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Thursday 26 July 2012

Diary Entry - 25th July, 1917

Walford: Wednesday. Spent the day at the OP (Babe). There were two thunderstorms during the day, the one in the afternoon killing six men at Le Quesnoy. In the evening, I got Scott to register my Vermelles gun for the 6 Inf. Brigade raid near the Duck's Bill. The raid proved a failure, as the Hun seemed again to know about it, opening on his front line two minutes before we did. There were a few casualties in the King's Liverpool but nothing serious. In the afternoon, the Hun minnied our trenches at the brick stacks heavily and I retaliated with HE on Spotted Dog. This seems a weak point of his, as he always stops if you keep it up determinedly.

Diary Entry - 24th July, 1917

Walford: Tuesday. Go to Battalion HQ in the morning about our signallers, who sit up there all night and do nothing, but they would not let me take them away. Called in at several OP on the way, Toby French's OP being the best I could see, as it was the only one commanding a good view over the whole front. In the afternoon the machine gun officer and I call for Murdoch at Brigade and go to the wagon line, but find no officers in, so go on into Bethune, where we have tea at the club. We waited at the WL Mess for an hour, but no-one turned up, so we rode home.

Monday 23 July 2012

Diary Entry - 23rd July, 1917

Walford: Relieved Fleming at nine a.m. at the Babe. Except for a few rounds fired by the Hun's Russian Howitzer on the keep at the barrier, all was quiet. I was rather surprised to find that in the walls of the Babe there was a bee hive and they were swarming as it was so warm. At nine fifteen, we put down a demonstrating box barrage on the Hun front line for fifteen minutes to worry him.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Diary Entry - 22nd July, 1917

Walford: Sunday. The Hun has a field day on the 41st Bde batteries, beginning at eight in the morning. He put shell into the 9th and 16th Bties till three thirty in the afternoon but don't think he did very much damage. It was a bright, sunny day and the Hun's balloons were up in great strength. At twelve p.m. the Padre held a service in our Mess, but the piano had gone back to Bethune, so it was not as bright as on the previous Sunday. I was going to Festubert brewery in the afternoon to register but, owing to some trifling matters, could not get away.

Saturday 21 July 2012

Diary Entry - 21st July, 1917

Walford: A machine gun officer rolled up at ten fifteen a.m. saying he was to be attached for four days. At ten thirty I went round to brigade to see about some business, returning for lunch. Fleming at ten thirty was lucky to escape alive from Greenwood House, as they obtained two direct hits on it, completely putting it out of action. He spent the rest of the day at The Babe, and I did not know anything about his being turned out by the Hun until Siggers rang me up in the evening about it. I had to relieve D36 at Kings Cleare in the evening at seven, stopping there until seven o'clock in the morning.

Friday 20 July 2012

Diary Entry - 20th July, 1917

Walford: At the OP all day, relieving Fleming. I had not been there five minutes when the Hun started. He put one short one just over and Fleming and I thought discretion the better part of valour and ran to a flank. Four more rounds were fired. They all fell in a circle round it. I thought it was odds on getting some more during the morning as he had the range to a tee, but he had stopped for the day - probably that was his allowance. The 23rd Battalion of Fusiliers carried out an unsuccessful raid at ten p.m. The Hun probably was expecting it as the wire had been cut on his front so he evacuated the front line and supports, putting down his own barrage on them. The casualties were rather severe for us but don't know the actual numbers. All we succeeded in bringing back was a document which had probably been left there on purpose.

Diary Entry - 19th July, 1917

Walford: Thursday. OP until nine a.m. Go to the section in the afternoon and call in at 48th on the way about pay. After tea, go up to Fanshaw castle, north of the canal and just south of windy corner, to see about the brigade exchange, whether they would tap us through from Festubert brewery. We had to register a point on the Portuguese front so that we could support them in case of another raid. They assured me there would be no difficulty so I rode back along the canal bank, crossing over Vauxhall Bridge.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Diary Entry - 17th July, 1917

Walford: Tuesday. Go to OP at nine a.m. and relieve Fleming. It was quiet on the front all day but Bosche shelled the back areas a bit. In the afternoon he shelled the 15th Battery, concentrating on their Mess, which is in a tunnel that runs under a railway embankment. I had to come down at four forty-five p.m as I go to a BCs' meeting at the brigade to discuss the raid which is to come off. We fired about 250 rounds during the night on the trenches.

