The village of Grevillers was occupied by Commonwealth troops on 14 March 1917 and in April and May, the 3rd, 29th and 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations were posted nearby. They began the cemetery and continued to use it until March 1918, when Grevillers was lost to the German during their great advance. On the following 24 August, the New Zealand Division recaptured Grevillers and in September, the 34th, 49th and 56th Casualty Clearing Stations came to the village and used the cemetery again.
April 1917—July 1917
We carried on at Edgehill until 7.4.17 when orders were received to move forward to Grevilliers near Bapaume which had fallen to our Second Australian Division about three weeks before. We had to fill in Shell holes and pitch tents. At Midday 9.4.17 the Unit commenced to receive all classes of cases. The size of the camp was gradually extended to cope with the enormous number of wounded which were being received from Lagnicourt and Bullecourt. No.3 British CCS., and later on No.29 British C.C.S., joined us at Grevilliers.
‘Early History,’ War Diary, April—May 1919
13 April 1917. Left Le Treport 6.45 p.m., went to No 3, & another sister joined the car. Arrived Abbeville, went to Nurses’ Home, saw Longham. Saw Miss Martin in p.m., saw the Cathedral.
14. Came to Amiens, travelled with Sister Johnson. Came by car from Amiens, passed through Albert Bapaume & Pozieres. Great desolation. Arrived 3rd C.C.S. & saw George [her brother] who had arrived that morning, looking very well.
15. Went to A2, a busy day.
18. Twenty-seven letters. Off from 5 p.m., so read them. Mrs. McClure “Wished for good with God is done”.
20. Some whisbangs over in a.m. Morning off.
22. Gas helmets presented to us & we had a lecture.
23. Went for walk in evening with George.
24. Mr. Baxter came in, saw George.
25. A heavy bombardment in early a.m., all awake early. Anzac Day. Letters from home.
27. Went on night duty. A good bombardment.
28. Went for walk with George after dinner.
1 May 1917 Saw G. aeroplane in early a.m., shots being fired.
3. Heavy bombardment in a.m. Busy day 1500.
13. Heavy thunderstorm in early a.m. Eddy. Night off.
14. Went with George & D. to Butte de Warlencourt, absolute desolation, huge shell holes. Graves. Memorial on top to 9th Durham Light Infantry – a beautiful day.
17. Went for walk with George. They still have our love & we have theirs.
18. Ordish very sick.
19. Died at 12 noon. Went for walk, a heavy barrage, great number of flares.
24. Came off N. Duty. Went for walk in afternoon to Luport Wood, brought back a shell case.
25. Day duty. Fritz very busy in early a.m.
28. Went to dinner in evening at 57th .Batt. Col. Stewart who had been at Palace. After “The Landing” was there. Col. Marshall came in.
29. Went to the cathedral at Bapaume, great many skulls. Through the tunnels, another leads to Le Sais & one to Pozieres. Very damp. Walls of small bricks. Ventilators. Saw the pigeons used for the messages from the front. Afternoon tea & we brought away the floral decorations & vase.
30. Tennis party in afternoon. Mr. Christianson came in. Concert after dinner, very good one.
31. Sgt. Piggott came in in morning, brought the cross for his brother’s grave.
2 June 1917 Went to dinner at 59th Batt. Our caps very wet when we arrived. Came through Bapaume Cem. on way back. Saw memorial to soldiers French, who fell in 1872, also graves of French soldiers in this war. Mr Campbell came in in afternoon. Click.
3. Went for walk.
4. The gratitude of the poor, a better payment than the riches of the rich. A letter.
5. A busy day. Went for walk with George in evening – some of the 56th came in. Saw Sgt. N.J. McClure’s grave in the cemetery.
8. A barrage about 11 p.m.
9. Tennis match in afternoon, officers played left handed. Went for a walk after dinner.
10. Morning off, wrote letters.
11. Supper for Ida’s R.R.C.
12. Went for walk in evening with George. Letter from Annie Munro.
15. Morning off. Went for walk with George and Mr C. in evening. Mr C’s account of what the men of 21 st told him re Click. The best of all.
16. Busy day, taking in. George very busy.
17. Sunday. Letter from Mother & Mrs. McClure.
18. Off in morning. Storm in afternoon.
19. Went for walk in evening. George working all day.
20. Terser’s letter re Click. Too good & cons. for this world.
21. Bessie Stewart’s birthday.
26. Went to 24th Batt. for afternoon tea. Poppies & cornflowers very pretty along the road. Saw Capt. Smythe & Mr. Sellick. Pierrot entertainment, but we did not wait long. Went through the lines, saw the cookhouses & carts. Machine gun. Aeroplanes up. 1st Field Amb. boys left.
