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Monday, 31 October 2011

Diary Entry - 31st October, 1916

Walford: Tuesday. I had been at D36 O.P since the previous evening, doing Liaison officer. The trenches were in a frightful condition owing to the heavy rain. From eight to nine in the morning Bosche shelled the O.P with 5.9s and we all retired to the dug out. It was rather a nuisance as I had just spotted a battery firing and was trying to place it on the map. Coming back from the trenches, I came down New Gate and the water almost came over the tops of my field boots in places. On reaching the Mess, (guns), found it in a shocking state, water having poured into it. The occupants had dug two large holes to take the water.

Bee: The afternoon turned out quite decent - bright, warm sun. Bromley, Claudet and I went for a walk, first to the second divisional battle station in front of D 56. They have some very fine dug outs there, with plenty of cement on top. We met Major Carrington who took us to some O.Ps where you get a good view of the country the show is to come off over. There was one place we got a magnificent view from and that was the 5 bores' O.P. It has been a machine gun emplacement and is very safe and very comfortable. You can see from Serre [?] on the left, right round to Stuff Redoubt, also Posuire [?] Beaumont-Hamel is right below you and it looks a regular fortification and, to my mind, will be worse than Knipval to take. We went back by D36 and had tea with them. Tonight is to be the first time of bringing ammunition to the guns by train. The line stops 400 yards behind our position and we have small trolley lines laid on from there. It ought to be a great saving in horse flesh, if the Hun will only leave the line alone, but I have my doubts. The mine for the last part of the journey is a 3-coupled motor, armour clad. The line of course is just laid over the surface and can't go very fast.

Diary Entry - 30th October, 1916

Walford: Monday, still raining. Siggers relieved Hoyland at the guns. The OC was president of a court martial, which he attended in the morning at the DAC. In the morning I started the servants and four gunners on flooring the officers' Mess - it is a place built of cupolas behind a big wall in the brigade chateau grounds. Cruikshank went over to the RE's to get the timber. In the morning, the battery was shelled by 5.9s, as also was the 15th, but we got the worst time, although we had no casualties. The 15th lost a bombardier with a splinter through the heart. No. 3 gun pit was hit and the cupola completely knocked in and the position was full of shell holes - even the Mess had a direct hit with Siggers inside but only one prop was bent as the shell fell on the side of the pit.

Bee: I went up to the OP last night and had a very peaceful walk up. The Hun evidently made things fly during the afternoon, with an organised straff. Between seven and eight p.m., I had a great time shooting. The light was bad but shot off 40 rounds at Huns walking over the top. Their trenches must be in a horrible state as they were going overland to the second line and, between the showers, we could see them quite plainly, some carrying trench mortar bombs. There were two fellows carrying a basket, which they dropped very hurriedly. Just after I had left the battery position and was coming home, they shelled it and the 48th very hard for an hour. They knocked in two of the 48th's pits and got two direct hits on our Mess. We had one poor fellow killed, Bomb. Linch of the right section. He was standing in his gun pit behind his gun when a splinter from a 4.2 burst 30 yards in front, which hit him on the heart and killed him instantaneously. It was frightfully bad luck as the same thing might happen dozens of times without a bit coming into the pit. It has been a most horrible day - could not be worse. It poured this afternoon and the road and everything else were covered with water. I went to the wagon line to get a pair of GS boots as have nothing that will keep me dry. Got sopping wet going down. The road was crowded with infantry relieving, poor things.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Diary Entry - 29th October, 1916

Walford: Sunday, and yet again it rained all day. At ten am Siggers and I set out for Couin to buy some stuff at the EFC. Going through the town we saw Crozier in a car and he stopped, ran along the road and had a few words with us, telling me that John was in his division. In the afternoon, about three, while we were playing the gramophone, a pipsqueak came through the top of the house, but no-one was hurt.

Bee: Another blinking wet day, poured all the morning. The ground is something awful now. I came down from the guns about eleven a.m. and go to the O.P. tonight.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Diary Entry - 28th October, 1916

Walford: Saturday, relieved by Cruikshank again. It rains all the afternoon. No. 3 gun goes out of action as a result of the heavy shooting that has been done.

