Sunday, April 29, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
I feel petty helpless in this situation because I can't make things right for her. I just hope that seeing the Counsellor and talking through things will give us an indication of what the root of the problem is so that we can help solve it.
“I gotta ice my wrist when I get home”, said Woody, as I was driving home from the party last night. “I think I might have bent the pin.”
“How did you end up with a pin in your wrist?” I asked.
“I blame Steve Irwin even thought he’s dead now”, he replied.
OK I’ll bite I thought “What did Steve Irwin have to do with it?”
“Well Dad and I were in Queensland on holiday, and we saw a show at Australia Zoo that finished early so Dad asked if I wanted to go go-karting and I crashed and broke my hand.”
Woody is a mate of Glen’s and I was taking a car load home from Maddy and Scott’s 18th birthday party up at Mt Dandenong. The party had been postponed from a couple of weeks ago and was going along fine until about 11:30 last night, when the booze started to kick in and set off some testosterone fuelled idiocy. Woody’s sore wrist was a result of him trying to break up a fight at the party.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the midst of that sort of rubbish. I don’t even know what started it. I was sitting inside with the other oldies watching the footy when someone came in and said there was a fight in the backyard. By the time I got outside there were actually a few fights. Glen and I grabbed a couple of guys and ejected them and no sooner was that done than another one would erupt. Eventually we got the troublemakers out into the street and called the police who cleared everyone away.
No real damage apart from a couple of black eyes and bruised egos in the end. Glen tells me that it was a group of deros from the High School who hadn’t even been invited to the party.
One other bit of collateral damage – the cops had one of their tyres slashed and I’m just glad the idiot who did that didn’t pull a knife during the fights.
Friday, April 27, 2007
"You don't even know why I don't want to go to school!" she snapped.
"No, because when I asked you, you refused to tell me."
I then got the whinge about her maths teacher not liking her. "If that's the case, then I'll make an appointment to see the coordinator" I said.
"SHE IS THE COORDINATOR!!!!"
After a while we got to the real reason and that was that she hadn't completed her maths homework and when I offered to help I got, "Sure and you're always around to help me aren't you. I want Mum to help me."
Sometimes it doesn't pay to get out of bed - me that is, not her. Still, half an hour later I did have her at school.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
But is that all we are? I know that each molecule that makes up our bodies had it's origins in the birth of stars and from that point of view we are immortal. But what of the essence that makes us what we are - what of the soul and the spirit? Does that essence endure? Are there countless lost souls waiting out there to coalesce and become human again?
No one said that midlife actually gave you answers but it sure as hell raises a lot of questions. Sometimes the questions seem overwhelming and when you can't even define what they are how do you find the answers?
I am not religious. Not anti-religion either because I think that at times I would like the comfort of belief. But I'm not in that space either although part of this journey has been about a kind of spiritual awakening.
Take a look at that picture which is from the Hubble telescope and realise how small we are to have such an enquiring mind and need for such big answers.
The first is from the father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk -
"Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well."
The second from Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, at the consecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier -
"We do not know this Australian's name and we never will.
We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how and when he died. We do not know where in
Yet he has always been among those whom we have honoured. We know that he was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the Western Front. One of the 416,000 Australians who volunteered for service in the First World War. One of the 324,000 Australians who served overseas in that war and one of the 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil. One of the 100,000 Australians who have died in wars this century.
He is all of them. And he is one of us.
He may have been one of those who believed that the Great War would be an adventure too grand to miss. He may have felt that he would never live down the shame of not going. But the chances are he went for no other reason than that he believed it was the duty he owed his country and his King.
Because the Great War was a mad, brutal, awful struggle, distinguished more often than not by military and political incompetence; because the waste of human life was so terrible that some said victory was scarcely discernible from defeat; and because the war which was supposed to end all wars in fact sowed the seeds of a second even more terrible war – we might think this Unknown Soldier died in vain.
But, in honouring our war dead, as we always have and as we do today, we declare that this is not true. For out of the war came a lesson which transcended the horror and tragedy and the inexcusable folly. It was a lesson about ordinary people – and the lesson was that they were not ordinary. On all sides they were the heroes of that war; not the generals and the politicians but the soldiers and sailors and nurses – those who taught us to endure hardship, to show courage, to be bold as well as resilient, to believe in ourselves, to stick together.
