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Wednesday 31 August 2011

Diary Entry - 31st August, 1916

I remained on duty at the guns. Cruckshank went to the OP. Bosche shelled all round the old Mess with 4.2 inch howitzers. The new Mess is progressing at a great rate and ought to be very comfortable when finished.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Diary Entry - 30th August, 1916

Wednesday, it rained hard all day and turned quite cold, reminding one that winter is well on its way back once more. I was at the OP all day, having gone up at six a.m. in the morning. Dixon was up from the 71st. As there was nothing doing, we spent most of the day together. He hunted round in the afternoon and found a more comfortable spot further forward, with a splendid view of the trenches, and he moved straight into it, but Suttie would not let me move until he had seen it himself. So I spent the rest of the day in my little tin hutch. The battery was shelled during the afternoon.

Monday 29 August 2011

Diary Entry - 29th August, 1916

Tuesday, the servants called us late - in fact, I had to get up and call them, and it was ten before I was dressed. The captain had come into breakfast and his orders were to take the centre section guns on while he was wire cutting - these guns were in pits about 300 yards on the left of the main position. Wire cutting began at eleven thirty but, as there were two Bosche areoplanes flying low up and down the line, there was not much show of shooting, as he said to be very strict and not shoot when any were about. By one we got going again and so did the Bosche. He started with 4.2 howitzers on us, sending one about every five minutes. At two, we stopped for lunch, as Bosche was ranging on us with an aeroplane. However, most of his shells were going very near the Mess, but we got lunch all right. We began again about two forty and carried on until about four thirty p.m. but Bosche was still firing and, although he had about 20 per cent duds, he was getting very close to our Mess. Cruikshank and I set out for the Mess to have tea but, as we walked towards it, Bosche quickened and shortened and the former being near the Mess ducked into the trench and I ducked into the office. Cruikshank thought it wise to leave the Mess and came back to join me and, on his way, a shell landed five yards from him, but by providence it was a dud and he is still with us.Ten minutes sufficed for me in the office when two fell very close and I said, 'Come on, let's get out of this,' and we ran for the guns, with him on my heels. But about halfway over, we saw the gunners pointing to something behind and on looking round saw the Mess cook and captain's servant staggering out of the trench looking very shaken. Anderson, another servant, ran out to meet them, and, as we went back to lend a hand, another shell arrived fairly close, covering us with mud, but we soon got them along to No.1 gun pit, where the medical orderly, Gunner Geoghegan, attended them. Evidently there had been two direct hits on the Mess - although it had not fallen in on them, the blast knocked them about badly. They were covered with whisky, port, sherry and vermouth, as had been standing under a shelf with these bottles on it when the shell arrived. Messing was rather difficult that night and it was ten thirty p.m. before we got anything and then in some mysterious fashion someone had stolen eight bottles of whisky while it was on its way over to our new Mess and had been left in the position for five minutes. The Captain dined at brigade, thank goodness. We eventually finished dinner at eleven p.m.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Diary Entry - 28th August, 1916

There were all sorts of rumours going round in the morning about the previous night's business, and the Colonel was said to be very much on heat about it all. The adjutant came round with wild stories about punishment that was to be meted out, but, beyond putting a guard on the village, I don't think anything was done. It is Monday and it rained again heavily during the night and continued all morning. The winter seems to have turned up again and I think the offensive will be badly hampered. At five thirty p.m., Cruickshank and I left with my section, a GS wagon and two water cart horses, for the guns, and thank goodness the rain had cleared by then. It was eight thirty by the time we got to the RE dump at Courcelles and drew 1,000 sandbags and we were taken on from there by a guide. It was a very dark night and we were ordered to keep 200 yards distance between vehicles from there on but, as there were only three vehicles, and the man with the water cart horses had been up before and was riding in rear, I thought all was well. At nine thirty we reached the guns and I found that the GS wagon and two horses were missing, so had to hunt in the dark for them. They turned up about half an hour afterwards, but I was rather afraid they might have gone on into our trenches, as we were only 2,400 from the German frontline.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Diary Entry - 27th August, 1916

