The Diary

 Lce. Cpl. M Roach
No. 8 Platoon
B Company
15th Batt. Civil Service Rifles Ldn Regt
4th London Infantry Brigade
2nd London Division

On Active Service


March 17th

The Battalion left Watford for France; we were given an enthusiastic send off and reached Southampton about noon. Picked up the rest of the Brigade there and about 6 o’clock we embarked and sailed soon after 9.

March 18th

Our transport arrived at Havre, where after a dusty and fatiguing march through the town we reached the rest Camp on the hills behind the town.

 March 19th

We left Havre (the Rest Camp that is, about 2 o’c)  and after entraining  (37 men in a closed horse truck) left the station about 7.15pm. Travelling via Amiens, Calais, Abbeville & St Omer we arrived at Berguette about 3 a.m..

 March 20th

Then we marched about 10 miles to Is***** la Tour where we found our billet in a barn. Twenty of us together.


March 21st

Sunday. There were two Company parades during the morning for feet and ration inspection after which we had the day to ourselves so we reconnoitred the estaminets and fraternised with the villagers and for the whole Company a very enjoyable day. I wrote to  Lucy and to Mr. P.

March 22nd
Today the Brigade was honoured by an inspection by General French the G.O.I.C. We lined up along the roads not far from Cauchy an after about 4 hours wait the Field Marshall and Staff came along. He expressed himself very pleased with the steadiness of our Battalion.


March 23rd
We did a route March through Auchel, where are the Brigade headquarters and Marles where the Divisional headquarters are.

March 24th

We marched about 2 miles out of Auchel & did some compass work. I took the Platoon in extended order drill. Some indignation was felt at the sentence imposed on two serving in the Transport section who were found in Estaminet during prohibited hours and who were tied to the wheel of the watercart in the Place for two hours at a time. Their sentence was ultimately commuted.  In the evening the Lance Cpl lectured the ***comp. in trench fighting—————-. I gave the Platoon some slow order drill. Another lecture ———-in the evening this time by the Adjutant. I looked in at the Church during the evening.

 March 26th

Further Company training. We have heard tonight that a Major of the 8th Battalion was killed by a sniper on the occasion of his first visit to the trenches today.

March 27th

Today we did our first long route march in France just 15 miles which Was quite long enough. We went through Pernes and Hedon and saw several fine Indian troops. We have also heard that the Major of the 8th Battalion was not killed as previously stated, but was wounded in the shoulder. Rumour also says that we go up to the trenches the middle of next week.

March 28th (Palm Sunday)

We had Church Parade at 12 o’clock in the Market Square at Auchel. Besides ourselves the Field Ambulance and Artillery were there. After dinner some Battalion Sports were held and caused great fun in the evening. I wrote to Lucy & Zillah.

 March 29th

After a short morning we marched to Auchel where at 1 o’clock the Bishop of London gave an address to the troops. Later we had Swedish drill.

March 30th

Still more Company training. In the evening I went to the medical room and had my ears syringed by Price. Weather bitterly cold.

 March 31st

Today we 4 hours trench digging which was quite a welcome change from the usual. Then we went to Auchel for anther bath which was very welcome. I wrote to C Hooper in the evening.

 April 1st

A route march was on the programme for today, but it was afterwards abandoned for a stand by, during which we were told to get our clothes washed. The weather was beautifully fine so our meadow soon presented the appearance of a high class laundry. In the evening I wrote to A & Lucy.

April 2nd (Good Friday)

Church Parade at Auchel at 9 a.m. after which we had a Route march on through Marles. There was a football match Officers v Sergeants at which the Officers were beaten 4-3. The “Gasper “played very well for the Officers and the Quarter Master kept goal.


April 3rd

We started Company work out near Marls today, but in face of persistent rain the scheme was thrown up. I received a champion parcel from Lucy in the afternoon- gaspers and chocolates.

 April 4th (Easter Day)

Quite a respectable number paraded for Communion at the Town Hall at Auchel at 7 a.m. Five of us went from our Billet. At 11 o’clock there was Church Parade and the remainder of the day being showery I devoted the time to letter writing, wrote to Lucy, Padgett & Will Goss.

 April 5th

The weather being very wet today we had a prolonged stand by. There was a lecture in the morning and in the afternoon an amusing mouth organ competition.

 April 6th

Another showery day. We had a Company Route March through Lamblain – Chatelain. Tomorrow we leave Cauchy for Béthune. Heard from A today.

 April 7th

We left Cauchy at 11 a.m. and after a somewhat fatiguing march arrived at Béthune at 3.30. Our billet is in an ex girls’ school which has been transformed into barracks. In the quadrangle a lot of broken glass and holes in the bricks show where a German shell alighted some time ago.

 April 8th

Today has been, for our Platoon, a real red-letter day for we have, quite unexpectedly, received our baptism of fire. We paraded at 7 a.m. and marched about 4 miles along the Aire Canal to Cuinchy. Here we met many evidences of the war, shattered houses and shell holes in large numbers. Well here the Companies were divided up into Platoons and we started off, led by a Guards officer to do a fatigue, as we thought. Well we advanced for nearly a mile along a very muddy communication trench and bullets whistled by us occasionally. All the way along the Coldstreamers were cleaning up and one pointed out the body of a German whose legs stuck out in a gruesome fashion from the parapet of a trench. Presently we arrived in the fire-trench and Mr Scott, in delighted tones, told us we should get some firing. Lance Corpl G C G Andrews fired the first round for our Battn. We all had a turn subsequently and through a peephole and a periscope we could see the German trench about 100 yards away. There were several dead Tommies and one or two dead Germans lying between the lines. We stayed in the trench about 3 hours then went back to Cuinchy for dinner; afterwards we marched back to Béthune. Two shells dropped near No 7 Platoon while they were sheltering near a ruined house, and two men of A Co were wounded slightly by a stray bullet. On our way back we met D Co and I spotted Cam who arrived from Havre yesterday with the draft. After Pa, Jimmy & I had a walk around and went into the Church, a very fine building.

 April 9th

B & A Companies went to Civernchy again for fatigue work Our Platoon was on trench digging and bricking. A few stray shots came near us and the Artillery were pretty busy. On our way home two shells dropped about 25 yards away on the opposite side of the canal evidently intended to make the towing path unhealthy. In the evening the four of us had an omelette and then played solo in a cafe.

 April 10th

The first parade was at 12.50p.m. and we were then ready for the trenches. We had a leisurely march to Cuinchy with tea en route and then the Company split up into Platoons. No.8 entered a communication trench and at 6.30 arrived in the trenches held by the Grenadier Guards; our section had the first turn on from 8.10. Not much happened for the first hour or so, occasional shots coming over our heads, about 9 o’clock there was heavy firing from our line on the left, this quietened down and just as we were waiting to be relieved at 10 o’ clock a sort of tornado burst on us. I was in the communication trench at the time, and suddenly there was a blaze of star shells from the German lines followed by a hail of bullets. Immediately a swarm of yelling Grenadiers poured out of their dugouts and leapt onto the fire trench and opened fire. Rather gingerly at first I followed suit and the next 10 minutes or so were the most intense I‘ve lived up to now. The whole of our front was lit up by a blaze of light from star shells and German searchlights and we simply blazed away for all we were worth. Three Grenadiers a traverse away were temporarily buried beneath a fall of parapet else no damage was done on our side. Just before eleven things quietened down, and our relief having arrived we went back to the support trenches for our six hours off.

 April 11th

Our section went on duty again at 4.30 after somewhat futile attempts to sleep in the dug outs. Things passed fairly quietly until the early afternoon when the Germans threw their bombs. Of course the Grenadiers retaliated and, although we were in the Support Trenches at the time we had an exciting half hour bomb dodging. During the day we saw several aeroplanes being shelled and in the evening, just as we were being relieved a Taübe flew over our lines. About 6.30 we were relieved and had a leisurely march back to Béthune bed & “gyppa”

  April 12th

We had a parade with clean rifles etc. In the morning. No 8 Platoon was on duty so I took advantage of the fact & cleaned up and also wrote some letters.

 April 14th

Tonight the Batten. Took over for the first time a section of trenches. We relieved the Herts (Terriers) and on our left were the Irish Guards, on our right the Aire Canal the opposite bank of which was held by the Buffs. My section was put on observation post in the communication trench for the night and we had a fairly cushy time. Next day-

  April 15th

We did fatigues carrying up bricks etc. All the morning and for the first time came under shell fire. Some of the shells burst very near and we had an uncomfortable half an hour on the whole.  In the afternoon we rested in the shell of a distillery at Cuinchy that had been the centre of a lot of fighting. After tea our Platoon went up to the Reserve Trenches and after a fairly quiet night we stood to arms as usual just before dawn. The rest of the day was taken up by more fatigues, cleaning the trenches. This time we were relieved again by the Herts.  Soon after 4 and marched back to Béthune. I found a letter and a parcel awaiting me from Lucy.

April 16th

There were the usual cleaning up parades during the day. Just as we were returning at night an alleged zeppelin was sighted heading for Béthune and we had to go to bed in the dark.

 April 17th

No 8 Platoon was on cleaning duty in the morning. The rest of the day passed quietly.

April 18th (Sunday)

I went to Holy Communion which was celebrated by the Chaplain in the Municipal Theatre at 8 a.m. There were about 200 there. Battn Church Parade was at 11.45 in the Barrack Square and the 19th Battn was also there. In the evening Pa Softly & I went to the Church for Benediction.

April 19th

The Battn evacuated its quarters at Béthune and took over a section of trench lying between the Shrine and the position we were in on the 14th. The position was known as the Duckshill. No 8 Platoon (the whole of B Co. In fact) was in the firing line, the German trenches being only 350 yards away immediately to the front on the right they curved round until they were less than 4 hundred yards. We had a pretty quiet night and the day was cushy with just a few swish bangs which spoilt our dinner- time. In the afternoon I saw the first two Germans I’ve seen in France.  Was looking through the periscope and binoculars and the blighter popped up on to their parapet and ran along for about 15 or 20 yards and then dived down. About 5 minutes later he re- appeared this time only for a second or so. We were relieved about 6 p.m. and went back to the support trenches at Cuinchy where we slept in underground dug-outs.

