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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.


  1. Mulman is, I think, Lt Juan Christian Moolman (originally commissioned into the Inverness Horse Artillery it would seem).

    Bombardier Lucking was an old regular soldier, Wallace William Lucking [69424] - his DCM was awarded 28 September 1916.

  2. And here is his medal citation:
    69424 Actg. Bombr. W. W. Lucking, R.F.A. For conspicuous gallantry during operations. He repeatedly mended wires under heavy shell fire. He also took back an urgent message through two hostile barrages, going across the open to save time

  3. Thanks dne1, that's very moving. I will change Mulman to Moolman now. Your help is always very much appreciated.