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Sunday, 31 July 2011


Diary Entry and Letter Home - 31st July, 1916

(On this day in 1914, Labor leader Andrew Fisher declared Australians will defend Britain 'to our last man and our last shilling'.)

Diary Entry

Nothing very striking happened all day, except SOS in the evening, which seems a daily occurrence. As usual, Boschie threw a few scattered shell over and our 8-inch seemed to give him a fair bit in return. One man of the 48s was wounded in the leg with a piece of shrapnel during the afternoon (Fitter Wing).

Letter Home

Dear Mother

I am taking the opportunity of writing when circumstances permit, as we are living rather a strenuous time just now. Before I forget, many thanks for your letters received yesterday, in which Uncle Chester had just arrived, and please thank Aunt Bet for her nice letter. As far as I can gather, our letters seem to be young newspapers and I hope they are not looked upon too seriously as, in the heat of the moment, one may appear to exaggerate things, especially to anyone who has not been out here.

Well, here we are in action in the old German support line, having moved into action on Tuesday. I am now attached to the 71s, as there was not room in our position for six guns, so we are (or we were) an 8-gun battery. The sight one looks upon here is, I should think, one of the most remarkable that one could see, but I am afraid I can't explain things to you by letter as censors are extra strict down here. To begin with, we have come in for the music without the entertaining part of the show so to speak, as Bosche has now had time to get his heavy guns together. We have hundreds of guns piled on each other, from 18-pounders to 12-inch howitzers, and the amount of heavy stuff we send over is extraordinary. Boschie also gives us plenty of hits and very seldom do you see anything lighter than a 4.2 howitzer - it is usually 8-inch stuff. Whenever I see the big 'uns bursting, I always think of the last words of old Mr Gray. Well I wish he could see the 17-inch, which fires on a village to the rear of us. When it bursts, a cloud of smoke ascends about 300 feet and it looks like a bush fire you see at the end of the lake in the forest. It got a direct hit on a 9.2 howitzer on Friday, putting it out of action and wounding two of the detachment. We have two splendid German dugouts to go to ground in when the air becomes a bit stuffy with Bosche shells and, although it faces the wrong way, one feels very comfortable inside on occasions. On our second day in we had a few over and went to ground for two and a half hours. When it was finished, we found two of the 71 guns were knocked out and a shell had landed in one of their pits, also in one of mine. We each lost about 35 rounds and mine was smouldering when I was looking round, but none of it blew up. There is a lot to be done here in the way of shooting and a field battery averages about 1,000 a day. A battery of 9.2 howitzers behind must average about 300 a day or even 400 and, as there are simply crowds of others doing the same, one can imagine what things are like here. Well, I don't think there is anything else I can put on paper and I will write whenever the opportunity comes but I am afraid you will have to put up with some service postcards as circumstances do not often permit letter writing at present.

Bee is well and we are both sitting up and taking nourishment. I am glad to hear you are all keeping well.

Ever your loving son,


Saturday, 30 July 2011

Diary Entry - 30th July, 1916

The night was very uncomfortable as at one we were woken to cries of 'Gas', and, sure enough, it was quite strong too. On went helmets, and we wandered about feeling very miserable until about two thirty, when the wretched stuff lifted and we could take off gas helmets and breathe again. From one thirty to three thirty, we were to fire salvoes on certain lines, getting off 12 an hour, but, when the gas came, I think there was a big gap in the firing. At four forty-five the ball opened and we began a barrage of HE on the enemy's support trenches, firing three rounds per gun per minute. This continued for half an hour, then we lifted the barrage, adding to 4075 and firing at the same rate until six thirty, with shrapnel when the rate gradually slackened. The usual routine of fire continued throughout the day, only slightly heavier than usual. At ten thirty pm Armytage returned from his duties of Liaison Officer, spending the whole 24 hours in Trones Wood (Bois de Troncs), a very hot corner. It seems he scratched his way into the side of a bank, where he remained, with bullets and shells spitting round him the whole time. The news of the battle that has come back is not too good. Our infantry have got their objective all right, but the 35th Division infantry have been held up outside Guillemont and have dug in outside the town. The French, it is reported, are held up by machine-gun fire - it is reported the corps have taken 1,000 prisoners. And so the battle goes on.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Diary Entry - 29th July, 1916