 April 20th

We were engaged on fatigue work during the day; left the Reserve trenches about 6 p.m. for Beuary where we were billeted, no 8 Platoon in the loft of some cottages.

April 21st

After the usual cleaning up etc. We paraded at 8.30 p.m. for the trenches. This time we took over our position of the 14th.Rath, Soft Pa & I had a snug little dug out and spent a very pleasant evening “pushing ‘em round”

 April 22nd

We had a very “cushy” day & got back to La Priot at about 8 o’clock.

April 23rd

Paraded at 10 o’clock and marched to La Beuvriere where nearly half a company were billeted in a big barn that is part of the outbuilding of an old monastery.

April 24th (Sunday)

Had a very busy day, our Platoon being on duty and didn’t get much time to go out. In the evening I ran against Parker in the P. O. Rifles.

 April 25th

Did field work out near Bruay, after a hot bath got back about 4 p.m.

April 26th

Had an Adjutant’s Parade at 6.30, breakfast at 8, and full Parade at 9 for field work which turned out to be a section concentration march through the woods, Bois des Dames behind La Beuvriere.

April 28th

Today we attacked a dummy trench behind the town with the Brigadier & Brigade Captain for audience.

 April 30th

B Company being on duty, we were put on cleaning up the village. I got on a drainage job which was some stunt. In the afternoon Pa Soft, Jimmy & I had a bathe together in the mill stream.

May 1st.

We did a very “cushy” outpost scheme at rear of Bois des Dames. After dinner we had another bathe then watched a football match. Solo in the evening.

 May 2nd (Sunday)

Church Parade at 9 o’clock after which we lazed about in gloriously hot weather. I wrote some letters.

 May 3rd

The Battalion marched to just beyond Hinges, about 7 miles and attacked some dummy trenches. The Divisional and Brigade Staffs were there. Pa gave us a taste of champagne in the evening.

 May 4th

Went to Bruay for a bathe after we had indulged in an hour’s close order drill and a ramble through the woods. On our return the Platoon was put on a cleaning up stunt, tomorrow thank goodness we move, en route for the trenches. Jimmy down with measles.

 May 5th

The Battn left Labreuvière for Essars and I was put in charge of the Officers’ kit wagon which turned out to be a pretty rotten stunt. Half the Battn was billeted at Gorre on the Aire canal so I had to go over there with the wagon- walk back about 2½ miles. No 8 Platoon was billeted in the least desirable barn we’ve struck up to now.

 May 6th

We had a fairly quiet morning expecting to go to the trenches for the night but later on orders were given for the two companies at Essars to proceed to Gorre where the Battn was to be in Reserve. We struck another pretty rotten barn and at 9.15 B&D Companies paraded for a digging stunt near the trenches. At the last moment I was put in charge of the Quartermasters’ Guard.

 May 7th

Had a quiet day on Guard. Got off at 6, went to bed about 7.30 in expectation of a 2 o’clock Reveillé with a 3 o’clock Parade but this was subsequently washed out.

 May 8th

Had a pretty quiet day with a few cleaning up stunts. Had a game of solo in the evening and went to bed under the same orders as last night.

 May 9th (Sunday)

Reveillé at 2, Parade at 3.10 with a day’s rations and an extra hundred rounds of ammunition This time we were really taking part in the big attack that has been talked about for so long. The Battn was detailed for the Support Trenches not far from Givenchy, and we arrived at them at 4 a.m. found them to be breastworks with very marshy ground in front across which an infantry attack would be almost impossible. Just at 5 a.m. the artillery opened a heavy fire and for more than 2 hours they were going in fine style. The noise was immense, though we were 1000 yards or so from where the shells were falling; there was nothing for us to do but sit and wait, so I commenced a letter to Lucy and added a lot more to the one I commenced to Laura yesterday. About 8 a.m. the artillery fire slackened off and rifle fire which had already begun could be heard in great force. During the morning I had a snooze and by the time I woke news had come through that the attack had gone very satisfactorily and that the French on our right had reached their objective. In the early afternoon the Artillery which had apparently shifted their positions opened a further heavy fire and kept it up for some time. Just where we were things were very quiet, a few German shells coming over but doing no damage as far as we could see. Our little four had a game of solo. We remained in the trenches for the night, I slept pretty well and we had the usual stand to arms at dawn.

 May 10th

About 9 a.m. orders came along for us to return to Gorre where we stood by until 3; we then paraded again for the trenches. Post just having arrived I received a shipping parcel from Auntie containing a cold chicken and other comestibles. We got to our position just in front of Festubert about 5 No 13 & 14 Sections were put on a Redoubt just behind the firing line. We had a pretty quiet night, slept in a sand bagged dug out with Soft & Woodthorpe.

 May 11th

We had a very quiet day, six of us remained in the Redoubt for the day rest going back to Festubert for fatigues etc. During the day one of our******* guns bombarded the German Lines which was some. We played Solo & I wrote letters and about 8 o’clock the fellows who had been at Festubert came up for the night. We had another pretty quit night, a few fizz-bangs came over just before the stand to arms.

 May 12th

The same little party stayed in the redoubt again and we had a very pleasant time with a bath during the morning at Festubert. About 7 .30 p.m. we saw a big fire in the direction of la Bassée; just after that we were due to move to the firing line where we arrived about 9 p.m. Soft, Pa & I had a traverse to ourselves and after a pretty quiet night stood to arms at 2.30.

 May 13th

Fairly quiet day but rain made things very unpleasant. We had no dug out so had to rig up shelters with ground sheets. There were plenty of fatigues going, someone having the cleaning up mania pretty bad. During the afternoon we were told we had to shift along to the right sometime after 8 o’clock and at 10 o’clock we did. Here we got into a petty rotten position near a malodorous ditch, but my party found a very small dug out. The rain was very heavy during the night & made things pretty rotten.

 May 14th

Showery still but towards evening things cleared up; we gave two bursts of rapid during the day after which the Germans retaliated with fizz-bangs which blew in sand bags on either side of us. Mr Scott was slightly injured about the head and will be away for a few days. Just before the stand to arms we could hear the Germans singing and cheering then they shouted across to us but we couldn’t distinguish the words. Hargrave was badly hit just after dawn.

 May 15th

Nothing unusual happened the day, but as we were leaving the trenches Bennison was hit in the thigh. Our Platoon went into a billet at Festubert.

 May 16th Sunday

We were awakened soon after dawn by an adjacent battery of Artillery which was very busy all day. The observation station was just outside our billet. Rowland was slightly hit and Sergt. Trout had his overcoat & tunic pierced in two places by bullets from a shell which discharged prematurely. During the afternoon a batch of German prisoners passed along the road. After tea I wrote to L. & just after dusk we were put on a fatigue carrying stuff to the firing line. Got back soon after 12 midnight.


May 17th

We paraded at 4 p.m. for the trenches, and no 8 Platoon was sent to a Redoubt on the right of the Position, the 19th Battn. being to the right of us. He evening was unpleasantly wet, just after our arrival a mine was exploded by the enemy just by the Shrine at Givenchy, but we heard subsequently that it was short and resulted in only one casualty. I spent part of the night in a dug out with Rowland.

May 18th & 19th

Both Days were wet and we were kept pretty busy by the new Platoon Commander. The conditions underfoot were pretty rotten. A big shell knocked out over 30 men at the trench end of Willow Walk on evening of the 18th. We were relieved by D Company on the 19th and went into a billet at La Pantin. I was put in charge of a Guard.

May 20th

Weather fine and during the day we were bombarded pretty heavily by the Germans. One shell nearly accounted for Sergt. Rathbone. He was cooking dinner in the home opposite the Guard Room when a shell hit the corner of the roof and nearly buried him under a heap of bricks and debris. Beyond a slight shaking he was alright though. We were relieved about 5 o’clock by the 6th and went back to Gorre to our former billet.

May 21st

We had the usual cleaning parades (this time with a vengeance in view of the new Platoon Cmdr.) I spent the greater part of the day cleaning up and marvellous to relate I actually managed to get a new pair of breeks & a new pair of boots! By post a parcel came from Lucy & a fine one from Mrs Padgett to Softly. I was put in charge of a waking picket for the night and slept in the open outside No 6 Billet.

May 22nd

We had to stand by all day, there was obviously something doing in the front, the artillery being very busy and a lot of wounded passed by our billet. In the early afternoon a shell came as near to us as we had had one up to now. Shrapnel had been coming over for some time and then they commenced to send coal boxes over. Quite a lot of us were in the farm house having drinks when there was suddenly a frightful clatter and a cloud of dust & soot and as soon as we could look around we found a coal box had pitched not more than five yards from the window. All the glass was smashed and the womenfolk were bit scared else. No damage was done to our party, but two men of No 7 Platoon were hit, Harris & Archer neither very serious but quite enough to mean “Angleterre” for both. About 9 we turned in and sleep fully clothed; there was a heavy thunderstorm during the night.

 May 23rd (Whit Sunday)

An ideal day as far as weather goes and we were able to spend it in an ideal fashion doing nothing. Theoretically we were still standing by but we just lazed about, wrote letters etc. About 8p.m. there was a bit of a scare and we were ordered to parade immediately for the trenches. We marched off, expecting to be in for a few days at least and had just reached Battn H.Qrs. when we were turned back and told that the order was washed out. Later on we heard that the Germans opposite the Willow Walk position had tried an attack which was successfully frustrated and so we had been called out in case of emergency.

 May 24th

Today we had the keenest bit of work we’ve done up to now; after another Rest Day at Gorre the Battn. Paraded for fatigue duty in the trenches and after some delay we found ourselves in front of our line near Yellow Road with the Canadians occupying part of the trench to our left front and the Germans still in possession of the trench on our right front. Our job here was to make a communication trench from our old position (then occupied by the 6th Battn) to the former German trench now held by the Canadians. There was a moon behind us which was rather to our disadvantage, but the grass was very long and gave excellent cover from view. We commenced work about midnight and for some time things went well, we dodged the occasional flares and there were only a few shots came our way. Then there was a bit of a scrimmage in front, and as we hadn’t been informed that a covering party was out, we made a hasty grab for our rifles and waited for them if they came. This little diversion over, we were soon spotted and after that the flares went up every half minute or so and they gave us several bouts of rapid. By this time though, we who were working in front of the communication trench had quite a respectable trench of our own of which we made good use. Just before 2 we stopped work & about then Scarr was hit in the back. We got back to Gorre about 3 and then heard that Mr Chalmers had been hit in 3 places. Jolly hard luck for both, as they are both good soldiers.

