saturday, March 2
Had our rifles issued first thing in the morning.  Had quite a time getting our mess tins but finally we got new ones.
Cleaned my equipment and got my pack ready for kit inspection.
Sewed tabs and buttons on my great coat at night and it proved to be quite a formidable job.

Sunday, March 3
Didn’t have any parades at all, all day so just sat around the hut trying to keep warm.
Put the finishing touches on my pack and put it all together.
In afternoon Archie Gillies walked down from Witley to say good bye to us.
Weather – Cold with Snow

Monday, March 4
Got up about 8 oclock and had nothing at all to do all day so just sat around the hut playing cards and getting rid of some of my stuff.
Got a letter from Iris Bennet by the night’s mail.
Weather – very cool

Tuesday, March 5
Brigade Kit inspection at 10.30 AM.  Had all our stuff O.K. Paraded in afternoon to get our pay books marked up.
Weather – Dull & Rain

Wednesday, March 6
Nothing doing for the draft all day.
The boys scrubbed the hut out in afternoon.  Eedy & I went for a walk up past Conscript Camp to Bramshott Chase.
Had a cup of tea in the Hazel tea rooms.
Went on phones at 5 PM in Hump’s place until 10 oclock.  Got only a few messages at WORD.
Weather – Fine day

Thursday, March 7
Fell in for Bde. Inspection in the morning at 10 am. Everything got along O.K.
Eedy and I went up to Bramshott Chase And got some bread and marmalade.  Had a cup of tea at the Post Office tea rooms.
Weather – Fine

Friday, March 8
Nothing doing for the draft all day.
Eedy, Harrisward & I went up toBramshott Chase again for a walk in the afternoon.
Saw “Merchant of Venice” that night at Garrison Theatre.  It was very good.
Weather – Fine

Saturday, March 9
Did nothing in morning but sit around.  Mail came in at noon and I got my money order from home.  Went up to Tintown with Bill and had it cashed.
Bill, EuartArchie& I went to Haslemere in afternoon.  Saw picture show, did some shopping had tea and got home about 6.30 PM.
Found out that we were to pull out tomorrow night.  Went up to Tintown & did some shopping.
Weather – Fine

Sunday, March 10
In the morning we had MO’s inspection and pay parade.  Got L. draft pay.
About 12 oclock we went down to Grayshott where we had a good feed.  Wrote letters and got my stup fixed up the rest of the afternoon.
Draft fell in at 7.30, said goodbye to everyone and went down to 6th Bde.  No band turned up so we marched to Liphook without one.  Went via London and got a cup of tea there.  Eedy & I had a prisoner to take care of.

Monday, March 11
Woke up to find ourselves in Folkestone about 2.45 AM.  Marched to billets, were issued with blankets & slept until 7.30 when we got up & had a good breakfast.  Had to stay in all morning but got out that night.  Eedy & I went up together.  I sent a broach to Iris.  Had a couple of good feeds and went to 2 picture shows.  We were supposed to be in at 5 PM but didn’t get in until 10 PM and found all other fellows in bed.
Fine bright day.

Tuesday, March 12
Got up about 7 am and after ____? Got ready to leave.  Fell in at 8 am were issued with rations and marched to boat.  Prisoner missing.  Had a good trip across as channel was like a mill pond. Got in Boulogne about 12.30.  Marched a little way to trucks. Bill& I separated from rest on way up.  Very hot & stuffy in truck.  Got in Etaples about 3.45 just in time for a wash & supper.  Were issued with one blanket, all of us in 1 tent.  Went to bed early as we were tired.  Slept well but cold in morning.
Weather – Fine

Wednesday, March 13
Reveille at 6 am.  Breakfast at 7.  Nothing doing until MO’s inspection at 10 am.  After that we had a real good bath and dinner.
Saw a Hun plane at noon.  It passed over the camp but didn’t drop any bombs.  Shrapnel was bursting all around it but he got away O.K.
Had a short route march in afternoon with battle order & very easy march , got in about 4 PM.
Wrote a few letters after supper and went to bed early again.
Weather – Fine & Warm

Thursday, March 14
Reveille at 6 oclock.  Had a good breakfast.  It started to rain about 7 oclock so we had nothing to do all day except sit around the tent writing letters and playing cards.
At night went to YMCA and heard a lecture on “Belgium” with lantern slides.
Had a feed in the tent before going to bed.
Weather – Rain all day.

