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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.

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