 May 25th

We had a good lie in with a first parade at 11.30. While I was shaving 3 German prisoners were taken down the road, and I got the closest view of any of the enemy I’ve had up to now. They were rather a mixed trio, one seemed quite a youngster, the other looked a pretty hefty fellow and the third was an older man of the down-on-my-luck-bar-lounge-type. Their uniforms were somewhat tattered and they didn’t seem altogether sorry to be where they were. We spent the day lying about in the sun and at 5.15 paraded for the intermediate breastworks. At 6.30 p.m. an attacked commenced apparently on the Festubert-Givenchy Front and there seemed pretty strong resistance. We turned in about 8.30 with the “shells falling thick and fast” around us.

 May 26th

After a broken night with the usual stand to arms at 2.15 we received a visit from Major Warrender who brought bad news. C company had continued the trenches we were working on last night and during operations Captain Trembath was killed, Lieuts. Olliffe & Bull were wounded; there were about 20 further casualties in the Company. Later in the day we heard that both Lieut. Chalmers & poor old Scarr died of their wounds in hospital. We have struck a bad patch of luck no mistake. B coy returned to Gorre about 3 p.m. and paraded again for the trenches a 8 p.m. We were later informed that we had to secure a trench, the exact holding of which was unknown. We had a very arduous journey carrying full kits and shovels to the trench just captured from the Germans in front of the Willow Walk position. Here things were pretty gruesome; there were dozens of corpses lying about mostly our own at first, but as we got on they were all Germans and were lying about in all positions along the trench. At last we got into the open and as it had been ascertained by a patrol that the trenches we were going for were evacuated, we simply walked up to it passing more dead Germans on the way. The trench was in a very bad condition and as the sandbags were late in arriving we couldn’t do much to improve it before daylight came when we had to lie low.

 May 27th

During the day we kept pretty quiet, the idea being not to let the Germans know the trench was occupied. No 8 Platoon had 2 casualties, Hiscox shot through the head and killed and Evans slightly wounded. As far as we could see a sniper was infiltrating our trench.  We could make no fires, so had to content ourselves with dry rations (very) and water. At dusk we commenced work again and worked till daybreak.

 May 28th

Received 3 letters in the morning and as some of the chaps received newspapers we had something to read. The Huns got a bit lively too, sent over a liberal ration of bombs, fizz- bangs and a few luddite but did no damage. During the day some of the chaps of No5. made a lucky discovery. In a traverse just beyond them were six or seven men of the 23rd Batt who were killed by a shell during their advance on Tues. One of their bomb throwers chanced to walk into this traverse and saw one of the bodies move, and on investigating found a man who had two wounds and who had lain there since Tues. The poor devil had had nothing but sugar and water all the time he’d been there, but he was quite conscious and our stretchers bearers got him out at night. As soon as it was dark enough we started work again and kept at it until about 3 a.m.

May 29th

The Germans attempted to bomb us two or three times during the day with little success and then they sent shells over, unfortunately with some results. Several fellows including Woodthorpe and Softy were partially buried, ”Fearce” got a kosh on the head by a piece of shell, two of no 5 Platoon were rendered eligible for Angleterre and two poor chaps , Roberts & Pennington were blown to bits. About 5 o’clock, I & 3 other corporals had to go with Captain Gold to K5, the old German fort that caused so much trouble during the recent advance. We went back to our main line, and down a communication trench which was pretty gruesome: the 13th Canadian Regt. were occupying it, good looking boys all; when we got to K5 we found it looked as if about 6 earthquakes had occurred there; the ground was stained with lyddite and huge masses of earth & equipment were thrown up everywhere. The whole thing was indescribable; the Canadians had been constructing a new communication trench to join up with our trench at J5. When we got back to our main line we waited for our respective Platoon to come up from the advanced trench, where they had been relieved by A & D Companies. They arrived just before midnight and soon after that we all turned in.


We had a pretty quiet day with a few shells fairly near, but none to do any damage. We confidently expected to be relieved at night in fact got orders to pack up but about 8 o’clock orders came through that we were not to be relieved and so we prepared for another 24 hours here. I was on patrol from 12 to 7 a.m. and at 12.30 there was pretty heavy artillery engagement over on our left somewhere near Richebourg l’Avoué but it quietened down in about half an hour.

 May 31st

We were shelled again during the day, but practically no damage was done. In the advanced trench Sergt. Turner of A Co. Was hit in the head by a bullet and will probably go under. At 7.30 I, with Pa & Soft, reported at Battn’s H Q to act as guides to the reliefs, the Ist Grenadiers. Just before we reached HQ Pa got a bit of a fizz bang by his eye but was not seriously damaged. The reliefs arrived about 11.30 p.m. and I took the first 3 Platoons of the Kings Company to J7 which was occupied by A Co. I then marched back to Béthune with A Co passing through Festubert which was being shelled at the time. We got to Béthune about 3 a.m. & turned in at once in the École de Jeunes Filles.

June 1st

We were allowed out in the town from about 12.30 to 2 p.m. so we went and got some refreshment at our old café. After dinner we were instructed to get ready to move, and having done so we had a most delightful impromptu concert in our room. Lochley, James, Pinter, Jeans & several others gave turns and that kept us going ‘til tea time. We paraded at 6.30 and marched to Sailly labourse where we occupied billets vacated by the 1st Battn the Black watch. Our barn was one of the best we’ve struck up to now.

June 2nd

Had a quiet day, sampled the drinks, received a parcel from A in the evening.

June 3rd

There was a platoon parade in the morning but as I was orderly Cpl. didn’t parade. At night the Transport Section of the London Irish arrived & took up quarters in our yard.

 June 3rd, 4th, 5th

Passed as usual with one parade a day. On the Saturday (5th) I received a magnificent present of 100 cigarettes from G Hooper.

 June 6th (Sunday)

Went to H.C. at 7.30 in the school, celebrated by the Devl. Chaplain. Spent the rest of the day writing or playing solo and at 6 o’clock went to a voluntary service with Pa & Soft. Had a parcel of cigarettes & chocolate from May Buchan by post.

June 7th

The Parade in the morning and at 9.30 we paraded ready for a move. About 7.30. we paraded ready for a move. About 9.30 we moved off, got to our destination Le Brebus about 12. Found it to be a pretty mining village, our billets being the attics of the miner’s dwelling. Not a bad change from barns.

 June 8th

Fightfully hot; had an inspection parade and then a most delightful dip in the tank of the condenser at the local colliery. It was some;   at 8 o’clock we paraded for a digging stint on a communication trench. We worked jolly hard & finished up about 12. Found some tea awaiting us on our return.

 June 9th

Very hot again with a heavy thunderstorm in the evening. The company paraded for another digging stint but got off as the N.C.Os weren’t wanted. Had another bathe during the day.

 June 10th

Left Le Brebus at 11 o’clock for the trenches (Reserve) at Violaines. Found them to be in the mine head, the dug outs being built of pit props. We arrived dripping wet. I turned in with G.C.G.Andrews.

 June 11th

Had a fairly quiet day; went on a ration fatigue at night, finishing about 1 a.m. Jimmy re-joined us from Havre at night.

 June 12th

Another pretty quiet day, mainly occupied by cooking & sleeping; at midnight we took up C Coy rations as before, getting back about 1 a.m.

 June 13th (Sunday)

Beautiful summer day and, but for a pretty liberal dose of shells, nice & quiet. We went for rations as usual & this time took up A Company’s stuff to the fire trench which was some stunt. Had to make 2 journeys of it & didn’t get back until 2.30 a.m.

 June 14th

Another fine day, received parcels from A & Lucy by post; the former contained a chicken which was alive. Oh and some eggs which had turned sour. A cake & some butter were alright though. At 9 p.m. I and 50 others went out to an observation post on a slag heap and as the enemy trenches were being bombarded pretty heavily there was something to pass the time away. The Germs also gave us a burst of rapid during the night. At dawn I took up a sentry post in a house on the road from Grenay to Le Brébus.

June 14th

Had a very pleasant & quiet time on the guard post; I had three men with me, and we fared sumptuously. For dessert we had rhubarb, gooseberries and strawberries. A few shells came over us in the afternoon but no damage was done. I had a look at the church which has been heavily shelled, and found the interior a mass of wreckage & debris. We came in at 9 p.m. and at 10 o’c paraded for the usual ration stunt. Got back to bed at 1.

June 16th

Another lovely day with very little to do. The French are reported to have done very well on our right, and the British on the left, so that’s good biz. While we were having lunch, Col. Harry Lawson M.P. poked his head through our sun-blind and was most affable. In the evening we had an amusing “Court Martial” on Lance Corporal G.C.Andrews. At 10 o’c we went on the ration fatigue. I was in charge of the Spinney party & we got back quite early, 12 o’c.

 June 17th

Had another comfy day and about 9 o’clock our relief, the 22nd Battn. arrived. Just as we were ready to move off the Germans started sending shells over, so we waited half an hour or so, and then got away safely. B & A Cos. went to La Philosophe, about a kilo. further on than Les Brébus and we found our billet in the village school which we reached about 12.30 a.m.

June 18th

Had a pretty quiet day, went over to the Engineers’ Depot at Mazingarbe in the afternoon with a fatigue party.

 June 19th

Nothing doing.

 June 20th (Sunday)

Pretty quiet. Had a voluntary church parade at 6 o’clock which was conducted by Mr Cheesman.

 June 21st

The Germans gave us a somewhat stiff shelling during the day & hit a billet occupied by the 6th about a hundred yards up the road towards the Firing Line, killing one man & wounding some others. At 8 p.m. we paraded for the trenches, and went to the position on the left of the Grenay one. The communications trench was about the longest we’ve seen up to now, and on the way our guide lost us. We arrived eventually & No.8 Platoon were in an advanced trench at the end of Sap 12. On our right a German sap ran up to within about 50 yards. The R.Es and a covering party of the 6th were out front during the rest of the night, which was very quiet. After stand to the trench was evacuated except for 3 sentry groups per company. I with the other three stayed on & had a pretty quiet day. About 6 p.m. the rest of the platoon came up again from the second line. There was a digging fatigue during the night, but I got off it at 2.30 a.m.