Friday, March 15
After breakfast we had to roll up our tents and put everything outside.  It was pretty cold standing around so we got out the football and kicked it around all morning.
Had a very short route march in the afternoon in battle order.  After we came in we drew our ammunition as were to leave on the morrow.
After supper laid in a supply of ? & lobster for tomorrows rations. Went to bed very early.
Weather – Cool

Saturday, March 16
Got up at 4.30 AM and had breakfast.  Fell in at 5.45 & after standing around for a while, marched to station and piled into a box car.  Pulled out of Etaples about 6.45.  Very cool on train.  Was glad of our ___? Arrived at Calonne-Ricouart about 11.30 and were assigned to our billets which was an old loft.
After dinner went for a walk up to ___? After supper walked to Vivian and saw a picture show there.  Came back,  hunted up YMCA and found it just as it closed.  Went to bed dead tired.
Weather – Fine

Sunday, March 17
Breakfast at 7 and fell in shortly after ready to move off.  We found that we didn’t have to march so waited around until about 11. 30 AM before our truck arrived.  Left Calonne at Bueley Grenay about 12 noon about 2 PM.  Reported To BU Orderly Room and were assigned billets.  Went up to canteen and saw Doug Smith.  He didn’t know me.  After supper we went over and had our first glimpses of the firing line.
After a cup of tea went to billet and to bed.
Heavy firing that night.
Weather – Fine

Monday, March 18
Spent uncomfortable night in the billet. We had a test in the morning in buzzer, flag and lamp.
Met Ira Morrison out on the square.
After dinner went over to the tailors and had our colours sewed on.  Met Harry Gardiner outside the door.  Went over and watched a baseball game for a while
After supper ______?   the picture show at the YMCA. Had a stand to at 10 PM.  Marched outside to see a gas attack but we couldn’t see anything.  Got back about 12 AM and after a feed went to bed.  Got first letter from Iris.
Weather – Fine

Tuesday, March 19
Raining in morning when we got up.  Had nothing in particular to do all morning.  Was in Y in afternoon when Kerr came around & told me that we were for a working party at 3 o’clock.  Tell in and marched about 3 miles to the place where we were to work.
The working party wasn’t too bad although I was outside in the rain part of the time.  Had a fine drink of cocoa at the YMCA near. Were not relieved until midnight when we marched home.  Heard that we were going up the line next day.
Weather – Rain

Wednesday, March 20
Had to turn in our equipment at 9 am for the transports.  Spent the rest of the day getting ready to move our that night.
About noon it cleared up and the sun came out.  Fell in at 6.30 and moved off from Bueley-Grenay.  Went slow and it was hard marching as Euart, Eedy and I had to carry a bag of rations.  Got a big shock when a battery on our left opened up.  Were not shelled very much on the way up.  Went through Loos and up in long trench until we came to Battn. Hdqrs.  Went on duty with Pardo at 10 PM.  Was not very busy.
Weather – Rain and __?

Thursday, March 21
Slept nearly all morning except at breakfast & dinner time.  Went on duty at 2 PM.  Took on Telephone for a while and got along alright.  Came off at 6 pm.
At 11 PM we sent over a gas attack and there was a strafe following for a couple of hours, some of the shells coming close to our dugout.
Got a few letters by the nights mail – one each from home, Annie, Leona, Ella, Mrs. Little.
Weather – Fine

Friday, March 22
Was awakened at 6 AM to go on duty.  Was very slack, only sending out one message.  Came off at 10 AM.  Pardo and I got some water and had a clean up.
Slept from about 5.30 until 7.30.  Went out with Edwards and Eedy to get the rations.  Got a bad scare with ME? Bullets going over our heads.
Went on duty again at 10 PM.  Took only a few messages.
Weather – Fine.

