18th March 1918: 2412 L-Cpl Smith to hospital sick – scabies.
17th March 1918: 2426 L-Sgt Turner promoted to Sergeant; 2436 Pte Thirlwell (with Pioneers) to England and leave; 2497 Pte Kerr unexpired portion of sentence (5 years penal servitude) remitted and released from prison.
16th March 1918: A fatigue party of 5 officers and 125 men under Lieut. Braithwaite reported to 21st Battalion at La Basse Ville for work on defences. 180 men bathed at Red Lodge and received clean clothes. Defence building & wiring fatigues and bathing continued while the battalion was in support.
15th March 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion at 9pm who two nights later were raided by the Germans after a heavy Minnenwerfer barrage. The Battalion spent the next eight days in reserve with B, C, & D Companies at the Catacombs and A Coy plus Battalion HQ at Red Lodge, though every night spent working around the front line posts. The accommodation at the Catacombs ‘underground city’ was very comfortable and offered a good nights rest. [Photograph of the area where the Catacombs were located, with Hill 63 in the background]
14th March 1918: Rained during the night but little damage was done to the trenches and the water drained away. An enemy balloon broke away but was shot down by a British airman as it crossed our lines. Photograph of a German soldier jumping from his observation balloon, a procedure German observers took when their balloon was attacked by Allied aircraft.
13th March 1918: Enemy trench mortars active but were effectively silenced by our 18-pounders.
11th March 1918: With the increased artillery activity continuing the Australian 18-pounders were active on the enemy front and support lines, with retaliation by the enemy Trench Mortars.
9th March 1918: Artillery activity on both sides increased towards and during the night, with one officer, 2nd Lieut. Robbins of the 5th/22nd having only just returned with his commission from the Officers Cadet Battalion in England – and having lost his brother also with the Battalion at Pozieres – killed in action along with three other ranks.
8th March 1918: With the 18th Battalion on the right flank and the 24th Battalion on the left the 22nd Battalion took up their position in the front line in front of Warneton and La Basse Ville, with the River Lys protecting the right flank. The line was held by a series of posts: two Companies occupying the front, one in support and the fourth in reserve. Patrols were active.
7th March 1918: The 22nd Battalion moved from Kortepyp Camp and entrained at Romarin Siding on the Light Railway train at 5.30pm. During the night the 22nd relieved the 38th Battalion in the front line, back again in the La Basse Ville area.
6th March 1918: Reveille was sounded at 2.30am for the return to the front and by 5am the Battalion was at Lottinghem and then entrained for Steenwerck. The night was once again spent in Kortepyp Camp. A party of 1 officer and 3 NCO’s per company proceeded to the front line for reconnaissance.
27th February 1918: Sports took place during the battalion’s time at Selles. In a 6th Brigade football tournament held during the month the 22nd Battalion reached the final, defeated as usual by the 24th Battalion. A Divisional Platoon competition for shooting and bayonet fighting was won by X Platoon of C Company under Lieut Gorman, MC. The excellent Lewis gun work by L-Cpl Binns, MM & Bar, significantly helped in their winning.
1st February 1918: Musketry and accuracy of fire was to become a focus and feature of training during the period at Selles. The Battalion completed its 1,000th day of active service abroad since its embarkation on 8th May 1915.
30th January 1918: After detraining at Lottinghem in the early hours and marching for six kilometres, the 22nd Battalion arrived at Selles, about 20km from Boulogne. Disappointingly there was no sign of a village but just widely scattered huts of differing quality. For the Battalion this was the furthest that they had been from the front line since their arrival in France two years earlier, offering ample opportunity for leave to Boulogne, and here they remained until 6th March. The strength of the Battalion at the end of the month was 48 officers and 879 other ranks.
27th January 1918: After resting for a week following their relief, the 22nd Battalion moved on a foggy day with bad visibility by route march to the Shankill huts near Neuve Eglise. The camp was scattered but the accommodation good. Physical drill, inspection and cleaning of equipment were the order of the day. Everyone was looking forward to a long promised month near the coast.
26th January 1918: General Birdwood visited and spoke to groups of men on work improving the camp.
23rd January 1918: The 22nd Battalion attended a concert given by the ‘Red Diamonds’, the 6th Brigade Troupe in the Cinema Hall at Romarin.
21st January 1918: The 22nd Battalion was relieved by the 21st Battalion and went into Romarin Camp where dry clothing, socks, fires and a hot meal were waiting for the men. For the next week working parties were supplied as per the works schedule.
18th January 1918: During this period patrols were very active, frequently bringing in prisoners. Close to one of the 22nd Battalion posts a German patrol was encountered by a party under the command of 342 CSM Carter who shot the German officer and on inspection was carrying some very useful maps on trenches and troop dispositions. For this action CSM Carter [front row, third from the left, in photograph of 22nd Battalion Gallipoli Sergeants] was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal [click on link to read the citation].
15th January 1918: Snow turned to rain and the frozen ground began to thaw. The communication trenches were in a bad way – the revetment gave way and the trench became full of mud and water, the duckboards broke loose and floated away. Shelters in the support line and in the posts were crushed in and flooded out. Gumboots were issued. Rations carried by the reserve company to the right company took six hours as opposed to the previous one hour when the ground was frozen. The water and mud in many cases was up to the men’s waists. The Germans were in even worse situation as the River Lys had flooded and they were on lower ground. Both sides were busy pumping out, repairing and draining. The tour of duty was performed under conditions the like of which the Battalion had not known since Flers and Ginchy.
13th January 1918: The 22nd Battalion moved into the front line, with the 19th Battalion on the right flank and 24th Battalion on left, at La Basse Ville facing the town of Warneton, in an area with a very bad reputation owing to the number and size of ‘minnies’ employed by the Germans. The line was held by a system of posts, ‘B’ & ‘D’ Companies in the firing line, ‘A’ in support and ‘C’ in reserve. The ground was frozen hard, and snow a few inches deep lay on the ground.
12th January 1918: The 22nd Battalion moved to Romarin and then via Light Railway to a system of dug-outs called the Catacombs just behind Ploegsteert Wood. These catacombs were an underground dug-out city, large enough to comfortably house a couple of thousand men, consisting of great timbered drives and tunnels into the side of Hill 63. In galleries driven at right-angles off the main passages, long rows of wooden bunks were erected. The place was electrically lighted and though the atmosphere was a little stuffy, troops fresh from the line were very appreciative of the solid comfort of a good dry bed. [Photograph of the 6th Brigade in the Catacombs].
11th January 1918: Inspection of Box Respirators followed by gas drill. Orders received to relieve the 25th Battalion in the front line.
8th January 1918: Heavy fall of snow during the day, approximately 3 inches deep. ‘C’ Company tasked with laying duckboards, and a detachment of men from other platoons on cable laying duties. 150 men went to baths during the morning, who then worked on reveting the huts.
7th January 1918: Lecture on night operations including defence of strong points garrisoned by a platoon.
6th January 1918: Church parade held. A special day of prayer by Kings Proclamation.
2nd January 1918: Weather was very cold and ground frozen. ‘D’ Company and 2 platoons of ‘C’ Company employed on Corps defence under Capt Kennedy & Lieut. Gorman, plus continued salvage work, stores and corduroy road construction.
1st January 1918: Fatigues – 200 men employed on salvage in Ploegsteert Wood under direction from Major Dooley, MC.; 100 men loading & unloading stores at Romarin Siding; and 33 men constructing corduroy road for Balloon section.