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An Old Contemptibles Diary 1914 - 1915

This diary, along with a Commission Document, MID certificate (1914), Officers Service Book and several documents, was found in a packet in August 1997.

Arthur Castle was born 22nd of August 1885. He enlisted at Woolwich 23rd March 1900 and was posted as a 'Boy' to the Royal Horse Artillery Depot. On the 21st October 1901 he was appointed trumpeter and posted to 2nd Bde. Div. RHA.

7th March 1903 he was posted to 'E' Battery in India. 27th March 1908 promoted to Bombadier.

9th December 1909 embarked for England.

30th December 1909 promoted Corporal (at Leeds).

August 1911 at Newbridge. Jan. 1914 promoted Sergeant and posted to 'D' Battery RHA.

France 4th August 1914. 8th September MID and awarded Medaille Militaire. 7th August 1915 Commissioned for "service in the field."

Posted Glasgow Officers Training Brigade as Instructor.

June 1916 posted to 63rd Royal Naval Division, France. 1918 Acting Captain.

Awarded Military Cross 1918 (London Gazette 26 July 1918) "for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty." Wounded left knee September 1918.

Posted School of Instruction RH and RFA Shoeburyness December 1918. Posted 65th Battery RFA Aldershot June 1919.

Resigned June 1920 (Captain, Reserve of Officers)

THE DIARY (written in pencil in Army Book 186): spellings and layout as close to original as I can manage:

tuesday 4.8.14

Orders received to mobilise

sunday 9.8.14

mobilisation completed

monday 10.8.14

brigade including ammunition column paraded for inspection by Gen Gough Commanding 3rd Cavalry Brigade

friday 14.8.14

Orders received to move

saturday 15.8.14

marched from Barracks 3.15am, entrained (time 17 minutes) Train left Curragh siding 5.30am. arrived Dublin and embarked on SS Pancras. set sail 1.45pm.

sunday 16.8.14

Passed Lands End about 5.0pm (Grand voyage)

monday 17.8.14

6.0am chased by French destroyer through misunderstanding signal. Destroyer came alongside and after receiving terrific cheers from troops, retired being satisfied as to our identity. Arrived Havre 1.30pm. Delay disembarking, left docks for Rest Camp 11.30pm Arrived Camp 10.30am 18.8.14

tuesday 18.8.14

Rest day. Had look round Havre

wednesday 19.8.14

Entrained for front at 4.0pm. Destination unknown. passed through Rouen, Amiens.

thursday 20.8.14

Bucigny 8.0am still travelling, destination still unknown. Detrained at Hautmont 10.0am and marched to (crossed out) through site of Malplaquet. Billeted at (crossed out) Cattle shed.

friday 21.8.14

joined Cavalry Division under Gen Allenby, came in touch with Germans. no action. camp at HARMINGUE

saturday 22.8.14

first engagement at BRAY. no casualties, retired to HARMINGUES left again 7.0pm and retired via MONS to QUIVRAIN, arriving 4.0am

sunday 23.8.14

Rested till 7.0pm but disturbed by German shell and had to move. halted but stood to horses all night.

monday 24.8.14

moved off at daybreak. Big battle in progress in which we took part later in day. Baggage and water cart went astray here.

tuesday 25.8.14

another engagement, had a hot time and had to retire. 1st Line wagons and right section and No 6 went astray.

wednesday 26.8.14 to monday 31.8.14

Germans being much too strong had to keep on retiring no engagement of any note. 1st line and No6 rejoined.

tuesday 1.9.14

Big fight between our 2nd Div and Germans, we chimed in during the afternoon but had to retire, the germans outnumbering us by about 10 to 1.

wednesday 2.9.14

fighting rear guard action. have not joined up with French army yet, it is understood that we must keep on retiring until allied forces can concentrate. shelled by German Guns passed through MEAUX and camped on S Side.