Bee: At guns today, very cold and wet. I think the show ought to be put off now all right, but all we get is 'postponed for another 48 hours.' Bromley and Claudet fired 500 rounds on the wire this afternoon. There wree dozens of our aeroplanes up today. The Hun did some very good shooting at Euston dump, but did not bag anybody, although there were over 100 there at the time. Had a straff at 11 last night, the Hun was very much on heat, his machine guns were shooting like fun and bullets were fairly whizzing round our position. Hughes went to D36 today, so we have only two subs for duty, myself and Welman. Kershaw is away at [illegible] with the horses.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Diary Entry - 27th October, 1916

Walford: I relieved Siggers at the guns. It was raining and there was a very strong wind blowing . Suttie shot 213 rounds. The padre came up in the afternoon to arrange a church service and decided to have it in our Mess at nine am. He expected to get thirty men in but how he would do it I don't know. We were on duty through the night and fired our alotted number of rounds.

Bee: Another rotten day, cold and wet. I was [legible] very late today and had a rotten headache as did not get breakfast until 10.30 a.m. Did nothing all day.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Diary Entry - 26th October, 1916

Walford: It was raining when I got up and continued throughout the day. Hoyland and I rode over to Beausart to collect RE Material, a GS wagon being already there from the wagon line. Did nothing else the rest of the day.

Bee: Still wretched weather. Stayed at the billet most of the day. After lunch, Hughes and I went around and had a look at the 15-inch How. It is a whopping great thing. The shell is about 3 foot 6 inches long from base to point and it weighs nearly a ton. A motor lorry can only carry three at a time. Went up to the OP for the night. The Hun must have shelled Euston camp and the Sugar Factory hard all day by the looks of the shell marks. He also got a direct hit on No. 1 gun pit but, as luck had it, the gun was at ordnance [?] and no men were there at the time. Hun brought down four more of our observing planes today in front of the Battery. I believe one Hun came over our position very low down - you could see the man in the plane. Very cold at the OP. There was a heavy straff from our guns about nine p.m. and the Hun put up some very fine rocket display, evidently his SOS rocket. I don't think there can be anyone on our particular part of the front, as very few Very lights went up.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Diary Entry - 25th October, 1916

Walford: Wednesday, being relieved at nine, I proceed to the battery and breakfast with Hoyland. The Mess there has been much improved and has a fireplace in it now. Cruikshank came up and Hoyland and I made for Maillet at ten. On our way, we crossed a railway which has been extended from Courcelles and reaches right to Euston. It seemed to have been built in the night. It rained again from eleven a.m onwards, making everything in a worse state, if possible. I dined with the 15th in the evening, while our Mess had Bailey's brother in to dinner - he is with the 3rd Division. A few shells came over during dinner, but they weren't very close. I was very surprised to hear on reaching our Mess that one had blown our cook house at the back of the house away and that a man had been killed next door. Everyone had gone into the cellar of the shattered kitchen and received a severe shaking from the shell's explosion.

Bee: Still raining, awful weather, show put off another 48 hours.  Went up with Walrond to wire cut, but word came through that the ammunition allotment per battery was 150 rounds so did not shoot but kept this for keeping gaps open. Saw three Hun machines take to one of our old buses and set it on fire and it fell well behind their lines. I am afraid the fellows in it did not have much chance. Someone said they saw one man throw himself out. It was an unpleasant morning. The Hun got six direct hits into Southern Avenue with 4.2 How. It is one of the main communications trenches. He caught a party of infantry coming out - killed two officers and six men and wounded about ten others. The sight of badly wounded men so early in the morning is not very pleasant. Came back early and wrote a few letters after a most depressing day.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Diary Entry - 24th October, 1916

Walford: Hoyland relieved Cruikshank at the guns. Flynn of the 50th came round to see Siggers about going up in an aeroplane during the morning: as they were to go over with the infantry, they wanted to see the coutnry first. He stayed to lunch and talked everyone under the table. Suttie and Bailey went up to the trenches after lunch and it rained all the afternoon. At four, after some tea, I set out for D 36 OP to do liaison officer. I got there soon after five, after having almost throttled myself with wires in Taupin Trench. I had to go down to Bow Street Battalion HQ to see the colonel and it was a rotten trip as the infantry were being relieved, the trenches filthy and you could not see your hand in front of your face. On the way back, the Taupin wires drove me to desperation. I got hung up in them about three times. It was not what one would call a comfortable spot and the rats were very thick.

Colonel Newcombe went home to England to a gunnery school. He is to be an instructer under Brigadier Kerwin who is OC school.