Saturday light firing was carried on through the day. The Bosch was fairly busy with shells, especially on Maricourt, putting over about 15 rounds of 17-inch. I have never seen such bursts – just like the photo of a Whitehead torpedo going up. The net results, I hear, were one 9.2-inch howitzer had a direct hit, two of the detachment being wounded. During the afternoon 8-inch howitzers (6 cannon) were doing gun fire five minutes and were fairly whistling them over our heads. Towards evening, some most peculiar shell were observed bursting in air to the right of Montauban. They burst like an umbrella, a shower of sparks falling to the ground and a tremendous cloud of white smoke left in the shape of a mushroom and making small clouds in the air. At six, we were informed that we were to attack in the morning, which we had already guessed, as the infantry were thick as fleas working their way towards the front trenches.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Diary Entry - 28th July, 1916

My section were short of ammunition and as there was a continual banging through the day, I had to get the men onto a cart and move it from the left end battery (8 guns). At about 11 a.m., Bosche got a very nice line on our battery, dropping one short, one over. Everyone thought it looked like business so went to ground, into the good German dugouts we possess – being in the Bosche old support line, the dugouts are pretty good. Well, we gradually filled the officers' dugout with odd men found outside and awaited our fate. Of course, the mouths of the dugout were facing the wrong way, but that was a minor detail, and we were glad of any cover, as lots of other batteries had none. The show was finished by twelve thirty p.m. and we came out to see the damage. Two of 71s's guns were out of action, splinters having penetrated the buffers from bursts just in front of the muzzle. The damage to my section was a shell in F sub's ammunition, resulting in a fire and 40 rounds going west and also Sergeant Head's field glasses, which were on top of the ammunition. Another of the 71s's ammunition pits had been on fire and lost 40 rounds, but the No.1 had gone out in the middle of the conflict and calmly put out the flames and burning sandbags amongst the ammunition. I'm glad to say that there were no casualties. The rest of the day was spent in clearing away the debris and sandbagging the pits as much as possible.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Diary Entry - 27th July, 1916

We had had no definite news as to our move on the previous evening and were told to be ready to move off at a moment's notice after ten a.m. Well, Suttie sent down for six wagons of ammunition while we were at breakfast and Cruikshank was dispatched in charge, being told that Siggers would meet him at the sappers' dump and direct him to the guns. It seems funny bringing ammunition up in daylight but there is too much firing at night. Going back, one of my best drivers was lifted out of the saddle by the splinter of an 8-inch, poor chap, and I think he has gone. Two of my horses were also grazed. About ten, another orderly arrived, asking for another six wagons, which I was to take up. My guide was a certain Br. Golding. He took me a long way round to begin with, going through Maricourt, on a narrow track, with guns firing over our heads and almost under the horses' bellies. He told us to reverse, and we got round, and then he lost himself again. By this time I was speechless and sent him off to find the battery, while we sat there, expecting to get shelled any moment. He returned in ten minutes and told us to reverse again – that he had found the battery – and I warned him, if he took us wrong again, I would shoot him with my revolver. Well, we found them and proceeded to unload, just finishing in time, as they started throwing over 8-inch, indiscriminately. They were dropping everywhere and it was no good trying to dodge them, so we went along hoping for the best and got through all right. It was three p.m. when I got halfway back to Duray and met the rest of the battery by the roadside waiting for Bailey to reconnoitre the position. I sent my wagons off to our new wagon line, which was quite close, to water and feed also my own mounts. Well it was only a few minutes till Bailey returned and we set out, with my section leading, intervals between wagons 20 yards - and 50 yards between sections. My section was to be attached to the 71s as there was no room for me in our own position, and that made the 71s an eight gun battery. We dropped into our new position without being molested by the Bosch. The sight coming up was wonderful – the road winds through a valley simply crammed with big howitzers (8-inch to 12-inch) and intermingled with these were crowds of infanteers' ammunition wagons and about the valley were a few dead horses. In this place, you had a chance of getting any shell from a 12 inch to a pipsqueak in the neck as they pitch shells over at any time. As soon as we got our guns in, we commenced firing and continued till late in the evening.
I forgot to add that from the place where we were bivouacked right up to within 400 yards of the guns there is a valley called Happy Valley, packed with horses with guns, howitzers and beacons dotted in amongst them. The valley just below the guns has been named by the drivers Valley of Death as there are so many casualties there, bringing up ammunition. The infantry I believe even have their horses in another valley in front of the guns. It is called Caterpillar Valley.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Diary Entry and Letter Home - 26th July, 1916

Diary Entry

The BC took up a section to the guns, starting at eight, and Siggers took his section up. We remained in camp all day, expecting to move up next morning. Nothing thrilling happened except that the DAC lost two mules during the day by shellfire, which will give one an idea of what things are like when wagon lines often have shells dropped into them.