thursday 3.9.14

marched at 4.0am still acting as rear guard. nothing doing have not seen but believed we have joined up with French. marched along bank of R Marne, very pretty but all villages isolated. passed St Jean

friday 4.9.14

Had a hot time during the afternoon. Big artillery duel both armies withdrew. we marched to COULOMMIERS and bivouacked for night. A good deal of firing going on during night and Cameron Highlanders report 3 scouts killed and 1 taken prisoner.

saturday 5.9.14

the whole of the 1st Army under Gen Haigh appeared on high ground W of COULOMMIERS and a big battle was anticipated but Germans have been conspicuous by their absence. Column retiring westwards, small engagement during the afternoon.

sunday 6.9.14

Re-organisation of Battery. Germans started to retire, consequently our advance. Big fight during morning. 12 Lancers did good work but lost several men and horses. We shelled village and wood during evening where Germans were bivouacking for night.

monday 7.9.14

Germans retiring eastwards as fast as possible, us in pursuit. official information of Russian victory over Austrians received this morning 10,000 taken prisoner and 150 guns. In one line of trenches alone 4500 German dead were counted. Germans abandoning wounded and leaving dead unburied, we are working in conjunction with 2 French Armies, one on each flank and the R Marne cutting Germans off from the east and before long hope to bottle then up.

tuesday 8.9.14

Battery received an awful cutting up. My gun was in action alone under Mr Parker engaging infantry. Were shelled from all directions. Mr Parker and Mr Bardell killed, Cpl Elliott wounded, after a most painful experience succeeded in getting gun and wagon out of action taking wounded with us. myself Br Harry and Gr (?) all that was left at the gun. near DOVE went into bivouack about 6.0pm and had burial service at 9.0pm very impressive, Mr Gough killed, Major Gillson wounded.

wedenesday 9.9.14

Big scrap going on, but at present we are being held in reserve. Battery paraded and complimented by General Gough and Col (Brooks?) on their gallantry under fire during yesterdays battle. "The General is proud of his Horse Artilleryman and so am I." Bridges across Petit ---- River destroyed by Germans. Engineers building them while we are having a rest. A good deal of shooting is going on, presumably to dislodge Germans from their point of vatange on N bank of River. Nothing doing, went into bovouack.

thursday 10.9.14

Set off early on german trail. shelled and captured convoy. Scots Greys, 1(6?)th Lancers took numerous prisoners, it is believed hundreds. Convoy at CHEZY-EN-ORXIOS, those vehicles that were not captured, had been utterly destroyed. German retreat must have been a proper rabble. Equipment clothing arms etc strewn al over country. German atrocities at CHEZY-EN-ORXIOS. Three men in one house murdered, one an old man of 80 or 90, completely butchered, the other two both elderly men. A deal of rain fell today.

friday 11.9.14

Quiet today. worked on left flank of British in touch with French.

saturday 12.9.14

made a rapid march to high ground North of CHASSEMY overlooking River AISNE. Germans occupying strong position on opposite bank. Arrived about 3.0pm and had sharp scrap in the open with German infantry. gave them a dressing down then they put up white flag. Killed and wounded about 100 and took as many prisoners. Bivouacked at CHASSEMY.

sunday 13.9.14

Went out with view to crossing River AISNE met with stubborn resistance and returned to CHASSEMY for night.

monday 14.9.14

Felt queer and was left behind. about 3 hours after Battery left village was shelled and had to quit. Luckily met Battery about 3.0pm. Battle still proceeding but cannot cross river yet. Bivouacked at LIME (Nr Braine - 3 kilometers from CHASSEMY)

tuesday 15.9.14

Battle still in progress. Shelled German position all day, but with very little results. Returned to LIME

wednesday 16.9.14

Battle still in progress, cannot cross river yet. Returned to LIME. Right section rejoined here. Received our first mail here. R.L.A. and AL.

thursday 17.9.14

same as yesterday. A good deal of aircraft about today and Germans were shelling our craft all day, with luckily no result. Returned to LIME.

friday 18.9.14

Rest day. Pouring with rain.

saturday 19.9.14

In action all day. Dug ourselves in. Fired on infantry trenches. Returned to line. Major Monkhouse joined.