The Unknown Australian Soldier whom we are interring today was one of those who, by his deeds, proved that real nobility and grandeur belongs, not to empires and nations, but to the people on whom they, in the last resort, always depend.
That is surely at the heart of the ANZAC story, the Australian legend which emerged from the war. It is a legend not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity. It is a legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity. It is a democratic tradition, the tradition in which Australians have gone to war ever since.
This Unknown Australian is not interred here to glorify war over peace; or to assert a soldier's character above a civilian's; or one race or one nation or one religion above another; or men above women; or the war in which he fought and died above any other war; or one generation above any that has been or will come later.
The Unknown Soldier honours the memory of all those men and women who laid down their lives for
We have lost more than 100,000 lives, and with them all their love of this country and all their hope and energy.
We have gained a legend: a story of bravery and sacrifice and, with it, a deeper faith in ourselves and our democracy, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be Australian.
It is not too much to hope, therefore, that this Unknown Australian Soldier might continue to serve his country - he might enshrine a nation's love of peace and remind us that, in the sacrifice of the men and women whose names are recorded here, there is faith enough for all of us."
One thing I have been told in the past few weeks is that I spent a lot of time with my family apparently grumpy. Whether or not I felt like that, or whether I even believe it may have been true at times, is to a large degree irrelevant, because if that was other people's perception then for them it was real.
One of my daughters told her mother that since I left that they have bonded well and the house is a happier place. Now I would like to think that there is a bit of cognitive dissonance in that, because it is a very hurtful thing to think that things were unpleasant when I was around. I guess no one really likes the thought that they may be redundant and for a father, the thought that his children may believe they are better off with less contact is one that is hard to stomach.
I don't think I'm a bad father but perhaps I could be a better one.
I come from a long line of people who have served. My Dad's Dad was on the Western Front in World War 1 and was wounded in 1917 at the Somme. My Mum's Dad was a Rat of Tobruk. I had great uncles at Changi and on the Burma Railway and I am named after an uncle who was with the 2/22nd Battalion [Lark Force] who was killed on the first day of the Japanese invasion there. I had uncles who were in PNG and one who escaped by boat from Malaya as the Japanese poured down to Singapore [he was one of those subject of the book "Heroes Denied].
As with most people of my generation, I grew up with tales of the Wars - Simpson and his Donkey , The Rats of Tobruk, the heroes of Gallipoli and others. Evidence of the Wars and my families heritage was all around me. In the homes of my Granparents and Uncles and Aunties were photographs of young men in uniform. On the wall of Bill Joyce's passage at 55 Orvieto St, Merlynston, was a velvet belt covered in insignia and brass badges of various units that he had broughtback with him from World War 1.
For all that the War's were not really discussed. There was no boasting, nor any claims of glory simply an unsaid endurance of things that were horrible and better left unsaid. They had fought for us, their kids and grandkids, and it was over and time to get on with life.
Mum's Mum, Lil Smith had 13 close family members who went to serve in WW2 - husband and son, brothers and sisters, brothers-in-law. And two of the latter survived Changi and the Burma Railway but came home looking like skeletons. She nursed one brother through the latter stages of lung cancer and my memories of that are of a sick old man, bed ridden and scary. It was only later on that I found out that Alfred Lawrence Carroll had won the Military Medal in World War 1.
I now have a son who is a Staff Cadet at Duntroon [in Kokoda Company] and I am extremely proud of the fact that he has chosen soldiering as a career. I know that he will at some stage after graduation next year be likely to be sent to Iraq or the Solomons or who knows where at that time. And whilst it frightens me I am also aware that he will do his duty and know that the spirits of those brave family members who went before will be standing there shoulder to shoulder with him.
That word alone carries enormous significance for most Australians and today, being ANZAC Day, it is worth remembering and recording some of the things about it’s significance to me. But in order for it to make sense to some of the non-Australians who visit this blog I should probably explain what it is.