Letter Home

Dear Family

It is very nearly a year since we sailed from Melbourne. It will be on the twenty eighth, and we are just about to enter one of the most interesting parts of the line - and I suppose more lively than most parts at the time of writing. We got short notice to move last week and on Tuesday evening we moved out to the wagon line. I was at the OP the last day, being relieved at seven fifteen, and Hoyland and I dined with the incoming people, then rode to the wagon line, getting there about twelve am. The next day my old staff captain of the billeting episode told me I was to be the OC divisional convoy, which was to move by road, the rest of the division entraining. Well, there was a certain amount of work entailed in getting things like supplies and other little details. It was arranged that we should move off at twelve from the village on Thursday. Well, when I looked over the show that awaited me, I found a wonderful collection both of vehicles and horses, from a big French wagon and draft horses to a light jinker and a mule.

A staff colonel belonging to headquarters came along just before moving off and told me that I had to load three wagon loads of boxes onto my already overloaded wagons and deliver them at a railway about 14 miles distant. So there was nothing for it but to load the stuff on in the village and heave it off when the trouble came. To cut a long story short, with lots of amusing incidents, I got to the railway minus two wagons and half the goods.

If you could only see the German prisoners just returning from work to their wire enclosures below the hill.

Well, I got with the convoy all right, picking up the division on Saturday evening at seven thirty pm. We covered about 60 miles in two and a half days, but it meant early rising, reveille at four each day. The whole trek was quite amusing, and it was an experience well worth having. Of course we used to bivouac in any old field by night. As we were cut fine both in horses' and men's rations, we lifted a fair amount of hay along the road, but I used to always look the other way, as we had to feed the blooming horses.

The division was right in the valley on a river when we reached them and it was nice to be able to get a good wash in the morning - and bathing was pretty popular with the men too. I have never seen such a sight as the whole division bivoacked close together like that but it is getting quite common now as wherever you go there is transport, motor cars, troops and every engine of war you could think of. In fact I am on a hill now with a road just beneath, on which you see everything pass, from an infantry man to a 15-inch howitzer. The traffic continues all day and night. We moved up here yesterday as a division, and a section has gone into action today. The rest of us go up tomorrow. It will be quite an interesting spot, as we are in the open and lots of heavy stuff falls about. In fact, Siggers, who went up today, had to put his gun into an 8-inch crater where a gun was last night, before the shell arrived. Oh, if I only had a camera with me, what a chance! Well, I think you will guess where we are.

No more time to write. Hope you are all well,

Your affectionate son,


PS: It was rather amusing - one of our men discovered a Bosch amongst the prisoners, who used to be a baker in the same village he lived in. I have just been speaking to a Queenslander by the name of Young - sugar growing people, I think.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Diary Entry - 25th July, 1916

At seven forty, we left camp and marched as a division for Bray, both the 41st and 34th Brigades proceeded ahead of us. We had a very dusty trek as the roads were packed with every kind of traffic, both French and English going each way. At Corbie, I bought some Mess supplies, such as bread, tinned milk etc, putting them in the Mess cart as the battery marched through the square. The brigade eventually got into the field this side of Bray at about one fifteen p.m. and it was two thirty by the time the lines were fixed and the horses watered and fed – the latter operation was very difficult as water was very scarce. The officers' Mess was well situated on the top of a hill and looked down on one of the most impressive sights I have seen. In the valley on the left were masses of horse lines, on right front the road crammed with French and British traffic, from infantry to big guns and wagons, beyond the road, the French had their wagon lines, with horses and vehicles, packed like ours, and, on the left breast of the slope, French motor lorries were parked (up to 200).

