KITSON, Henry - 4227

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Original items held by the Army Museum of Western Australia



Pte Henry Kitson
WWSilhouette.png
Conflict World War 1
Service Arm Australian Imperial Force
Unit 12th Infantry Battalion
1st Pioneer Battalion
Service No. 4227
Service Arm Army
Date of Birth 1887
Date of Death
Relatives Father - Joseph Kitson
Mother - Mary Ainley
Wife - Bertha Marie Gillain


Diary Part 1 - dated 4th April 1916 until 25th October 1916


4227 PTE KITSON HENRY
12 BATT. A.I.F. 3RD BRIGADE
ENLISTED FREMANTLE OCTOBER 1915
EMBARKED 29.1.1916

A PARTIAL DIARY OF AN AUSTRALIAN SOLDIER IN THE GREAT WAR
APRIL 1916 - FEBRUARY 1917
IN THE TRENCHES OF YPRES AND THE SOMME

April 4th entrained at Marseille at 4.30pm. Arrived at Etaples on the 6th & went into camp at 6.30pm very tired & raining. Zep raid on Etaples on Anzac Day, no damage done. Alice married 29th. Left camp at 4AM on 25 May. Entrained at Etaples 5am Arrived a Steenwerk at 1.30 Joined Pioneer Battalion on 25 May went into billet in Farm house just behind firing line Base in Maui Heavy bombardment on 11th Battallion on 30th May. (N. Wrightson and Treby Fisher killed) Went to work in the front line of trenches. had a lively time shelled every day. 15 day shift 12AM to 8 pm. 31st May Started on the 7AM to 3PM shift on the 14th in V.C. Avenue very quiet first three days heavy bombardment on the fourth day had to take shelter from H.E started at 10AM. June 17 Dinkim gas attack nothing doing still working in V.C. No letters come to light yet. Met E. Jackson in V.C. on July 8th had dinner with him & Gallop. Put in one week on 5AM to 12AM shift. Left Billet at Bax in Maui at 4.45AM on 9th July arrived at Merris at 10.30 same day. Left Merris at 2A.M. on July 11th Entrained at Bailleul at 7.30AM. Arrived at Doullens at 12AM the same day. Marched 8 miles billeted at Canaples for the night left Canaples at 2.45AM 12th Marched 6 miles and billeted at Montonvillers 12th July. Received letter from England no letters from Australia 13th. Transferred to the Sigs on 14th, waiting for orders. Concert on the green at chateau on the 15th July Left Montonvillers at 9.30AM arrived at Harponville at 2.30PM went into billets 16th. feet very sore hard tack & bully beef B Cors billet caught fire on 17th Left Harponville on 19th at 4PM per Motor arrived a Fricourt at 6PM had tea & then moved out to Albert arrived at 8PM heavy firing all night left billet for trenches 20th prepared dug out in the side of a hill went out into no man's land & dug a trench for the infantry to hop out of had a couple of hours sleep and then went out again on the 21st same place our billet shelled in Albert on 21st. We attacked on the 22nd & 23 after a heavy bombardment the boys are still holding the ground they have taken still holding on 24th Waiting in a dug out to go into the firing line. Pozieres taken by our boys on the 25th Attached to Head Quat Sigs 24 as messenger. At Contalmaison our boys attacking on the 25th still holding on to the ground they have taken On the 26th Germans counter attacked at Pozieres after a heavy bombardment but were driven back. We have driven the enemy right through the village & the whole of the village & the second line of German trenches are in our hands Heavy Artillery Fire on both side all day Second Div relieved us on the 28th. at 1.30PM marched back to our billets at Albert & had a good was the first for five days & a feed. not before it was wanted Left Albert on the 29th at 8AM to go back for a spell Arrived a Harponville at 7.30pm Left Harponville at 4AM 29th arrived at La Vicogne at 11.30am slept in a orchard for the night Left the orchard at 9AM on the 30th arrived at Bonneville at 11.30AM rested for the day & not before we wanted it Church Parade at Bonneville on August 6th Preparing to go to the trenches on the 7th left Bonneville at 3PM arrived at La Vicogne & billeted for the night started next morning 10A.M. arrived at Harponville at 5PM 8th Left Harponville on 14th at Early morning arived at Albert a billeted in a dug out behind the town. First party went into the trenches on 15th We went into the trenches behind firing line on 15th. Joe came over to see me when they were going back for a spell on 16th they were being relieved by the 1st Div he told me the H. Jackson & Gordon was killed Ben wounded. 