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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Diary Entry - 24th April, 1917

Walford: Tuesday. Very heavy gunning went on all night to the south and I expected to be hauled out for an SOS all through the night. At eight a.m. I heard two shell whisk over very fast and then two well in front of the guns and thought it time to get up. I had not got my trousers on when a shell landed just over the Mess, which, by the hole, looked very like an 8-inch. We all got into a trench we had had dug outside the Mess in case of emergency. The next one went into the 48th position so we though it time to evacuate and got all men on the move, telling them to go to a flank. On asking Sgt. Higgins if all were clear, we found Corporal Kay and his detachment were missing and were last seen in their shelter beside the gun. There was nothing for it but to go back to the position and see their shelter but Bailly would not allow Sgt. Higgins and I to investigatee but would come himself, although he was frightened out of his life. Well, we found the dugout or where it had been but I thought they must have been out of it as there was no sign of anybody and you would have thought some part of them would have been blown out. So, under pressure from Bailly, we left and made a detour to the right to see if we could find any trace of them. We all breakfasted with the brigade. After breakfast, while with the men, the Colonel told me we should have to move as we were on the duckboards, not because of the shelling. He decided on one position further back near the 70 battery and I was taking four DAC wagons round there past the brigade when we were told to stand fast as we should probably go forward. It was eventually arranged we should go up behind the Sucrerie so we dumped the ammunition in rear of 15th for packhorses. The shelling ended about twelve a.m. and after digging about the shell hole we unearthed all four men who must have been killed by the concussion they were just as they had been sitting - Corporal Kay, Br. Wells, Gunners Sullivan and Richards - every one of them old battery men and a great loss to us. As a result of the shelling, two guns were put out of action. The enemy countered again at two p.m. but again he was driven off with bloody losses. In the evening I went to the detached section to relieve Gough of the seven ones, it being arranged that as both batteries had a section up there one officer could run the two of them
Killed in action: Corpl. Kay, Br Wells, Gunners Richards and Sullivan

Bee: We were woken up in a bit of a hurry about eight a.m. by a 5.9 in firing on our battery. The one who put the wind up us landed about 20 yards from the Mess. So we all went back about 200 yards and watched proceedings. They did good shotting. Knocked out two of our guns and two of 48th also killed four of the 48th men,. We were lucky enough to all get breakfast at the Brigade and lunch at the 71st. We returned to our position after lunch and were glad to find the Mess intact but outside was well churned up. I went down to the forward position this evening. It is only about a mile and a half. I left here at eight thirty p.m. and did not get there until one a.m. There was a gun bogged in the road and had to wait until they got it out.

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