 June 22nd

Had a pretty quiet day and a night “some” rain; I went out on the Listening Post and at about 11 o’clock reliefs turned up (the 22nd Battn); we then had a very wet march to Mazingarbe where we took up billets as before.

 June 23rd

We returned to the second line. We had a pretty quiet day here. At 9 p.m. I paraded with 10 men for a digging stint in the Right Front Trench, at the head of Sap 14. We worked till 5 a.m.

 June 24th

Fairly quiet again; in the evening we swopped dug-outs in the evening with No7 Platoon.

 June 25th

Rain fell which made things pretty unpleasant; I took a Dixie carrying fatigue back to the village & got a wash at the same time. We got some water in our dug out during the afternoon & the trench was several inches deep in places. At 9 p.m. we went down to the advanced trench & relieved No 7 Platoon. Had a pretty decent time.

 June 26th

The sun shone fine all day & so conditions improved greatly. At night we were relieved by the 7th (It was punishment for them on account of the little work they did during their last period in) We marched back to La Philosophe.

 June 27th

Cleaning up occupied most of the morning and a part of the afternoon too. The Germans gave us two bursts of shelling in the afternoon- a shell exploded very near Battn. Hdqrs, and unfortunately killed 4 civilians, wounded 6 others & lightly wounded the Colonel, the Adjutant, the Med. Officer and the Sergeant of Police.

 June 28th

We had a rifle inspection in the morning; at 8 p.m. we paraded & marched to Noeux-les-Mines where the half Company was billeted in a big loft.

June 29th

Had a pretty quiet day with a clean-up Parade in the morning. By the post I heard from A. that poor old Merv. Died of his wounds last Wednesday. R.I.P. I wrote to the H*****    ****** by the evening post.

June 30th

A  Route March was arranged for the morning but rain caused it to be washed out; we had a parade for close-order drill etc. in the afternoon. During this about half a dozen shells fell about a quarter of a mile away, which gave us the new experience of drilling under shell fire.

July 1st

We had a parade for a somewhat depleted Company (the bombers & bayonet men parading separately) at 9 a.m. and did some more close order work. While we were there a French military funeral headed by three children carrying wooden crosses came by, to which we presented arms. In the afternoon news came round that the Battn. was to move tonight. At 8.30 p.m. we paraded and marched to Mazingarbe, where we got a rather crowded billet in a school.

 July 2nd

We had to work on some unfinished dug-outs during the day; at night there was a working party sent out to the trenches beyond Bully Grenay. They got back about 3 a.m.

July 3rd

Again very hot, we did some more digging. In the evening Pa & I ran against Ernie Kemp & Boover. At 8.20 we paraded for the working party stunt and we went to some trenches near our last position & and commenced a communication trench. Things were very quiet; there were one or two bursts of “Rapid” on our right and a few fizz-bangs. We finished work at 1 a.m. and arrived home soon after 2.

July 4th

Another glorious day; we had a voluntary Church Parade in the morning conducted by the Chaplain of the 6th. I creosoted my clothes during the afternoon. About tea-time a draft of the Post Office Rifles came by on their way to La Philosophe. It was their first and last draft they said.

 July 5th

Had another pretty quiet day; there was another working party at night but I didn’t go on it. We slept out in the meadow again.

July 6th

The Huns sent over a pretty liberal dose of shells during the early afternoon, knocked a butcher’s shop to smithereens and killed a dog.  We paraded at 8.15 for the trenches, arrived in our position in the front line of the Bully-Grenay position at about 10.15, the London Irish being in it at the time.

July 7th

Things were pretty quiet all day; we had a little rain but it held off during the night. Had a letter from Lucy in the morning.

July 8th

Nice fine day. General Cuthbert came around during the morning in one of his waxy moods and as a result we got fearful and wonderful Battalion Orders later on. I wrote to L. & Mrs. S. Also dropped a card to A.  At 9.30 I with 3 men went on a listening stunt. We took up our position about 50 yards out from our lines and stayed there until 2 a.m. having seen and heard absolutely nothing of the Huns.

July 9th

Very quiet day with a quarter hour’s shelling during the morning. Ran against  an **Regy Boy messenger who  is now a Corporal in the P.O.R.

July 10th

Fine again; received a spanking parcel from W. Down and as both Plaster and James received parcels we shall do well during the next few days. I took out another listening post at night, we stayed out till just 2 a.m. and beyond hearing a German working party (which was subsequently shelled) and nearly picking off a reconnoitring patrol from No 5 Platoon who were just returning, we didn’t hear much.

 July 11th (Sunday)

Beautifully fine day again. General Robinson came round the lines during the morning. At night I took out another listening patrol nearer the “Snipers Houses” this time, but beyond hearing a German working party somewhere near their slag-heaps, the night was very quiet.

July 12th

Received a letter from L. In the morning, also a letter from Lily King. We had a fairly big ration of shells during the morning, no damage done. Lake, the 7th Platoon Sniper had an unfortunate accident. Just after stand-to he was out over the parapet sniping, and on getting back in to the trench ran his arm on a bayonet; probably a hospital case. At night I worked on a funk-hole with Jimmy.

July 13th

Pretty quiet during the day; at night the R.E’s were out front at work on the barbed wire and I was in charge of a listening post com covering party.

July 14th

Decidedly wet and unpleasant; the trench soon became pretty rotten and we had a beastly night attempting to sleep in the rain.

July 15th

Weather cleared up, so things weren’t so bad. At night I took out two men (Parker & Snelling) on a patrol. We went to the right, got in touch with 2 listening posts from the Light Companies and pushed out a little way to the front. The R.E’s and a large fatigue party from the 7th Battn. Were out in front some part of the time. Mr. Scott returned from leave.

July 16th

Nothing “doin”. Wet again at night.

 July 17th

Pretty quiet, weather showery, slept in the trench as usual.

 July 18th Sunday

Had an unusual sort of day with a little shelling; at night I took out a Listening Post; there was a big attack in the French Lines away in the direction of Souchez which afforded a fine spectacular half an hour. We could see by the light of the flares clouds of smoke which looked like gas fumes. We came in just before stand-to-arms.

July 17th (Addendum)

This morning the 6th Battn. who were on our left, got a fine chance of bagging a live Hun, but (as may be expected of the 6th) bungled it. Just after stand-easy (about 3 a.m.) he appeared at the head of one of their saps, apparently having lost his way as he was carrying some mess tins and water bottles. The people in the sap head (fearing the water bottles might be bombs) challenged him and he put his hands up; then the fool of a sergeant, having lost his head, jumped out of the sap with his rifle and bayonet in his hand, and ran towards the Hun who was unarmed. He naturally took to his heels and the end of the story is a dead German instead of a live prisoner, which is just what we’ve been wanting since we’ve been in this position. Glorious Cast Iron Sixth.

July 19th

Nothing much doing, usual digging stints on, at night I was on a job improving the traverse.

July 20th

This evening a half battalion of the Seaforths came in to this position for instruction, they’re a braw lot of boys and speak well for Kitchener’s Army. They’ll probably be in for 24 hours.

July 21st

The Seaforths stayed with us during the day and chummed up in fine style; they went out at 9 p.m. and soon after that another Platoon of the same Battn. came in, also for 24 hours.

July 22nd

Had a pretty quiet day and at night “some rain”; I went out on the Listening Post, and about 11 o’clock reliefs turned up (the 22nd Battn); we then had  a very wet march to Mazingarbe where we took up billets as  before.

July 23rd

Had a clean rifle Parade in the morning, else pretty much of the day was our own.

July 24th

Paraded in clean kit at 11.30   a.m. At night B & A Companies went on a trench digging stunt on Reserve Lines near Vermelles Station. It was a lovely night with a full moon, so we enjoyed ourselves A1 and got back about  2.30 a.m.

 July 25th

A lovely day and little to do in it. There was a voluntary company Church Parade in the evening which went well. Capt. Farquhar conducted it. We got a bit of bad news this morning; a few days ago “Tom” Taylor went to the grenade school at Noeux-les Mines for a course of bombing. Well yesterday an unfortunate bomb accident caused numerous casualties. Tommy Church badly wounded and 2 other B Company men killed Bunce & Taylor. Poor old Tom, he was one of the best white man in every way, and all shall miss him very much.

 July 26th

This morning we had our first practice at putting up wire entanglement and for a first attempt didn’t do at all badly. At night there was a B Company concert which was pretty “ordinary”.

July 27th

Had an hour’s Swedish Drill in the morning. At night we were on a digging stunt up near the 7 line. Got back about 2.30 a.m.

July 28th

Had a fairly quiet day with just a little shelling. At the R. Engrs. the Brewery down the road 9 horses were killed and 4 chaps wounded by a high explosive shrapnel.

July 29th

Had Reveille at 5.45 and paraded at 8 for a working party. We were put on some dug-outs in the Reserve Line near Vermelles, the Sappers superintending affairs and putting up the struts. We worked ‘till 4, got home in time for late dinner.

July 30th

Weather showery; had a quiet day. Paraded at 9 p.m. for the trenches. Had a rotten journey (carrying a 11lb parcel just arrived from Zill) through that dirty interminable communication trench. We are in Reserve in the ***** at Loos en Gohelle.

July 31st

Weather cleared up a bit but it left the trenches in a very bad state, several inches of water in places. I had a fairly busy day, and at night took a ration party to No. 2 Platoon; we got back soon after 1 am.

August 1st (Sunday)

Lovely day, not a great lot of work going. At night I was in charge of Co.H.Qrs Guard.

August 2nd

Very showery again; the Huns sent some shrapnel over during the day. We are being relieved by the Argyle & Sutherland Hussars (11th Battn) tomorrow & some of them arrived today, in consequence of which we had to change our billet for the night. I got a cushy ration fatigue. Back about 1.30.

August 3rd

Our reliefs arrived about 4 p.m. & then we marched back to La Philosophe where at 6 o’clock we had dinner. We stayed there till about 10 o’c, when we commenced in pouring rain our march to La Beuvniere. About 2 o’c, near Vaudricourt we got some hot tea from the cooker. We reached La Beuvniere about 5 a.m.; 8 Platoon are in a small but quite clean barn. We slept till about 1 p.m. when we breakfasted. I had a “starker” during the afternoon.

