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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Diary Entry - 15th September, 1916

Friday was my day off duty and, as there was nothing exciting going on in the morning, I walked over to the 56th Battery in the afternoon. They have a splendid position just outside a town called Mailly Maillet.
K - was in the best of form and showed round his old drain pipe battery, which was a very good show, with lots of his little gyms about. The telephone pit, with its telephone's bells and speaking tubes, was like the coning tower of a ship. He also had a bath in the battery position, which he had looted from the village. The Doctor, Plant by name - and Miles adjutant - no, orderly officer - of the 34th Brigade, rolled up for tea. K - and the [word crossed out] were most amusing, making cartridges for their 12 bore guns, filling them with balistite cordite and different sizes of shot. They put different charges in and then went and tried them on a tin in the back yard. Some of the charges they put in I thought would blow the gun up. For tea they produced some beautiful honey in the comb which they had robbed from some bees in the village and I belive they have about 60 lbs of it, enough to keep them going for about two months. I left the 56th soon after five, just as K - was going out with his gun after partridges. On passing the 15th I saw Bee and Walrond, who had just come back from the trenches, shooting wire. When passing along the battery from our dug out to the Mess, the Bosche sent over a bouquet of 4.2 howitzers and very nearly did for me. The whole four came over together. When I realised they were coming at us, I ducked for No.1 gun pit, but they were there before I got half way. But luckily the one that landed closest was a dud between 1 and 2 guns. They put over a few more too, but I kept under cover. The battery barber was cutting hair outside No.2 when they arrived, and I have never seen a chair vacated quicker in my life. That evening, I relieved Cruickshank at the OP and slept up there the night.

We got good news from the south about the tanks. They had done good work and were last seen going through Fleurs[?] signalling OK. As a result of their work, we took 2,000 prisoners captured in Martinpuich and Fleurs and advanced along a mile front to a depth of five miles.

The tank is a new form of war machine - a large armoured caterpillar which is said to carry six machine guns and 2.4 pounder guns. It will climb through trenches, wire, through a wood and even houses, clearing everything before it.


  1. 'K' would be his old colleague a/Major Sydney Kellagher who had taken over 56th Battery in July..

  2. I am uncertain whether this is Kellagher, who he refers to quite freely elsewhere, or another person with a surname beginning in K who is a bit of a rogue (stolen honeycomb, grouse shooting expeditions, 'amusing' cartridges et cetera) and whose identity he wants to protect, even within the covers of his diary. He writes quite deliberately each time he refers to him 'K -', whereas Kellagher usually gets his full name honours. But then again, if Kellagher took over the 56th Battery, I suppose that fits - maybe it was the fact he'd become a Major that made my grandfather feel he should protect his identity while writing about his more nefarious activities.