Sunday I had arranged a bivouac the previous night, made out of waterproof sheets, tied to a barbed wire fence, and I slept under it on a stretcher. It rained very heavily through the night, but my bivouac kept it all out, and I awoke quite dry at six a.m. for stables. I was a bit previous though, as stables, instead of being at six thirty a.m., was at seven a.m. Bailey and Hoyland went off looking for a new wagon line in the morning, which we were to take over from a battery in the Guards division, who we were relieving. Cruickshank and I had a gas helmet inspection at two thirty p.m. The rest of the afternoon, the men spent packing the guns and getting ready to go up into action at five thirty, the left section remaining at the wagon line. In the afternoon, on walking through the village, there seemed to be a lot of men the worse for drink, but we never saw any of the 48s. The 71s were very bad, so also D36, the latter mainly caused, I think, through Hortayne's section having to parade and bathe when it was raining. They evidently thought they ought to take something to warm them up. It rained off and on throughout the day. All our men were all right again at eight p.m. parade, and we congratulated ourselves on having no drunken men. At ten p.m. the Colonel ordered a rollcall, having evidently returned at three thirty p.m. and being kept away from the village, but the town Mayor had to report to him at nine p.m. that two men of the fifteenth were causing much trouble in the main street, trying to assault a young girl, so the adjutant was sent out round the batteries at ten. Evidently, the sergeant majors of the 15th, 71st and D36 had got wind he was coming and threw their drunken men in the river so as they could parade and, between this dodge and the adjutants not knowing who had gone to the guns and who hadn't, the sergeant majors won the day, not a man being discovered actually tight.

Friday 26 August 2011

Diary Entry - 26th August, 1916

Siggers and I breakfasted at six thirty a.m. and then took a look round at things being packed up in preparation for a 20-mile march to Famechon, passing through Beauquesne, Sir Douglas Haig's advanced headquarters. At eight thirty a.m. the brigade was to march, headed by D36, and we followed them at eight thirty-five a.m., and orders were that one man was to be left on the brake of each vehicle and the remainder were to march at the head of the battery. Siggers had to go with the adjutant in advance of us, to get the wagon line and billets squared up, so I was the remaining officer left with the battery. We stopped at eleven thirty for midday feed and watered at a small pond but D36 and us were the only batteries to water as the others never got a chance, and I lost my position by watering, as D36 went straight on as soon as they fed and did not consider us. So the 50th and 56th Batteries pushed in ahead of me. In Beauquesne, the Colonel made us go a different road to the one we were taking and took us a long way out of our course as it happened. When we were halted just out of the village, Quiller came barging up with the 9th Battery on the left of the road, making the road impassable and trying to break our brigade up. When we moved off, he did too, consequently everyone was jostling, so as he couldn't get into our column. Luckily the Colonel came along and cursed his head off. And I hope he gave it to him hot, as a more rotten show than he put up I have never seen, even training in England - he let the men sit on their horses for 20 minutes, not attempting to have them dismounted. It's damned hard on poor horses such as they were on a 20-mile march. We eventually got into our lines at five thirty and were very soon fixed up. I was feeling quite hungry by that time as had had no lunch and had been caught in a shower while watering, getting sopped, but soon drying again. The Captain and Bailley, who arrived soon after we did, seemed distinctly costive, but we took no notice of them as they had livers after doing themselves too well in Amiens. Anyway, we messed alone that night in a tent and called the OC and acting captain names, while they probably did the same to us.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Diary Entry - 25th August, 1916

Friday, we felt quite clean after a nice warm bath and we breakfasted at ten a.m. By the time we had found the bank and had a haircut, it was time to think of wending our way to lunch and meeting Suttie and Bailey. At twelve thirty they rolled up, as did most of the officers of the 3rd Brigade. We sat down eight to lunch, the party including Major Powell and Walrond. In the afternoon, the town was packed with all ranks of the 2nd division, in spite of the fact that the Brigade was marching about eight miles to Rainneville. After having tea with Murdoch in a nice little teashop, Siggers and I rode back to Rainneville, getting there at six thirty p.m., so that Hoyland and Cruickshank could spend the night in Amiens.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Diary Entry - 24th August, 1916