24. Sunday. Myra left for leave.
28. Gen. Banbury came in.
29. Barry I A3 had seen Neil Stewart yesterday. Cavanagh knew Mrs. McClure of Flinders. Col. Pye came in to see George. Went to sports at 45 C.C.S. Saw Capt. Fleming, Scartlebury & Capt. Burnie. Hosp. in a fine position. Divisions in theatre.
30. Off in morning. Cam & Martin went to Amiens. Saw The Kilties go by. Rained nearly all day.
1 July 1917. Click’s birthday.
2. George gave me book of snaps. Sports in afternoon. Told we were to move. Tents coming down.
4. Packed up ward material. Went for long walk in evening.
5. Lou’s birthday. Went to Sapignies in the morning, a fine vegetable garden at Red Cross Office. Saw German cemetery on our way back. Poppies out in great numbers. Went over Ambulance train with Thistle, George & Capt. O’Sullivan in afternoon. Train 28 had been to Marseilles last week & brought patients from Salonica. Went for long walk in evening, flowers beautiful. Saw lots of unexploded shells. Saw equipment chair quite near.
No 6382 Pte. A.J. Nicholson.
2nd Batt. Shattered R. thigh
Ad. 3.5.17, Died same day.
Father Arthur Nicholson.
Riverlea, Booligal, N.S.W.
McCurley. Police Station
6. Went to Pozieres & Mouquet Farm in afternoon, the field a mass of poppies & wild flowers. [Sister Bell’s brother – Click – was killed in action at Mouquet Farm on 26 August 1916.]
7. Heard that we were to go by car to ————— Went to 29 C.C.S. for afternoon tea. Watched 3rd C.C.S. play the Engineers at cricket. 3rd A.C.C.S. won. Went for walk with George in evening.
8. Heavy thunderstorm through night, cleaned up, went for walk. Most of the family dressed up to go to 2nd Div. No cars arrived.
9. Very heart broken, left Grevillers at 3.20p.m. George came to No 6. A beautiful drive.
Annie Bell – World War 1 Diary – Stephanie Kihlstrom
I was only there [Edgehill] for a couple of weeks when we got orders to advance the C.C.S. closer up to the line. Our Marquees were pulled down and taken up to Grevillers on the left of Bapaume on 8th April and we went up the day following in a couple of Ambulances along the Albert Bapaume Road which at that time had two large craters in it which the Germans had blown up when they retired. It was our first sight of the battlefields and we were all deeply impressed.
It was very cold and snowing and all along the road we saw the boys in their dugouts sitting around small fires trying to keep themselves warm. The wounded were coming down as we were going up.
We went on duty straight away just as we were in our macintoshes and gum boots. There were no floors to the marquees owing to the shortage of duck boards which were urgently needed in the line. The ground was soft and saturated and we were soon wading about in mud.
I was put in the theatre where operations commenced before everything was unpacked. There were no beds mattresses or pillows etc. Only stretchers and blankets so as soon as a patient was operated on and put back on the stretcher it gradually sank in the mud. There was no time to remove the men’s clothes or boots. When we were just about full a hospital train came in and relieved the pressure. The stretcher bearers had a fearful time wading through the mud carrying the men to the carriages. There was another big battle on the 11th and 15th of the same month but by the 15th things had improved considerably and we were running much more smoothly as the floors had been put down and we were more settled.
The next busy time we had was during the battle for Bullecourt between 3rd and 15th May 1917, and we had a fearful number of casualties through. We had over one hundred and thirty deaths. Two other C.C.S. then came up and we were relieved of much of the work. We were getting the men in at first just over an hour after they were wounded. There were four tables going day and night in the theatre. The patients were first brought into the admission tent where their wounds were examined and marked accordingly A, B, C or D. All A’s were urgent cases which were carried straight into the preparation tent where they were undressed and put in pyjamas if possible and from there they went to the theatre. All A cases were attended to first then the others in order. If the casualties were heavy C & D cases were sent down in the trains without being operated upon.
Sister Gertrude M. Doherty – Nurses’ narratives – records of A. G. Butler, historian of Australian Army Medical Services , AWM
19.3.1918. We left Paris for Amiens at 8 a.m. Here again we had much bother with our luggage. We arrived at 11 a.m. and proceeded to No. 42 Stationary Hospital where we again waited orders. It was a wet, miserable day but that did not prevent us sightseeing. The cathedral interested us most of all. Most of the carved doors and pillars are sand bagged to prevent damage from bombs. The upper part of the front of the building consists of two towers of unequal heights and of different styles of architecture. It was too wet for us to explore much of the town.