More than any other Day, this one is becoming our true National Day. If like me, you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in
I was born just 12 years after the end of World War 2 and every family in those days had some military tradition. Bill Joyce, my father’s father, was born in
Across the Tasman, similar levels of recruiting were occurring. Four months after the landing at Gallipoli on 25 August 1915, Bill JOYCE was attested at
Religion: Presbyterian, Marital Status: Single, Occupation: Labourer, Address:
09/10/1915 ‑ Embarked from
30/11/1915 ‑ Disembarked in
At this time there was a flood of reinforcements arriving in
23/01/1916 ‑ Left for the
With the failure of the campaign on the Dardanelles the ANZAC forces withdrew to
"Out of the sixteen veteran battalions in the A and NZ Army Corps (1st to 16th) it is intended to form 16 new battalions...This will be done by dividing the veteran battalions into two wings as shown below - a headquarters wing and a second wing. Both wings will then be filled up by reinforcements...
(1) Headquarters will not actually be divided, but the following details will be transferred to the second wing -
(2) Machine-gun section will not be divided; it will remain with Headquarters Wing.
(3) Companies will be fairly divided into two parts...".
About three quarters of the men in all battalions were reinforcements. The bonding of these new units into efficient highly trained forces was hampered by the formation of a number of specialist service units drawn from within the ranks of each battalion. They included the machine gunners, engineers and pioneer battalions. The latter were made up of men less expert than engineers but more highly skilled than the general infantry. "These, though organised as infantry, were not intended, except in emergencies, to live in the trenches, but usually came up for their daily, or nightly, task, returning to their camps or billet when it was ended".
14/03/1916 ‑ Transferred to the NZ Pioneer Battalion at Ismalia
09/04/1916 ‑ Embarked for
The country around the french city of
The advance parties in which Bill JOYCE found himself arrived in the area at the beginning of April in "motor-lorries or old London omnibuses, painted grey, windowless and dilapidated...After motoring fifteen miles through the normal flat green Flemish country side, along cobbled roads frequently fringed with red-tiled farms and smaller cottages, these parties reached Croix du Bac, a small village containing the headquarters of the [British] 34th Division. A mile farther on they passed over the River Lys, a brimming stream, wide enough to carry a fairly constant traffic of barges loaded with road metal and other supplies, and on its far side entered the straggling villages of Sailly, Bac St. Maur, and Erquinghem, built along the roads running parallel to the river and near its bank". It was here that they saw the first signs of war with many of the cottages damaged by shells and many others fortified with sand bags. Closer to the lines all motor traffic was halted and the men had to make their way forward on foot along roads lined with hedges and elms, which gradually became more unkempt and showed greater signs of damage as they got closer to No Mans Land.
The ANZAC command had to learn the British method of organisation and how they held the frontlines. In brief, the country was divided into parcels held by different battalions. Each brigade held about a mile and a half of the front line with about two to three miles of hinterland behind them. "Two reserve battalions would be billeted farther back, in farmhouses or cottages along the country roads. In the same neighbourhood would be the brigade headquarters, the machine-gun company, some of the divisional pioneers and engineers responsible for work in that region, and the field artillerymen whose batteries were grouped at that distance from the front".
At this time Bill JOYCE began to keep a diary. Written in pencil in a small note book 8cm by 12cm it covers the period from May 13, 1916 to September 14, 1916.
On 13/05/1916 he wrote "raining, heavy setting in brick yard, food light". On Sunday 14 May he attended church parade and then on Monday 15 May they "shifted from Salay [Sailly] to Armentiers arrived 1 o'clock at night."
On the 16 May he wrote "Spell all day, a few shells flying about". By the 18th the work of the Pioneers had started in earnest and from then to the 3 June, Bill JOYCE's time was spent building trenches. The Australians had entered the lines at
"Before the New Zealand Division entered the line it had become practicable ‑ probably by the postponement to July of the main Allied offensive ‑ to send it to
On 5 June 1916 he wrote "started day work repairing sap, just got going and BROOK was killed". This is fairly typical of the entries in the Diary. Events are recorded sparsely with no complaint over conditions nor much mention of the danger the Pioneers faced. It was up to them to repair the trenches, to lay the barbed wire that stretched between the lines in No mans land. Much of this work was done under the cover of darkness and Bill started night work on 6 June, 1916. The nights were short "darkness lasting only from 9.30 to 2.15".
On 8 June he wrote "shelled out of bilet, some killed and wounded, a few mates and I went up town and arrived home pretty full".
The diary continues ‑
09/06/1916 ‑ Day work
10/06/1916 ‑ going on guard for 24 hours
11/06/1916 ‑ day work blaster arr.