sunday 20.9.14

Moved to Chateau de Lime. Residence of Princess Poniatowski. Horses in grounds, troops in Chateau. myself and 4 others occupied one of her ladyships rooms. Germans had previously occupied chateau and place was upside down. Furniture and bedding clothing etc strewn all over the place.

monday 21.9.14

Battle still in progress. We cannot do any good so are standing in reserve, whilst Heavy Artillery and infantry attack their trenches.

tuesday 22.9.14

Situation remains the same.

wednesday 23.9.14

Believed that Germans have at last been driven out and are retiring northwards. We placed under orders to move at a moments notice. Mr Ellis joined.

thursday 24.9.14

Still at Chateau. situation appears the same, but it is believed that Germans are in full retreat. We should be on track again shortly.

friday 25.9.14

Situation remains the same.

saturday 26.9.14

On guard last night. Terrific bombardment going on all night. Turn out ordered, but no move made. Germans made an attempt to break our lines, splendid work done by 1st Division and Guards Brigade drove them back at point of bayonet. German attack defeated all along the line.

sunday 27.9.14

Reported that Germans had succeeded in crossing CONDE Bridge at 8.30am. We were ordered out but report although given by 3rd Division proved false. Retuned to billets.

monday 28.9.14

situation unchanged

tuesday 29.9.14

Orders received to shift billets. Chateau to be used as a hospital.

wednesday 30.9.14

Marched to NAMPTEUIL. Situation along AISNE apparently the same.

thursday 1.10.14

Appeared in Orders for the French "Medal Militaire" marched to PARCYTIGNY.

friday 2.10.14

Hurried move. Believed we are moving to left flank but nobody seems to know anything definite. Bivouacked at DAMPLEUX.

saturday 3.10.14

Marched to BETHISY-ST-PIERRE. Still nothing known as to our move but rumoured we are off to BELGIUM again.

sunday 4.10.14

Long march to FRETOY. Very near the French firing line, big battle in progress.

monday 5.10.14

Another long march to BERTEAUCOURT. Passed through MONTDIDIER, appear to be marching parallel to firing line. AMIENS is about 10 miles from here, we appear to be making for it.

tuesday 6.10.14

Instead of resuming our march we went to assistance of french (Gen Castlenau Army); however not required so continued our march in the afternoon. Passed through a part (slums) of Amiens, so did not see very much of it. Camped about 5 kilometers west of AMIENS (VAUX-EN-)

wednesday 7.10.14

Remained here the day. Marching with the remainder of 2nd & 3rd Cavalry Divisions to turn the German flank.

thursday 8.10.14

Marched to L'ABBAYE-B'-AMOUNT. Long and tiring marches. Have joined up with the French Cavalry; 14 divisions of them.

friday 9.10.14

Marched to LIBESSART. Another hard march.

saturday 10.10.14

Marched to FERME-DE-MALONOY. Met our infantry being transported in motor lorries to join up with us.

sunday 11.10.14

Marched to MORBECQUE, assumed a fighting formation; expect to come into contact.

monday 12.10.14

Marched to EECKE. A hard march, arriving late at night.

tuesday 13.10.14

Marched to GODEWAERSVELDE. A hard march.

wednesday 14.10.14

Marched through HAZEBROUCK and crossed the Belgian frontier. Came into contact with German cavalry. Two of our Cavalry 5th Lancers murdered at FLETRE (head and arms cut off) Buried by inhabitants of village. Had a scrap, they shelled us and we returned the compliment with interest. Drove them back. Camped at WYTSCHAETE.

thursday 15.10.14

Another good day. Germans holding line of River. Camped at MESSINE.

friday 16.10.14

Went into action just outside bivouack and dug ourselves in, Gave them a good shelling. Remained in action all night.

saturday 17.10.14

Still in action in same position. Fired an awful lot of ammunition again, but do not know with what effect. Guns remained in action again all night but detachments slept in farm just behind guns.