 August 5th

Had a pretty lazy day, got a new tunic, gave L a letter, had another starker and some B*******s before roll call. Sergt. Trout returned from leave this morning (now a B ene******)

 August 6th

There was a Battn. inspection this morning by Major Warrender, who is now in command. It was a very tedious affair; we were on Parade just 3 hours. In the afternoon I went to a N.C.O’s class held by the Sergt. Major.

 August 7th

N.C.O’s class in the morning with a skeleton Platoon, and in the afternoon we had a lesson on Guards etc. with Maj. Gen. Cuthbert in attendance.

August 8th (Sunday)

Brigade Church Parade at 10.30; in the afternoon there was a cricket match between the Sergeants and Officers which resulted in a pretty big win for the latter. At 6 o/c I went with Byrne & Mr Cullagh to Benediction at the monastery which was a very simple but beautiful service. Later on Pa & the rest of us had a drop of fizz together.

August 9th

Paraded twice with the N.C.Os class today; weather frightfully hot, thundery apparently. I felt by no means full of beans. There were some promotions in tonight’s orders. Pa got his stripe at last; G.C.G. Andrews has got his second.

August 10th

Had the N.C.Os’ class in the morning and again in the afternoon with skeleton Platoons this time.

August 11th

N.C.Os’ classes again.

August 12th

Went sick with diarrhoea and spent the morning washing my equipment.

 August 13th

Inspection by Gen. Cuthbert, it was pretty much like other inspections are and there was the usual speech afterward.

There was a cricket match afterwards between A & D Companies which finished with a big win for D.

 August 14TH

No.8 Platoon was on a cleaning up fatigue in the morning. In the afternoon there were some brigade Sports, but I stayed in and wrote some letters.

August 15th

Church parade had to be abandoned on account of rain; I went to the village church for High Mass.  In the afternoon our Batt. Played the 8th Cricket & beat them 62 runs to 30.

 August 16th

Brigade Route March through Lapugnoy & Bruay.

 August 17th

Battn. drill followed by a trip to the Bois des Dames when rain prevented any work from being carried out.

August 18th

Paraded at 12 noon and marched to Auchel for a bath. Had dinner from the cooker at Lapugnoy Station. Got back just before 6 p.m.

August 19th

N.C.O’s class started again today under Sergt. Lawson. No after dinner Parade (Pay Day).

August 20th

N.C.O’s class again; today I drilled the skeleton Company with the Brigadier as onlooker. Didn’t do badly. No parade in the afternoon. Had a game of hit-can in the afternoon.

August 21st

N.C.O’s class again; which took us up to 1 o’clock. Choir practice in the afternoon.

August 22nd (Sunday)

Went to Holy Communion at the monastery at 8’clock. Church Parade was at 10 o’clock. I was in the choir engineered by Robbie and we went great guns. The General complimented us on our singing and I think we did very well. In the afternoon I did some writing.

August 23rd

This has been some day. B Company paraded for a fatigue to clean up the Divisional Sports Ground out near Allouagne. It was a lovely day and we carried rifles, bandoliers, picks and shovels; the Sports Ground is very prettily situated on the slope of a wooded hill. Well arrived there, we had a halt of half an hour or so, the commenced to level the ground up a bit. Things went very easily, we managed to work an Indian war dance into it, and about 12.30  we strolled back home. In the afternoon the Battn. played the 5th Ldn. R.A.M.C. at football and licked them 3-2. Later on news came through that the Russians have sunk a pre. (sic) Dreadnought, 3 or 4 Cruisers and 7 destroyers in the Baltic. We had a bit of a sing song before Roll-Call, then the news of the Russians was read out by the Officer, which caused a bit of enthusiasm. After Roll C, Soft, As, Warden myself and a few others went at the Subalterns’ request to the B Co’s Officers’’ mess, where we gave them a selection of Softly’s “Verminous Verses”. The Adj. and the other officers were there including two new officers who are attached to B. Co. It was some game and afterwards we got a swig of Scotch and some decent fags.

August 24th

We went to Auchel for a bath; in the evening Dicky & I “discussed” a bottle of Cham. together.

 August 25th

No parades, Divisional sports at Allouagne in the afternoon. Hollies, James, Watson & I went together through the woods. There was a pretty big crowd there ***Ernie Kemp, who had come over from Allomagne. Some skirt there also which lent additional interest to the affair. We stayed till about 6.30 when, feeling hungry, we decided to forage for some grub, and got back to Lapurgnoy where we had an omelette. Got back to Labeuvriere about 8.30.

August 26th

Said Au’voir to Labeuvriere where we’ve had a very decent three weeks. Paraded in full kit (amplified by parcels too, the post having just arrived) at 2 p.m., and marched via Evenay to Houchain where we halted for tea. Here we opened a parcel which had come for Softly (who has had to go into hospital with a slight touch of dysentery) & enjoyed a very nice bottle of fruit salad. At 6pm we moved off & went through Noeux-les-Mines & Mazingarbe to Bully, Grenay where, frightfully done up, we arrived about 10 pm; we took over the position we occupied from July 6, relieving the 12th H.L.I.

August 27th

Things have livened up since we were last in this sector; just on the left there was a good deal of intermittent firing through the night; during the day the Huns were fairly quiet but they sent a bomb over from a minnenwerfer at the base of their slag heap.

August 28th

Fairly quiet again; there was a big working party out in front during the night, digging the advance trench that’s going to connect up the saps that are being run out.

 August 29th (Sunday)

More trouble from the Huns’ trench mortar, they sent two bombs right into our mine buildings, killing the sentry at the gate and wounding Sergt. Eager. The second bomb killed 8 R.Engrs. And wounded several others. Our artillery got on to it later on and apparently smashed the emplacement up. During the night a working party of the 18th were knocked about a bit by rifle-fire and shrapnel.

August 30th

The Huns sent over another bomb, no damage done this time, and our Artillery got on to it again with some very heavy shells. During the day Jimmy found a cat with 3 kittens in a wooden loophole down the disused sap leading to the old listening post. All seem to be doing well.

August 31st

Pretty quiet again; our people sent more shells over to the trench mortar position. There was the usual strong working party & covering party out at night.

 September 1st

Our heavy Artillery gave the Huns’ trench mortar position a good strafing during the morning and we didn’t get any bombs over. In the afternoon it commenced to rain and a very wet and unpleasant night ensued. A big working party of the 20th & 23rd was out during the night.

 September 2nd

The weather during the daytime was fairly fine but in the evening it commenced to rain. We had a small diversion about 8a.m. Mr. Stephens who was patrolling at the time shot two partridges, and in full daylight went out over the top and brought them in without a single Hun winking an eyelid as far as we could tell. Soon after this the Huns sent abut 2 dozen big shells over the slag heap and into the Spinney, and at the same time their trench mortar (curse it) commenced sending a liberal ration of aerial torpedoes in and around the mine buildings. They sent quite twenty over, and unfortunately killed two men, Davies & Lindon who were just finishing breakfast outside their dug out. By a piece of bad luck the Artillery Observation Officer couldn’t get through to the Heavy Battery, the telephone being broken. Some of the bombs landed among pit prop palace and it was quite a fascinating sight to watch the explosion, a huge sheet of flame, a deafening crash and then pit props and planks could be hurled into the air like so many matches. For the first time I saw shells in their descent, just before they burst.

 September 3rd

This has been some day. To begin with it rained and rained all day to our great joy and comfort. By 7 p.m. we were ready to move out and at 9.30 p.m. our reliefs, the 21st Ldn. arrived. A little later we moved out and moved slow progress towards the ruined church at Bully-Grenay. The village street was crammed with wagons and horses and troops there was some congestion. About 10.15 we got to the school near the church, there deposited our packs and extras, went on to the Engrs. Store at Maroc & drew picks and shovels. We then went back through our trench to Sap 7 where we dug in the advanced line till 1.30. Then we went back to Les Brebis picking up our packs on the way; we arrived here at about 3 a.m. and found a fleet of motor buses awaiting us. Some stunt! So we had a fine though chilly ride back to Haillecourt, not far from Bruay, where we arrived about 5 a.m. to find a rotten crowded, dirty, dank, smelly billet in a barn.

 September 4th

We moved to a new billet which by comparison with our other billet was quite palatial, a nice dry loft over a stable. Breakfast was at noon and we spent most of the rest of the day mud-scraping. Don’t think much of Haillecourt.

September 5th

We were a little surprised to get a Church Parade, but it went pretty well. In the afternoon I did some further cleaning up, then wrote to L. Went into the village Church later on, quite a nice building.

 September 6th

Nice fine day; I paraded with some other N.C.O’s at 8.20 when we marched to a little village about 2 miles away with due ceremony and solemnity headed by the Brigadier we were there “gassed” in a trench. Not a bad stunt at all. Had little physical drill in the afternoon which was a bit of a bore.

 September 7th

The Battn went to Bruay for a wash, but I was Orderly Cpl. so had to stay at home. In the evening we moved to Les Brebis by motor buses, quite an enjoyable trip. We left our packs in the Place by the Church then went up to the W3 Sector, where we worked on our advanced trench from about 10p.m. to 1.30 a.m. Then we came back to Brebis and went into billets- an empty cottage for us. Rum Ration!

 September 8th

Got up about 11 a.m. and breakfasted. Being Orderly Cpl. I took sick parade at 2.30. We paraded for digging at 6.45 p.m. Just before Pa & I met Ernie Kemp and had a drink with him. We went to the same sector as last night, just after we’d got into the Communication Trench some shrapnel came over and while we were digging about 3 bursts of 8 rounds each came very near us. They also sent over some rifle grenades. There were no casualties IN b Co. But two A Company men, including Lce/Cpl Kent, were badly hit and about 6 others got hit. IN d Coy there were 7 casualties, some serious.

 September 9th

I & 19 others of our Platoon paraded under Lieut. Carlisle at 7.30 p.m. & marched up to Loos en G. Where we commenced a communication trench between the future Batt. Hqrs. and the signal Office. We worked till 1 a.m.; marched back to Les Rebus then went by then went by motor bus to Houchain where we arrived about 5 a.m. Had rather an airy billet. During the day the son of the old lady in whose yard we had been grubbing whilst at Brebis came home unexpectedly from Alsace. He is a sergeant and has the Croix de la (sic) Guerre. The poor old lady was very affected.