There were no orders about moving until two in the afternoon, when the motorcyclist from RAHQ 2nd Div. delivered a package to the adjutant, which said we would march for Vecquemont at four thirty p.m. As it was known we were not going out to rest but going into the line below Gommecourt, the BCs at once decided to try to give the subalterns – in fact, all officers – a night in Amiens. So Siggers and I did not wait to argue who was going but set off in a car, ordering our horses to follow on as soon as possible. The French car we had stopped dropped us at their flying ground, so we had to walk back a mile onto the main road for a lorry. Kellagher was with us and we got a slow old machine which took us to Corbie. Here the former left us and went to a dentist while Siggers and I had tea, meeting Todd in the tea rooms. About six, we walked about a mile on the road to Vecquemont when a lorry picked us up and took us into that town. From there, we started on the road for Amiens, expecting to get some sort of a lift, but never a car passed us and we had to step out the seven miles on foot, arriving at the Hotel de Rhin about eight fifteen p.m. There we had an excellent dinner and retired to a very comfortable bedroom for the night. Our grooms gave us a shock, as they did not arrive till ten thirty p.m. with our kit, which fitted into haversacks.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Diary Entry - 23rd August, 1916

The remaining two sections relieved us early in the morning, and they took our guns out to their wagon line, which was moving from Bors de Tailles to Meaulte, while we were handing over our wagon line to them and going to the Bors de Tailles. As there was nothing for me to do after six, I breakfasted with the 48th and met the Varsity oar, Garnett, there, he having come in with the new battery. It was rather amusing: I recognised his face but did not know where I had seen him. We had a good chat about different men's doings out here whom we both knew in common. At ten thirty a.m. Siggers, Suttie and I set out for Bors de Tailles on our horses and fairly cantered through the Valley of Death, causing much amusement as, for once, there were no shells dropping in the valley. We reached the wagon line about twelve thirty where we found the lines just being put into shape. The brigade camped where they did on the way up to action, and we remained there quietly for the rest of the day, feeling relieved to be away from Carnoy.

Extract from letter received on 13th September, 1916 at Mailly.

"I should be glad if you would convey to those concerned my appreciation of the great assistance accorded me by your Divisional Artillery during the time they covered the 24th Div. front from 10th to 23rd August. Both my Division and myself wish to express our gratitude for the same.
J C Capper
Maj. Gen.
Comdg. 24th Division."

Monday 22 August 2011

Diary Entry - 22nd August, 1916

The relieving section of 6th Division came in at six. The relieving people spent their time walking about and acquainting themselves with the new surroundings.l It was another remarkably quiet day for Carnoy Valley.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Diary Entry - 21st August, 1916

Monday, the Bosch kept exceedingly quiet all day. In the afternoon at four thirty p.m. we had to support the infantry, who were to bomb down a trench to the south of machine-gun house. It was splendid the way the guns opened up on the tick at zero time. The whole country seemed to roar with shells in a second, all screaming towards Bosch lines, and, before zero time, barely a gun could be heard. That evening, Armytage and self dined with the 48s.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Diary Entry and Extract from Orders, 2nd Battle for Guillemont - 20th August

Diary Entry

I was orderly officer and, beyond fire salvos through the day, there was nothing else doing. Dixon went to the wagon line for lunch and returned very pleased, with tales of moving. Major Carrington, however, was round in the afternoon and said that he saw no hope of being relieved for 10 days at the outside. At nine or later, Thorburn rang up and said we were moving on Tuesday – at least a section was to go out then – and our hopes rose to a great height. Loud cheers and much laughter echoed through the Bosch dugout that evening at bedtime.
Extract from Orders (Routine):

Batteries will be interested to hear that I saw the 17th Infantry Brigade this morning and found them most enthusiastic about the 2nd Divisional Artillery Barrage.

They say "they got into their objective everywhere with hardly a casualty', and, as far as they know, nobody was hit by a short shell, although they followed up very close. In one part they were over the parapet just as the Bosches began to lift their machine guns to it. They also say that any wire there had been was entirely destroyed. I have also heard from CRA 24th div about the excellence of the barrage.

IH Saunders
2nd Div.