12/06/1916 ‑ 13/06/1916 ‑
14/06/1916 ‑ raining, marched to work but never started, marched home again at night, there was a fight, it was very funny to watch
15/06/1916 ‑ trenches
16/06/1916 ‑ daylight caving bil [billet] started
17/06/1916 ‑ on picket
18/06/1916 ‑ trenches
19/06/1916 ‑ bathing poraid [sic], trenches at night, berying [sic] telegraph wires
20/06/1916 ‑ 25/06/1916
26/06/1916 ‑ bombardment 2 hours
27/06/1916 ‑ bombardment 1 1/2 hours
28/06/1916 ‑ bathing poraid, trenches at night
29/06/1916 ‑ roused out at 10.30 AM but only for a short while. Returned for dinner, drink of tea, dry bread. Leftenant COOPER killed with a shell Saturday.
30/06/1916 ‑ cleaning bilet in the morning, medical inspection 12.30, had dinner then were filling holes about yard. Some were washing transport waggons 1 1/2 hours AM then trenches and arrived 2.30 back home and found they had been shelling our bilet, just had a drink of tea then all picked up their bed and proceeded to the edge of the canal close by where we ly till over, then back and had something to eat
01/07/1916 ‑ Saturday, then had to start making a dugout so never had any sleep 6 PM sleeping in the open beside road.
The terrain of this part of
In the Autumn of 1915 the French held 400 miles of the front which stretched from the Belgian coastline to
The men of the Pioneer Battalions worked day and night fortifying the British positions; building trenches, raising duck board walkways above the swampy grounds, and laying barbed wire between the lines, often at night and under fire from the German positions. By July of 1916 there was a stalemate and the British High Command needed a breakthrough. With the French hard pressed along much of the front, the
On 1st July, 1916, as Bill JOYCE was trying to sleep beside a road the attack began. The plan was for the infantry to assault behind a creeping barrage by the artillery which had been pounding No Mans Land and the German lines incessantly for several days. For some unknown reason the barrage ceased ten minutes prior to the troops going over the top giving the Germans ample time to man the ramparts of their defences. As the Tommy's climbed from their trenches to begin the assault the machine guns cut them like chaff before a scythe. On that one terrible day 56,000 allied troops died and three times that many were wounded. But that wasn't the end of the First Battle of the
The ANZAC's at this time were still located in the northern part of
02/07/1916 ‑ started work in Gloster Av filling sand bags, one of the...planes brought down
03/07/1916 ‑ Gloster Av filling sand bags, bombardment at night, Estamenit burnt not far from where we were sleeping then it came on raining we all shifted back to our old bilet and a...several of our boys wounded and some missing.
Many of the trenches were named after British Counties, for example two of those near Bois Grenier were called
"On the 3rd [July], General GODLEY having returned some days previously, the staff of II ANZAC moved to la-Motte-au-Bois and at midnight took over from I ANZAC the command of the Armentieres sector. Thus it came about by July 8th, although the 5th had not yet completely arrived, of the 338,005 troops in the Second Army, 100,000 were Australians and New Zealanders". For Bill JOYCE things continued in much the same manner as they had for the previous couple of months.
04/07/1916 ‑ Tuesday, berrying wires not far from Pentenipe. Len ROWLANDS went to hospital. Came on wet after dinner, some of the boys were putting a roof on the new home 6.30 PM were all lined up before the Curnel [sic] tiling fore a lecture about rading parties
05/07/1916 ‑ raining early but cleared up then we wnet to work berrying wires through a crop of oats it is now 12 AM, arrived home 2PM to bed 3.0 PM, roused up 11 PM. gardlarm [?] I got a sleep then started a bombardment but sleep through it all
06/07/1916 ‑ turned out 6.30 AM had breck then went to work berrying wire got the trench finished 11 AM and all went to the pub for a beer had 2 hours for dining, arrived home 3.30 then made some toast and after tea I went and dug some new potatoes for breakfast.
07/07/1916 ‑ still laying wires, left home 8.30 AM arrived back 3 PM, on the way home met Jollie, we had a yarn about old times, weather shourie, we also seen the boys who were doing time cleaning up the yard at the YMCA
04/07/1916 ‑ We were in bed and a bombardment started the shells were flying all over the town set fire to five different places one not far from us and some of the boys were up on the building and some one saw them lite their pipe and said it a spie so out came Captain DANSEY and Major Perry COOCK [?]. DANSEY fired and the man jumped down and then Perry COOCK fired five rounds back at DANSEY so they are grate at catching spies. It was a great joke with all the boys.