sunday 18.10.14

Manned our guns again at daybreak and did a little shooting. Changed our position about 300 yards to the west and dug ourselves in again. Guns remain in action again all night. Heard of German occupation of OSTEND. Our line is joined up now throughout the whole length from coast to Germany and position appears very favourable. Germans firing all villages they pass through.

monday 19.10.14

Detached section with escort of 1 troop 4th Hussars. Took on German machine guns in house, quietened them and complimented by Gen vaughan on good shooting. Long day in action fired nearly 100 rounds per gun. Camped in Chateau MAHUE, 1 kilometer NW of HOLLEBEKE (comfortable bed).

tuesday 20.10.14

We have evidently ot a strong job on and it is expected we shall have to retire, Germans outnumbering us by at least 5 to 1. Had a good day at and held our own. billetted again at Chateau MAHUE (on picquet, incessant firing during night)

wednesday 21.10.14

Took up position under cover of wood and close to Chateau. Did an awful lot of shooting and again held our own. returned to chateau for night. Cavalry having a hot time and have lived in trenches for 2 days and 3 nights.

thursday 22.10.14

Returned to our position again before daybreak and occupied it all day. Returned to chateau at 6.30pm, but had to move hurridly again at about 8. Germans making a strong attack (Lorries parcel and 12th Lancer incidents) Returned to our old position close to chateau and opened fire at intervals during night. Cavalry still entenched.

friday 23.10.14

Managed to keep Germans back last night. We are still in position and preparing for another night out. Saw first Indian troops today - A battalion of Sikhs with their mule transports (quite like old times) Heard today that Brills of the 16th was wounded on the 18th in bayonet charge at WARNETON ?? Guns remained in action again all night. Opened fire on 2 occasions 12 noon and 1.0am

saturday 24.10.14

Situation apparently unchanged. Natives and Munsters took 400 prisoners and I believe 5 guns. Our guns in action again all day. Half Battery remained in action during night; heavy firing about 9.30pm.

sunday 25.10.14

situation the same. My gun permanently out of action.

monday 26.10.14

Ordered to take gun to rail-head to exchange for new. spent the night at BAILLEUL. Had a long chat with Gen Phipps-Hornby VC - made my relationship to Bob known. Saw Gen Sir John French.

tuesday 27.10.14

Proceeded to EBBLINGHEM (rail-head) passed through HAZEBROUCK. Staying night here.

wednesday 28.10.14

Returned to Battery at Chateau arriving about 9.0pm

thursday 29.10.14

Had a quick turn out, Germans pressing. My section sent across to reinforce 6th Cav Div. Remained in reserve during day and then rejoined Battery.

friday 30.10.14

Germans made a strong attack against our front, we eventually had to withdrawl about a mile. Took up position and remained in action all night. London Scottish (Terries) joined us up here (ST ELOI)

saturday 31.10.14

French reinforced us today. In action alongside two Fench H.A. Batteries. Hard fighting. Guns remained in action during night.

sunday 1.11.14

3.0am made an early shift to our right to reinforce line there. Line fighting all day and afraid casualty list pretty heavy, altough we got through without any. Bivouacked just in rear of position for night. (J Battery team and one driver) London Scottish cut up.

monday 2.11.14

took up position again at dawn. Heavy fighting until noon. Relieved by French & understood we were going back for a couple of days rest. Crossed Belgian frontier again & camped at ______

tuesday 3.11.14

Ordered to remain in billets & rest. 10am ordered to turn out at once. Hurried to firing line & took up position at night. Tremendous line of troops here and something big must be going to happen tonight or tomorrow. Guns in action all night.

wednesday 4.11.14

Nothing happened during night. Supposed to be 240 guns along this ridge. Big artillery scrap going on (3.0 pm - Raining) Heavy fighting till dusk. Guns remained in action all night.

thursday 5.11.14

situation apparently unchanged. Big force French & British here, but Germans are making frantic efforts to break through, apparently to Calais. We are at least holding our own. 6.0 pm Relieved by 'H' Battery for 48 hours so apparently it is going to be a repitition of the Aisne. Returned to billets across frontier.