Friday 19 August 2011

Diary Entry - 19th August, 1916

Having returned from Waterlot, I forgot to mention that the last of the three runners sent out never reached his destination. He left me about midnight, when things were moderately quiet, and has never been heard of since, but he was probably wounded and taken to the dressing station. The battery was reached at seven and it was inclined to rain. I had breakfast when I got back and slept till two, as had had no sleep all night. There was no room in the infantry dugout to sit down and people kept walking over me all night.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Diary Entry - 18th August

Friday - as I was liaison officer, it meant I had to go to Waterlot Farm and sit in Infantry Battalion HQ. The Brigade had taken a lot of trouble over communications to the infantry, having a station at Bernafay Wood and one at Trones, with more than four wires connecting each station.

I set out at six thirty with four signallers, going straight to Bernafay. Here each signaller followed a wire to Trones and then the different wires to Waterlot Farm. I went round the longest wire with two signallers and mended about 15 breaks, and each of the other signallers mended breaks, so things looked fairly blue about our keeping in communication.

On arriving at HQ, I found the Colonel having a pow-wow with his company commanders as to the plan of attack and Siggers, who I was to relieve, could not get out of the dugout, so I waited on the step. At nine, our artillery put up a bit of a barrage for half an hour and Bosche replied with a fair number of shells, which made life rather unpleasant for a short time. Siggers handed over, and I went down to the Colonel, who was a very nice old man, and awaited events.

About eleven, the Colonel moved his HQ to another dugout, which was further back and much safer, though there was very little room. It was originally two old Bosche mineshafts, which had been connected up by the engineers, who drove in a passage from each end, making a small opening 14-foot by 7-foot.

The attack was to commence at two forty-five, and I waited events with interest, as it was my first experience as liaison officer. Well, we sat there listening to the artillery, who put up a hell of a wall of shrapnel, looking at our watches all the time, waiting for the time when the men would  leap over the parapet. The Colonel and adjutant were very nervous, but the strain was relieved when the first message arrived at two fifty, saying that a certain company had got over all right and, after that, messages rolled.

At three p.m., German prisoners began to come in, and one German officer was brought in to the dugout and questioned, and all he could say was that the artillery was terrible. About 70 Bosch went through to the rear during the afternoon, and the good news simply rolled in - we had taken machine gun house and were consolidating in all our new positions. Three machine guns had been captured and a number of Bosch killed. The infantry even reported on the magnificent barrage the artillery put up, which was nice to hear.

Well, everything went all right until about five, when it was reported that someone was dropping shells short and messages had to be sent through to the artillery. I had to send out runners and Br. Lucking of our 48th battery got through to Burnafray in the thick of the shelling – a feat worthy of the DCM, which I hope he gets.

The night passed quietly without a counter-attack. The 3rd division on our right failed to get Guillemont, and so two phases of the attack in the early morning had to be abandoned. Moolman of D36 relieved me at five a.m., and I and the four signallers started back about five forty-five. There is a nasty 200 yards passing Waterlot Farm - the trench has been levelled; at least it looks as if there has never been one there - and they were shelling it every few minutes with 4.2-inch and 77-millimetre shells, so we did not waste much time, except to duck every time they came over.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Diary Entry - 17th August, 1916

Everything went on as usual and nothing thrilling happened. The weather has taken a change and become cooler, with an odd thunder shower about

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Diary Entry - 16th August, 1916 .

Major Powell, Walrond and Armytage started out at five forty-five for Dyson's OP in Trones Wood, to cut the wire reported by the infanteers. The battery was ready at six thirty and Dixon and I were waiting for orders but none got through till nearly nine, as they had trouble in keeping communication. When the 71s were registered, Walrond registered fifteenth, and we had a chance of some breakfast. We fired all morning, right on till two at battery fire, having sometimes intervals of half an hour. Soon after two, we went to battery fire three seconds and, as there was very good light and three Bosch balloons up, I felt rather nervous about being shelled. At about three p.m., two very innocent looking 4.2 landed, well out on our right front, but I knew that it meant trouble. Very soon an 8-inch landed 20 yards in front and two more in quick succession bracketed us, covering the battery with showers of clay and dust, as the armour-piercing 8-inch has a big gain and consequently goes well into ordinary earth before it explodes. Dixon, who was running the show, gave orders to take cover. The right section had just got into the trench when another came over, landing just over my cupola gun pit, and it blew it kite high, so we all went to ground. The usual 15 minutes was allowed for Boschey, after his last shell, then we all came out from the earth and had a look at the damage. I suppose 20 of us, mostly gunners, including Claudel, Dixon and myself, were admiring the right section when there was a whistle out of the blue and we all jumped for cover. I could not get into the trench for the crowd and would have departed this world if the shell had dropped near, but it went about 50 yards over into the valley. It gave us all a nasty shock, and we got back into the dugout. The Colonel came round while we were underground and would sit up in the Mess while these shells kept dropping not 30 yards away: showers of earth fell on the sandbagged corrugated iron covering, but he took not the slightest notice, so Dixon and I had to sit there, pretending not to notice what was going on and feeling very miserable. The Bosch stopped about four thirty, but we kept the men under cover for some time, fearing another surprise.

