With the 5th Gloucesters at home and overseas
(published in the 'Back Badge' 1934-38)
3rd - Camped
at Marlow-On-Thames with 1/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
Signal Section. Alarm given that hostilities were expected. Left
Aug. 4th - Spent at home. Put a few more hob-nails in my boots.
Aug. 5th - MOBILIZED. "A" and "B" Companies paraded at the Drill Hall, Brunswick Road. From there the Companies marched to the Corn Exchange and Shire Hall respectively and partook of a farewell tea at the invitation of the Mayor of Gloucester. Left Gloucester 7.20pm, arrived at Portsmouth 11.30pm en route for the Isle of Wight, the Battalion's 1st War Station. Portsmouth was bathed in brilliant moonlight. Warships at anchor swept the sea with the beams of their fierce searchlights. Spent night in Clarence Pier Pavilion and slept on the chairs. Some of the fellows threw their kit off before retiring, while others preferred to slumber in their full war regalia. Our friend Archie could not sleep, so at about 2am he got up, wormed his way through a multitude of chairs, mounted the platform, and commenced to play a serenade on the piano. The musical interlude woke almost everyone up, and the cursing of the recumbent troops was entirely out of keeping with the time and place.
Aug. 6th - Left Portsmouth by steam packet at 4am for Ryde. On arrival we boarded a prehistoric train which was to take us to Newport. En route the train made several tedious halts. From Newport, long weary march to Albany Barracks, Parkhurst. Rations very scarce. Tea and stew served up weak. The weather being wet, did not put us in the best of moods.
Aug. 9th - The Battalion was relieved by the 3rd Battalion Hampshire Regiment, and moved to Swindon, where the South Midland Division (less Artillery) was concentrating. The Signal Section was billetted in the region of Exeter street. The weather was very fair.
Aug. 15th - Battalion paraded in Swindon Park when a call was made for volunteers for service in foreign countries, a call to which all the officers and 90% of the men responded. Received from HM Exchequer 5 pounds gratuity, and in the evening joined the merrymakers in the 'Cricketers Arms.'
Aug. 16th - Battalion left for Hockliffe, Bedfordshire and was billetted in stables and barns. Signallers dropped their kits at Church Farm. Rev. G.F. Helm joined the Battalion as Padre, complete with straw hat. Jolly good chap.
Aug. 19th - Left Hockliffe on foot for Chelmsford (an 80 mile march), where it was intended that the Battalion should be stationed for the double purpose of guarding the East Coast and of training, preparatory to going abroad.
Aug. 20th - First stage of our journey reached at Hitchin. Billetted here for the night.
Aug. 21st - On again and reached Hertford by sunset. Bivouacked in the meadows.
Aug. 22nd - Arrived at Waltham Cross.
Aug. 23rd - Beautiful day. Marched on through Epping Forest to Chipping Ongar.
Aug. 24th - Entered Chelmsford at 11am very footsore and cooled our heels 'neath the trees in Admirals Park. Billetted with Arch Bennett, Don Hart, and Fred Reeves in the vicinity of Primrose Hill. Don did not agree with our fractious host, whom he dubbed a 'Presbyterian washout.'
Aug. 25th-29th - TRAINING.
Aug. 30th - Battalion Church Parade, St. Mary's Cathedral.
Aug. 31st - Removed to fresh billett - 'Clovelly', Maltese Road, where Bill Bracher and Macdonnel were already in residence.
2nd - The
South Midland Brigade concentrated at Hylands Park (3 miles
outside Chelmsford) and was inspected by General Sir Ian Hamilton.
Sept. 5th - Route march (14 miles). En route the Battalion made a flank attack on farmhouses with fixed bayonets. Sergt. Richards, the Provost Sergeant, executed a fine sprint across a turnip field with his knees in the air, at the head of his platoon.
Sept. 6th - Church Parade at the Cathedral. Brigade-Chaplain preached.
Sept. 8th - Route march (12 miles). Attached to "C" and "D" Companies with Don Hart as Signallers.