17th our parties still going out into the trenches still in the trenches on 18th heavy shelling on both sides heavy fighting going on around the farm we are giving them all they want. Came out of the trenches on 22nd August & camped for the night behind Albert Left Albert on the 23rd arrived at Warloy same day. Left Warloy on the morning of the 24th arrived a Beauval at 4PM the same day. Joe came over from Bonneville & we had a night out Left Beauval on the 26th at 1.30PM arrived at Doullens at 3PM Entrained at Doullens at 4PM Detrained at Proven on the 27th at 2.30AM Went into billets on at Oderon Sunday morning. Just outside of Poperinghe dead tired things very quite on this front. Recieved letter dated 17 July on the 29th Received a parcel on the 31st (Horare Sigs) Recieved two old letters on 1st Sept Left our billets at 7.30PM on the 3rd & went into Billets at the Old Belgium Barracks at Ypres. Transferred to H.Q. Sigs on the 6th for phone work things very quite on this front we put over a few shots & fritz replies but no damage much done Went out into the trenches on the 18th with the Colonel to have a look at the work rained all day General Birdwood presented medals on Sept 20th Still in billets at the barraks in Ypres things very quite except little gun fire 21st Sept. (J. Corner) Sept 22 Received letters from Jean & Edith
Sep 23 Had a concert in the barracks
Sep 24 Went in & had some teeth out Saw Joe & had some tea with him
Sept 25 Went down & had tea with Joe & then went across & saw Ernie Jackson
27 Things still keeping very quite went down & seen to at Blandork still in the Belgium at Ypres they have been knocked about expecting letters to night but was disappointed better luck next time Saw the Wilke boys they were just going out for a spell
9 Had impression taken for teeth return on the 10th
10 Went down & saw about teeth return on Thursday Fritz shelled all round our billet but did no damage Band concert in the barracks to night sent Xmas cards to Friends
11 Still in Ypres things very quite
12 Went down & had my teeth fixed getting ready to move out
13 Left Belgium Barracks at Ypres at 4PM rode to Patricia camp & Billeted for the night
14 Left Billets at 10AM arrived at Stienvoode at 2PM Raining
15 Left Steenvoorde at 10AM arrived at Armacke at 5PM
16th Left Arneke at 9AM arrived at Serques 2.45PM fine weather
17 Had a spell for the day
18 Wet cold & miserable weather still at Serques very pretty place some of the best hearted people we have met so far
19 Still raining & cold recorded our vote this morning for or against conscription some talk of leaving here tomorrow
20 Moved out of Serques at 12PM
21 Arrived at St Omer at 4AM entrained at St Omer at 8AM arrived at Longpe at 5.30PM marched to Ailly Le Haut Clocher at 11.30AM with the transport & billeted for the night
22 Moved out from Ailly Le Haut Clocher at 11.30AM arrived at Saint Saveur at 7.30PM & billeted for the night
23 Moved out of Saint Saveur at 9.30AM still with the transport the battalion passed us at 1pm moving forward on motor transports we arrived at Dernancourt at 9PM dead tired after being lost & stuck in mud with our bikes sleep out in the open rained all night very cold & miserable
24 Moved off in the morning still raining arrived on the side of a hill behind Mametz Woods on the road to Combles mud up to our knees had to make a place to sleep in, in the mud managed to rig up a place to keep ourselves dry & had a good sleep, so feel a bit better
25 Still raining our parties went out road making this morning. two Companies went into Albert last night to sleep heavy firing all last night still cold & wet Fifth Div going over the top tonight our little dug out is wet but I think that I will turn into bed & see if I can get warm My mate is just telling me we have been away



