The War Diary of Lieutenant William L Hayes M C


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1919 Jan—May

Occupation and the Long March Home

Bonn January 1919 Officers of the 6th Infantry Brigade who came to France with the original 2nd Division. (WLH 6th from left front row)

December 1918  3.12.18 Bn will cross the German Frontier

4.12.18 Family history is that WLH and Jack Bridge acted as billeting officers for the Battalion. ‘When necessary to billet or house a Battalion, it should invariably be preceded by an experienced Officer accompanied by the Quarter-Master, … who will make arrangements for permanent shelter as well as the necessary supplies of food. The billet arrangements should be completed before the arrival of the force…’ [The Guide] These units could Commandeer accommodation necessary, subject to sensible moral and humane considerations. Family history indicates that in such capacity, WLH and JBB commandeered the first house on the Rhine over Bonn Bridge in Beuel for their own use. It was the home of Frau Eisenkramer and it was here that WLH met and in a short time became engaged to her 17 year old daughter Johanna Hedwig Maria.

11-13.12.19 Bonn

12.12.18 28th Bn WD 'Order received that Battalion would take part in triumphal progress of Division through Bonn on 13th inst., and across the RHINE, and notification that the Division would be reviewed en route by Lieut-General Sir Arthur Currie…'

14-31.12.18 Beuel

19.12.18 London Gazette published awards: The Military Cross to Lieut W.L. Hayes

January 1919

Notes ref Syllabus for 2/3 Jan 1919: 'Company Officers...See that men put plenty of "swagger" into their marching.'

Training carried on

19.1.19 28th Bn WD 'Orders received for Battalion to move to Bosse, Belgium on being relieved on the 24th Jany, 1919.'

24.1.19 28th Bn ordered to move to FOSSE by train

28.1.19 'Lieut W.L. Hayes, M.C. assumes the duties of (Bn?)Quartermaster during the absence of Capt C H Read in Hospital.' There is no note in the WD as to if or when Capt C H Read returned to duty. WLH may have continued with the Quartermaster staff until they returned to England. If he were relieved he would have returned to D Coy. The fact that WLH was a Billeting Officer during this time implies that he was still attached to the QM and Bn HQ.

February 1919

The Battalion’s main duty appears to be that of guard duty on barges and canals, but life went on as usual for most soldiers with kit inspections, Courts Martial, training and educational classes. Various dances held, games (baseball, boxing) route marches, bathing, pay parades, musketry practice

1-11.2.19 Bois de Velliers

12-28.2.19 Belgrade, Belgium

21.2.19 WLH celebrated his 31st birthday.

24.2.19 Lieut Hayes proceeded on 3 days leave. Family history tells of WLH trying to get back to Beuel to visit Hedwig, but without passes or instructions to be travelling east. By coincidence he was ordered at a train station to escort some prisoners to Bonn and so was able to make his journey. Perhaps this was that leave.

March 1919

1-31.3.19 Belgrade, Belgium Bathing, range practice,

2.3.19 'Owing to Influenza Epidemic church parade for Roman Catholics was held outside of Parish Church, Belgrade at 09.15 hours… Influenza restrictions were lifted during afternoon allowing dance to be held in THEATRE BELGRADE, during the evening, which was largely attended by All Ranks.'

Sports competitions, classes, recreational training, moving picture evening (4.3.19), concert, dental clinic, dance, inspection, bathing with clean under clothing issued, blankets disinfected

20.2.19 '30 Other ranks proceeded to England for return to Canada with dependants.'

22.3.19 Brussels: 'Officers Indoor Baseball team and supporters (representing 2nd Div) becoming (with 5th C.D.A.) Corps Champions. Medals presented by Premier of Canada, Sir Robert Borden...The Teams proceeded to the Hotel de BOULAVARD where dinner was served. The Cup won by the Officers Indoor Baseball Team was christened with champagne during dinner.'

24.3.19 '12 Other Ranks prospective bridegrooms proceeded to England to marry.' Men dispersed to areas for area demobilisation eg. Eastern Canada, Regina, etc. Cleaning of billets

30.3.19 2nd Div commences entraining for England

Demobilising an Army takes a considerable amount of time.

The Khaki University In 1917, 19 education centres were organized in the camps and hospitals in England and in France. About 50,000 soldiers taking courses part-time in agriculture, business education, mechanics, teacher training, legal studies and medical instruction. It also included commercial subjects such as practical science; agriculture; literacy, languages; matriculation work, undergraduate university courses; and subjects such as singing, elocution and cooking. In addition, practical trades like carpentry were offered. Khaki university taught illiterate men to read and write all the way to the instruction of 1,000 Canadian soldiers enrolled in university-level studies. The training was delivered via lectures, small study and reading groups, classes and directed readings and practical hands-on training. Libraries were established and textbooks were approved by all Canadian provinces. In England, there were 11 Khaki Colleges by May 1918, with 400 Canadians taking courses at London University. (from Wikipedia)

Influenza Epidemic

It began prior to the end of the war and no one knows the origin of the virus but people between 20 and 40 years of age seemed to be the most vulnerable. It spread amongst troops and was carried home with them. In all it killed more people than the Great War itself. Estimates are between 20 and 40 million. The Canadian Army in Canada, Britain, and France had 45,960 cases with 776 deaths.

April 1919 [Quotes from 28th Bn WD]

1-8.4.19 Belgrade, Belgium. Continued recreational training, route marches, drill, inspection, pay parade, educational classes, concert [With no war to fight it was necessary to keep the men occupied while the massive logistics of demobilisation and transport were worked out.]

7.4.19 commence entrainment for Le Havre 'Q.M. will obtain from Burgomaster, certificate that all billets occupied by Battalion are in a clean and sanitary condition, and that there are no claims against the Battalion, and will hand same to the Adjutant by 07.30 hours, 7th Inst.'

'Each Truck [carriage on the train] is being provided with a stove and straw. All precautions will be taken against fire.'

'All personnel will entrain carrying unexpended portion of days rations. Three days rations will be loaded on train ... These rations are in excess of requirements but are provided against emergency. Hot meals will be issued … when train will halt for 1 hour.'

8.4.19 '"D" Company joined 27th Bn at NAMUR STATION at 07.00 hours. Entraining complete at 10.30. Train moved off at Noon. Men comfortable. Officers otherwise.'

'On arrival in England postage stamps must be used on all letters mailed.'

9.4.19 ' Bathing, delousing and medical inspection will take place tomorrow.' 'Two years ago today the Battalion took part in the capture of VIMY RIDGE. RIDGE could be seen from the train.' WLH probably travelled with HQ. rather than D Coy.

10-11.4.19 Can Emb Camp Le Havre Demobilisation in area 'O' REGINA

12.4.19 on board SS La Marguerite

13-30.4.19 Witley, England

13.4.19 'War Service Gratuity Forms for All Ranks completed during afternoon.'

14.4.19 Dental inspections for Demobilisation. Bathing and clean under clothing. WLH Dental certificate shows one extraction of lower right molar. The certificate, dated 14.4.19, admits that he received dental treatment in France, but no date is given.

17-30.4.19  8 days demob leave granted to officers and men.

25.4.19 WLH medical examination prior to discharge indicates that he was in good health and that his weight was 170 pounds, his height was 5' 9 1/2". It was 5' 8 3/4" on his attestation papers in 1915.