Bee: Slept at the guns last night. Shooting all night. The tanks were supported to come up. But it started raining about eight p.m. and they must have had to stop where they were. Colonel Newcombe left us today. He has been taken home to start a new school of instruction for OC during the winter. He and our late Colonel General Kerwin, the two best and most thorough men I have met out here. They are both awfully nice men personally as well. A brute of a day. It rained all night and all of today. Show has been put off 48 hours now this jolly wet has started, of course. I have not a pair of boots to my name that are watertight. Have been waiting until I go on leave but have been caught on the hop all right.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Diary Entry - 23rd October, 1916

Walford: Relieved by Cruikshank at ten a.m and hear that Siggers has been appointed intelligence officer for the brigade and has to go over with the infantry. Good luck to him. In the afternoon, Siggers and I had a tour of the big uns, first of all visiting 15-inch howitzer - she is called granny and was firing when we arrived. She is not a big piece, but the shells are huge and stand about 3.6 height, weighing 11 cwt. What sort of a splash it makes on landing, I shudder to think. The 12-inch howitzer was our next stop. It is a nice looking piece and a much solider looking weapon. The shell it fires is large too, it weighs 7 cwt. We passed numerous 9.2 and 6-inch hows between the two large ones. The former having an enormous dump of ammunition at their guns. We also had a squint at the 6-inch Mark VII, which was firing as we passed. The officers of the 12-inch were very hospitable, showed us all over the gun then gave us a drink at the Mess, which was on the side of a railway embankment.

In the evening the captain on returning from brigade informed me I had been awarded the Military Cross.

Bee: Went up to the guns this morning, a very foggy morning but much warmer and the fog lifted for an hour about two p.m. But got very little shooting done. The Hun aeroplanes were fairly active during this time. The show was put off again. I don't think it will ever take place. And am certain that we always let the Hun know long beforehand that we intend to make a push by the artillery all shooting like fun a week beforehand.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Diary Entry - 22nd October, 1916

Walford: Sunday. More frost and another cold east wind blowing. I relieved Cruikshank at the guns. Bailley, who had come up from the wagon line for breakfast walked up with Suttie and myself. We shot the whole day, loosing off 1089 rounds at the Bosche. Nothing thrilling happened.

Bee: Another fearfully raw day. Wrote most of the morning. After lunch went on to D 26 to hear what news I could get out of Sanger, as he has just returned from leave. Heard about Uncle and Spud Ritchie, who were wounded on the Somme. I went up into the hedge in front of their battery to see if I could see Stuff Redoubt, but it was too misty. It was the first time I had watched a 4.5 fire and I was surprised to see how far you could follow the shell in the air. After afternoon tea we came back and visited Kellagher, who is moving up into his new position 1,000 yards from the front line. A very unhealthy spot, I think.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Diary Entry - 21st October, 1916

Walford: Saturday. Cruikshank relieved me at eleven a.m. Luckily Bee had shared his breakfast with me, or I should have been left without any. As my horses were waiting for me on the Succerie side of the dressing station, Bee and I rode down together and my groom walked. In the afternoon, we rode over to Acheux, passing through Headeauville on the way. Siggers was coming with us, but had to go up to the trenches as Liaison officer. We came back by the wagon lines, which were in a state of bog, picked up Claudie there and rode back across country, passing a lot of 6-inch hows and 9.2 hows, a battery of the former being concealed as hay stacks.

Bee: A white frost last night, very cold, but the sun was out most of the day. Every was late coming up to the guns as they were out late last night, carting ammunition, but did not know that they were not coming up until late. So I pushed off about ten thirty a.m and had some breakfast with Walford at eleven a.m. Walford and I were at the guns last night. After lunch, we rode round to Acheux and visited the field cashier. The country back there is alive with troops and the roads are alive with traffic

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Diary Entry - 20th October, 1916

Walford: Friday. Instead of going up to the guns the previous evening, I relieved Siggers at ten a.m. He in turn had relieved Cruikshank. Siggers had spent a night as liaison officer in D36 OP. The night had been very frosty and there was a bitter east wind blowing. We fired 800 rounds on the wire in the course of the afternoon. The Bosche had been busy with his pipsqueaks at midday and caught three men of the 15th, one seriously and the others - two sergeants - only slight wounds. If the 15th had not tried to get the man away when they were still shelling, as any sensible people should have done, only one man would have suffered.

Bee: Very cold day, east wind, up at the guns all day, did a lot of shooting. The Hun got some lucky ones in on us with [illegible] Sergeant Parrish and a gunner. The former was rather badly wounded - went into his back and must have touched his lungs. As they were carrying him away, Sergeant Villa was hit, but only slightly. It all happened inside five minutes. He put a good many pipsqueaks over and had a good line [illegible], but it was only chance.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Diary Entry - 19th October, 1916

Walford: Thursday, the day having been fine, you could only expect it to rain that night, and it did do, very heavily, continuing through the day. I read in the Mess all morning and after lunch looked the signallers up in their billet and also walked over to D36 to see Sanger, who was away. They have a good position along a line of trees but their dugouts were all leaking after the heavy rain. Some of them looked like underground tanks.