During the morning Randall, Dixon's servant, blew his hand off with a rifle grenade. Luckily four other servants, being frightened when they saw him playing with it, came out of the dugout, or they would have suffered too. The Major and party returned at five, having cut the wire well, under the circumstances. There was a small attack made by the people on our right at dusk and we fired to support them for two hours, but they failed to get their objective, although the French took the remaining part of Maurepas. It seems we have come to a standstill on this front.

Monday 15 August 2011

Diary Entry - 15th August, 1916

Tuesday. In the morning Major Powell and Dean (the new subaltern, who has been with the battery about three days now) and also Walrond went up to Trones Wood to see if anything in the shape of wire could be seen from Dyson's OP on the German frontline we cover. They returned about eleven, reporting that they could see no wire and that an infantry patrol would have to go out and examine the no man's land. Dixon, who had gone up to Waterlot Farm on the previous evening, returned about midday, reporting that the infantry had been out the previous night and discovered that there was a little wire. No. 1 gun had been very busy erecting a new cupola, just on the left of their old position, and had got it just about completed by dark and ready for sandbagging in the morning

Sunday 14 August 2011

Diary Entry - 14th August, 1916

At ten a.m., Siggers and I both set out for the guns. We had a little excitement coming through the valley as the Bosche was hurling a lot of 10-centimetre gun and 77-millimetre shells just to the left of the valley. When we arrived at the position, we found that the right section had had a rotten time and had narrowly escaped having the gun wiped out. The rear half of the pit had been blown away and about 60 rounds of HE had been ruined, but the extraordinary thing was that no-one was injured. All the ammunition was burned, the trench running up to the gun pit was washed out completely and there was a hole about 10-foot deep and 14-foot wide where the trench had been. However, the gun was all right - the sandbagged wall at the back of the pit had saved sights from splinters.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Diary Entry - 13th August, 1916

At nine a.m. I go up to Corps dump to draw material for the guns but find the GS wagon has already got what they can and gone up to the guns. I got through from the Brigade and told Suttie that we could not get half the material he wanted and asked where I could find Major Carrington to get it from as he was not at Minden Post. I was informed that Carrington had gone back to the Citadel so back I had to go. Carrington was again very good and gave me three blank forms so that I could put down what I wanted. The padre had a church parade at twelve and Siggers, who had arrived from Amiens late the evening before, took the 48th party. At twelve, when I got back, on my way down to the MM dump, I met Fuller, who told me he had got the 9th battery. I do not envy him or his first week there, as the subalterns, so this Brigade have it, are a pretty rotten lot, especially one ranker, Putman. About five, Suttie arrived at the wagon line, to have a look round. He seemed to think the horses were looking all right and, after a general look round, he returned to the guns.

Note: Quiller Couch made OC of 9th Battery, taking Marsdorp's place.)