friday 6.11.14

Had a good night. Day spent in sorting ourselves out and cleaning up in general. Another good night in front of us.

saturday 7.11.14

Placed in support of 1st Divn. Had a hurried turn out but were not required. Bivouacked near firing line.

sunday 8.11.14

Early turn out (5.0 am) Went into action & remained dug in for 48 hours.

monday 9.11.14

still in the pits. A heavy scrap going on.

tuesday 10.11.14

Remained in action till dusk. Relieved by 'J' Battery. Withdrew to billets across frontier same as before.

wednesday 11.11.14

Rest day. Raining. Miserable.

thursday 12.11.14

Summoned to Bailleul to receive medal militaire. Gen Sir J French presented them & made a very complimentary speech regarding work of the cavalry during the campaign. Saw Col. Seely, Leopold (I believe) Rothschild. Both at Bailleul. Battery moved to Lacre during day & rejoined them there. Did not go into action but bivouacked there.

friday 13.11.14

Relieved 'E' Battery at sun-set (Raining) Gun pits up to ankles in mud. Rotten night.

saturday 14.11.14

still in pits. Chateau just on our right shelled & set burning by Germans. Scrapping rather tame. night in pits.

sunday 15.11.14

Still in pits. Snowing followed by rain. Really cheerful. Withdrew at sunset & marched to camp south of Bailleul. Cavalry Brigade placed in reserve to rest & refit. A good night

monday 16.11.14

Raining like the devil, a miserable day could do nothing

tuesday 17.11.14

Bad luck. Battery ordered to join 5th Division. marched to Lacre. Remained in readiness all day & finally ordered to Billets at La Clete. Very near firing line and within easy range of German guns. A big scrap going on & quite a firework display visible from camp. Am afraid we shall get shelled out before morning.

wednesday 18.11.14

A good night but a tremendous scrap going on all night. Ordered to be ready to move at a moments notice. Fine display of shooting at aircraft. 5.0 pm. Orders received to reemain here for the night. Things fairly quiet now (8.30 pm) Snowing & awfully cold.

thursday 19.11.14

Ordered into position by 6.0 am. Heavy snow during night which made movements very difficult. Remained in action until sunset then relieved by Warwick RHA (T). Returned to old billets.

friday 20.11.14

Ordered to rejoin 2nd Cavalry Division. Freezing hard. Awaitng instructions as to new area.

saturday 21.11.14

A quiet day. still freezing hard & horses cannot keep to their feet. Orders to march tomorrow.

sunday 22.11.14

Marched to Vieux-Berquin where apparently we are going to stay for some time. Cavalry with RHA placed to reserve, situation affords no role for us now cavalry have been withdrawn from trenches. A nice comfortable billet.

monday 23.11.14

Mothing doing. Standing camp routine. A treat to be away from noise of guns etc. Two officers granted 72 hours leave to England, so apparently things are fairly safe on this line. Two Corps are in reserve in this area, so what hopes of Germans taking Ypres & reaching Calais !!

tuesday 24.11.14

Standing Camp

wednesday 25.11.14

Standing Camp

thursday 26.11.14

Standing Camp

friday 27.11.14

1 NCO granted leave to England. Far. Saunders.

saturday 28.11.14

Standing Camp. Adams goes on leave.

sunday 29.11.14

No alteration to situation.

monday 30.11.14

no change

tuesday 1.12.14

American attache expected to pay us a visit today. Did not turn up. The King visits us tomorrow, or rather we turn out for him. Plenty of work going on, trying to brighten things up. We shall look quite smart if the rain only keeps off but it looks very much like it now 7.0 pm.

wednesday 2.12.14

Paraded for King. Formed up with remainder of Cavalry Brigade on either side of Bailleul - Vieux Berquin road. Cold morning. His Majesty & suite walked alonf road through our ranks accompanied by the Prince of Wales.