Bee: Woke up with the rain dripping through onto my bed. It is a good summer house but the roof will have to be patched

Monday, 17 October 2011

Diary Entry - 18th October, 1916

Walford: Wednesday, at the guns all day, superintended work on the position during the morning and the Captain, after lunching with me, cut wire all the afternoon. Bosche during the morning had thrown over a good many 8-inch very indiscriminately but the closest had fallen at the Euston crossroads. However, in the afternoon, as an aeroplane had approached unobserved to the 15th and seen them firing, the 8-inch was turned on to them. This made it very uncomfortable for us as the batteries were only about 30 yards apart. The 15th while firing had one direct hit on a pit but the one man inside emerged unscathed. Several landed on our side of the tram line rather close and so we evacuated for about 15 minutes to see what they would do. The 15th had also evacuated. Bosch however chucked it and we came back and went to gun fire first with the right section then right half battery finally the whole battery and fairly hurled the shells over, firing 800 for the afternoon, which, of course, ends at four forty-five now, on account of the light.

Bee: Damned cold last night, but I had nothing to complain of as I had my blankets and a bed, but the signallers found it very cold as one was on duty all night. The dugout has two entrances but is nothing extra. Kellagher built the OP which is a very fine structure. It is built of bricks which they carried from the Sugar Factory and has steel girders and a concrete roof, but it rained hard last night and the roof leaked like fun. I got out about six, mainly because I was cold, thinking I might get a shot at the Hun but it was such a rotten light I did not see much. The OP became a very popular place for OS who were cutting wire. The 34th Brigade's Colonel Parry came along and was rather on heat re being in view of his battery op, but I think he is rather selfish. Anyway, he must have gone back and seen our colonel as we had to shift to another op that night. I hardly got a look at the front at all between ten a.m. and four p.m. Major Jones and Captain Grant Suttie and a few others occupied the loop hole.

Diary Entry - 17th October, 1916

Walford: Tuesday, I took it easy all day. It rained in the afternoon and continued all night. For some reason or other after lunch Br. Gordon and Soeul, my servant, took it into their heads to have a drink. Where they got it, I don't know. However they took too much and were so incapable that I had to leave the Mess so as I would not have to arrest anyone. After dinner, at seven, I set out for the guns, walking in front of the cook's cart to guide it. I call it walking, but it was more like wading through a mire of mud. Cruikshank was relieved and had to walk back and that evening it occurred to me that a relief in daylight would be a better idea.

Bee: Went to the 48th for lunch and found Siggers and Walrond there. They were very excited as they thought I had come to tell them I was going on leave. I then went up to have a look at the front from the 56th OP as we do liaison officer from there. Then came back had tea and started after tea for my 24 hours. There was a nasty sight in Roman Road Trench. Some infantry had evidently been hit and bits were all over the place.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Diary Entry - 16th October, 1916

Walford: Monday, I remained at the OP all day. It was a well-built place of bricks, girders and concrete, but just like an icebox, as it was very draughty. The General and Carrington came round for half an hour in the morning, which put the wind up me as I did not know the front well, not having seen it before. Kellagher and Suttie also came up in the course of the afternoon, and I was relieved by Dean of the 71s at six.

Bee: A glorious day. I had to go and sit at the Brigade this afternoon as all of them had to go out. Had a very slack day on the whole. Then went to dinner there in the evening. The Colonel is very fed up as they are talking of sending him home to take charge of a new training school which is just being started. The Hun put a few 8-inch over into the village during the afternoon. One fell not very far from our Mess and one hit a house that we intended to live in.

Diary Entry - 15th October, 1916

Walford: Sunday, it was my day off. As Siggers had returned from the wagon line Hoyland was to go down but he remained here till about three. He made a nuisance of himself in the morning and in the afternoon we went round to the 15th Mess but no-one was in. I was to do liaison officer that night so had dinner at six forty-five and reached Kellagher's OP at eight p.m., where I could not find McIntyre, whom I was to relieve. However, he returned from the Left Battalion HQ about nine.