 September 10th

Got up about 12 and had a quiet time with a little cleaning up to do. Went out with Ellis & Pa at night to a rotten estaminet & had a drink.

September 11th

This morning we got our new pattern “smoke helmets”, the ones with the plate glass windows and breathing tube. Had a little drill afterwards; heard that Mr. Scott who went for a machine gun course a fortnight or so ago is down with enteric & also that Lce Cpl Kent (A.Coy) who was hit the other night by shrapnel has died of wounds.

 September 12th (Sunday)

The Battn. Choir was detailed to march over to Haillicourt this morning to attend the Brigade Service, so we paraded at 8.30 & marched over. The General thanked us for coming & the service went alright. Had a cushy day with a “starker” in the afternoon. Went in the Church during the evening and enjoyed a few minutes in that impressive atmosphere that only Catholic Churches seem to possess. The building was almost in darkness; just in front of the Altar of Our Lady of Lourdes a circle of votive candles was burning and in the dim light that these gave one could just discern a few kneeling figures, one man saying his rosary, another gazing intently at the Tabernacle. There‘s certainly something in the Catholic Faith that gets into the blood.

September 13th

I was Orderly Cpl. so beyond parading the sick and running errands for the Sergeant Major, I didn’t do much. Heard from Auntie all about the Zepp. raid of last Wednesday night when they strafed several streets including Moorgate St. They must have had an exciting time but thank goodness both Lizzie & herself are quite safe.

September 14th

Rain washed out the morning parade; in the afternoon we went to a mine at Barlin for a bathe- there was a regiment of Chasseurs there at the same time. Got a parcel from Zill on my return.

September 15th

Had Battn drill with bayonet fighting in the morning.

September 16th

Battn. Route march around Headigneul and Gosnay coming back to Haillencourt

September 17th

Moved up in motor buses to Les Brebis where we went up to the A2 sector and, after wandering through miles o trenches and saps did about 40 minutes digging. It was a most annoying waste of time. First of all our buses were hung up on the road on account of congestion & it was nearly ten o’clock before we got to Les Brebus. Then we were delayed on our way up to the trenches, & after that apparently somebody lost their way as we took a devil of a devious route to get to our destination. When we arrived at the scene of operations we found that we were so crowded that work was practically out of the question. We got back to Les Brebus about 2.30 a.m. & went to bed in our old billets.

September 18th

Loose order parade at 5.45 p.m. with instructions from Capt. Kemble. At 9 p.m. we paraded, went to St Pancras Keep, near Bully, waited to 1.30 a.m. when we loaded up & went to W3 Sector. Some job! Got back to Les Brebus at 6.30 a.m. Breakfasted & then I went to H.Q. at the Mine Officers.

 September 19th (Sunday)

Slept till dinner time 2.30 p.m. Paraded again 6 p.m. for instructions again. At 9 p.m. we paraded in full kit, left our impedimenta in the Place & went up to the Keep again. Loaded up again, earlier this time & went to the same place as last night. Got back to Le Brebus about 1.30 a.m. Left in motor bus soon after 2.a.m. for Halbincourt, where we found a loft at the top of a precipitous ladder awaiting us for a billet. Before leaving Le Brebus about tea time 6 0r 7 Allied aeroplanes came over from the direction of the German lines under a heavy fire. One seemed to be damaged and as far as we could see descended just behind Les Brebus.

 September 20th

Not much doing, I was put in charge of the Billet Guard during the night and slept in the same stable as 2 horses at No. 6 Platoon Billet.

 September 21st

I made an ineffectual attempt in the morning to get my boots nailed, wasted over an hour on it. We paraded in full kit at 6 o’clock and went by bus to Les Brebis. Thence we marched up to W2 (Reserve Lines). We had to go via the communication trench as the road through South Maroc  has been put out of bounds on account  of some  casualties a night or  two ago. We dug till 1 a.m. then back to billets at Les Brebis.

 September 22nd

No 8 Platoon copped a heavy fatigue this afternoon. We paraded under Lieut. Guy at 3 p.m. & went up to W2. From a depot in the village street we took a big supply of trench mortar bombs – damn big things weighing about 80lbs each up to the head of one of the saps. Had to make 4 journeys of it and didn’t get back to Les Brebis until 9 o’clock.

 September 23rd

We paraded for instructions re the coming attack. The Colonel gave us particulars of the scheme which has been generally anticipated as a vast affair. Later on Capt. Farquhar ran over the particulars again with the N.C.Os of B Company and this over those Corporals of the Cy, myself included, who have been passed over by the Appt. of Spate from Lce/Cpl to Lce/Sergt saw him and made a protest. His reply was decidedly unsatisfactory, so rather against his wishes we interviewed the Adjutant. He endeavoured to pour oil on troubled waters and promised us that fairness should always be done in the case of future promotions. We paraded in pouring rain at 7 p.m. & went up to W2 where B Company occupied the Support Trench. We spent a deucedly unpleasant night with a lot of rain &no shelter and about 3 a.m. we moved back to the village street near St. Pancras Keep where we had cocoa & rum. Some!

September 25th

At about 5.50 a.m. the Artillery opened a vigorous fire on the German Lines & from where we were we could see the smoke screen from both the trench mortar bombs & smoke shells. We moved slowly along the accommodation trench to W2 hearing on the way that the 7th went over in neat style. By the time we got into the village street the casualties were coming back. I & three others were sent out on our own, the rest of the Platoon being split up into two parties for carrying bombs over to the German lines. We got down to Support Line while the 8th were still in it. The 6th & 7th had got over, & prisoners were soon coming in. They came over in several parties & on most of these parties the Germans in the rear trenches fired. I saw one of the poor beggars who was escorting one party in bowled over. Later on No. 6 Platoon set out for the German Line with a supply of bombs and as we heard later lost very heavily, only 4 men getting through alright. No. 8 Platoon went over later & had better luck, though unfortunately Sergt.Trout was hit in the groin &poor old Bill Ellis was killed. Softly & Jimmy looked after Trout splendidly & brought him in on an improvised stretcher. I got on ammunition carrying from the Brigade Store in the village to the Advanced Line for some hours and as soon as it was dark we paraded for a water carrying fatigue up to the Snipers’ Houses. This took us some time- we made about 4 journeys in all, then a party of us took about a dozen boxes of bombs over to the German Line then occupied by the P.O.Rs. There were a few dead lying about in front, but as far as I could gather the Pioneers had already brought Ellis in. We left our bombs at the base of the Double Gracier, got back to our kits, went down to the Support Line where we expected to stay the night only to be told that the Battn. was moving along to W1, the section to our night, as a German counter attack was expected in that quarter. Two Platoons of B. Coy Nos 5 & 8 were sent along to two Keeps, just in rear of the Line. Here we arrived in the early dawn, wet through, covered with mud & dog tired, but feeling that our Brigade had done something to be proud about. We took the place of the 22nd in the Keep.

 September 26th (Sunday)

Things were pretty quiet; the expected counter-attack didn’t come off, although we were told in the evening that the Germans were massing troops opposite. We were shelled a bit no damage was done. Fortunately the weather cleared a bit, and we were able to get our sodden clothes a bit dry. We heard all sorts of reports about the attack; generally speaking they were pretty good and it seems definite that Loos is now in our possession. At night I went over to the Mine-Gates on a ration fatigue.

September 27th

Had another fairly quiet day in the Keep, unfortunately the weather continued to be showery. Heard during the day that the French have done very well in the Champagne District, and that the British attack on our immediate left which was temporarily held up by the bad weather is going on alright again. The Huns gave us a dose of shrapnel during the day which did no damage & one of the boys got an excellent souvenir, the nose of a shell in fine condition.

 September 28th

Our last day in the Keep, weather showery & generally unpleasant. At night we made quite the most tedious journey I’ve ever experienced trough miles of wet sloppy horrible trenches around the W1  sector to the old German Front Line on the left of the slag heaps. We started off at about 8 p.m. and finally reached our position at 10a.m. on the 29th. Here we relieved the 6th. Found the trench in a rotten condition, a good deal knocked about by shells and extremely muddy. Dug-outs were scare and “verboten” so I dossed down on some fascines with a ground sheet over me.

September 29th

Wet, and generally unpleasant. The Huns gave us a fairly quiet time, just a little shelling. We managed to cook some grub which made things tolerable. At night there were various odd jobs going, I with a few others did a little towards improving our fire positions but as there were no sand bags we couldn’t do much. Jimmy got on a Hun burying fatigue & his party also brought in Capt. Speed of the 7th who was killed just beyond our line on Saturday. I sent off letter to poor old Bill Ellis’s people.

 September 30th

The weather cleared up a bit during the day and so we were able to get our clothes dried a bit. There was a cold breeze however which brought home the fact very forcibly that summer is over. Things were pretty quiet, we were shelled a bit, but no damage was done; during the afternoon news came along that we were being relieved at night by a French Division; about 9 p.m. they arrived & just then it commenced to pour with rain. We went out, as slowly as usual across the top of the trench to the Maroc-Loos road. Here we were hung up for some time partly by civilian evacuees coming from Loos. Their presence in No-Man’s Land, especially that of the women, seemed, to put it mildly, incongruous. In Maroc village motor ambulances were waiting to take them down to Le Brebus. From Maroc we went down to “Quality St.” and then up then Lens-Bethune Rd. some distance till we reached the old firing line. Here we dossed down till dawn. It was frightfully cold & wet, so I didn’t get much sleep. Later on we heard that this arrangement was due to the reported massing of German troops opposite Loos & the anticipated counter attack. At dawn we went back to “Quality St.”, had tea and double rum ration, slept in a much shelled house till 11 a.m. when we had “gyppa” (sic).

 October 1st

The Battalion left “Quality Street” at 7.30 p.m. and marched by most wildly circuitous route to Verquines. I suppose the avoidance of certain roads is necessary to avoid hindering “upward” traffic, but this march was tedious in the extreme & we didn’t reach Verquin till 8 p.m. Here we found quite a good billet & after having tea I slept like a log.

