Read today's entry from Harry Gissing's 1914-18 war diaries

April 17, 1917

My 29th birthday, and I begin to think that I’m getting old. With good fortune I may be home for my 30th, but it does not give me much time to work up a business before touching 40, and previously I always reckoned on having something good by 30.

Yesterday was wet and cold, but went for a walk after tea to Thiepval, about three miles from here, and was very pleased I did so, as it was wonderfully interesting, so much so that I determined to go again.Coming home saw three lengths of 5” rubber piping, so we confiscated it for the baths. Followed the railway coming home and had a perilous walk on the wet sleepers where it crossed the lagoon, rather wet by time I got home. Fixed up the pump this morning with the hosing we carried home, and find it a great success, just about halving the work.

Set off for Thiepval after dinner, arriving back after six, having explored all the fighting area of this locality. The shelling must have been truly awful, and nowhere have I seen the same amount of shrapnel used as here. Shrapnel cases and pellets absolutely covered the ground, and in one place were so numerous that they were used to form a road. Man dead Germans were still to be seen in the last stage of decomposition, and skulls were numerous.

After viewing such a battlefield one is convinced that nothing on earth can withstand our attack providing the artillery is sufficient. Met a couple of tanks being salvaged, one the “Creme de Menthe” being rather an historic one. Brought home some driving bands, etc. and a German bayonet. Thiepval itself has disappeared, but a mound with cellars underneath still remains, and is all that is left of what was once the Chateau.

NOTE: The next diary entry is April 20


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