Monday 16 July 2012

Diary Entry - 16th July, 1917

Walford: Monday. Go to OP in the early morning. Bosche start on some Heavy position behind the Fosse at eight a.m and carries on the whole day with his five nines. Little or no damage was done as the majority of rounds fell in a field. We had a night strafe about midnight.

Diary Entry - 15th July, 1917

Walford: Sunday. The Padre has a church service at ten a.m. in our Mess. Siggers came over from the four eights to play the piano. It was a jolly service and everyone sang lustily. Holy Communion was held afterwards, at which there was a large attendance, including Quiller Couch, who rode over from the nineth Bty.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Diary Entry - 14th July, 1917

Walford: Vosper goes on leave with Goschen. They run down to Boulogne in the General's car, so I have to take over the Battery.

Friday 13 July 2012

Diary Entry - 13th July, 1917

Walford: OP all day. After lunch go down to the Mill just south of La Bassee road, intending to shoot on the brickstacks. Going down one goes through some very long tunnels, all lit by electricity and the second one takes you to the Mill. I tried two spots, one a very good one, which was approached by crawling up a tiny hole hanging onto a rope and the other one was a post. In both places, a periscope had to be used as one was very close to the Bosche front line. After trying all this, I find they use a fuller phone on the line, which is useless on a long line as it buzzes the whole time you are speaking. The only way to do any good would be to run a wire out and it would have to be a very long one.

Diary Entry - 12th July, 1917

Walford: Day off so wander over to the section at Vermelles, then on to the anti-aircraft and see John. We come back in the Singer at five p.m. to tea at the 48th and stay for dinner. Just before dinner Bellew at the OP alarms us by sending down 'gas', but it was only a cloud of chalk dust caused by a minnie dropping in a chalk pit. I motored back to John's billet and was sent home from there in a Ford box car.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Diary Entry - 11th July, 1917

Walford: Wednesday. Went to the OP to relieve Jones at nine a.m. During the day spotted one machine gun emplacement and two minnies and finished off the registration of the Spotted Dog.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Diary Entry - 10th July, 1917

Walford: Tuesday. Liaison was knocked on the head, so I had to man the OP at five a.m. from the battery, being relieved at nine a.m. by Fleming. Spotted a machine gun emplacement which fired at aeroplanes and also two minnies. Fired forty rounds and registered the Spotted Dog, a ruined house on the La Bassee Road.

Monday 9 July 2012

Diary Entry - 9th July, 1917

Walford: Hoyland came to lunch. Jones went to OP, relieving Fleming. Afgter lunch, Hoyland and I walked to the section to see how much wire would be needed to put up entanglements in front and then we came back for tea at the four eights. From there, we picked up our horses and went to the lines where I stopped for dinner. Beech and Bellew were there, the latter having returned from leave. I rode home at ten p.m.

Sunday 8 July 2012

Diary Entry - 8th July, 1917

Walford: Sunday. Relieved by Jones at nine a.m., soon after I got back to the Mess, Fleming from the DAC arrived with six men. Fleming I sent up to the OP to learn the front, while the men went to report to the ninth section. Soon after the DAC arrived, an infantry officer by the name of Grahame of the 15th HLI arrived too, being posted for four days. After lunch John arrived in a small Singer. He took me to the wagon lines where we had tea with Hoyland and then on to their Mess at Mazingarb. There were five of us for dinner, two men came from another anti section and they gave us a very good spread. It was rather funny to be motored home about ten thirty p.m., a luxury never experienced out here before by yours truly.

Saturday 7 July 2012

Diary Entry - 7th July, 1917

Walford: Saturday. OP all day. Rather windy. Tried to register, but the day was difficult. Nothing doing.