October 2nd

Fine sunny day; spent a good deal of time cleaning up equipment etc. Also took my rifle along to the Armourer Sergt. & was informed I’ll have to get a new one!!.Had a few French “Basses” in the evening.

 October 3rd (Sunday)

Lovely day; church parade as usual, the choir went pretty strong. The whole Brigade was there, including the new drafts & the Brig. told us that yesterday he met Sir John French who expressed his pleasure at what our Brigade has done. Looked into the village church during the evening. Before dinner Pa, Jimmy & I went along to the chateau on the way to Vaudricourt where the Corps H.Qrs. are to see the field guns etc. Captured around Loos. There were 12 field guns, 2 minewerfers, a Russian machine gun which had been converted by the Germans, and a quantity of whizz-bang ammunition. Bon!

 October 4th

There was a Battn. Route March arranged for this morning. I paraded but having thin soled boots was sent off it. It was eventually washed out & changed for a Brigade do in Artillery Formation etc.

 October 5th

There was a parade for the morning which I got off again, but subsequently the parade was washed out on account of rain. Later on a billeting party went to Noeux –Les Mines and we expected to move, but were eventually informed that the move postponed till tomorrow.

 October 6th

Moved to Noeux-les Mines, very dirty underfoot. Got a crowded though fairly good billet.

October 7th

I didn’t go out on parade on a/c of “thin soles.”

October 8th

Moved to Mazingarbe at night, post was distributed just before we moved & I got a 11lb parcel from Zill. Still it was worth carrying. Our Corps Commander, Gen. Sir H. Rawlinson inspected the Brigade before we left Noeux and spoke in very eulogistic terms of the work done by the Brigade on Sept.25 etc. When we got to Mazingarbe Capt. Farquhar told us that the Germans opposite delivered a heavy attack during the afternoon which was entirely repulsed, but in consequence we were under 15 minutes notice to move and so would have to sleep in boots & putties and with everything packed.

 October 9th

Stood to during the day; at about 5 p.m. a party of us paraded under Mr. Guy. We went up to Philosophe & then on towards Vermelles. Here we attached ourselves to some K.R.R.’s & went out as far as our old Line. After some wait we found our job was to assist in carrying up cylinders but by a stroke of luck I and five others got off it. We waited till the others got back about 10 then came home to bed. The rest of the Battalion spent the night in the Support Trenches and got back about 6.30 a.m.

 October 10th

Had a fairly quiet day; got a pair of new boots, “clicked” Billet Guard at night, there was a voluntary Church Parade in the evening.

 October 11th

The Chaplain held a Celebration in the Schoolyard at 8a.m. and I went. There was a pretty big attendance; just towards the close there was some excitement among our fellows and as soon as the Service was over we rushed out to the field behind and from there we watched the finish of quite the finest air-fight I’ve ever witnessed. Three of our aeroplanes had had rounded up a German and were just bringing him to ground. The manoeuvring was really splendid to watch and we could hear the machine-guns pinging away. After a few exciting minutes the Hun dived & descended over Annequin. Some of our fellows went over and said that the plane & both airmen were practically undamaged. At night I was on a working party which paraded under Major Newson & went to La Rutoire. Here we were supposed to be picked up by an Engineer Officer but he never turned up, and we waited there till nearly eleven, when the Major decided to take us back to our billets. We got home just before 12.

October 12th

Lovely day, stood by again. I managed to work in a very necessary “starker”. We paraded at 6.10 for the trenches; went first to the old X2 front line, stayed there until 4 a.m. when we moved further to the left.

October 13th

Things were pretty normal during the morning but B. Company got its share of casualties. Sutton, the late Officers’ Cook was killed by a whizz-bang and Williams another servant was wounded. Soon afterward another whizz-bang landed on the parados of the next traverse to where we were exploded backward & wounded Hollies, Nichols, Singleton & Brattle. The two latter are draft men and this was their first visit to the trenches. Hollies was badly peppered about the face, legs and hands, and Nichols got a nasty gash on the hand. At 12.30p.m. the attack began with the usual heavy bombardment. This lasted for some time, practically all the afternoon and we stood ready to move at a moment’s notice. We saw a fine display by the R.F.A. drivers; they took 3 limbers up to beyond “Lone Tree” under very shell fire; their sergeant was hit though not badly apparently and one of the limbers overturned just after they reached their destination, but they all got back alright & managed to get the horses back eventually. At dusk we went forward to the old German trench that was captured on Sept 25th. We expected to stay here the night; about 9 p.m. we went out to the Lone Tree to fetch up rations and soon after our return to the trench we were told to get ready to move immediately. We soon started out for the new British Line up near Hulluch; it was a tedious journey and a good deal of it was across the open. Here we relieved the Berks. and as far as we could gather their attack during the afternoon had been unsuccessful. They got into the German trench & were then bombed out, at the same time coming under heavy fire from a trench on a bit of rising ground on the right flank. It was soon daylight so we couldn’t do much work to the trench which was very shallow in places.

 October 14th

The Huns shelled us at intervals during the day, poor old Slee (a Devon man) was killed by a sniper and Hirst badly wounded. The Med. Officer of the Berks. Said that there was no hope for the latter unless he could be got back to the Dressing Station so Price, Hopps & Scott volunteered to take him out. They had to go across the open and hadn’t got far when Hopps & Scott were both hit by bullets. Probyn of A. Coy. went to help Price but they couldn’t get on & so had to leave Hirst where he was till dusk. About 7 o’clock I & a few others went out with Mr. Guy to put out trip wires. This took us about 2 hours & when we got back to the trench I did a bit to deepening it & before morning got it to quite a respectable depth.

 October 15th

There was the usual amount of shelling, and snipers came into evidence, but no damage was done. As soon as it was dusk we got to work aging, there were several corpses lying behind which we had to bury. Henry & I buried a Corporal of the 8th R. Berks (the regiment that we relieved) and later on I gave a hand with another, we couldn’t find out what regiment. After this I spent till midnight deepening our bit of trench, the great drawback was a shortage of sandbags. I was on patrol from 1 to 2.30 and from 5 to 7 we had stand-to, rather a long one on account of mist. During the night Price and a few others brought in a man of the Berks who was badly wounded in both legs and who had lain outside since the 13thThe poor beggar must have had a very rough time but he seemed alright and they took him back to the Dressing Station. Just before post I remembered that Tuesday is Lucy’s birthday, so I wrote her a few lines and hope she’ll get it in time.

October 16th

Fortunately for us the dry weather continues and helps to make things far better. We had a pretty normal day, and I made a cross for the grave of the man we buried last night. At dusk we started work again and kept at it till 12 when I turned in.

 October 17th (Sunday)

Things pretty normal still, the Brigadier came around during the morning and expressed himself as very pleased with what we’d done. At 5 o’clock I went up to Battn H.Qrs to act as a guide to the 6th Battn. who were to relieve us. They got down to the Advanced Line about 8 & we then went back to the old German Trench that we spent an hour or so in on the 13th. Here we had very few dug outs and the night was very “parky” but we turned in on a droppie of rum & with the prospect of no “stand to”.

October 18th

We had a pretty soft day, the N.C.Os were all together, so we had a combined mess. Got a parcel from Zill. At night we went up to the Advanced Line & brought back the empty gas cylinders which was quite a pleasant fatigue. We came back across the top & got the job finished by 9. I did an hour’s patrol later on.

 October 19th

Not much doing except a burst of shelling and rapid fire somewhere on the left t about 5o’clock. Later on we heard that the Germans had made a counterattack at the time that the 15th Divn. was relieving the 12th, the line was pierced, but eventually the Huns were driven out. At 8 o’clock we went down the communication trench “Vendin Alley” and worked till 12 at deepening it. On our return we found the post in; there was a cablegram for Soft announcing the joyous news that a daughter arrived for him yesterday & that all was going well! Lucky fellah!

 October 20th

Things fairly normal again; the Brigadier came along the Line during the morning and found a good deal of fault with the cleanliness etc., so we’ve got to buck up tomorrow. At night I got in charge of a party carrying stuff from the “dump” to the Salvage Co’s Depot not far behind the Line. During this fatigue Corpl. Cornwall of A Company was hit in the stomach by a stray. Later on we heard that there’s been another accident at the Bombing School. Hart of No. 5 Platoon got a bullet wound in the leg & Smith was also wounded the cause of it being a fool of a Sergeant who was cleaning his rifle in a room beneath.

 October 21st

Nothing much during the day; at 6.15 we moved up to the Advanced Line where we relieved the 6th and took up practically the same position as before. The “Cast Irons” had put in a good deal of work since Sunday; as soon as we were settling down it commenced to rain & we had a rather unpleasant night with stand-to at 5 a.m.

 October 22nd

Things pretty normal on the whole and before tea-time the Huns sent some heavy shells over (about two dozen) which came rather too near to be comfortable & later on the Adjutant told us he’d been given to understand they were from a naval gun; our fellows at least some of them said they were howitzer shells as they’d seen them fall, but anyhow as the damage they caused was confined to “putting the wind up” most of us it doesn’t matter anyway. At night (a lovely moonlit one) we carried on with the improvement of the trench. Post came in about midnight & brought several letters for me & a fine big parcel from L. the contents of which we duly sampled.

D. Coy on the right sent out a patrol of two Lce/Cpls. to examine the Hun wire which had been reported cut. They got back alright & found it o.k. apparently.

 October 23rd

Pretty quiet during the day; at night we were relieved by the 22nd Battn and went back to the old British Advanced Line not from La Rutoire Farm. Here our quarters were pretty primitive, an open trench with no dug outs.

 October 24th (Sunday)

We had a bit of a sing-song in the morning. Early in the afternoon it began to rain so we had to go foraging for wood etc. & we managed to rig up a fairly respectable shelter. Teddy Wass went back to Mazingarbe with bad feet, so I was left in charge of the section. At night, despite the cold & wet, we had to turn out a working party; the whole Battn. went down to the outskirts of Loos & there we worked under R.E.’s instructions on communication trenches. On the way Morton of 7 Platoon was hit by a stray, in the right lung & I’m afraid he’s rather bad. We got back about one to a wet trench & no rum, so, with our already sodden clothes we spent an uncomfortable night.