Sept. 9th-23rd - Battalion training of an extensive character. Great signalling "Stunts" in Admirals Park.
Sept. 24th - Innoculated against typhoid fever.
Sept. 25th - Day off by virtue of said innoculation.
Sept. 26th-Oct. 3rd - Signal Section did much good work with Morse and Semaphore in Admirals Park. The afternoons were usually devoted to "buzzer" practice.
4th - Church
Parade at St. Mary's Cathedral. Preacher - The Bishop of
Gloucester (Dr. Gibson).
Oct. 5th - Battalion marched to Dunmow (8 and half miles) and took up a defensive position in a farmyard and awaited "enemy." The latter's attack repulsed in the afternoon.
Oct. 6th - Marched back to Chelmsford. During the afternoon Battalion took part in Brigade Ceremonial Drill in Hylands Park. Our tubby Brigadier's face was a study in scarlet.
Oct. 12th-13th - Trenching operations.
Oct. 14th - The South Midland Division was inspected by HM THE KING at Hylands Park. The Division numbered over 15,000 on parade. Royal Salute and March Past.
Oct. 15th - Night operations, and practised attacking with feline stealth.
Oct. 16th - Second dose of innoculations administered.
Oct. 17th - Stayed in Billett nursing a "fat" head.
Oct. 20th - Route march (12 miles). 3rd Battery Royal Field Artillery arrived and was stationed at Broomfield.
Oct. 22nd - My 19th birthday.
Oct. 27th - Route march (15 miles)
Oct. 28th - Marched to Sandown Range for the purpose of firing Musketry Course. Terrible weather prevailed. The targets were partially obscured by the driving rain.
Oct. 29th-30th - Further excursions to Sandown Range. Magpies very plentiful!
Oct. 31st - Medical examination by Dr. Sprague. "A" Company played "B" Company at Rugby. Result, 11-18.
3rd - Route
march (16 miles)
Nov. 6th - Route march (20 miles)
Nov. 9th - Battalion marched to Felsted (10 miles) and took part in Field Operations.
Nov. 11th-27th - Intensive Signal Training in Admirals Park.
Nov. 28th - Went to London for the day with Jim Tuck (affectionately known as "The Friar"). Visited the Tower. In the evening we dropped in the Alhambra and saw the Revue "Not Likely."
Nov. 30th - Field Operations.
Dec. 4th - Route march (16 miles)
Dec. 5th - The Battalion Rugby Football team, which consisted of practically the whole of the Gloucester Rugby Football Club, played the Canadian Western Horse at Queen's Clubm London, winning 48-0.
Dec. 17th - Left Chelsmford on my Foreign Service Leave.
Dec. 22nd - Returned to Chelmsford.
Dec. 25th - Spent Christmas Day with Artillery friends - George Woodcock, Howard Sanigar, and others at their billett at Broomfield.
11th - Bigade
Jan. 13th - Brigade route march (24 miles). Oh the pain!!!
Jan. 16th - Billetting area re-arranged. Found very desirable quarters at 37 Duke Street.
Jan. 17th - My Artillery friends gave farewell dinner at Broomfield.
Jan. 18th - Signal Section Dinner at Cedar Hotel.
Jan. 24th - Invited to tea at Widford Rectory by Rev. Thurlow.
Jan. 25th - Heavy fall of snow.
Jan. 26th - With Reg. Burton in Signalling stunt from top of hay rick at Chignal Smealey. Early in the evening Capt. V.N. Johnson (the Adjutant) took a small party of signallers (including myself) out to a point on the main road at Boreham for the purpose of searching passing motor cars for secret signalling apparatus or wireless, by which we believed Zeppelins were aided.
Several cars held up at point of loaded rifle and searched but nothing suspicious was discovered.
