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Thursday, 5 January 2012

Diary Entry - 5th January, 1917

Walford: A frightfully cold night and I was not sorry, when we were called at three a.m, to get up and try to get warm. We managed to get a little tea and grub then push off about four fifteen, with the 15th close on our heels. After passing the site of our position for Thiepval , it was all new country to me and looked very bleak and ploughed up. Someone said we were passing through Pozieres, but one could not see a stone or stick in the dull light of dawn to mark the place. The order was passed back to put out all cigarettes and that no matches were to be struck and we went on down the slope, with shell-ploughed country on either side, until we got to the end of the road, where there were four trees standing (this spot was named The Four Trees). Things were unloaded here and a guide led the men with their kit across what looked like a swamp to the battery position some 400 yards away.

Bee: They gave me the fright of my life last night as I was walking up to my dugout to bed. A pipsqueak came to earth within 50 yards of me. My dugout is actually only a shelter really and would not stop a stone thrown on the roof, which is not very encouraging, and you have to walk through six inches of liquid mud to get to it. Our people arrived here at seven a.m., which was a good effort as they did not get in until late last night. It was a perfect morning to relieve as it was misty and the Hun let us come in in peace. The other people did not wait long. I had a brand-new pair of top boots stolen, which was bad luck as this is just the place you want them. The men had the day to themselves to settle down. I had to go off at four p.m. to do liaison officer. My guide lost his way but after wandering about for an hour found the place. The OP we were intended to use was awful but thank goodness we could not get into communication. There was a huge German dugout about 50 yards away. A wonderful construction, about 40-foot underground. It would hold easily 100 men and was full of infantry working parties and the conversation one heard there was an education. I spent three hours trying to find our wire after ringing up corps and many other people came home and reported what had happened. The walk back was no easy job in the dark and the Hun was also on heat, shelling the whole countryside. We once had to take shelter in an old trench. We finally got back to the battery and found things rather disorganised. The Hun had evidently got wind that we were relieving tonight. Thank God we did it in the morning or else our casualties would have been very big. They fairly peppered the valley and tracks with gas shells. We had one infanteer in the Mess with a broken leg and wrist – a direct hit on a gun pit – and the sergeant slightly gassed. Then, to cap things, Bomb. York got jammed in between the trigger and buffer of the gun. The poor fellow would have been drowned, as he was thrown into a shell hole with five foot of water in it. All was quiet at eleven thirty p.m. and we went to bed


  1. The injured man was probably Bombardier Edward York (75873)

  2. I think not. if this is the correct York it would seem he later served in the Labour Corps - which was not uncommon if wounded/injured and unfit for frontline service.

    1. Oh good - Bee's assumptions appear to have been too gloomy.