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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Diary Entry - 26th April, 1917

Walford: Went forward to the section at Sucrerie and laid out lines of fire carefully without being disturbed. One of our balloons came down in flames durung the morning, being brought down by an aeroplane and another poor old BE was downed in flames during the morning, the poor unfortunate observer falling out, the other man being burnt with the machine, which dropped behind Bailleul. An ammunition dump went up south of Arras during the day. Bailly registered without trouble before lunch, only firing about 15 rounds, but he took good care to get another battery to comb the trees of Oppy Wood with shrapnel so as no observers were at work and took advantage too of Arleux en Gohelle being very heavily bombarded. While finishing tea in K's before going up to relieve Evans who had stopped up there all day Sgt. Sherlock came in very shaky and said to one of the 56th Battery officers there is an officer to see you outside. It struck me as being funny that my sergeant should tell a 50th Battery officer that someone wanted to see him so I listened and heard him tell Willy that Majors Walrond, Bailly, Bee and Ball had been killed. It was terrible news and fair broke me up. All I could do was wander up to the guns and tell Evans the news and to come back and see what he could do. It was really my duty to go over as senior subaltern at the guns but I could not face it. It appears a shell penetrated the wall and exploded inside killing all with the concussion. The blow struck me heavily enough - losing a brother whom one had loved all his life and never had a bad word or heard anyone else have a bad word against, a brother who had always helped me through all difficulties and who shared troubles and secrets alike with me, and a more thoughtful man I have never met. Goodness knows how mother and father will take the knock. I fear it will go hard with them. However, it seems to me the only way to bear up is to carry on all the harder with the work in hand so that one has not time to think things over. That evening when the guns   came up Hoyland arrived with them, taking over command, and he arranged to go back to the wagon lines, Evans to go to Kellagher's and I, as it was my desire to sleep at the guns.


  1. Oh, the frutility of war. I have been dreading this day....

    1. An estimated 8.5 million soldiers were killed in WW1, and 13 million civilians. These numbers are barely comprehensible – if at all – until that life that we know and cherish is blown away.

      That too is human nature, because we can't cope with all the others as if they are our personal loss.

      Infinitely sad.