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Friday, 23 September 2011

Diary Entry - 23rd September, 1916

Walford: Saturday, Bailey, Hoyland, Siggers, Sergeant Major and a marching party of 80 men set out for the position to prepare for the guns coming up the next day. I was left with Cruikshank and we had plenty to do to keep us going. I sent a gun off to ordinance in the morning, after getting a permit from the 11th Division Staff. Then there was RE materiel to be obtained. To add to my difficulties, Driver Potter, my groom, had stolen some rum from under the Mess cart during the night and was blind to the world when I saw him at eight forty-five and there was no chance of my getting my horses. Needless to say, I put him under arrest and wished him in all sorts of nasty places. Having got a bicycle, I decided to do all running round on that, so set off for the staff sergeant artificer at brigade to come and test the sights. The Colonel was comfortably situated near Div RAHQ but was very sick at not having a job. As only the 18-pounder batteries had come down from our division specially for the show, we were each attached to different brigades and under their control as being the 59th Brigade of 11th Division. RE material was not to be had - well, at any rate, could get none out of either REs or RAHQ, who controlled it. It was not difficult to see what we were up against in the 11th Division. They look after their own batteries all right and let us look after ourselves. I attacked the staff captain twice, once by myself, and again with the Colonel and Claudet of the 15th. Suttie rolled up at ten fifteen a.m. in a car with Carrington, having just returned from leave and looking very Londonish, with a new kit bag in one hand. They both went on up to the guns in the General's car. Cruikshank and I lunched with the Brigade, our Mess cart having been ordered up to the guns about one p.m. I also tea-d with the Brigade. At seven p.m. I went up to the guns with the supplies, arriving just in time for dinner at nine thirty p.m.

Bee: It was a very cold, raw night and ice about this morning. There was a touch of gas about from shell. We started about seven fifteen p.m., after a [?] breakfast, as we could not get any water. We came through Albert, which is close to our old wagon line when at Mault. The road was crowded with traffic and we passed a lot of Canadian troops, Highlanders, and a fine lot they look. The last two miles of road were awful, mud is a foot deep, with a lot of stray carts abandoned, bogged. On the road up you go over the old front line, which is a mass of mines and there is one huge one, bigger than any crater I have ever seen - it is about 70 yards across and about 30 feet deep. Well, our position is virgin soil. It is a good position and false [?] crested and we have three days to build. We are right behind what used to be Pascein[?] but is now a ruined mass of brick dust. We got here at eleven a.m.and in half an hour work had started. But the trouble will be to get material, as we are attached to another Division, the 11th, and no-one seems to want us. And from all accounts our Colonel 58th Brigade is rather a funny old boy. By dark this evening most of the guns had their side walls up and foundations down, which was quite a good effort, I think. This place seems fairly healthy. There are very few new shell holes about. We had a great time fitting a new Mess. There was an old trench which gave us a fair start. We passed a tank on our way up, but could not see much, as it was covered over.


  1. These posts remain so interesting.... I have posted 2 photos of 48th Battery on Flickr - believed taken in 1917 by Godfrey Hoyland, no less. He was a keen amateur photographer since a schoolboy, and quite by chance I have recently acquired several glass negatives of photos taken by him prewar, as well as these 2 wartime photos .. . I have some idea who some of the individuals may be - but I would hope that more could be identified. I would be interested whether you think any of the football team could be officer colleagues who appear in photos in your possession (?).. anyway, for your interest..

  2. Thank you, I shall look with interest.

  3. the ruined village is, I think, Pozières..captured by the Australian 2nd Div in July.

  4. Fascinating pictures. How did they cope, without hot baths to go home to after playing?