Bee: Up at the guns all day. Hun aeroplanes were very active but were kept behind Hun lines. Ward came through at two p.m. saying that we had to shift our position, so Walrond let the men break off. It was not until eight p.m. that this order was counterordered. It was all very rich when we heard we had to shift after working for so long. There was a heavy straff by the Huns last night, with mortars, and the infantry ran up for retaliation. The adj., being a bit of a sport, thought that he did not get enough support, and so he ran up an SOS rocket, a very valuable thing, there being only 20 in the Corps. It had the desired effect and started the heavies and everyone going, but I would not care to be in the adj's shoes this morning.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Diary Entry - 14th October, 1916

Walford: Another cold day spent at the Maillet position. Bailley and Siggers turned up about six and stopped for an hour. Then, about eight, they phoned me to come in, so I set out for the Mess without waiting for my relief. As it was the anniversary of the Captain's command of the battery, we had a dinner. Kellagher was there, as also was Bailley. All went well - in fact, almost too well with the latter - he gave us an amusing speech in which he contradicted himself about ten times. The after effects about bed time were also rather bad.

Bee: Today and yesterday, nothing much doing, just kept digging, but can't get any information as to when the show is coming off.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Diary Entry - 13th October, 1916

Walford: Friday, Hoyland was at the M position, Cruikshank at the Mess, myself at the guns. In the afternoon, Suttie fired 335 rounds and fairly stirred the Bosche up. He was cutting wire and got the first 100 rounds off in about 15 minutes and 200 in 45 minutes. We went to five rounds gunfire after battery fire as fast as was convenient, laying each round carefully. Well, Boschie's counter battery got annoyed and put about 40 rounds on the positions round the Succerie, whereupon we stopped till he had finished, solemnly starting again and going to another 5 rounds gunfire. This stirred Bosche to anger again, and he put over about another 50 4.2s and 5.9s and, as we stopped again, I think he thought he had us marked down.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Diary Entry - 12th October, 1916

Walford: Hoyland was at the guns, Cruikshank at the Maillet position and I was at the Mess. For most of the morning I wrote letters and in the afternoon I strolled along to Kellagher's battery for a bath. After having rather a struggle with the Wedgwood, I got a good wash and went into the Mess for tea, where K, Medge, Wailley and McIntyre were already seated. Their Mess was so comfortable that I did not like turning out to go back in the cold.

Bee: Went up to the forward position today. About ten a.m. the rest of the officers came up and said there was going to be straff and that we had to cut the first line wire. So, of course, there was great heat as the day before we were cut down to 100 rounds a day. It finally turned out to be a feint attack to find out how much artillery the Hun had against us. And it was found that he had very little he could put onto this particular front.

Diary Entry - 11th October, 1916

Walford: A very dull cold day, spent at the Maillet position. The OC came down in the morning and had a look through the signalling equipment and moved it into our dugout as it was so damp where it was. After having made a hole in the roof to let smoke out, I got a fire going in a tin and dried all the instruments and signalling equipment, which needed it badly. Cruickshank relieved me.

Bee: More rain this morning. I went to the wagon line, which is at Bus, but I went by Acheux, where the field cashier is. The country seems to be alive with infantry and transport. The wagon line has shifted a few yards but is still on a ploughed field. I came back by Courcelles. I saw a covey of 9.2-inch very cleverly concealed. There are a lot of haystacks and one battery has built haystacks for gun pits, which are very well disguised. No one could possibly see they were guns until five yards away. I was at the 56th battery yesterday. Kellagher has a wonderful show. I don't think I have seen a position more complete - electric bells and speaking tube to each pit. And he has just completed a reinforced concrete pit, which was built inside one of his ordinary pits and would be proof against most things. He also has a hot and cold water bath laid on, which is luxurious.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Diary Entry -10th October, 1916

Walford: A splendid summer day. The Captain and self went to the wirecutting guns. Hoyland remained at the Mess to bury Br. Spencer and also to get a billet from the town Mayor in Maillet. I laid out the lines of No. 4 gun but at first attempt read off the wrong angle, which caused a lot of heat. I am not used to the No. 3 director and it has a bad zero mark. We eventually got going but when 95 rounds were fired the brigade asked us to stop as only 400 rounds were allotted to our brigade and we were to fire high explosive. In the afternoon, we made the total up to 341 and stopped. We got a lot of work put in at the position and I dug quite a nice hole in the ammunition pit during the time there was no firing. Siggers went off to the wagon line that night, Cruikshank having come up. Kellagher dined with us and it was quite like old times again.

Bee: A beautiful day, bright sunshine. Went up to the OP to carry on the wire cutting, as Walrond had to go to the frontline with the colonel. But had only fired 30 rounds when a message came through to say to cut down our expenditure to 400 rounds per Brigade, which looks as if the show will be put off. Up until yesterday, we were to shoot as much as possible and we got rid of 900 rounds from four guns. Saw Walford today and heard about his effort at Stuff Redoubt, which he was recommended for. Then came back to the Brigade for afternoon tea.