Feb. 1st - The Battalion formerly was made up of 8 Companies - 2 from Gloucester, 2 from Cheltenham, and 1 each from Stroud, Dursley, Tewkesbury, and from the North Cotswolds. All the officers and practically all the men had been born and bred in Gloucestershire, and constituted the "flower" of the County. By this time the Battalion had been organised into its 4 Company system, drafted to full strength, trained and disciplined. The 48th (South Midland) Division concentrated and were inspected by General Sir Ian Hamilton.
Feb. 10th - Route march (18 miles)
Feb. 22nd - Further rapid telephone experiments under the guidance of Capt. Stuart. The idea was to connect up a chain of stations by telephone in the quickest possible time.
Feb. 23rd - Entrained at Dunstable, where the Battalion had to complete a course of field firing. A heavy fall of snow took place the same evening.
Feb. 24th - Battalion marched to the Downs for field firing. Snow was 3 inches deep, and on this cold and subsequently sloppy carpet we wallowed, fired ball cartridges at iron plates 2 and 300 yards distant, got up, made a dash through the slush: down again, and so on. Waves of men in front firing and line upon line of fellows following up at the rear.
Feb. 25th - Left for Chelmsford. Arrived 9.30pm.
Feb. 27th - Billetting area again re-arranged.
Mar. 2nd - A night stunt at Boreham Rifle Range.
Mar. 3rd - Signal Section out at night with lamps (Signalling) Mark II. After wading through the muddiest portions of Admirals Park, and having reached a remote shed, our rendezvous, the discovery was made that no oil had been put in the lamps.
Mar. 5th - Brigade held operations.
Mar. 10th - Map reading test. The section paired off, each man with a map and a list of references. At each of the reference points a man was "planted" to be interviewed. The pairs were let loose at 10 minute intervals for the long trail.
Mar. 11th - Signalling Section underwent Classification test, in Admirals Park. I passed 1st Class with a total of 99 marks.
Mar. 12th - Battalion out all night on a trenching expedition.
Mar 13th-28th - Severe training.
Mar. 29th - The Battalion, under the command of Lt-Col. J.H. Collett, left Chelmsford at 5.30 pm for the Front. A fair number of inhabitants congregated at the station, but not a cheer escaped their throats. However, we were all merry and bright. Arrived at Folkestone 9 pm. Embarked in RMS 'Invicta' for France. The passage over the Channel was delightful in brilliant moonlight. Our boat was accompanied by a destroyer part of the way, and an exchange of lamp signals took place between the two vessels which we were eager to read. Approaching Boulogne harbour, one saw dozens of varied-coloured lamps hung aloft round the shore. The utter silence of the town seemed almost uncanny. We landed at 11 pm. As I stalked on the quayside I ran up against an RAMC fellow who passed a consoling remark to the effect that I should be fed up with France within 24 hours. Long monotonous march with full pack through Boulogne, over endless cobble stones. The Battalion bivouacked in French tents. Sleep was impossible owing to the bitter north wind that was blowing 'half a gale', penetrating the tent, blanket and backbone.
Mar. 30th - Battalion marched to station nearby and entrained in cattle trucks (32 in a truck). Detrained at Cassel and marched to Steenvoorde (Belgium). We were all very fatigued. Billetted in lofts and barns.
1st - More or
less a day of rest for everyone except the Signallers, who were
temporarily pressed into the service of the Colonel and Adjutant,
dashing hither and thither with 'chits' containing orders to
Apr. 2nd - The Battalion was inspected by General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien. On reaching the spot where the Signal Section stood, he enquired of Sergt. Jennings as to our speed on the 'buzzer', and the reply he received evidently pleased him.
Apr. 4th - After dinner, Battalion marched to Meteren, a matter of 7 miles, and were again billetted in lofts and barns.
Apr. 5th - Situation very quiet. Cigarettes (Studio Brand) issued for the first time. One could hear the guns pounding away very faintly in the distance.
Apr. 6th - I was on telephone duty at Transport HQ all night.
Apr. 7th - The Battalion marched away to Pleogsteert. HQ details were billetted in Brewery premises on the fringe of the wood. The top floor (reached by ladder) was the resting place of the Signal Section.