Friday 12 August 2011

Diary Entry - 12th August, 1916

Saturday rise at 3 am and take ammunition up to the guns. It was a very misty morning and one could hardly tell whether one was on the track or not. A subs gun having returned from the workshops at Corbie is sent up to the position in the evening. At six, Sanger, Mulman and I go over to see the 12-inch gun fire and we saw her fire three shells. On the way back, we looked for some 15-inch howitzers but could only hear that they were somewhere in the vicinity and get no further, so we walked home.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Diary Entry - 11th August, 1916

Friday morning I again tackle the dump but find that 24th Div have taken over and refuse to supply anything. The Corps dump, which is also close by, refuses to supply material, although their yard is full. Having gone up to the Battery and reported, the Captain rings up Carrington, who says he will try to get us some, if I come round and collect chit from him at Minden Post. After some hunting, I found Carrington, who was very good, as he always is, and gave me an open chit to any RE. The Corps Sgt. Major gave in on seeing the chit, and I got what I wanted.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Diary Entry - 10th August, 1916

At three a.m. I rise and start at three forty-five, with ammunition, to the guns (6 wagons). It was quite quiet and I had no trouble. I stayed up there for an hour or so, having breakfast with Siggers and starting back about eight a.m. While at the guns, it commenced to rain and continued steadily for two hours, laying the dust nicely. Soon after lunch Siggers, Sanger, Mulman, Midge and myself set out for Albert, to have a look at the church. We luckily caught a bus each way and had a good look at the statue, which is hanging face downwards in mid-air. Then we returned, as it is the only object of interest there. Albert is a town about the same size as Bethune but has been very badly knocked about by shellfire and there are only odd civilians in the place. After tea, Siggers and I took a stroll along the Ancre and at about seven p.m., when returning, we heard a big gun firing up the valley. On enquiring what it was, we were told it was a 12-inch naval and that it was only about half a mile away, so we set off to find it. After walking for 20 minutes, we eventually discovered it, with a big crowd of Tommies admiring it from outside a barbed wire enclosure. We only saw one round fired, but it was a sight worth seeing. The gun was mounted on a huge truck on the rails and each time it fired, although the gun recoiled on its mounting, the truck also ran back about 10 yards. An engine, which is always there, pushed it up again to the firing position. Siggers and I tried to have a look at the gun, but they would not allow us inside, so we asked the engine driver if he was going our way and he answered in the affirmative, so we jumped up and took a ride almost to the wagon line.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Diary Entry - 9th August, 1916

Just the ordinary work went on – stables etc. It was a very warm day and the banks of the Ancre were crowded with Tommies, who seemed to be having a really good time, poor chaps. I was going to bathe with Sanger, who is nearby, but there was no room for us, so I enjoyed a tub instead.

Monday 8 August 2011

Diary Entry - 8th August, 1916

I spent the morning at 13th Corps or M M dump, which is a big rail siding about 300 yards from the Mess. I was collecting 7 and 8 by 3 and also cupolas. The last named articles were very difficult to get but, after almost weeping to the 2MS[?] about the lives that were being lost at the gun line, I got him to give me eight pieces, which he had covering up some goods in the yard. The Brigade Padre turned up to lunch and stopped. I think he is going to live here now. Hoyland got back from Amiens about seven, having brought a lot of supplies up with him in the Mess cart for the guns.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Diary Entry - 7th August, 1916

In the morning, Todd gave me something that soon put me right. At twelve, Ginger and Tommy waiting for me at the old wagon line, beyond Bronfay Farm. I walked over there – a matter of about three miles. I got there before the horses and was a bit scared about them turning up but in about 10 minutes they put in an appearance and I proceeded to Meaulte, passing through the Citadel on the way. The wagon lines seemed to be in good position except for the dust that covers everything, but that is the worst thing one has to put up with just now, not forgetting the small fly, which at the wagon line is frightful. I found that the brigades all mess together, i.e. the officer from each battery, in the corner of an oat crop. The 71st and 15th batteries have built their abode of ammunition boxes, and we have an old tent.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Diary Entry - 6th August, 1916

During the night, they shelled heavily again and gave a battery in front of 48th a very bad time, blowing the Major out of the dugout and killing two or three men. I felt rotten all day and, on going up to see Suttie before lunch, newly floated off, but got a glass of water in time and lay down for half an hour. I went to bed early in the evening but still had the old universal complaint, and I decided to see Todd in the morning.

