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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Diary Entry - 28th April, 1917

At three forty-five, having slept with the 56th Battery, I rose and walked up to the guns, as the ball was to open at four twenty-five a.m. At the precise moment, all our batteries opened up and it was not many more minutes before the Hun opened too. He put up a terrible barrage and, as we were quite close to it and in front of all our guns, the noise was terrible, heavier than anything I have yet experienced. To add to our difficulties, he had us taped with his high velocity gun and kept plugging in high explosive and shrapnel at gun fire 30'. I have never been so frightened in my life and I could not steady my nerve after what had happened on the previous days and felt an awful coward before all the men, who were splendid. Marvellous to relate, after two hours of this the casualties were only three wounded and none of those badly. I never realised you could have such a bad time in an open position with the guns firing at you from a flank and have so few casualties. One time, while talking to Hoyland, shrapnel swished past us, the rush of air knocking our steel helmets off. The only thing I can account for helping us were the few old straggly trees above us. We were all thoroughly glad when our job was over and were pursued from the position by the wretched gun firing HE at us. A few prisoners passed the battery, but the machine gun fire sounded very bad as it meant they could not have cleaned up Oppy wood properly. As it turned out, we went through the wood all right and into Oppy, but the Division on our right made a muck of it and failed to keep touch, consequently the Bosche found a gap in the line, pushed a lot of men through and cut us off in rear. It is rumoured we lose a battalion of the Essex and Middlesex anyway, the majority must have been captured. At dusk, as I was sitting down to dinner with Kellagher behind the railway, there was an SOS, the Germans evidently countering. There was a great commotion and Bosche was putting up a heavy barrage. A little later K came in from the guns saying he had seen a 2nd Divisional intelligence officer who said the Bosche had broken through on our division's right and were only a few yards outside Bailleul. Well, as we had no line of trenches between the railway embankment just to our front and our front line, we were naturally rather worried. Hoyland the next day told a most amusing tale how he at the guns was going to bed about twelve a.m., not knowing anything about the situation, when Sergeant Sherlock came in and said, 'I suppose you know the Germans have broken through and are in the vicinity of Bailleul?' On going outside into the sunken road to investigate the matter, he found infantry digging in along the embankment but the unfortunate thing was there was a large gap from this side of our guns to the battery. The most amusing climax was reached though when 30 pack mules appeared for us with ammunition, having come across what was supposed to be No Man's Land, that priceless hero Br Beech heading them with a most unconcerned air.


  1. This gentle man, spent his birthday without a word of himself.

    1. My father - his son-in-law - told me he was the nicest man he ever met.