Apr. 8th - Lovely day. Fellows stood about the yard in groups listening to German shells whistling over, and observed them bursting in a field just over the main road. Great excitement reigned.
Apr. 9th - 48th (Territorial) Division relieved the 4th (Regular) Division. At dusk, Wally Deavin and I were detailed to proceed into the Front line as Signallers attached to 'D' Company. On reaching Somerset House, the Battalion's HQ in the wood, we were saddled with a 'Buzzer' and some food (not forgetting a supply of candles). From this point we were guided by a Somerset Light Infantryman by devious ways over a fearful track of broken branches. As we trundled along, German Very Lights frequently streamed up into the inky night, flooding the entire wood with their brilliance. The ascension of the enemy Very Light was the signal for an abrupt halt, when one had to stand perfectly still and represent a tree stump. Fritz, on the other hand, swept the wood from end to end with machine-gun and rifle fire. The whiz and plonk of the bullets into the trees, the presence here and there of little cemeteries, and a peculiar nauseating odour which filled the air, all tended to impress one with a very weird sensation. Having now reached the other side of this vast assembly of trees, we were guided across open fields to the Front line at the mercy of enemy 'lead.' About half way across, Fritz opened a rapid burst of MG fire right in our path, and we instinctively fell earthwards, in a panic, and missed the bullets. I was thoroughly glad when we eventually reached our Signal dug-out. The Somerset Regulars were very cheery, happy-go-lucky fellows, and imparted some good advice, i.e. not to loiter about on the parapet at night, or expose the cranium too much by day.
Apr. 10th - Had a good look round the trenches and made acquaintances with many "Old Bills," "Alfs" and "Erbs." Sniped over the parapet at Fritz's loopholes. At dusk, came out of the line and rejoined the Battalion in Ploegsteert.
Apr. 11th - On signal duty at Somerset House.
Apr. 12th - The battalion moved away from Ploegsteert early in the morning and marched 8 miles to Steenwerck, a scattered agricultural village. Signal Section deposited in barn.
Apr. 13th - I was on telephone duty at "A" Company HQ.
Apr. 14th - I, in company with a few other Signallers, discovered a farmhouse where 'Pomme de Terre Fritz' could be obtained piping hot and lovely coffee. The good lady, Lucile Farddy, made us very welcome.
Apr. 15th - Left Steenwerck for Ploegsteert. Another weary jaunt through the wood. The Battalion took over the line from the 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. Wally Deavin and I took over signal duties in a squalid little dug-out in the Right Sector. Only a piece of corrugated iron covered the roof. I found it very difficult to keep awake during my 6 hour shift on the 'phone. About midnight the telephone wire broke. Off I wandered on my own to find the break across those unpleasant fields. Met Sergt. Jennings, who had followed the wire from the other end. The break was mended and I returned. The roar of artillery and the crackle of rapid fire away on our left proclaimed the Battle of Hill 60 in progress.
Apr. 18th - Fritz not very busy. I was foolishly gazing at his wire entanglements over the parapet, when a bullet whizzed by my ear and plonked into the parados behind. I decided to curb my curiosity in future.
Apr. 19th - German artillery straffed the Oxford and Bucks on our right with "Little Willies" and "Coalboxes." Lieut. Barnett killed by a sniper whilst observing enemy lines through telescope at 5 o'clock in afternoon, being the first in the Battalion to make the supreme sacrifice. Relieved by the Bucks Battalion. Hurried scamper through the wood. Marched to Romarin (3 miles distant), in Reserve. I was detailed to lay a cable from HQ across country to "A" Company's farm. There, a phone was fixed up, and, dead tired, I nestled down to sleep alongside my partner, Jimmy Tuck.
Apr. 20th - Glorious weather.
Apr. 23rd - The Battalion marched to Nieppe for baths. The 'baths' were in a large brewery. It was a very funny sight to watch clusters of men bathing in the numerous ex-beer vats. About 20 men were allotted to each vat, half filled with water, to which was added a solitary lump of soap. The Battalion at sundown returned to Ploegsteert and took over the line.
