Diary & Letters April 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 April 1918
Monday, April 1
The Sgt. Major woke Wilson and myself up about 2.30 AM with a message to go to 4th Batt. H.Q. Took a ration of SRs and set out. Were about 2 hrs. finding the place. Was very sleepy and tired. Stayed there until relieved about 7.30. Slept for a out 8 hrs after that. The H.Q. lineman ran a line to us in afternoon. Weren't at all busy. Fritz put up a heavy strafe about 7.30 until 8 PM. Our line went out so Crow and I went out and fixed it after the strafe was over. It was badly cut up but we got through O.K.
Weather – Fine
Tuesday, April 2
Went on my shift from 12 AM until 3 AM. Just had one message to put through – a situation report. Slept from 3 until 10 am, when I got up and had breakfast. Did practically nothing all day as we weren’t busy at all on the line.
About 8 PM Fritz was sending over some gas shells so we stayed at the alert for a few hours. Nothing went near us however.
Weather was bright during day but dull at night. Fritz put a heavy strafe on Arras.
Wednesday, April 3
Was awakened at 2.30 PM because the line was out. Wilson & I went out and looked over it but there was nothing wrong. Crow got the Fuller fixed about 6 AM and it was O.K. after that.
Stayed on duty most of the day. Moved up into front line that night. We were the support company and had quite a time getting aline through to Ba. HQ.
Had my first taste of gas down in a __? Had quite a strafe besides.
Weather – Dull with a little rain.
Thursday, April 4
Went on duty at 7 AM. The Ba(ttalion) Lineman ran a line to us about 9.30 and after that our communication to Ba(ttalion) HQ was O.K. Only had a few messages to handle.
Weather very wet and miserable and the trenches were nothing but mud and water.
Stayed inside all day and caught up with some sleep which I badly needed.
Friday, April 5
Was on duty from 1 AM until 7 AM. Had a sleep after that. Our line wasn’t working most of the day because our Fuller was on the rocks. Got our stuff ready to pull out that night.
The relief didn’t arrive until about 11 PM and then we started off. The night was pitch dark and it was hard work ploughing through the mud. Were lost a couple of times but we finally reached the road O.K. and were than well away. Lieut Day was in chare of the party and was very windy.
Weather – Rain.
Saturday, April 6
After marching about 4 hours we came to the light railway. We piled into a truck and soon the train started off. I slept most of way. Arrived at Beruiville? about 6 AM & marched from there to Wober? Had a wash and shave and felt much better after that.
At 2 PM we fell in and marched to Ecorvres? a distance of about 12 KM. My feet were sore and it was a hard march indeed. Were quartered in huts, Bill and I went to bed as soon as we got our packs as were all dead tired.
Weather – Dull
Sunday, April 7
Got up about 10 AM and after breakfast had a good wash and general clean up. Spent most of the day scraping the mud off our clothes and equipment.
Fill in at 10.20 and went to the baths where we got a change of clothes and a bath which made me feel much better.
Went up town to a movie show at night with Eedy.
Weather – Dull
Monday, April 8
Did nothing in particular all day except clean up everything in general.
In afternoon shells began to fall around but none came near the billet. Continued off and on shelling all night.
Tuesday, April 9
Aniversary of Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Had a parade in morning and an inspection.
About 6 PM a German plane landed in a field about 600 yds from our billet. I just came out of the hut in time to see the aviator coming out holding his hands up. Some men of 1st Ba captured the two men in plane. They were forced to land being lost and also out of water and petrol. Went over and had a good look at plane.
Shelling continued through day & night.
Wednesday, April 10
Had another inspection in the morning by Mr. Collin?
Continued shelling by Fritz all day. Dropped one near us at a cross-roads and killed a few horses but no soldiers were hurt as far as we heard.
Thursday, April 11
Had station work in the morning again.
Marched to Victory Camp in afternoon. Very hot march and as usual the Scout Officer managed to lose his way so we went about 2 km more than we should have.
After great deal of confusion finally got settled in a hut after being kicked out of about 6 others.
Saw McCall of 241 st?.
Great aeroplane activity and saw our first air battle but couldn’t find out who won as it was too far away.
Had a good sleep that night.
Friday, April 12
Had a little lamp pair work in the morning. After the dinner there was a football match between Sigs and “C” cmy? Which “C” won by 3-1. Also rather poor ball game between 1st & 4th which our men won by 8-0.
After tea Bill Pat & I went to a concert given by 87th Ba. Concert Party. It was very good and very funny. “Bringing up Father” was the main feature and they certainly pulled off some good stunts. The singing was also good altho there was no orchestra.
Saturday, April 13
No parades all day but we were busy getting ready for our trip up the line that night. Bill, Cy and I were detailed to C Cmy? With Cg? 1/e?
Marched off about 6.30 and had a very long march before arriving there. Went into the line to the left of Arras and C went right into front line. Relieved 5th Ba.
We had a good sup? & sigs had a jake? place. No trouble with lines altho the phone was rather on the bum.
Sunday, April 14
Was on duty from 12 am to 6 am. Not much doing.
Had a good sleep next day.
Mr. LaRose was 1/c C? and we got along fine with him.
The linemen paid us a visit during the day but there was no trouble with the lines at all.
Got a good ration that night and we had a young? grocery store with what we took up with us.