Diary Part 2 - dated 25th October 1916 until 2nd February 1917


from the West 277 days it seem like years there is a big gun just behind us just opened fire I suppose he will try & keep us awake all night. just finished tea & I could do with a good feed so things are only just so if some of my friends could only see me now I think they would pity me or call me a darn fool cannot get much to eat but plenty of iron rations (shells)
26th Oct Still living in my little hole in the wet mud but we have just pinched a Cover so we will have a good home tomorrow if it would only keep fine for a bit, there was a heavy artillery bombardment all around us last night & all day today. We got our day's ration this morning 5 hard tack a little jam very little 1 small piece of cheese & some butter 1 tin to twelve men. I had my twenty four hours rations for one meal if we could not buy a few things at the Canteen we would realy starve. Our parties still working on the road making a new one. horses having a very bad time in fact they are dying along the road its a very hard life. still raining fifth Div still in the line. Sixth night without taking my clothes off
27 Still in our little dugout got flooded out last night but managed to fix it up so as we could get a sleep. parties still road making the weather still cold & miserable mud up to your knees Heavy Artillery fire all night last night Fritz replied his shells were droping in the Gully behind our lines 5.9 we are expecting to go in to the line any day now I do not know what it will be like but if this rain keep on it will be terrible, pity help the poor boys up there now
28 Weather still bad rain cleared off for a few hours but it started again still in our little mud hole Heavy bombardment all night. French started on the left & our boys kept them company a big gun just behind us shakes the ground every time it fires
29 Still raining & likely to keep on for some time got to walk about to keep our feet warm I think if the weather does not fine soon we will lose all our horses Parties still working on the road 15 having a day off two companies still in Albert they are better off than us as they are billited in houses. We are still bombarding on the right received letters
30 Moved away from our camp & went 2 miles nearer the line on to a hill, raining all the time our humpy was full of mud & water terrible cold my mates are round a fire tin trying to make a fire I am in sittinf in the corner doing a perish & trying to keep out of the mud about 3 inches of mud on the floor cannot get out side to fix it up it is raining to hard, decide to get into bed pinched a heap of sand bags to put on the floor so we will be out of the mud a bit. To make thing pleasant Fritz put a couple of shells along side of our camp
31 Had a fair nights sleep rained very heavy all night & two heavy guns down in the gully near our camp was firing rather often. Morning turned out fairly fine rain gone but wind very cold. Our parties started going out into the trenches this morning. My mate & I are just going to see if we can fix our camp up a bit kept fairly fine all day excepting a few showers this morning Started a party of men on light rail way. our parties working in the supports just behind the front line. 11th Battalion camped just below us I went down & had a yarn with Bill Wilke & Fridy Bill Sheridan Heavy bombardment all round us today. Hope to get a good sleep tonight
Nov. 1st Fine all last night & this morning but started raining after dinner. Had a good night sleep last night. Heavy bombardment all last night & all day today. Fritz sent a few shells over our lines & killed 3 Tommies. Rations still very poor
2 Had a good nights sleep last night Heavy firing all along the line last night raining all this morning Cleared off for a bit this afternoon stayed in & wrote a few letters home Some heavy Guns opened fire just behind us so I do not like our chance of much sleep tonight
3rd Heavy battery just behind us firing at frequent intervals & Fritz is trying to blow it up. Weather fine this morning but very cold Fritz still shelling over our lines He has started to use heavey shrapnell
4th Went out into the trenches this morning with Capt Chalmers to have a look at the parties working went through Delville woods & they have been blown to pieces must have been a fine wood at one time. Our Artllery are still pumping the shells into Fritz Our boys hopped over last night & took a strong point must have been hard as it was raining heavily through the night
