On this day one hundred years ago, His Majesty, King George V was visiting the Somme battlefields with the Prince of Wales. In the photograph, the King is reputedly viewing the ongoing action at Pozières through a telescope.
Initial success at Pozières had been costly for the Australian 1st Division, and Will and his section of machine gunners had been regrouping some 15-20 miles away. But in the midst of retraining, suddenly new uniforms were the order of the day…
Sunday August 6th: Another all day parade, but those who wish to go to church may do so. We get a short lecture by our brigadier, after returning we have to fill belts and wash and grease limbers and repack them. We have dinner of boiled beef and boiled potatoes, in afternoon I have a bath. I also receive a letter from Bob [his brother]. Spend evening on parade from 7pm till 8pm getting fitted out in new clothes. I am also on guard as we are duty section.
NB: This rare issue of new clothes may have been due to the old uniforms being tattered and filthy from the battle at Initial success at Pozières had been costly for the Australian 1st Division, and Will and his section of machine gunners had been regrouping some 15-20 miles away. – but, as we see a few days later, the Aussie troops were about to be reviewed by the King…
Monday August 7th: Pack up and move and leave at 3pm. We march to La Vicogne where our old place was and the [RFC] 60th squadron is. I sleep out but it is very cold. I again go and view the planes. Day very hot and roads very dusty. I enjoy a wash.
Tuesday August 8th: Pack up again and move in rear of Brigade, and come a different way round, about 11 miles carrying our packs. The roads were very dusty making our marching unpleasant. Arrive at 5pm, have another wash, have a drink of milk and then a rest. A camp of wounded Germans near us. I take a walk round Contay and then turn in for night. We get no blankets. There are 6 wire netting beds and a small room for 14 of us.
Thursday August 1oth: Wet morning, about 11am we go for a short route march, in afternoon we have to parade with web equipment, belts and overcoats, and march along the road to be reviewed by the King. We cheered as he passed by, sitting in the car alongside Gen. Birdwood; in next car came the Prince of Wales. A great number of men and transport being held up by the King, kept us from moving for some time.
Inspired by this diary, Liam’s Story is a novel based upon the life of the writer and his family.