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Diary Entry - 23rd and 24th July, 1916

This was a delightful spot, and we could just hear the rumble of the battle in the east. It usually grew very loud at night. There were the ordinary duties of the day to be done. First thing, I bathed in the river, which was a matter of a few yards away. Suttie, Siggers and Hoyland went into Amiens before lunch.
In the afternoon, the officers left in brigade had a game of cricket, finishing the evening with a bathe. I must mention that we slept in the open with no cover, as I had done since leaving the battery. On Monday, I went to Amiens with Cruikshank. Bailey also went with Todd, the OCs all having gone up to look at the positions we were to take over. Amiens I found very dull and returned soon after four. The OCs returned about seven thirty, with stirring tales as to our positions and also with the sad news that Mowbray, Major of 16th Bat. and formerly Staff Major, had been killed – a direct hit with an 8 inch. Orders were that we moved off for Bray at seven forty p.m. on Tuesday.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Diary Entry - 22nd July, 1916

Reveille at three forty. I got them going at stables, grooming well, but, while I was at the top of the lines, someone started for water and, before I could get to the stream, they were rushing in and out like a jostling crowd at a railway station, the result being that no horses got any water. I saw that ours of the 48th got some all right, and let the others look after themselves. It was again a very warm summer day and, after getting through Beauval, about five kilometres from bivouac, and halting, we had to march across an undulating plain, with no sign of water on it. The cavalry were in a small village by the wayside and had a good watering place, so I halted and watered there. The horses were so thirsty that they almost knocked over the trough. Before getting to Villers for lunch, we halted after a steep hill, to rest the horses, and an APM came along and moved us, as he said two divisions were to march along that route. So we moved on, getting onto a smaller road through Villers, halting just outside, watering in the town and lunching for more than an hour. We were now only 20 kilometres from Amiens and, after lunch, it was in view to the south, until we reached Longueau. Longueau was reached at five and there I had to get orders from the RTO. Buxton had left orders there and we were to go on to Vecquemont, to join our units (reporting to the town major first). We found the whole division bivouacked in the valley of the Somme, just outside the town, and I was very glad to arrive there at seven thirty. I must add that, before starting, it was reported that Driver Morgan had not reported back. He belonged to our battery too. He had borrowed a bike the night before from Bates for five minutes and had never returned. Well, as we were just moving off, it being six, I made a search of the village, eventually reporting the matter to the RTO.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Diary Entry - 21st July, 1916

Reveille at four am. I meant to have some stables before water and feed, but the men thought they were on a picnic and their NCOs seem to have no control over them, so I had to let them carry on and wait till the evening. It soon became very warm and, as the wind was on our backs, the dust made travelling rather unpleasant. Saint Pol was passed at seven forty-five, we having moved off at six thirty-five and a halt was made just above the town. The next town of note was Frevent, some four kilometres march, but we plugged along, eventually getting there about eleven a.m. On arrival I went in search of water and eventually found a very good place in a wide street, so we gave them a good fill, then moved out of the town for water. A good hour gave the convoy a much needed rest and, after addressing the NCOs on stables in the evening, we moved off with a very warm sun overhead and plenty of dust caused by the heavy transport moving each way on the road. Boquemaison was passed at two p.m. and Doullens reached without incident at three thirty. A wretched French sentry would not let me cross a level crossing so I had to go about four miles out of my way but was recompensed by getting a good watering place on a stream. I sent on Sergeant Munday with a map from here to look for a camp at Gayencourt. In getting to that village, I could see no sign of him and was feeling rather anxious, as I thought he was lost. I did a little reconnaissance and found a good field with a splendid place to water. Soon after finding it, Munday turned up and we proceeded to pack them in the field. Well, I managed to get the horses watered properly, groomed and fed and all finished by seven fifteen p.m., so I gave leave for people to go down the village and to report back by nine thirty p.m. I forgot to add that, as we only had rations for 73 men and 78 horses and these rations would perhaps have to last us three days, although they were only two-day rations, the horses were badly in need of hay, so I murmured to some odd NCO to help themselves by the wayside when I was not looking, and this they did, keeping the horses well hayed up most of the night.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Diary Entry - 20th July, 1916