07/07/1916 ‑ One of the cooks and I went for a walk after tea to have a look at some of the buildings where the shells smashed. it is a real shame to see the... and after that we went into some of the gardens and had a good feed of strawberries, red currants, black currants, cherries, raspberrys, then got a bag of spuds. There was a few shells landed near us so thought it time to go so we left, came home, had a cup of tea, then went to bed.
08/07/1916 ‑ Revaly 6.30 AM. Had some new spuds for breakfast then fell in 8 AM. Marched to work berring [burying] wire. It was very hot work so did not do much. Arrived home 3.30 PM had tea 4.30, then got paid and after pay went and visited some of the gardens had a good feed of strawberries and then went to bed.
09/07/1916 ‑ Revally 6.30 AM. Breakfast 7 AM, then went on picket, 2 hours on and four off, one of the pickets had a fight with a...because he would not allow him to cross the bridge and at night the...went out to make a raid but did not get over because the wire was not cut, there was five wounded and two killed
10/07/1916 ‑ Monday, weather fine, 8 AM and six of us are still on picket. 11 AM the Germans are landing shells into the town not far from us then have set fire to a big church. It is now one big blaze still boring on with. Picket finished at 9.30 PM all well.
11/07/1916 ‑ Tuesday, Weather fine still carrying on with the picket just came back from stealing some spuds, we are going to have them fried for dinner. I met a good number of chaps I knew while on duty we got dismissed 10 PM, all well.
12/07/1916 ‑ Wednesday, 6.30 PM setting on the edge of a canal which runs past our bilet and two mates are fishing, but don't think they will catch many. To finish up the day we got dismissed at 10 PM then my mate and I went and made a cup of tea and some toast and then retired at 10.30 PM till morning.
13/07/1916 ‑ Thursday, 7 AM then went on picket, but there was a cold wind blowing all day. Went on duty at 8 AM till 11 AM then went and made a good dinner, fried potatoes, fried bread, then went on again 3.30 PM till 6 PM, finished 10 PM, all well
14/07/1916 ‑ Friday, Armentears, Revally 6 AM, breakfast 7 AM then packed up the swag, marched out at 8.30 AM from Armentears. We marched about three miles to an old farm not far from the firing line. There are two batterys, hear one on each side of us, time is now 2 PM just finished dinner, dry bread and a drink of tea, went to bed 8.30 PM slept well in a cow bire
15/07/1916 ‑ Saturday, turned out 6.30 AM, breakfast 7AM then marched to work but never started the boys enjoyed lying about in the sun. Time is now 12 AM just had dinner, one piece of bread and jam. Time is 3.30 PM still doing nothing. Our guns are sending some shells and fritz is returning some, and we are all hugging the parapret [?]
16/07/1916 ‑ Sunday, Revaly 6 AM, breakfast 7 AM, then went to work, we had about 2 miles to walk but when we got there was plenty of work but no one knew what to do so we all sat down and smoked until 1 PM then came home, worked for one hour pulling bricks around our bilet then at night a few of us went for a walk, had a few beers, spent a nice evening.
17/07/1916 ‑ Monday, Revaly 6 AM, had breakfast 6.30, a little fried bacon then some of the boys were told off fore day work and some night. I was one of the night workers, so three others and I went fore a walk, we had a good look round some of the gardens and enjoyed some fruit then came home had dinner, done 1/2 hour baynet drill, now we are finished till 8.45 PM some of the boys were singing a few songs then twelve of us left at 10 PM to carry timber up the trenches, we got home 2.30 AM got to bed 3.30, got up had dinner and set about waiting for night
18/07/1916 ‑ Tuesday, I have had a good tea with the cook, new spuds, roast beef, cabbage, and a big piece of cake one of the boys got had send to him
19/07/1916 ‑ Wednesday, got out of bed 12 AM had dinner a piece bread and jam, drink of tea then went and had a look from one of our poasts, could see our shells bursting in the German lines. It is now 3 PM and our grins are still going strong. At 7 PM there was a big bombardment, it lasted seven hours, my mate and I had to go out to unload the waggon so we could see the do place lit up it was a fine nite to see, we arrived home 10.30 PM.
