Search This Blog

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Diary Entry - 9th May, 1917

Walford: Wednesday. We had an awful night of it and during the whole of it not one wink of sleep did I get. As soon as we had turned in at ten forty-five and when Bellew had just returned from taking ammunition mules forward with fodder for the sniping gun, the shelling commenced. Four twos and five nines began bursting down the sunken road and they were lachrimatory shells. As I was at the bottom of the stairs in a tank and they were putting right along the road, I thought it wise to move inside. We were dozing away when there was an appalling crash about four thirty. There were shouts for the major. All the candles were out and the place full of dust. As soon as I had rolled out of bed, I followed the major along the passage to our men's two entrances. A heap of wreckage was all I could see at the bottom to our first shaft but I was informed that both Gunnar Saunders (Sandford's servant) and Br.Ddd had been killed. I enquired for Sandford but no one seemed to have seen him and on hearing someone groaning up the shaft saw that he had fainted. Harrison got him down and we pulled him along to the fresh air but it was 30 minutes before we got him round. As soon as he was coming along, I went back and found another man had flopped. We got him away and another man went. This continued till we had seven men down and others slightly affected. I was very puzzled as to what was the cause of it as I knew it was no ordinary gas that was known but anyway I used the ammonia tablets which the medical orderly had freely and this seemed to give them all great relief. As the medical orderly had worked until he dropped, we were left with no one who knew much about the game at all. I tried to get through to brigad, Gannon, the only signal left out of six,trying his hardest on the wires without success. Some of the corps who were between where we slept and our men however managed to get my message through. The next thing to think of was the stand to at three thirty as we had already been warned of an expected attack so as No. 1 gun was out of action, its sights being amongst the debris, we were able to make up the vacancies from them. It was fairly quiet when we went to the guns, though they were still dropping a good many to the rear of us. At five fifty-five we heard some rifle and machine gun fire and, as there was no chance of seeing rockets, owing to thick mist and rain, we opened at intense rate, slowing a bit as the rifle and machine guns eased off. We fired I expect till four forty-five, when all had quietened, and then returned to the dugout. The ground was very greasy and the rain continued to pour down. About nine a.m., Todd arrived and saw everyone and got Hands, who was slightly wounded in the groin, away to a dressing station. We got Gannon onto the brigade line and, after a lot of work on it, got through and arranged for a complete relief of officers and men. At one p.m. Hoyland arrived with Evans. whom he brought from the detached section at the seven ones, and the men arrived shortly afterwards. So Sandford, Bellew and I, with the men, soon made tracks, being hunted up the sunken road from Kellagher's with five nines. We lunched with the seven ones, then picked up our horses at the brigade and rode down to the wagon line, where we found Siggers holding an evening stables. It was a great relief to feel you could walk about in the fresh air without any risk of disturbance or getting a shell on your head. We heard on the following day that the Hun had attacked and taken Fresnoy it without any opposition at all – in fact, think we must have been the only guns to open, as could not hear any others until we had almost finished.

No comments:

Post a Comment