Monday, April 15
No trouble at all on the station today. Were relieved in the front line by the 3rd Ba that night and moved back into supports. C was in Cam Valley? and we were jake there. Sigs had a great place all to ourselves known as “The Better ‘Ole”. It had a stove in it and wire bunks. We were converted? to 3rd Ba HQ by wire for the time being. Had a good feed that night and a fairly good sleep.
Tuesday, April 16
Cy woke me up about 8 AM and we went over the line. The 3rd had cut our line so we connected it up and followed the road to Pudding Trench where we followed the line until we reached 3rd Ba HQ. They told us that McE was going to run a new line to us so we went back and “stood loose” until Mc and the lineman ran a line to us through B and D Cy? In the afternoon. Ran a tug wire to officers’ dugout so they could call us when they wanted us.
Wednesday, April 17
On duty from 12 -? Until 6 am. Very long and sleepy shift. Had a shave and general clean up.
About 8 PM, Kerr and I walked back to Ba. Hq. to get our mail. I got a box from Aunt Lillie in Australia. Contained tea, cocoa, sugar, pudding cakes and certainly came in jake.
Thursday, April 18
Was on duty from 6 am until 12 noon.
In the afternoon By Lownsbury and I went up Cam Avenue? And sent a lamp message to EOC? through PB?.
Not much doing all day.
Nary a German shell ever came near Cam Valley? while we were there for which we were truly thankful.
Weather – Dull and cool.
Friday, April 19
Had my first good sleep and didn’t get up until breakfast was served about 9.30.
Went on duty from 12 – 6pm. Didn’t have much to do.
About 6 pm, 8 German planes came over our lines. Everything was firing at them but none were hit.
At 8.30 our artillery put up a heavy barrage on German line which we could see quite plainly. They kept it up for some time.
Rations didn’t come up till late so went off to bed about 10.15 without them.
Weather – Rain, Snow Very cold.
Saturday, April 20
Was on duty from 6-12 am. Fine clear day but very quiet in the line.
After the rations came up that night we got ready to pull out. Left Cam Valley? About 8.45. Went up the road quite a piece to Support lines in Dingwall Trench. Fritz started a heavy strafe off whizz- bangs while we were on the way. Got there safely though although there were quite a number of casualties that night.
We have rotten quarters and are very cramped for space. However our line was OK and we had no trouble getting through.
Sunday, April 21
Was on duty from 12 -? until 6 am and it was a long and tiresome shift, with not much doing. At night went to “Carris? Rear with officer’s batman for rations.
Our engineers blew up a bridge at uP u? that night.
Weather – Fine.
Monday, April 22
Slept most of morning until noon when I went on duty until 6 oclock. Nothing special doing.
That night Cpl. Mac? came up to set the lamp on Racbst? But he wasn’t able to get them.
Got a letter from Mary McGorman and a post card from Lavina that night.
Weather – Fine
Tuesday, April 23
Nothing in particular doing all day. Were not able to get much sleep because the only place we had to sleep was in a narrow passage which everyone had to go thru to get to the officers so were being trampled on whenever anyone came through.
Mc Call was wounded in the stomach today up on relay? station while out repairing lines. He was hit by a sniper and afterwards died of wounds in the hospital altho they though he would pull through at first.
Wednesday, April 24
Rather quiet day. No trouble on lines whatever. Moved up into the front line that night relieving D Cy?. Cy HQs? was in a sap? below a cellar. The sap had only 1 entrance but otherwise was O.K. There was no protection outside house whatever and no movement was allowed in daylight.
The linesmen came up and fixed the line to BHQ. WE had to look after a line to forward HQ which was only for the convenience of the officers.
Thursday, April 25
About 1 am Cy and I went out to fix line to Forward HQ. Found the break OK and OK’d the line from forward HQ, ?Also went up the front line trench to look up the line running from our forward HQ to A CY?. Found a break and while sitting on the fire step repairing it Fritz opened up a whizz –bang strafe and one landed on the parapet right above us nearly deafening us.
Our line to BHQ also went out during a strafe at 4.30 pm and linemen fixed it at night.
Friday, April 26
Our line for Forward HQ went out so Bill & I went out and found that a 5.9? had landed right on it taking a piece right out of it. Fixed that and then Cy & I went out later and put in a new piece of line cutting off quite a corner of the line. We also made the line nearly all air-line as it would be sfer from shell fire. Had no trouble with that line altho our line to BHQ went out at the usual time and Ba linemen had to come up & repair it.
Saturday, April 27
Was on duty from 12--? Until 6 am. Slept most of the day. For a wonder our line didn’t go out. Were relieved by the 10th Ba(ttalion) about 11 pm. Kerr went out ahead. Cy and I got rid of our phone by putting it on HQ ___? Stopped at 3 YMCA’s on the road out. Met Eedy and Buck ? at 1st YMCA. Buck & Cy got tight on rum. Had a good feed at the different Y’s and the way out didn’t seem very long.
Sunday, April 28
Arrived in Augin? about 2 am. We were the last of the Sigs to arrive. Had breakfast and got a box from home and some letters. Went to bed about 4 AM and slept until about noon when we got up for dinner. Had a wash, shave and general clean up. Went to YMCA at night for church with Eedy and Bolton.
Weather – fine.
Monday, April 29
Cleaned up quite a bit in the morning. Had a fine bath and a new issue of underwear in the afternoon
Tuesday, April 30
Went on duty in Orderly Room at 10 AM and missed the morning parade. Wasn’t very busy as I only got one message.
Letters April 1918