19 March 1917

Extract from the diary of LCpl Walter Williamson, 6th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

We were marched off for a working party. Calling at a big “R.E.” dump where we picked up picks and shovels. We went on to an old disused railway siding near Vlamertinghe. Half the party were detailed to some workshops near by, to stack empty shell boxes under cover. They were the lucky ones, being quite close by an estaminet (which also sold coffee). They found a nice soft job and returned in the evening with plenty of firewood. I was unfortunate enough to get in with the unlucky half of the party which spent a day on the siding in driving snow, digging up old sleepers and stacking them. By the time we had finished work we had seen too much of sleepers to bother carrying any back for firewood. Then we wended our weary way back to the R.E. dump, and handed in our picks and shovels which were counted carefully before we were allowed to proceed on our way back to camp. Counting out picks and shovels to the “P.B.I.” was an important part of the R.E. work.

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