Apr. 24th - Confined to dug-out. Fritz is very quiet.
Apr. 25th - Whilst calmly observing one of our aeroplanes, a bullet sped past my head with a swish.
Apr. 26th - German artillery shelled the Chateau at St. Yves, just behind the line.
Apr. 27th - The Battalion relieved and marched to Romarin.
Apr. 29th - In the evening a spirited bombardment took place in the barn between the police and signallers, whose sleeping quarters were separated by 2 low barriers. The ammunition was as follows - Army biscuits with stale jam, 'clods' of plaster from the wall and spare kit.
May 1st - Re-entered the trenches. 'Palf' Wally and I detailed for duty in Right Sector. We cooked our meals on a coke brazier out in the trench. Everybody was issued with a gas respirator - a mere was of cotton wool with tapes attached.
May 2nd - Fritz got very energetic with rifle, machine and artillery fire.
May 4th - 3.30 am. Owing to telephone line being broken had to make a frantic dash to Battalion HQ in the wood with a message. It was almost light when I was making my way back to the trench, and as I scampered over the wretched field in full view of Fritz, the latter turned a machine gun on me, but luckily the 'lead' was a little high.
May 5th - The Battalion wended its way back to Romarin.
May 6th - Lieut. Guise, in the afternoon, was explaining the working of a jam tin bomb to a party of his men stood around him in a field near the billet, when, by some means or other, the bomb exploded and instantly killed the Lieutenant and one or two men. The remainder of the party was either blinded or otherwise wounded. It was a moving scene when the guard turned out and presented arms as the stretcher-bearers carried Lieut. Guise's body past their post.
May 7th - Ploegsteert shelled very heavily. Many civilians killed.
May 9th - Open-air church service at "A" Company's farm.
May 10th - Returned to the trenches. Along the Romarin road we passed a large number of civilians in the fields just outside Ploegsteert, where they had taken refuge while the Germans shelled the town. The women with their knitting baskets presented a pitiable sight as they gazed towards their homes which were gradually being razed to the ground.
May 15th - Back to sunny Romarin. "Palf" and I detailed for signal duty at "A" Company's farm.
May 19th - Returned to Ploegsteert trenches.
May 20th - Sergt. Hearle killed by a sniper. Wilfred Sleeman shot dead by a sniper while watching the effect of a bullet he had just fired. Attended the burial in the Battalion Cemetery in the wood.
May 22nd - Battalion trailed back to Romarin.
May 23rd - The Battalion (in small batches) made a further exursion into Nieppe for the purpose of cleansing the "frame." A few Signallers (including myself) deployed after the alleged bath and wandered off down the bank of the River Lys. On our return we adjourned to the corner Estaminet and ate large quantities of egg omelette to the accompaniment of Belgian beer.
May 24th - Whit. Powell, Palf, Wally Deavin, and I journeyed into Nieppe on a "joy ride." Lovely weather. Visited Armentieres to see the result of the bombardment.
May 26th - Marched back to the trenches and the dugout life.
May 31st - Romarin. Jimmy Tuck was my partner at "A" Company's farm.
5th - "Plugstreet"
again, through the wood where bullets came zipping from all sides.
Out of the wood and a mad scamper over the 2 open fields and into
the front trench, bathed in sweat.
June 6th - At 10.23 am our Engineers blew up a mine under the enemy's front line opposite the Sector occupied by the Oxford and Bucks on our right. At the moment of the explosion, the trench in which we stood swayed very slightly backward and forward, a dull thud was heard, and the German trench and its occupants were blown into the air some 200 feet. The huge black mass seemed to suspend itself for a second or so, and then spread out to twice the size as it fell to earth. The effect was very weird. The Warwick artillery immediatley shelled the crater with salvoes of high explosive shells. Sergt. Morris and his merry machine-gunners took up commanding positions and peppered hot and strong, while rapid fire rang all up the line. Despite the heavy fire the enemy manned the crater time and again with machine gunners, who no doubt made the most of their job while they lived. One observed the mangled bodies of German infantry and engineers hanging on our barbed wire. Apparently the Germans had tunnelled over to our trench and were about to lay a mine, but luckily, our engineers won the race.