I gave the IMS the list of supplies I wanted drawn – rations for 92 men and 100 horses. Two ASC wagons were to be at supplies to draw the material and then come on to join the troop at the church. In the morning, I was rather worried about some coffee bar material left in the village, and it was not very long before Colonel Robinson turned up and informed me it had to be loaded on my already loaded transport and put on the train at Bryas, a station some eight miles away. At eleven thirty, I, assisted by Hoyland, started loading up - or overloading the wagons - with this surplus coffee bar material. By twelve thirty, we were all ready and got under way but, before a mile was covered, the float (Vets[?]) had to be abandoned, being hopelessly out of action, with the spokes breaking off at the rim. Having sent a man back to Hannie and left a man there to look after it, we moved off again. One of the numerous old French wagons was giving a lot of trouble on hills, as its brake shoe had snapped and, at lunchtime, two p.m., when we stopped to water, I found an ASC cart with supplies on it, with a dished front wheel, and the above-mentioned wagon with a cracked perch. Well, the only remedy was to heave off all coffee bar material on these vehicles, leave two men with it, send the ASC wagon to the village, and tell it to look after itself. The other wagon, all heavy stuff off it and supplies loaded, looked strong enough for the voyage. Well I did not like the hopes of seeing Bryas by seven, but we covered the five miles left in good style, only having one accident – the wheel coming off a small DAC wagon, so I left the fitter with it and told him to do his best. He proved a handy man and brought it along to Bryas before I had finished unloading. Bryas reached by about five forty, I sent Sergeant Munday, my only reliable NCO, on to bivouac the vehicles, which hadn't any coffee bar boxes on them. The remainder were unloaded onto trains standing by and, on picking up five more wagons, one of our own, I trekked after Sergeant Munday. We got into a field about six forty-five, had horses watered at bad pond and fed them and then looked after the inner man. I must mention that there was no time to arrange any bundubus [?] en route as had not a chance to collect the NCO, such as they were.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Diary Entry - 19th July, 1916

Usual routine of stables in the morning. In afternoon, Buxton informed me that I was to collect all details from the Brigades concerning the convoy, as I was to be OC divisional convoy, which was to march by road. Well, there was a lot of ferreting to be done, and I was very worried by the time I saw Buxton at nine p.m. in the evening, as I knew what to expect at his hands, having done a dirty job for him at Marles-les-Mines. However, I had a list of wagons, which amounted to 36, consisting of 84 men and 93 horses – they were to line up at Gauchin Legal church at eleven thirty a.m. on Thursday.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Bosch

This link will take the reader to a gallery of studio portraits of German World War One soldiers, just to provide a slightly different perspective to my grandfather's.

Diary Entry - 17th and 18th July, 1916

On Monday, Siggers and I go to Béthune. We start at eight fifteen, but the horses turn up late and we have to sit and wait for them. We get in by lorry and car from Noeux-les-Mines. We had quite an amusing day and got back at four thirty p.m., as I had to go to the OP and also collect more Mess material. Wednesday, having gone up to the OP on Monday night, I remained there, having an uneventful day, till the relieving subaltern came up at seven fifteen p.m. Suttie stayed with battery 123B all night, but, when Hoyland and I had had dinner, we set out for Gauchin Legal, arriving there about twelve.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Diary Entry - 16th July, 1916

Got all the Mess baskets squared off for the move, which is to take place on Tuesday. Siggers is orderly officer.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Diary Entry and Letter Home - 15th July, 1916

Diary Entry

Suttie, Powell, Kellagher and Waldren, having obtained passes from the APM and got a car from an anti-aircraft CO, proceed to Béthune in the morning. The Naval Div. People have orders to proceed to the 47th Division, which evidently means they will take over from the 47th, the latter taking over from us.

Letter Home

15th July 1916

Dear Father,

Received your mail several days ago with a cutting about the boat race, which was very interesting. We are still in the same place but will be moving in about 10 days, down to the scene of activity, where there ought to be plenty doing. We heard last night that two divisions of cavalry had gone through the gap and, if they have, feel very doubtful about their ever getting back again.

We have had a very peaceful time this week. On Monday evening, we had an artillery subaltern and 12 men belonging to the Naval Division attached to us. And on Wednesday a South African officer was posted to us, so we are well off for subalterns again. Yet another Naval Division subaltern arrived yesterday, but they both leave us today as they are being attached to the division on our right. There is absolutely nothing to write about. I hope you have had more rain and that there are prospects of a good season by the time this reaches you.

Best love to all. Thank Mother for the socks. They have not arrived yet, but will probably arrive during the week.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Mess Plan

'If I could only describe the new Mess', he says, on 2nd July, 'which is recognised as the best in France.' Little does he know that, after all their work to make it, they will be leaving it in a few days, making their way to a very different part of the front.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Diary Entry - 12th and 13th July, 1916

An exceedingly quiet day. Absolutely nothing doing. I whiled away the time reading. Bee came up in the evening to relieve me. Thursday, I went to Gauchin Legal with Bailey. We inspected harness in the morning, F sub being a very good show, lunching with the 50th battery, and at two attended stables till four p.m., when I returned to the battery. During lunch we heard great tales about the cavalry breaking through two divisions of them. I don't think any will return, although hope they do some good work while they get the chance. News also comes from the fountain head that we are to move southwards in due course – about 10 days. On returning, we found another Naval Div. officer attached.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Diary Entry and Letter Home - 11th July, 1916

Diary Entry

Tuesday, a quiet morning. Went to OP in the evening and did the usual bit of mining before starting.