5 Fine morning so far Heavy gun fire all round us last night 11th battalion working with our parties on the railway, went down & had a yarn with some of the North boys. rain again last night
6th Weather again fine this morning. Heavy Gun fire all night a battery of Naval guns opened up just behind our lines Went out into the trenches this morning to have a look round Things fairly quite out there today Fritz just droped a few in Flers & another couple in the woods as we were coming through but our guns are keeping up a good run of fire More rain more mud
7th Zep came over camp last night & dropped some booms no damage done French on our right going at it for all they are worth. raining all the morning & no signs of it clearing off
8th My mate & I went out into the trenches with the working parties this morning rain all the while we were out there cleared up when we got home. Went round the Canteen looking for something to eat & could only get Cigarettes
9 Fine day Aerial Fights all the morning Fritz sent airship over last night & dropped bombs on ridge just behind our camp. Heavy bombardment all last night & this morning we are trying some of his own guns
10 Fine day again heavy gun fire all lst night & again this morning Fritz aircraft very active this morning some good fights in the air between ours & Fritz
11 Rain kept off today but very foggy all day Heavy Gun Fire all day & night Fritz just missed at M.C. today
17th More frost & Ice very cold all day. Heavy gun fire parties still road making
18 First snow of thw winter started raining this morning & likely to keep on all day
19 Rained all day yesterday & last night fairly fine today but very cold Heavy Artillery fire on our front last night & today
20 Fine day today Fritz still sniping us with his 5.9
21 Went out with road party very foggy day & bitter cold
22 Fine day at last air fights in plenty
23 Another fine day Fritz got a new gun up & shelled our dump
24 More rain things a bit quiter on the front today Sid White still coming to see me received some letters this morning big stunt on some where yesterday
25th Fritz still sniping us with stick Annie put two into him still raining
26 Still raining & very cold
28 & 29 Plenty of mist & very cold still freesing very hard our parties started an underground railway working three shifts still road making with the rest of the Coy
30 Still very cold received letter from May answered
1 & 2 very frosty weather parties still going out working in the trenches & road making
3.4.5.6.7.8 Weather still wet & cold Fritz still sending shells over near our camp
9 A. Ives hit while out with mining party
10 Went out with party mining 9-3
11 Received Xmas cake from Edith in good condition went down all right
Dec 11-22 Still with mining party a good colection of mud. snow ice & rain & very cold cannot get a chance for a shave or a decent wash
Dec 25 Xmas Day Very cold day 2 eggs for Break but they forgot to cook them
1 Xmas parcel, 1 tin cocoa & milk, 1 Paste 2 Chips 1 Gum, 1 tin Cigarettes & Tobacco, Ginger, Never had a bad day considering things Plum Duff for dinner still mining
Dec 28 very bad with dysentry had a few days very bad just getting over it be all right in a few days
Jan 1st 1917 Things are very quite today the porrest New Year possible D Coy had a day off from the saps Fritz livened things up witha few shells in the afternoon received our mail from the west not feeling too well
2 Just had news that we expect to go out for a spell
Jan 5 left out camp in the mud hole at Bernafay 11.45 entrained at Querrieu at 12.45 detrained at 4.30 transported in Motor lorries to Franvillers at 6PM hopped into good billet had good night sleep no guns to keep us awake
6 Issued with new tunics first since we left
7 Went into Heilly & had a hot bath & clean change of underclothes the first for three months the strats got the shock of there lives
15 Had leave to Amiens for the day had a good time weather very cold had two days cold then it was bitter cold
19 Had a night out at the pictures went over to Mericourt in transport very good programe recived a bundle of letters
23 Had another bath I don't think still very cold
24th Left Franvillers at 9.00 passed through Albert at 1200 arrived at Fricourt at 2430 went into billetts in huts very cold night
27th Left Fricourt Brigade camp at 1400 arrived at Baizenten camp at 1800
29 Twelve months since we left the west Sid White comes over every day to see us he is camped just behind our lines Joe is camped about here somewehere but cannot find him
2 Feb Joe came over & had look at me last had a good