Witley, May 14, 1917

Monday         Weather good Today the Brigade were out all day on bivouacing etc I did not go out [.] on Fire Piquet Sent photos to Canada  am feeling a little sore from yesterday, slight headache

The War Diary says “Brigades ceremonial & driving drill on Hankley Common.” (1)

O.Pip frequently echoes the men’s complaints about their picquets and fatigues:

O Pip 1 4 cookhouse fatigue“Forage fatigue all day. Never worked so hard in all my life. Juggling around bales of hay and sacks of oats. …
“Duty battery. On cook-house fatigue, cleaning pots and pans, also whitewashed the place and likewise myself.
“Mess orderly. Wanted a man to whitewash the lower boards of our hut and I got the job.
“This afternoon I was detailed to help a driver clean his harness. They call us gunners the driver’s [sic] batmen, and it sure looks that way.” (2)

Gunners, we are told, are convinced that drivers have it easy; the drivers, of course, know the gunners might as well be on holiday.

“Way back in the old stone age days the boys in the artillery quarreled about their respective duties. We recall how the drivers with their mastodons, hauled the huge boulders into action and the gunners pushed the projectiles over the cliffs upon their friends below. After action they returned to their dug-outs and the long-haired, goat-skinned gunners and drivers would sit before a roaring fire and argue as to who did the most work.”(3)

The gunners complain that they get a “fatigue in the morning, another one in the afternoon and then a guard thrown in at night.” On the other hand, the drivers complain the gunners have no idea what it’s like to be “out in a real old rain storm and you come in with your harness all mud and rust and then for the next two days you have to scrub and rub and spoil your hands by getting’ them all smothered in oil and grease. And so on they rave, the language flows freely and abounds in expletives. They will talk until the canteen closes and then run on until the effect of the lubricant has vanished.” (3)

(1) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 4 (May 1917): 2. Library and Archives of Canada.
(2) “A Gunner’s Diary”. O.Pip. 2 (May 1917): 4
(3) “Gunners vs Drivers.” O. Pip. 3 (June 1917): 3.

The cartoon of cookhouse fatigue is by Gunner JM Inglis, O.Pip.1 (April 1917): 4

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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