Diary Entry - 9th October, 1916

Walford: The Captain, Siggers and self went to the gun position in front of Euston Dump. Hoyland remained in the mess. The Captain took Siggers up to the OP with him to cut wire but, as it was overcrowded, Siggers returned to the battery and we worked on the combined 15th and 48th Mess there. We fired 600 rounds with the three guns.

Bee: I had a day off. I spent the morning sorting out papers that I had accumulated since we were here last. It was much finer today and looks as if we might get decent weather now. Walford, I see by orders, has had his name sent in for a decoration by the 11th Division for something he did while doing liaison officer at Stuff Redoubt. I have not seen him since we left here before. I went round to the 48th in the afternoon, but only found Hoyland in.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Diary Entry - 8th October, 1916

Walford: I came to the guns, arriving there at nine forty five a.m. and I stopped at the Mess all day, to answer any telephone messages or orders that might come in. It rained hard all morning and I was not sorry to be undercover, except that it was darned cold sitting in a big draughty 60-pounder gun pit with no fire and the rain dripping through the roof. All the other officers were at the main wire cutting position in front of the Succerie. They returned at dusk. About seven, it was reported by the NCO in charge of supplies that Br. Spencer, our orderly to brigade, had been found dead on the road, one of the 4.2 we had heard bursting on the outskirts of Mailly Maillet must have got him. He had been riding a bicycle when the shell struck him and the front wheel had a piece blown clean out of it. Our luck seems to have deserted us.

Bee: It has been a brute of a day. It rained hard this morning and we were wet before we got to the position. It was rather a tiring day running about all the time, watching the different parties. You are really a foreman. They shelled our old position with 8-inch armour piercing, like yesterday, and gave us a few splinters. Walrond started cutting wire, which kept us going all the afternoon. There are dozens of guns coming in here every day. Heavies are as thick as flies. I expect there will be some show here shortly. Rumours says this is the biggest concentration of artillery there has been yet.

Stained Glass Windows Commemorating World War One

These windows in St Mary's Church at Swaffham Prior show scenes from World War One, including a tank almost identical to that drawn by Bee - sadly, the light shone from behind it and it did not emerge clearly in the photograph I took:

Friday, 7 October 2011

Diary Entry - 7th October, 1916

Walford: Saturday, it was raining when I woke and continued very heavily until about eleven. Bailley went up to the guns for breakfast and remained there until about four p.m. I was at the lines most of the day and collected 600 rounds from the DAC and sent off two GS wagons to collect RE material from our old position, which by some stroke of good luck was still there having laid there since we were at Thiepval. Hoyland moved up to the guns at ten a.m. At four p.m I went over to Louvencourt to see if I could get some butter but had no luck. The infantry had been practising attacks on the country surrounding the wagon lines and had the trenches marked out with canvas to represent the enemy's lines. They did the whole show in pukka style, having men with flags to represent the barrage lighting flares when their objectives were gained and having an aeroplane in cooperation.

Bee: Went up to our new position with a working party. The Brigade are all close together and are all digging pits. We have four old positions just behind us for billets. I was up there all day. The positions were not decided on until eleven p.m. We started building three pits. Our gun pit billets are full of trench mortar bombs, which took us three hours to shift. About six p.m. a Colonel from the 3rd Division came along and told me that we had better stop work as it was his position, which was rather disheartening, but I with my one pip could not say anything but stopped work and came back and reported the matter. After much argument, we won the position, although it took the heads some time to sift out. Two Brigade majors were out until nine p.m. with a compass.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Diary Entry - 6th October, 1916

Walford: At nine o'clock, Hoyland attended a parade at RAHQ, to have his ribbon pinned up by the corps commander. Kellagher and Hutchings were also there. At a quarter to twelve, Hoyland and I set out for Doullens , a town about 12 miles away. The road was packed with troops, guns and transport, all making for our part of the line for the push. Louvencourt, the first time we passed through, was simply packed. We lunched at one thirty p.m., and it was good to be inside a civilised dining room again, although the hotel was nothing much to talk about. We shopped from two until four thirty, loaded up the Mess cart and sent it off, following ourselves as soon as we had had tea.