June 8th - Back in peaceful Romarin.
June 11th - The Battalion took over the trenches away on the left of Ploegsteert from the Warwick Regiment. These trenches lay opposite Messines. Situated as they were at the bottom of the ridge, the Hun had an excellent view in the daytime and it was not safe to walk about except by night. A much-battered London bus was parked in No Man's Land. Its last occupants were, I believe, of the London Scottish, whose attack on Messines proved disastrous. The entrance to my dugout was so small that I had to crawl in. It was fearfully damp, and rats were in abundance. The Signal Cabin had a much higher roof, thank goodness.
June 13th - Sunday. Indulged in a luxury by way of a cucumber and tomato to supplement dinner, out of somebody's parcel.
June 14th - The first consignment of Kitchener's Army attached to the Battalion for trench instruction.
June 15th - The New Army decided to try their rifles and start a small offensive of their own. Naturally Fritz was wrathful and proceeded to shell our trenches very heavily as a reprisal, with the result 2 fellows of Kitchener's Army and 1 member of our Battalion were killed. After this we wormed our way back after relief, via a new communication trench, up to the White House, where we struck the road. A few miles march brought us to the Court Dreve Farm - near Neuve Eglise. Here the Battalion was billetted in the numerous barns, lofts, chicken runs, etc.
June 17th - The Signallers organised a game of rounders and opposed the Machine Gun Section in a field opposite the billet.
June 18th - Our slumbers were disturbed rudely by hoardes of mice as they sped over our faces.
June 19th - Marched away from mouse-ridden Court Dreve Farm to Nieppe. The Signal Section was billetted in a large chateau. The gardens were a perfect paradise of roses in full bloom.
June 21st - Whit. Powell, Palf and I wandered into Armentieres and visited the Cathedral. The roof in many places was perforated by shell holes.
June 23rd - Practically the whole Battalion attended a concert given in the grounds of the chateau by the "Follies."
June 24th - In the evening we packed up and marched to Bailleul.
June 25th - Snatched a few hours sleep in the early morning, got up, had the customary snack for breakfast, and wandered into the town sightseeing. Outside the Casualty Clearing Station one beheld several long rows of stretchers on which lay the victims of the first posionous gas attack by the Germans. They were all Canadians, and had taken part in the Battle of Hill 60.
June 26th - The Signallers managed to find a cafe where English beer was on tap. Others had smelt it first, judging by the enourmous number already in the bar. Tubby Rayner, of the MG Section, was giving vent to a song as we entered. However, the Battalion fell in at 10 pm for the march to Vieux Bergin. The Signallers, who were "dizzy" were wranged into the centre of the column, linked arms with those on either side, and thereby managed to effect a more or less dignified progress. Whit dropped his rifle on the cobble stones, and hearing the clatter of the fallen musket, the Provost Sergeant, Peter Huggins, hastened to the spot, and peered into the dark files of men to find the culprit, but without success.
June 27th - Battalion moved away from Vieux Bergin by night and marched to Godenham. We were extremely weary. The guide for HQ details escorted us in a wide circle before finding the barn where we were billetted.
June 28th - Marched to Alouagne. The Signal Section was deposited in a huge barn adjoining a chateau.
June 30th - Flag-wagging on the neighbouring heights.
July 2nd - The long spells of fierce sunlight enabled us to use heliographs at long distances with excellent results.
July 4th - Church parade in a field.
July 5th - Palf and I went for a long walk.
July 6th - After parade about a dozen Signallers formed a 'Comb Band.' Under the baton of Sergt. Jennings, the comb band gave a creditable performance to the delight of the signallers gathered.
July 9th - Brigade field operations.
July 12th - The Battalion marched away from Alouagne by night to Noeux Led Mines, in order to take up reserve position for the Battle of Loos. On arrival the Battalion bivouacked in open fields. A fearful thunderstorm broke over the vicinity of our camping ground.