 October 25th

Bleak & wet with a hailstorm about mid-day. We pinched some more wood & improved our home a bit. Price, who goes to St. Omer to the Cadet School tomorrow, came to tea (as there was a cake going) and in view of the inclement weather stopped for the night. Thank goodness there was no working party but alas, there was no rum either.

October 26th

We heard in the morning that we were and the sun was shining staying on for another day, as the weather had cleared up and that isn’t so bad. We had a pretty quiet day. Price went in the morning; at night I was on ration fatigue & this time we drew 2 bottles of rum. Turned in a little more comfortably at night- we all managed to lie out at full length. I got a letter from Hollies who has got to Blighty, lucky fellah.

October 27th

Had a pretty good day, there was a little rain and the Huns gave us a bit of shelling. In the morning I wandered over towards La Rutoire but finding it was further than I thought turned back. Before I reached our own trench some shrapnel burst just over the farm buildings. Bon, eh? About 7 pm the 6th arrived to relieve us; we got to Mazingarbe about 8.30. B Company were done out of the old billet – the school- and were put in a rather mucky loft near where the Orderly Room was. Softly, who left his pack behind reached home safely, though goodness knows how he did it.

October 28th

Spent a good deal of the day mud-scraping, and at night we were rather surprised to get a working party. Fifteen days in the trenches and then night working parties while at rest! No Bon! It turned out to be a devil of a job; we went by slippery tortuous paths to Loos. Here the R.E’s took us under the sheltering win and promptly messed us about. We wandered through Loos – what remains of it – on towards the French lines. Then the R.E. guide & an Officer awoke to the fact that he was on the wrong road, so back through Loos we wandered, then up on the Loos-Hulluch Road. Here at about 10 pm we commenced work on a communication trench. We worked till 12.30 and then wandered home through the muck & shell holes, getting back about 8.30 am, absolutely wacked! The appearance of Loos is remarkable. Hardly a sound house is standing, the famous Twin Towers look over a heap of bricks that was once a town & down at the cross-roads the village Calvary, one like so many of those in the villages of Northern France, stands practically uninjured.

 October 29th

Things were pretty quiet during the day; a couple of shells from a German armoured train came over, one laid out two men of the 6th. Hard luck! At night Freddie Withers brought a visitor, young F.E.Brown of the Dogs’ Home, who is in the 24th & who is now attached to the Divl. Signallers. We had a drink together.

October 30th

Had some stunt this morning, half an hour’s in smoke- helmets! Saw Brown again in the evening.

October 31st (Sunday)

Half-Battn. Church Parade in morning. A 5.30 pm we started for the trenches; we went into the position on the extreme right of the British Line, near Hill 70. It was a rotten journey to rotten trenches in rotten weather & when we got to our destination we had to start digging! Then the Huns shelled us. The Limit.

November 1st -3rd

During these days we touched the lowest depths of discomfort. It rained continuously, a cold wind blew, our only shelter was from ground sheets strung crazily across the traverse, our own Artillery persisted in “demonstrating” thereby stirring up a perfect mares’-nest for us, the Huns sending over Howitzer Shells in great force and to cap the lot the Rum Ration failed us two nights out of the three! Heigho! Several men went back to Mazingarbe sick. We had to put in a lot of work on the trench which was an old German communication trench very imperfectly sandbagged. As Capt. Farquhar said “it was b****y wicked”. On the night of the 3rd there was a shuffle-round, whereby No 8 Platoon moved back to the Chalk Pits & occupied the shelters previously used as Company HQrs. Softly Ashworth & I were together. We slept till 3 am on Thursday morning when the Platoon had to go up to the front trench to dig till 6.30.

 November 4th

On getting back we had a light meal (& rum) & turned in straight away & slept till 2.30 pm. Then we grubbed; it was soon dark & then there was the water fatigue which I got on. We went down to Loos & picked up the water there. Turned in till 4 am when we went up to the front trench again. Fearne & I were collared by Capt. Farquhar for a burying job. We buried two of our men who were in a rather bad condition. I tried to get their discs, but had to give it up.

   November 5th

The Huns shelled us pretty heavy again & some landed right in the Chalk Pit. At night we were relieved by the 8th Batt. They were 3 hours late in arriving & at 9 pm we started a most tedious journey to the old German Line. We got to the trench we were to occupy about 2 am & fortunately my 3 found a dug out. After this we had to fetch rations & water from the dump, so about 3.30 am we were able to turn in. Before doing so we were told that the Lord Mayor of London was coming round the Lines in the morning – a piece of information which gave rise to most un-civic expressions.   One gleam of brightness was the arrival of two parcels for me, the major contents of which we disposed of. Altogether some Guy Fawkes Day!

 November 6th

The three of us slept till the early afternoon, when as soon as we got up we had a good meal. Just after dark the ration party brought “gyppa” but it was nearly cold so not as welcome as it might have been. Then just before 8 we paraded for a working party to Loos. We started work on the communication trench by the road to Hulluch about 10 pm and downed tools at 2.30am. Came home by a fairly direct route & turned in just after 4 am. En passant, the visit of the Lord Mayor was a success I understand. Fortunately Guy couldn’t find many of the Platoon (a tribute to the care he expended on us last night) so we didn’t turn out, but everybody else turned out & had a sort of Stand-to-Arms while he went by. Bunny was very facetious about it, he described the Lord Mayor as a “fat-gutted old usurer” and said the whole affair was “English, quite English you know”

November 7th

Another late turn-out & a water party & working party over at Loos again. The Draft who have been out a fortnight came with us this time, Sergt. Hodgson among them. We got back about 1 am. Bon!

November 8th

Had a pretty good day, the Huns sent some coal boxes over and succeeded in spoiling our dinner for us. At night we moved up to the Line. B. Coy was in Reserve & occupied the trench just beyond Loos on the Hulluch Road. Here we did carrying fatigues till past 3 am, then B.Coy. had to move to a communication trench nearer the Line till dawn & we got back to our “home” dog-tired just before it got light.

 November 9th

Tried to sleep in a funk hole during the day, but what with cold & wet, and a certain liveliness on the part of the Artillery, didn’t meet with much success. As soon as it was dark we made a cup of tea which was very welcome. At 10.30pm we paraded for the ration stint.  With three others I carried up A Company’s post and got back fairly early. The rest of the Company got finished so late though that the trip to the communication trench had to be washed out.

 November 10th

Had grub immediately after stand to & the post brought a parcel for Nichols which came in very handy. Had a little more success in sleeping during the day. We paraded earlier for rations at 5.30pm & so got finished pretty early though Pa, Soft, Ashworth & I had subsequently to cart the post bags up to C Company. Soon after 11 we joined the rest of the Company who were there in the communication trench & here we spent 5 miserable hours cold & wet & fed right up. Got back to our holes about 5 am & had “some” breakfast.

 November 11th

Wet again; the P.O.Rs relieved us about 8 o’clock when we went back to the Brigade Reserve Trenches at Gun Alley just behind the Calvary at Loos. The three of us found a pretty good hole, dry but very cramped, the only drawback being a chance that it would cave in before long. Soon after our arrival we had to go on a R.E’s fatigue to carry up barbed wire to the firing line. It was some fatigue! Right the way there and back the rain descended & the winds blew & the hailstone’s hailed so that by the time we got back we were as full of water as bath sponges. Then a fatuous order came round that everybody was to sleep in equipments, an order that was carried out to the letter! (Yes I don’t fink!) However we turned in in our blankets fairly snug. About 4 am a flashlight woke us; it was Teddie Green who was saying in scared tones “Come out at once, there’s been a landslide & the place is tumbling in.” Gee! That put the wind up us a bit, but not for long as a close inspection showed that our place was holding firm and we turned in again. When we did turn out though we found that the trench had caved in in several places & several promising looking dugouts of the night before were mere wrecks.

 November 12th

It rained steadily nearly all day, so we kept under shelter as much as poss. Just after dark we did the ration fatigue & as the Company wasn’t due to go out we were able to turn in pretty early.

November 13th

Raining again, but at night it cleared up beautifully. Just before 6 pm we turned out for a working party. The job was to improve the communication trench leading up to the right of the quarries. It was a lovely night & it was quite a treat to work dry. We finished about 10.30 & so were able to turn in by 12. But thank Goodness we go into Corps Reserve tomorrow! A billeting party left for Lillers tonight & what’s more Jeans went on Angleterre Leave today. Bonski!

November 14th

Fine weather gave us a bit of a chance to clean up a bit & I managed to work in a shave- the first for 14 days! Our reliefs – the first Camerons- arrived about 8 o’clock in fine fettle, and about 10 pm we reached Mazingarbe when we had gyppa and turned in in our old mucky, smelly billet, but still it was a bed &it was in the dry!

November 15th

A Red Letter Day. We paraded at 11.45 and marched to Noeux-les-Mines where under the benign eye of “Cuthy” we entrained – in real railway carriages for Lillers! Arrived at our destination abut 3 pm and here Guy informed me that I shall probably go on leave on Thursday. Stupendous! Really can’t take it in. No post out today, so I can’t the glad tidings home, but will telegraph tomorrow.

November 16th

Settled down pretty comfy in our billet. Spent most of the day mud-scraping. Found I couldn’t telegraph home as business wasn’t urgent enough, so I wrote instead.

 November 17th

Had a pretty big surprise tonight. Found Karl Kohnlein & a pal awaiting me in the billet. His Regiment (57th Indian Rifles) are about ½ mile away at present, but move to Aire tomorrow en route for Mesopotamia. He thinks there is a chance that he may be retained in his present capacity (Orderly Room Clerk), if not he wants to get a transfer to this Battn. if possible. His own mob, the 4th Ldns. aren’t up to much.

November 18th

Did a bit of squad drill etc. In the morning. Horrors! Then went on a Brigade HdQrs. Fatigue which was bon. At night Kennerly, Rumford & party were giving a concert in the Place, but we couldn’t get in.


It appears that Mervyn then went on leave and while he was there he got engaged to Lucy.

He returned to France but did not take up the diary again.


Mervyn was wounded in action on 20th December 1915 -an attack known as the hairpin. He was taken to No 33 Casualty Clearing Station in Bethune where he died on 23rd December and is buried in the War Graves section of the City cemetery.