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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.

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