July 16th - At 9 pm "Fall in" blew, and the Battalion started its memorable march to Ames, approximately 21 miles distant. The drizzling rain made the going very hard. At about 4 am the Battalion topped a ridge and saw its destination, the spire of Ames Church, in the early morning sunlight.
July 17th - Rested.
July 18th - Left Ames, 7 am. Marched to Bergette where the Battalion entrained for Doullens in closed goods wagons. Detrained and marched to Sarton.
July 19th - Ambled on to Bayencourt. The sun was terrifically hot.
July 20th - At dusk the Battalion marched to Hebuterne and relieved the 1st Battalion, 93rd Regiment of the French Army in the Front Line trenches.
July 21st - One and all very busy making a general reconnaissance of the position of trenches, cables, and Germans.
July 24th - Trailed back to Bayencourt in Reserve.
July 26th - Out at night signalling with electric lamps.
July 28th - Battalion left Bayencourt for Sailly-Au-Bois. At dusk tramped on into Hebuterne and took over trenches.
July 31st - As yet this part of the line at Hebuterne was very tranquil. Very little shelling.
19th - At
sunset, with Lce-Cpl. Birkenshaw, I was ambling towards the lower
barricade, our arms loaded with rations - cheese, bread,
currants, bully-beef, when Otto, the German machine-gunner,
started his evening straffe. Zip, zip, zip, past head, shoulders
and legs. Down we sprawled in the roadway, rations spreading in
all directions. After Otto had finished we rose and enjoyed a
Aug. 21st - Visited French lines on the left and a French officer took a photograph of Lee-Williams and myself alongside a few French soldats. Came out of the line at nightfall, and the Battalion marched to Sailly-au-Bois.
Aug. 23rd - Enjoyed a good concert given by the RAMC.
Aug. 24th - Gas helmets tested. In small batches, had to enter and linger for a few minutes in a small marquee filled with poison gas. Battalion paraded and was inspected by the Second in Command.
Aug. 25th - The Battalion relieved the Warwicks in their trenches for a short period. Fine weather prevailed.
Aug. 27th - I was transferred to 'B' Company's Signal Station. Food very scarce.
Aug. 29th - Rain pelting down all day.
5th - The
Battalion was relieved at Hebuterne and moved to Sailly-au-Bois.
Sept. 8th - The Battalion marched away to Bus-Les-Artois.
Sept. 13th-16th - Prior to a route march, the Battalion formed up in a field just outside the village, and Lt-Col. J.H. Collett presented the ribbon of the DCM to Sergt. R.E. Knight and Lce-Cpl. F.W. Harvey.
Sept. 17th - The Battalion marched to Hebuterne and relieved the Worcesters and Shropshire L.I.
Sept. 18th-28th - By this time Hebuterne was a "hot shop." The German artillery were ever active, likewise the MG, rifle and 'Minnie' experts opposite our trenches. Mails were very scarce, like rations. For several days our artillery bombarded the enemy lines and his wire. We were warned to be ready to attack at any moment and all preparations were made. Order received cancelling the attack. One of our patrols was surrounded by Germans near the enemy barbed wire. All but Lieut. H. Moore and Lce-Cpl. Rodway managed to get away. These 2 remained trapped and fought to the end. Daylight patrol went out to the spot next morning and reported that their dead bodies were lying near the Hun wire, and that there were at least 4 German corpses in the grass.
Sept. 29th - Came out of the trenches and headed for Bus-les-Artois.
Sept. 30th - Capt. H.C. Bliar Sessions (Signal Officer) kept the Section busy each day. Several route marches via Louvencourt and Authie. Pretty country hereabouts.
6th - Capt. V.N.