Bill and his mate were watching the opening bombardment of the Battle of Fromelles. With the 19th July, dawning bright and clear the bombardment program was set down as follows -
"11 -11.30 a.m. Registration by divisional artilleries and trench-mortars.
11.30 - 1 p.m. Registration and bombardment by 9.2-inch and 12-inch howitzers, and registration by 6-inch howitzers.
1-3 p.m. Wire-cutting by 18-pounders
3-6 p.m. Wire-cutting by 18-pounders and medium trench mortars. Bombardment by 18-pounders, 4.5-inch howitzers, 6-inch howitzers, and (from 4 p.m. onwards) by 9.2-inch and 12-inch howitzers.
6 p.m. Artillery to lift to "barrage lines" (that is, to lengthen range, the field guns placing a curtain of fire about a hundred yards or more beyond the objective, and the howitzers bombarding communication trenches, cross-roads, and villages farther back)."
The jubilation shown by the troops as they watched the barbed wire of
In the meantime, still in the vicinity of Armentiers, Bill JOYCE and the Pioneers continued their work -
20/07/1916 ‑ Thursday, Revaly 6 AM, breakfast 6.30, there are still a good deal of...flying they have been going all day, it is now 4 PM and I am just going to have a good tea, some roast beef, coleyflour, potatoes and jam tart and plum pudding then got to load some timber, arrived home 2.30 AM feeling tired had breakfast then turned in till twelve.
21/07/1916 ‑ Friday, just out of bed 12 AM, had dinner which was bulie and bread, then went and gave the cook a hand and things went on all right for tea, roast mutton, cabbage, potatoe and plum puddin, went to work 9.30 PM, arrived home 2 AM went to bed
22/07/1916 ‑ Saturday, got out of bed 12 AM had dinner which was a mug of tea and a piece of fat bacon, then we all went fore a bath to Frontenep [?], and when we got back home I again went and gave the cook a hand with tea, also had a good feed, some jam tart. It is just 6 PM and everything is set again ready to go to work at 9.30 PM. The officers have got the grapphone going well.
23/07/1916 ‑ Sunday, Arrived home from work 3 AM had breck, turned in till 12 AM, got up had dinner, the cook gave me some puddin, it was real good, then I went and give the sargeants cook a hand to get the tea ready, so got another good tea. Are now waiting fore 9 PM to go to work again at 9.30 PM.
25/07/1916 ‑ Tuesday, Just out of bed 12 AM had dinner which contained tea and bread and jam. I have just had tea, a beef stake pie, mashed potatoes and pickles, so am feeling well and ready for a good nights work at 9.30 PM till 3 AM. Things were quiet.
26/07/1916 ‑ Wednesday, First out of bed 12 AM, had a little dinner, bread and jam, then we had to do 1/2 hour drill, then I went and picked some plums fore tea and they were good, so feeling fit fore work again.
27/07/1916 ‑ Thursday, Arrived home 3 AM, had breakfast, went to bed, got up at 12 AM had dinner, then we all went to Armentears to go through gaes [?]. We arrived home 5 PM had tea of bed 12 AM, alls well, just going to give the cook a hand with the tea, roast beef, coleflour, potatoes and carrots, rubarb pie. We all enjoyed tea so feel fit for work at 9.30 PM.
29/07/1916 ‑ Saturday, Just going fore a bath then when we come back we get paid, we are getting fifteen franks, 10/9, then had tea and goe to work at 9.30 PM, barring timber up
30/07/1916 - Sunday, holiday
31/07/1916 ‑ Monday, day work filling sand bags with bricks and carring them about 1/2 mile
01/08/1916 ‑ Tuesday, the same old thing
02/08/1916 ‑ Wednesday, having holiday today, nine of us start night work at 9.30 PM. Night work cutout. Shifted from Rue Karie [Rue Marie] to trooplines, left 4.30 PM and arrived 6 PM where we were put into an old malt house, the floor is verry hard.
03/08/1916 ‑ Thursday, Weather fine and we have been fixing it up, all having a look around some of the old ruens, all so a good deal of shells have been landing about 300 yds from our home.
04/08/1916 ‑ Friday, filling sand bags all morning and after dinner I went to portinelp [?] to see Jolley and we had tea together then went for a walk. I arrived home 10.30 PM, all the boys were in bed so I soon turned in.