Letter home
Dear Mother,

Just a short note, as there is nothing to write about and I think this will miss the mail too. We are still in the same place but think we might move shortly. Of course, we know nothing definite yet. The only excitements worthy of note this week have been two dinners which we have given, one for the Battery Commanders to meet the General and the other for Kellagher, our senior subaltern, who has got the 56th battery. The General did not turn up as he had a bad cold, but he sent the Staff Major along and we sat down 12 and had a very successful evening. Last night was quite good too but only had 10 people to dine. We have an officer attached to us. He is just out from England and, as last night was his first evening at the front, he must have got rather a shock - I would like to read his letter home.
We seem to be doing nicely down in the South, just going along steadily, but I think if we keep it up for two months or so Bosch will become rather worried. Well there is no more news.
Best love to all.
In haste,


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Diary Entry - 10th July, 1916

Monday, as there was another small dinner, Siggers went to Béthune to collect the necessities while I remained at guns and Hoyland was at OP. Kellagher was in to dinner and it was really a farewell to him. That same afternoon we got our new acting captain, Lieutenant Bailey, a Cambridge don of some standing. An officer of the Royal Naval division also lobbed, with about 12 men, attached to us for a fortnight. The latter is only a small man, but the amount of kit he brought is appalling.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Diary Entry - 9th July 1916

I put in a lot of work during the afternoon. Siggers was also in the shaft but had to have half an hour at church with the men about four p.m.

Diary Entry - 8th July, 1916

Hoyland went very early to Béthune to buy articles for the dinner in the evening. It was a dinner for BCs to meet the General, and no pains were spared for it to be a good one, as you can judge given that 475 francs were spent over it. The General was unable to attend but he sent his staff Major, Carrington, a real good sort, along. The dinner seemed to be going successfully when I had to depart as I did not feel too bright with neuralgia. A great deal of the day was spent in preparing the Mess for the feast. It was three thirty when the party broke – Bee was amongst them and I hear he was yawning his head off. I forgot to add Crozier got his chit to go to England and Kellagher was made OC 58th battery.

Diary Entry - 7th July, 1916

It was a beastly day, showery the whole time, up to your ankles in mud wherever you moved. Siggers and I retired to the mine in the afternoon and put in some good work getting one set up. There was a strafe and combined raid at night at one a.m. but have not heard how it went.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Diary Entry - 6th July, 1916

At ten, Major Jones and Captain Dale came up to look for a sap they had to shoot on from Cabaret Rouge. Soon after they arrived, Captain Dyson OC (trench mortars) and Robinson turned up to shoot on wire in front of a German sap. They continued till twelve thirty, when Major Crozier arrived and told them to go down and get some lunch at his Mess. The latter stayed on until two and he no sooner retired than the mortar people returned to shoot again, so I did not have much peace. They fired 150 rounds and cleared the wire well. Waldren came up in the evening and did some shooting, registering for a strafe. Bee relieved me in the pouring rain.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Diary Entry - 5th July, 1916

Siggers and I painted the skylights in the Mess roof during the morning and worked in the mine most of the afternoon. In the evening, I relieved Claudie at Lorette.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Diary Entry - 4th July, 1916

Tuesday, and I started for Ablain at ten thirty for the pay at the field cashier's. When we got there we met Bee on the same stunt so, as our wagon lines are close to one another, we rode down together. We just got there at the end of stables so Siggers and I paid out straightaway. At one we lunched with Bee at an estaminet and at one thirty Siggers and I set out for Bethune to get new carpets et cetera for the Mess. At Noeux les Mines we stepped into a passing ambulance and were hurled into town in about eight minutes, getting there soon after three. Having had tea - oh I forgot to add that the rain started at one and continued heavily until five pm; one gets so used to it that one does not notice it - and completed all purchases we caught another ambulance reaching Noeux at six forty and so on to the battery, arriving about eight thirty.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Diary Entry - 3rd July, 1916