The ambulance came for us at 5 p.m. and brought us to Grevillers. This drive was a wonderful experience to us, passing through Albert and Pozieres, over the old battlefields where so much Australian history has been written in blood. Albert Cathedral with its hanging virgin, its ruined streets and houses-brought the reality of war very closely home to us. Pozieres – we would not have known a village was once there if our driver had not told us. At present it is shell torn country – trenches and shell holes everywhere. At short intervals all the way from Albert to Bapaume we passed plain little wooden crosses marking the last resting place of one of our heroes. Some of the lonely graves were just marked by a rifle and the soldier’s tin hat. On the left side of the road we passed a cross to the memory of the fallen Australians (8th Battalion). We passed the wreckage of an ammunition train, then on past the Bapaume cemetery. Here are German graves – monuments erected while they were in possession of the town. Of the original town, little remains.
We reached our destination at 8 p.m. The guns sounded to us very near. The Sister in Charge, Miss Rice, was busy when we arrived. We were shown to the sisters’ sitting room – just an ordinary hut converted into a very cheerful room. We had not long to wait for Miss Rice. She told us everything was very quiet and that there was very little work to do,
We were given bell tents out at the rear of the Mess and soon had our things unpacked. Just outside my tent are the remains of some barbed wire entanglements.
21.3.1918. We did not get very much sleep during the night. I had the flaps on my tent fastened back and spent most of the night watching the flashes in the sky from the guns. During the morning we were on duty but had very little to do, however we found out where everything was kept and now feel ready for emergencies. In the afternoon Miss Rice asked me to accompany her to ‘the village’. I had a hazy idea that Grevillers would be something like the little villages near Etretat and went provided with money – hoping to buy some postcards and souvenirs of the place. Our way led through fields, by old trenches, dugouts, shell holes and an AIF Sergeant’s grave in mid-field (24th Battalion). The village is in ruins – a few bricks and part of the Church wall being all that is left of the original Grevillers. The Base Cashier and all the others Miss Rice had to visit were living in well sunken huts. Needless to say, there was no chance of shopping.
In the evening we attended a concert at No. 3 CCS, just across the line.
22.3.1918. Such a noisy night. Barrage commenced at 1.50 a.m. Shells were whistling and screaming. We were watching the shrapnel bursting in the air. At 3 a.m. there was a terrific explosion and everything was lighted up. The dump at Bapaume was struck. We three Australians were wondering what would happen next-everything seemed so unreal. When we got over to the mess we found that most of the staff had been spending the night in the dugout. By 7 a.m. the wounded were pouring in – some in ambulances, some walking, helping one another along.
I went over to my hut and while getting some books from my kit bag received a sudden surprise – a fairly large piece of shell ripped my tent, grazed past my face and passed right between my hands, tearing the kit bag and various things that were in it and burying itself in the bag. Of course, I was eager to have the piece as a souvenir, so felt for it at once and was rather sorry for my impatience for it was more than comfortably warm to touch.
All day long we worked under very trying conditions. We had four operating tables in constant use – and poor fellows lying on stretchers on the theatre floor, waiting till we could attend to them. One poor chap with half his jaw blown away walked in supported by two wounded comrades.
23.3.1918. I gave 20 anaesthetics, finishing at 2.30 this morning.
The orders came for us to evacuate and we had hurriedly to make what preparations we could. The wounded were sent by road transport to various Stationary and Base Hospitals. We were only allowed such luggage as we could carry on us, so we put on our warmest clothing and filled our coat pockets to overflowing. That waiting time after the wounded had been sent on always will leave two pictures in my memory. The first of the sitting room we had thought so pretty and cosy only a few days before, now dismantled and with sisters all weary and sleepy, some sitting about, some lying on the floor with a gas mask for a pillow, trying to snatch a few minutes sleep; the other of the same party of sisters sitting on the roadside waiting for transport, tin hats on at various and unbecoming angles, pockets bulging and all wondering, ‘What next?’
Elsie Tranter, In all those lines
We're pleased that people are using this website as a source for locations, quotes and other primary source material. It's why we published our notes on the web. But we'd very much appreciate a footnote or credit. Much of the hospital (and other) location information for Lemnos and the Western Front is original research -- thank you, from Bernard & Cheryl