Friday 6 July 2012

Diary Entry - 6th July, 1917

Walford: Friday. Rise at four thirty a.m. and observe two machine guns firing, one enfilading north and one south. We have a go at the one shooting south and, after a few rounds, it stops. Jones comes up at nine and, after lunch, I walk to the section, also calling at the antis, where I find Sam. Their Major came along. His name is Martin and he used to be a subaltern of the 9th Battery. He seemed a good chap.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Diary Entry - 5th July 1917

Walford: Relieved Morris Jones at nine a.m. and registered his gun on Les Briques, it getting onto the target in very few rounds. Also tried Vermelles on Spotted dog and Battleship targets, without much success. In the evening, go down to Batt. HQ, occupied by the Ox and Bucks, who have a nice colonel. Carrington was up in the afternoon and stayed in the OP for some time.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Diary Entry - 4th July, 1917

Walford: Raining. While at breakfast it was raining and at eight p.m., having said goodbye to Madame and Mademoiselle, I set out on the war horse for the posit. It rained steadily all the way up and on my arrival I was told that Vosper was at the OP but that he left orders for me to walk to my section. This I did, calling at the 15th and 48th on the way. Found everything OK and the men comfortable and happy. The anti-aircraft being quite close, I strolled over and saw them, finding John in charge, but there were no birds about and I did not see him in action. By the time I got back, five miles had been covered and I was quite ready for lunch. In the afternoon, I registered No. 6 on the brickstacks.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Diary Entry - 3rd July, 1917

Walford: Tuesday. On sloping into breakfast, I was rather alarmed to hear that we had four casualties in the brigade and that Hortayne was not expected to recover, being very badly wounded in the head. It appears the bombs had all dropped down near Brigade. They were small ones which burst the moment they hit the ground. The men who were wounded were Mills, (Major, D36), Hortayne, Buckmaster, McKinlay. There was only the one bad one, the rest were just slight leg and arm wounds. Siggers and I took a small ride in the morning, returning a few minutes before stables, so we filled in the time trying to get some strawberries and cream, without success. I spent most of the day trying to get some information from Vosper as to the detached section. This I eventually gained, about five in the evening. Somewhere about that time an order came round that all horses were to be removed from Bethune before dark, as the civilians said the horses drew fire.

Monday 2 July 2012

Diary Entry - 2nd July, 1917

Walford: Rise at five thirty a.m. and have breakfast, getting under way at seven fifteen a.m. Sandford, Hoyland and Siggers go on in a motor lorry. Nicholson goes with the Brigade transport, so Cruikshank and I go with the battery. It was a good day to be on the road, sunny, with a nice cool north wind. As we approached Mt St Eloi, I met Major Buxton of 13th Corps on the road, and he shook me warmly by the hand. A little further on a General had a yarn to me and I don't know who he was but he wished us all kinds of luck, also shaking me by the hand. I was beginning to wonder whether Haig wouldn't turn out to see us go by. The 15th had a nasty accident at Grand Servin - a motor lorry ran over a horse's foot, pulling the whole hoof off. Needless to say the poor animal had to be destroyed by the road side. We watered at Hersin, good troughs, but a very awkward spot to water a brigade. Had to hunt many people before I could get any water as there was no key to the tap and the troughs were dry after the 15th had finished. The 71st and D36 made a big block bringing their horses down past us, causing great heat as a lot of motor traffic got blocked. We reached Bethune about three fifteen and John, who had met Sanger at the club, was down at the railway crossing to meet us. Our horses were put on a vacant block of ground opposite the EFC and we were all billeted in the town, I at 40 Rue Potern, an old haunt. We had a Mess nearby and the daughter of the house was very nice and kept us well amused. That night while in bed I heard an aeroplane and was just trying to make up my mind whether it was a Hun when it let go a stream of bombs which seemed to fall fairly close to us as the splinters rattled about.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Diary Entry - 1st July, 1917

Walford: Being Sunday, there was a church parade at the Ecurie Cinema at ten forty-five, which Siggers and I attended, including twelve of the battery. I forgot to add that last night Nicholson and Sandford came down with the remaining two guns. The wind is blowing very strongly this afternoon and has just torn away an observation balloon from its camp at Ecurie and someone said that two men were tipped out of the basket. Anyway, it now reclines in ribbons, caught in a tree on the Leny Arras road. It is inclined to rain again this afternoon.

Diary Entry - 30th June, 1917

Walford: Saturday. It rained during stables and continued until three thirty p.m., when Hoyland, Siggers and I walked in to the officers' club and had a splendid hot bath, then walked out after tea - or rather had a lift in an ambulance halfway.