6 May 1917

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

We went into reserve on the banks of the Yser (Eyesore) Canal. Here only Battn. H.Q. required signallers so went and billetted with No 4 platoon of our Company and worked with them. We were put busy at once digging new dugouts in the bank for the next war. On the other bank of the canal others were busy on Light railway work, the good work which we had started, had now aircraft took particular delight in coming to inspect our progress and return to their quarters and report, and I suppose, give a hint that we were working far too hard for the amount of pay that we were drawing. The enemy artillery had both banks ranged to a yard, and when he decided that we should stop work he simply put a barrage down that drove us in a big hurry across the footbridges at that time being a nice mixture of High Explosives, Shrapnel, and Gas shells, and casualties were heavier a deal, than actually in the front line.

A night or two was also spent cable laying, practically to the front line. This confirmed our suspicions of a big offensive coming in the near future, as cables usually only came as far forward as Divisional Headquarters, and front lines would have to travel forward very considerably to leave room for Div. H.Q. at the end of those cables.

The weather at this time was beautiful, though the warm sun did not tend to sweeten the odour from the canal, and it was almost possible to believe the tales of what the Canal was supposed to chiefly contain. One drawback to summer to some of the men, was the withdrawal of the rum ration in favour of lime juice, and the lime juice was not “cordially” received, as one man said as he picked bits of wood out of his ration,

“Well, if it bites lumps off the inside of the cask, what is it going to do to me”

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