05/08/1916 ‑ Saturday, I have been helping the Sargents cook to fix things up and all the others were still fixing our house making it safe and 1.30 PM they went for a bath. I never went.
06/08/1916 ‑ Sunday
07/08/1916 ‑ Monday
08/08/1916 ‑ Tuesday, Still carring on with the building bivies and at 3 PM over came a few shells. One small shell landed near the yard and just about cut one of the chaps arms off and blew three of his toes off but we all scattered about so they could no get any more of us.
09/08/1916 ‑ Wednesday, having holiday and going on gard at 6 PM fore 24 hours.
10/08/1916 ‑ Thursday, things are verry quiet all day, we got relieved 6 PM
11/08/1916 ‑ Friday, went to work 1.30 AM building up the saps, a verry fogie [foggy?]. Arrived back home 10 AM had dinner, then had a sleep till tea time, then three of us went fore a walk to see if we could find any curios.
12/08/1916 ‑ Saturday
13/08/1916 ‑ Sunday, Went to work 5 AM, arrived home 11 AM then packed up, had dinner, marched out 1.30 PM with full pack up, marched up to the old bilet which is one mile from trooplines where we put our blankets on the wagen, then we all marched to the edge of the canal where we slept all night. We got up to 6.30 AM had some bisc and bully.
14/08/1916 ‑ Monday, At 8 AM we all lined up with full packs and were kept standing fore 1/2 hour then had to take them off and some of the men had to clean up all rubbish. We left Armentiers 1.30 PM and it just teamed , we all got drenched to the skin. We arrived at Steen Worck [?] 4 PM which was six miles and I wated till 6 PM for the train. We passed through Hazelrock [?] and arrived at Eblingham [Erquinghem?] 1/2 8, then walked three miles where we put in an old barn at 1/2 past ten. There is plenty of straw so we all slept well.
15/08/1916 ‑ Tuesday, We got up at 7.30 had some stew and a drink of tea then we went on with sloping arms by numbers, then at night had a foot inspection
16/08/1916 ‑ Wednesday, Revaly 6 AM, half hour fisical drill, after breakfast 8 mile march with full pack up. Lecture 7 pm to 7.30 PM.
17/08/1916 ‑ Thursday, mess ordley
18/08/1916 ‑ Friday, Revaly 6 AM real blan, pack kits 8.30 marched out with full packs up went 3 miles then had a foot inspection. After dinner done the washing.
19/08/1916 ‑ Saturday, Revally 6 AM, break 7 AM, then went for a march with pack up, after dinner, play, then No 5 and seven cricket match, general leave from 2 till 8 so we had a good time six of us had a goose for tea
20/08/1916 ‑ shifted Sunday from Etaples, walked 9 miles to St Amer [Bac St Maur?] arrived 7.30 had tea, left by train at 10 AM, arrived Longpre 5 AM Monday 21/8, then we all marched past a can of tea where we got a drop of tea and a piece of cake, then we marched seven miles where we was all bileted in old barns.
22/08/1916 ‑ Tuesday, Lecture by leftenant cournel King after dinner started with G. SAnds in the bar mess, we are cooking in a privet house and there are two old french ladies there and they want to do all the work.
23/08/1916 ‑ Wednesday, still cooking
24/08/1916 ‑ Thursday
25/08/1916 ‑ Friday, still cooking, had a great feed, goose for tea
26/08/1916 ‑ Saturday, We packed up 27/8 shifted left hallenco [?] 1.30 AM walked to Longpre, then got on the train fore two hours then got off walked 7 [9?] miles to some [Somme] and it was raining, slept with a big tarpolin over us.
28/08/1916 ‑ Monday, today we all setting down waiting fore our bilets to be made and a few heavy shours.
29/08/1916 ‑ Tuesday, Started night work, we went about 3 miles in moter buses, then had four mules and there was mud up over our boot tops, we got home seven in the morning, only one got wounded in the left arm.
30/08/1916 ‑ Wednesday, today we all doing nothing but sleep and try and keep dry.
31/08/1916 ‑ Thursday, fine weather going out at 5 PM
01/09/1916 ‑ Friday
02/09/1916 ‑ Saturday, doing nothing, Some of the transports shiften
03/09/1916 ‑ Sunday, we all packed up and shifted about 1 1/2 miles back, started to put up camp but pulled it all down and shifted back again, just about 1/2 mile farther on than our old camp.