Friday 5 August 2011

Diary Entry - 5th August, 1916

I was orderly officer. Bosche made it quite unpleasant, as he scattered heavies and shrapnel all over the country and one never knew where the next one was going. In the afternoon, the Major shot the battery from a balloon and registered a new point for our zero lines. At nine thirty SOS came through and we fired like blazes for about half an hour. The artillery got great kudos from the infantry as they replied to their call so quickly and it seems we completely knocked out two attempted Bosch assaults. They got over the parapet but were mown down by rifle, machine gun and artillery fire. Our time for salvoes through the night was from three a.m. to six. At three, in fact, since eleven, they had been shelling heavily all round 15th, 56th and D36, and splinters were falling heavily everywhere. I was not feeling at all well and the only thing to do was to get an ammunition box in the trench. Even that was not comfortable as shell was falling very heavily. About four, three shrapnel came very close and, if we had (LCO on guard and myself) not been undercover, we would have received a knockout. Towards five thirty the shelling stopped and it eased a lot, so the teams could get the ammunition up without trouble.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Diary Entry - 4th August, 1916

An exceptionally quiet day, with the sun still very strong and a good light. In the afternoon, Driver Howard of No. 1 gun had his left thumb and first finger blown off by the detonator of a Mills bomb. He apparently was twisting it about in his fingers when it exploded. The detonator itself is no bigger than the cartridge of a 22 Winchester, but contains a very strong explosive called fulminate of mercury. Of course, there had to be an enquiry later, so I had to collect the evidence, but I think the man was sure to get off as it was not a purposely inflicted wound. I went over to the 48s to report the matter and stayed to tea. After tea, Suttie and Siggers and I walked the 48th wire to Bernafay Wood observing station. It was my first venture so far forward and, as there was a good light, we saw the country well. The OB, where the liegon officer takes post, is in a dugout just outside the wood, and this dugout is connected with a small mound which is, in truth, a concrete machine gun. Of course, this machine gun emplacement was made by the Bosche. It commanded one side of the wood and a large expanse of country to the south. It was luckily discovered by our infantry while advancing - when going over what looked like an ordinary mound in the ground a man fell through some wire netting and discovered the emplacement underneath. It was, of course, intended to be used after the men had advanced, to get them in the backs. The wire netting was stretched across each loop hole and sods of earth placed over the top, so as to hide it completely. On entering the emplacement from the dugout, one found oneself in a beautiful stronghold made of concrete 1-foot thick, with two loop holes commanding a large extent of country. It just brought to one's mind that there was not much Germany had left to chance in this war.

Well, standing outside, Suttie showed us the country, while Oakleigh scowled at us for standing in the open, as he had already been shelled while heliographing to the brigade. To the north was Longueval, while coming southwards one saw Delville Wood, Waterlot Farm (a heap of ruins), Trones Wood about 300 yards to our front and, to the south, Arrow Head Copse and another farm I can't remember. Through Trones, Guillemont could just be seen in the valley. There was very little shelling, but I could see our 8-inch making good detonations in the Bosche lines. We picked up a reel of German wire and carried it back with us to the battery.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Diary Entry - 3rd August, 1916

Nothing of much importance happened. A lot more sand bags were put upon the end of the trench nearest the enemy as he started shrapnel in the morning and a couple of bullets whistled in amongst us. Luckily no-one was hit. Last night, Boschie did the dirty on us. SOS was sent through at nine and we all opened fire at the usual rate - guns fire 30 secs. In the middle of it, two Bosche aeroplanes were observed dropping lights. The whole show was arranged, we think, so as he could get onto a mass of batteries and search and sweep them with 8-inch or other heavy stuff. Capt Titler was killed during the night by a shell. He was sleeping in a trench and a 42 HE hit the parapet above him, killing him instantaneously. Luckily, the two other Subs who slept close to him were at that moment up firing the battery or they would have met with the same fate.

Monday 1 August 2011

Diary Entry - 1st and 2nd August, 1916

Nothing very thrilling to account. One has got more used to the shells continually sprinkled about and forgets about it very quickly. A signaller was wounded in front of the battery by Bosch shrapnel while we were at tea on Tuesday. He had come down from the signal station. It has at last been heard that the attack was not at all a success and that the number of prisoners reported were not captured. Wellman, the officer who went up yesterday morning for 24 hours duty has not returned yet and it is reported has been slightly gassed by shell and is at Corbie along with a signaller belonging to the 71s. This morning at six they shelled us heartily, but there were not casualties, thanks to the Bosche dugouts.