Bee. This looks a very peaceful position and has not been occupied for some time. They put a few strays over last night that went very close to some of our men but did no damage. Laid out the lines of fire for the guns this morning, but had to wait about until late in the afternoon for news of what was doing. But everything seems to be in a bit of a muddle. We heard tonight that we would have to shift up 2,000 yards closer, which will be just in front of our old position at Euston Dump. We have a very fine billet here – a big house where both the 71s and ourselves live. It is grand to be under a roof and have a floor. Wilman, who used to be in the 71s, has come back and been posted to us. We have also got a captain attached to us. It is still showery weather. Had a bath today in a copper, which was not much as I could not get into it.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Diary Entry - 5th October, 1916

Walford: Thursday, at eight forty-five, we marched for Bus via 11th DAC to fill with ammunition. On arrival there we found the 71s had got there before us and were filling up but, as they were after us in orders issued, they must have taken no notice of their orders. Bus was reached at twelve thirty and we went to water, which was one mile away and found Bosch prisoners working there. As Bailey persisted on having stables, it was two thirty before we or the men got lunch. The guns had to go up that evening and left  L at five, together with 18 wagons of ammunition. Siggers, Cruickshank and I went up. Hoyland came down to be presented with his MC by General of the Corps. It was difficult getting everything into the position in the dark but eventually got away about seven thirty p.m. The other two stayed at the guns and I called in to see Kellagher on the way back to the WL, whom I found in excellent form, just having returned from leave. It was a cold wet ride back to our lines and I was glad of a little drink to keep me warm.

Bee: Walrond and Hirshaw went off at nine am to reconnoitre wagon line and position. We started at nine fifteen and went round by Sanlis to fill up with ammunition at the 11th division DAC. There was some muddle with the orders and the three batteries landed at the dump at the same time, much to our Colonel's disgust. He came along in a car and let us know what he thought of us. We went along very slowly as had all the nondescript vehicles in front. Found our wagon line at Bus, which was just an open field, which was cropped last year. So know what it will be like if we have any rain. The men had just finished their lunch when the order came to move up to Mailly Maillet. We got underway in half an hour and got up about dark. The position was in an orchard – not a bad place, but I don't think we will be here long, as it is too long range. It's not a bad place as there are plenty of apples. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Diary Entry - 4th October, 1916

Walford: Wednesday. About eleven, when we were all more or less asleep on the Tuesday night an orderly brought a message round from brigade to say that we were to move to the wagon line, leaving the position not later than eight-thirty a.m. From then until twelve the telephone kept going and there were all sorts of little things, like ammunition, to be handed over to the batteries of the 59th Brigade in the morning. About midnight, Bosch had disturbed our slumbers by putting some pipsqueaks unpleasantly close and we were just thinking about moving into the trench when he dropped to the top end of the Valley. As soon as breakfast was over, it began to rain and, by the time we moved off, it was coming down steadily. I took guns down to Aveuilly, where our wagon line was, it having moved up soon after the fall of Thiepval. Hoyland and Cruickshank brought the baggage and mess and said there was a stand-up fight between a 9.2 and 10-pounder battery for our position, mainly to get the dugouts we had built in the side of the trench. It still poured when we reached the wagon line and, beyond being almost run over by a galloping Canadian wagon, we had no casualties . We expected to find orders awaiting us but they arrived about an hour later, Cannover bringing them along. At two, we marched for our old lines at Senlis, arriving soon after three, having the consolation of being able to use a road which was in the enemy's view when we went up to the battle. We pitched tents again as no billets could be obtained in the village. There was much rejoicing at having got out of the 11th Division but there were many deep throated groans when it was announced that we were not for leave but going into another battle.

Bee: We got orders late last night to be out of our position by eight a.m. An absolute brute of a day, pouring with rain, which made the ground frightfully heavy. The mess cart got bogged. We only went as far as our wagon line, just near Albert, and sat there in the rain feeling very uncomfortable, awaiting orders, which arrived about eleven a.m. On the way down we went and had a look at the mine crater at La Boiselle, which was the signal of the start of the big push. It is immense. The crater is fully 100 feet deep and about 80 yards across. The Huns, I believe, occupied it first, but it blew up close to their line. We started to move again at two p.m. and came as far as Bouzincourt, about three miles. Walrond made the detachments walk so I walked with them in front. The road was blocked with traffic – the Canadians, who were on our right, were coming out too. The men have a very wet camp, I'm afraid, tonight. We were lucky enough to get a room in a house. This is the Canadian area and we only got it as a favour. They put a few gas shells over us last night but nothing much.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Diary Entry - 3rd October, 1916