Johnson left the Battalion to take up an appointment as Brigade
Major of the 12th Infantry Brigade. The 5th Glosters to a man
were deeply sorry to lose him. Capt. Johnson unconsciously
endeared himself to the Battalion as a model soldier and a
Oct. 9th - Officers played the sergeants at football. Result, nil-nil. In the evening went to a concert given by the Motor Transport Troupe. About halfway through the programme, the alarm was sounded. Off we had to dash to the billet, pack up and parade immediately. The Battalion marched to a field fringed by a coppice, a quarter of a mile away, and there we stood for over an hour while the Colonel carried out a most minute inspection of every man and his luggage.
Oct. 11th-18th - Returned to Hebuterne trenches. Took over the Signal Station in Bugead trench with Johnny Gwilliam and Palf to keep me company. The German shelling was certainly on the increase.
Oct. 19th - Wormed our way out of the trenches and plodded back to Bus-Les-Artois.
Oct. 20th-25th - Usual signalling parades under our popluar leader, Capt. Blair Sessions.
Oct. 26th - The Battalion marched back to Hebuterne trenches. The weather had broken at last to our dismay. Very heavy rain fell. The sides of the trenches were beginning to collapse. Coke refused to burn, and to make matters worse the rain-water coursed its way down the walls of the dug-out and the floor was ankle-deep in liquid mud.
Oct. 27th-Nov. 3rd - The communication trenches in the front line were soon transformed into squishy squashy alleys. At night the going was even more tedious. It took half an hour to reach the Company Commander with an urgent message when he was on a tour of inspection in an area about 200 yards distant from the Signal Station. It all depended on the successful dragging out of one foot, embedded halfway to the knee, as to whether the next step would be taken in the desired direction. The floods rendered thousands of rats homeless, and so they infested the dug-outs.
4th - Out of
the trenches and off back to Bus-Les-Artois.
Nov. 5th-11th - Battalion paraded in the usual field. The Battalion went for a route march. Participated in some vigorous bayonet-fighting practices.
Nov. 12th - Off up the line. Arrived in shell-battered Hebuterne for another spell in the trenches.
Nov. 13th-19th - Weather very much improved. Followed nights of glorious moonlight.
Nov. 20th - Relieved again, thank goodness, and plodded to Bus.
Nov. 22nd-28th - Signalling parades in the orchard outside the village.
Nov. 28th - Weather very dry and cold. Several degrees of frost. The Battalion tramped away to Hebuterne once again, and relieved the Bucks Battalion in the trenches.
Nov. 29th - It rained very heavily and the trenches were quickly transformed into liquid mud canals.
Nov. 30th-5th Dec. - Heavy rain continued to fall, and the trenches were in a hopeless state. One was obsessed with the idea of joining the Balloon Section or the Air Force. Waders issued. The issue of rum was increased. Watched the effects of our artillery bombardment of the German lins. The bursting shells sent water and mud sky-high. Symes, an artillery signaller, extracted one of my teeth. The walls of the bivvy gradually gave way and the trench flood water rushed down the steps.
Dec. 6th - Relieved again. Bus-les-Artois.
Dec. 7th-13th - We all took things very easy. The Signal Section now possessed a gramophone and records. Journeyed into Acheux one night to see the Follies.
Dec. 14th - Back to Hebuterne trenches.
Dec. 15th-22nd - The weather was very squally. Our heavy artillery pounded the Hun trenches daily.
Dec. 23rd - Battalion relieved. Back to Bus.
Dec. 24th - Everyone very energetic making preparations for Christmas.
Dec. 25th - Christmas Day.
Dec. 26th - Attended Brigade Church Service. The Division Band accompanies the hymns.
Dec. 29th - The Battalion marched away to Hebuterne 2 days earlier than usual.
Dec. 30th - Our artillery extremely active.
Dec. 31st - Heavy bombardment went on. The enemy's reply was very weak. I was detailed, after many weary months of waiting, to proceed on leave to England. Rain fell incessantly as the Leave Party tramped to Louvencourt. We reached the place at 7.30 pm and joined the Divisional Leave Squad, as per instructions. At 5 am we paraded at the cook house. Entrained at 6 am. Very very slowly, after some 20 hours in all, our leave train reached Havre.