04/09/1916 ‑ Monday, working making a new sap fore bringing the wounded out
05/09/1916 ‑ Tuesday, same
06/09/1916 ‑ Wednesday, same
07/09/1916 ‑ Thursday, same
08/09/1916 ‑ Friday, same
The rest of the New Zealand Division was brought up to the
09/09/1916 ‑ Saturday, we had a rifle inspection and gas element inspection and the rest of the day off. One shell landed in our camp killed 2, wounded 11.
10/09/1916 ‑ Sunday, Left camp, 6 AM, arrived back 4 PM.
11/09/1916 ‑ Monday, shifted camp about 3 miles nearer the line.
12/09/1916 ‑ Tuesday,
13/09/1916 ‑ Wednesday, In the front line, a large number of ded germans, took a baynet of a german.
14/09/1916 ‑ Thursday, holiday till 4 AM, then all have to fall in with 220 rounds amin, pick, sh, oil sheet and iron rations. We have just been inspected to see if we have got all our equipment and expect to goe out some time tonight in the big battle there and about 30,000 wounded men hear today. The time is now 5.30 PM. Alls well.
"As the New Zealanders struck across country to their assembly position in the wood, they could see gunners, working flat out. It was a chilly evening but, sweating with their labour, many had discarded tunics and shirts as well. They looked like demons, bare torsos glowing red as the shells left the muzzles and disappearing into the shadows as the guns recoiled. It seemed to the New Zealanders, half-deafened by the noise, half-suffocated by the fumes, half mesmerised by the sight, that they were passing through hell itself".
Corporal GRAY, a member of the New Zealand Field Ambulance kept a detailed diary of his experiences and on 14 September, 1916 he wrote -
GRAY was writing about tanks which were making their first appearance on the battlefields of
On the 15 September, the day Bill JOYCE was wounded GRAY wrote -
"Wounded were coming down in hundreds - 'walking' cases. These are wounded of every kind who can struggle back from the trenches. At ordinary times these cases go as 'sitting' in the cars, but in a big engagement there is no accomodation and they must hobble. We spoke to several, and found that High Wood had again held back the advance, and that the
GRAY later described the conditions on the battlefield as he lead a squad of stretcher bearers to collect the wounded -
"I got orders at 11 am to take forty-four bearers over to collect wounded, and report on number of casualties. It is a three mile journey over ground which had been won in the last three days, and for the most part is over a big ridge behind our new gun positions are placed. Encountered heavy barrage fire just before topping the ridge, high explosive and shrapnel bursting 200 yards ahead of us.
It was a responsibility which I never want again. My orders were to go right through, and yet it seemed certain death to put men through it. We scattered, and made a dash down the other side, covering three-quarters of a mile to the post in record time. Major MARTIN told me he had been watching us through his glasses, and said that he couldn't order the men back unless they were willing to go. The boys said Yes to a man, and I sent them back a squad at a time, waiting for the last. It was a nerve-racking experience, watching them climb back, slowly this time, their burden claiming all their attention. It was a remarkable thing, but not one shell out of the hundreds which burst on the ridge during those three or four hours, hit the thin trail which the bearers took on their way back. It must have been that Fritz was again merciful. Water carriers and ration bearers were killed on both sides, but only two
Bill's wounds were probably bad enough that he needed the assistance of stretcher bearers. After initial first aid at the Advanced Dressing Station he was evacuated from the front by ambulance train on 16 September, and the following day was admitted to 26 General Hospital at Etaples.
Details on his fate over the next couple of years comes from New Zealand Army Records -
19/09/1916 ‑ Evacuated to
19/09/1916 ‑ Admitted to 2NZ
16/12/1916 ‑ Transferred to NZ
19/01/1917 ‑ Readmitted to NZ
20/01/1917 ‑ Classified as unfit for military service by the Medical Board and listed for return to
23/02/1917 ‑ Discharged from 2 NZ General Hospital and placed on leave
18/03/1917 ‑ Embarked for
29/06/1917 ‑ Discharged as being no longer physically fit for military duty on account of wounds received in action
Medals Awarded :1914‑15 Star
British War Medal
Some time between then and 18/12/1920 he returned to
Bill JOYCE carried the shrapnel in his leg as a legacy of his war service until the day he died but it had little affect on his mobility.