Saturday, March 23
Coming off duty at 2 am I slpt right through until about 1 am except when breakfast and dinner were ready.  Had a wash after getting up and went on duty with Pardo at 2 PM again.  Came off at 6 PM and got ready to move out as we were being relieved by 44th Ba.  Pulled out about 8.30 and went overland to Loos and from there to Noeun-lea-Mines? Euart & I arrived there about 12 AM and were very tired had a good billet with lots of straw.
Fine Day

Sunday, March 24
Weather – Fine.
Got up about 10 AM.  There was quite a bombardment early in the morning but I slept through it all serenely.  Cleaned up a little and had dinner.  Went over to the ball ground and watched a game between Sigs and an artillery team.  Played in a game myself after supper and got beaten.  Went to Y had a feed and from there back to billet where I found Alf. Gilroy.  Went for a walk with him and Euart for an hour or so.  A bomb dropped near us and scared us pretty badly.  Home about 9.45.

Monday, March 25
Wm and I got up about 8.30 as we had to go on duty as runners at 9 oclock.  I was on Div. H.Q. at Draguernt?.  Didn’t have much to do.  Muster Parade after dinner.  Played football rest of the afternoon.
After tea Eedy & I went over to the Y and had a cup of cocoa.
Played cards and put my equipment together the rest of the evening. 
Weather – Cooler

Tuesday, March 26
Reveille at 4 am and had to get ready to move off at 5.30am.  Didn’t move off however and parade was dismissed about 6.30.  Win? & I went up town & had eggs and chips.  Went on duty as runner at 2 until 9.  Was up at Div. HQ from 4.30 –8.30 and didn’t have a single message to deliver.  Was dead tired when I got back to billet.
Weather –Cool

Wednesday, March 27
Fell in at 4.30 AM in light marching order and started off for Villars – du – Bois.  Had a nice march of about 15 kilometers.  Arrived there about 11 AM.  Slept all afternoon with Bill Kerr.  Went over to the Y for a while and had a sleep from 8.30 – 11.30 when we fell in ready to move off in heavy marching order.  Marched to a place down the road where we were to wait for the transports.  It was very cold waiting around.
Weather – Dull & Cool

Thursday, March 28
Lorries came finally about 2 AM and we moved off.  There were about 30 in our truck and it was very uncomfortable.  Travelled about 60 kilometer when we halted at an open field and stayed there for a while.  Got on lorries again about 5 PM and went back.  Halted at a village and after standing for an hour had to march about 8 kilometers to village (Dainville) where our billets.  Had a few rests on the way.  Finally landed at an old church.  I was separated from the rest & slept alone on hard cement floor.  Was dead tired.
Weather – Rain

Friday, March 29
Had a stand to at 4.30 but it didn’t come to anything.  Slept a few hours in morning.  Had a clean up.  Moved into another billet with Win Bolton. Nearly everyone in Section was drunk.  Got ready to pull out in afternoon.  Was detailed to C station with Cran, McCall, Wilson.  Pulled out about 6.30.  Marched through Arras which was being shelled heavily.  Got into line about 10 PM.  Ran out a line to Ba. Hq.  Went to bed in Reserves? Dugout.  Was very cold.
Weather – Cool

Saturday, March 30
Was wakened up about 7.30 by the noise of a terrific strafe.  Got my equipment on and went out into the trench where I stayed until it was nearly all over.  A few shells lit very close to us over the top of the parapet.  Our line to Ba. HQ went out and Wilson & I went out and fixed it O. K.  Stayed in C, long dugout rest of the day when it was fairly quiet.  At night we moved our station to __? Lately occupied by Ba .  __?
Very muddy going across.  Was on duty on the line nearly all the time.  Toon ? was wounded today.
Weather – Rain

Sunday, March 31
Wilson and I were relieved about 6.30 AM by Crow? And McCall.  Went over to the old place and stayed there all day.  Had a leep and an eat.  Fritz was fairly quiet and we weren’t bothered with much strafing.  Went on duty again about 7.30PM.  Were relieved about 9 PM by the 4th Battalion.  The 4th had 23 casualties coming in.  “C” Ca;y were separated from other companies and detailed as a garrison company.  Reached our quarters and as there was no line in we turned in and went to bed.  Had a pretty good dugout.
Weather – Rain.

Letters March 1918

Date Description
Saturday, March 09, 1918 Going to France
Wednesday, March 13, 1918 First Letter from France
Friday, March 22, 1918 Second letter from France