At ten, I rode down to Gauchin Legal for stables then went on, after lunching at an estaminet on omelette and a glass of beer, to Barlin to get some Mess stores. On the way home after leaving Bouvigny I rode up the side of Lorette to the control post. Halfway up there was a wonderful view of Bully and surrounding district and as they were shelling a battery just near our old position with 4.2s I watched for a few minutes. The horse flies on Lorette are frightful and give the horses a terrible time. The extraordinary part about them is they suck your blood and you don't seem to feel them.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Letter Home - 2nd July, 1916

2nd July, 1916

Dear Father,

Many thanks for your letters and the paper re the boat race. It must have been a splendid race and it was a pity we could not quite get there. We are still having wretched weather, at least yesterday the sun came out but today it looks as if it might rain again at any time. This part of the line has been fairly quiet in spite of the papers' talk of the heavy British shelling. Of course, we are doing a certain amount of shelling and, when we do let them have it, all the batteries of the Division concentrate on the one target. The point fired on must be a perfect inferno as that means about eighteen batteries including several 4.5 howitzer batteries all firing at gun fire for some thirty minutes. These strafes come off once daily and usually at night. Of course, there is usually some other shoot as well during the day. Last night at twelve thirty am a regular tornado of shells hurtled over to Boschie for half an hour and we hit off with eight rounds per gun per minute for the first one hundred and sixty rounds. That gives you some idea of what it is like with the other batteries round doing the same. Down south a lot of heavy firing has been heard and we hear we have done well, the attack being launched yesterday morning at 11.30 am and we were advancing on a ten-mile front. I think I forgot to mention before that we lost our Colonel Kerwin about a fortnight ago as he has been promoted to General. We were all very sorry to lose him as he was a spelndid man. We have had another sick-looking individual for a few days but he went off in an ambulance about four days ago and I don't think he will be much loss. It's a pity you cant get the rain we have been having here. It simply pours. No more news.

Ever your loving son,


Diary Entry - 2nd July, 1916

Nothing much done except more slaving on the mine in the afternoon, putting up sets to keep the roof from falling in. If could only describe the new Mess, which is recognised as the best in France. To begin with, a tremendous amount of earth was excavated from the side of the bank, this took some considerable time as the men used to get in behind the bank where they were not seen and sit down by the hour. After a lot of agitating the first three sections of cupola were put in and finally about a fortnight later, when the banks had several times slipped in, the eight sections were finally put in - the dimensions are 16 feet x 33, there is a partition in the middle of the compartment and we use one room for messing and the other as a general smoking room. The entrance is by a long passage which also connects up with the cookhouse and there is a mine shaft dug in off the passage. The cupola walls are painted black but each end, which is lined with corrugated iron, is painted white. The floor which consists of 9 x 1 1/2 has canvas over it while in the general room there are two carpets. A beautifully padded liver scorcher reclines in front of the fire, made of 9 x 3, there are four fan lights in the roof to let the light in. The whole Mess is to be covered with a concrete roof to be a foot or so above so as to burst anything that might happen this way. There are a most wonderful set of photos already adorning the walls, which add brightness to the place.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Diary Entry - 1st July, 1916

Saturday at the guns. In the afternoon, Siggers and I worked hard on a mine at the entrance of the new Mess and, although we worked for three solid hours, we did not seem to make much of a hole. At twelve thirty pm the Division did a very heavy strafe on some craters to the right of the 15th and a regular whirlwind of shells went over for half an hour and gradually died away. This night fire is usually connected with raids done by the infantry but we very seldom hear with what results.

Diary Entry - 30th June, 1916

Guns all day and went to the OP in the evening. Friday very quiet. Suttie came up in the afternoon and did a little shooting on some wire, but as the whole artillery was stopped in 2nd Division about three pm did not get much done. Suttie was rather annoyed as the message said that they were trying to find someone who was shooting short.

Diary Entry - 29th June, 1916

Siggers returned from leave, arriving when we were in the middle of lunch, looking very fit and pleased with life. At two thirty pm, we three subalterns started out across Lorette Heights for Bully to see if we could collect any furniture we left in our old Mess. The walk - about four miles - took us an hour and on arrival found a General in possession of the place. We tackled a staff captain without success. He said four brigades had been in since we left and the frniture had been handed over to them intact with the house. Coming back as we walked over Lorette a man (sub) talked of putting us under arrest for walking across in front of his OP but, as we were miles back and inconspicuous to the Bosche, I don't know how he could see the line at all. However, he belonged to that wonderful division, the 47th, who have had so many medals thrown at them.