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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.


  1. this may well have been to been the occasion when Gunner William Geoghegan (88469) earned his Military Medal (MM), gazetted 14/9/1916

  2. It sounds as if they were all extremely lucky to survive that day