Walford: When I reached the position, things were very sticky and I was mud to the eyebrows as, when the country has been well plied with shells, it becomes very spongy and soft. There was a lot of talk about us going forward into a new position about Constance – in fact the captain was to reconnoitre the position. The 71s were already forward at Mouquet Farm in a very uncomfortable place. There was a test shoot in the afternoon of about 20 rounds a gun for the aeroplanes to observe so as it could be seen if anyone was dropping at all short. In the afternoon, as it was very muggy, I had a bath – it consisted of standing in a trench while my servant threw buckets of water over me and was very refreshing. Bosch made life in the tent rather unpleasant on Tuesday night as he burst pipsqueaks in the air right over the sleepers and, as they only had canvas over them, they had to turn out in the middle of the night twice and get into the trench. There were no casualties through the mercy of Providence.

Bee: Very misty and wet all morning. I was at the OP and found it very miserable as it only consists of a disused trench without any cover. I put in most of my time digging a hole into the side so as I could get out of the rain. The Hun seems to be very much on heat – he was searching and sweeping all over the country with pip squeaks and 10-centimetre gun. He put some very close to us but did no damage. There is not nearly so much chance of getting splinters as there was at the other OP. Walrond went out with Suttie and Polie to pick new positions. We are going back to our own division where we came from tomorrow. It looks as if they might be going to push there too. Anyway, it is better than staying here.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Diary Entry - 2nd October, 1916

Walford: Monday at eight thirty a.m. I set out with one signaller and one gun for the infantry, this time as liaison officer for the 59th Brigade. I also relieved Hoyland and ran a wire from his dugout along the trench to the infantry's HQ, and so we had two wires or ought to have, but the brigade had not run a wire out there when I arrived. It was expected to arrive any minute. The orderly officer did eventually lay one out, getting there about one p.m. There was to be another nibble at the redoubt in the afternoon, but it rained and so it was put off. Bosch evidently knew about it, as he commenced at three, when our zero was at three fifteen p.m., but he only kept it up till about four p.m. The Royal North Lancs. were relieved that night by a battalion of the Worcesters of the same brigade. The trenches were in a shocking state in the morning as it had rained heavily throughout the night and was still drizzling in the morning. My relief arrived at nine fifteen a.m. – earlier than I expected– and we wended our way back, following the wire on the way.

Bee: I started digging a sleeping place for myself last night, after putting it off many times, as thought we would be shifting any hour. Got a fine hole dug when it started to rain about 11 a.m., and it has been raining solidly all day and everything is in an awful mess. They put over a good many spones[?] last night. Up till now, I have been living in a little hole I cut in the side of the trench, but I don't like it, as I felt it might fall in any time. At present my new place is full of water but, if it is dry tomorrow, it will soon dry and I will be able to get the roof on. This has been one of the most depressing days – water and mud everywhere and everything wet. But our mess cook is the most cheerful soul and, although he has been wet through since lunchtime, he is singing,  and he gave us afternoon tea and lunch as usual. There was to be a fairly big attack this afternoon but it had to be put off on account of the wet.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Diary Entry - 1st October, 1916

Walford: The clocks had been put back an hour during the night so that we were back to ordinary wintertime again. The General and Major Carrington were round to see us in the morning and seem to think we might go back to our own division soon. In the afternoon there was a small show and we tried to get the whole of Stuff Redoubt and take Regina Trench over the crest, but the show was unsuccessful, as most of the small attacks are. Too much nibbling like this is, in my opinion, a bad principle, as you lose heavily and it is very seldom that you gain ground, whereas, if you go at it on a large scale, with plenty of men, ground is taken with not so great loss of men

Bee: A beautiful day. Very quiet most of the time. There was an attack on Regina Trench, which we were supposed to have got. The 71st moved out this morning about nine a.m., closer to Mouquet Farm. We expected to get the same orders but, thank goodness, are still here. Our General, Sanders, came round today, which was very good of him, we thought. And we aired our views of the 11th Div. RFA. They gave us a very unpleasant time for about an hour and a half. They were shooting a 6-inch gun, which was falling uncomfortably close to us. One landed 2 foot off No. 2 pit where 10 men were standing, and they never hurt a soul. Oakley was wounded today at the OP in Sky Line Trench. A piece of shrapnel went into his arm near the shoulder and he went straight down to the dressing station at Villers [?]. The clock was put back an hour today for wintertime. Stuff Redoubt, which has been reported to have been taken by us in London papers five days ago, is still just as much the Hun's as it is ours. They will not have a big show and put an end to it, but keep bickering away and lose more lives in the end than if they had one good bust.