thursday 3.12.14

Situation the same. Raining

friday 4.12.14

no change. Raining

saturday 5.12.14

no change

sunday 6.12.14

no change

monday 7.12.14

no change

tuesday 8.12.14

Gen French visited Cavalry Brigade. Addressed each unit. A most complimentary & thrilling speech addressed to 'D' Troop. Raining

wednesday 9.12.14

nothing doing. Raining

thursday 10.12.14

no change

friday 11.12.14

no change. Raining.

saturday 12.12.14

Visited Mont-de-Cals scene of battle at which Prince Max of Hesse was killed. A route march.

sunday 13.12.14

no change

monday 14.12.14

All leaves stopped. Placed under orders to move at a moments notice. Believe our troops are making an attack along line Ypres Messines Arras.

tuesday 15.12.14

situation apparently unchanged. Anyhow we are still here. Raining

(DIARY STOPS)

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Part II

March 10th 11th 12th proceeded to ESTAIRES to assist in NEUVE CHAPPEL affair. 5th Brigade went out to Croix Rouge. We remained ready for the three days but no developments. Returned to billets.

23.4.15

Placed under orders to relieve 'U' Battery at N near LAVENTIE and to march at 2.45 pm. 10.45am orders to move at once to BOESCHEPE between POPERINGHE and YPRES. Line broken by Germans who have advanced about 3 miles. 5.0pm arrive at YLAMATINGHE 11.0pm unsaddle to rest.

24.4.15

4.0am turn out at once, proceed to line NW of YPRES to assist Canadians who had been scuppered with poisonous gases. Remained in readiness near BRIELEN all day. Bivouacked for night. Raining

25.4.15

4.0am harness up. Remained in readiness til 2.30pm then moved into position just W of BRIELEN. Dug in and remained in action all night.

26.4.15

3.0am opened fire. Now 9.0pm. Lovely day. German aeroplane overhead but being chased by Frenchman. During night 1 French Division & our 1st Indian Division moved onto this line. something going to happen, whole of Independent Cavalry is in the vicinity and perhaps if we succeed in driving them back we may have a chance of a cavalry action. Attack made at 2.0pm succeeded in taking German 1st line trenches but had to withdraw owing to use of poisonous gases. Another attack 6.0pm no results, gas again used. Slept round guns.

27.4.15

Another big attack timed for 1.30pm. We have as our objectives trenches where gas is sprayed from. Bombardment in progress, awaiting our turn in the show. The attack is being launched along line from YPRES to the west. We apparently took the trench but had to evacuate again. Got a good shelling as a good night.

28.4.15

Another lovely day. Night passed without our taking any part. Aeroplane fight over head about 9.0am. French got immediately over then fired. German apparently hit as engine stopped but managed to get away over own lines. 8.0pm another attack launched apparently no result. Heard that we gained a big victory at LA BASSEE. Another attack timed to start at 6.50pm, now 5.30pm. The Canadians are holding our front line now instead of French. Attack carried out, or rather bombardment but no result.

29.4.15

Received heavy shelling during night between 1 & 2, sleep disturbed but no casualties. A quiet day so far 7.0pm, only fired a few rounds this morning and we had a few at us in return. A big scrap going on on our left. Believe LA BASSEE yarn of yesterday to be all bunkum. A quiet evening.

30.4.15

We got a good shelling this morning & took cover away from guns. Ground around guns simply peppered, no casualties. We received shelling at intervals during the day, the hottest time so far this journey. French have advanced a few metres today & we hold crest of hill 29. Hope they leave us alone during night or am afraid we have had our sleep. No mail for 3 days.

1.5.15

"May Day" Brilliant sunshine. Received shelling about 9.0am Orders to withdraw & join Cavalry Division. As soon as we started to move guns, got a terrific shelling. 3 wounded - 1 very severely including 1 officer Mr. Walrond. Major & Mr Walrond buried in dug out by shell bursting just behind my gun. Got them out alright. Had to take cover for a time then managed to get clear. Marched to bivouack just SE of POPERINGHE passing through that town.

2.5.15

Quiet day. Reported that as soon as we had got clear of position yesterday they started dropping 15 inch shells there - they were too late. Orders to be ready to move again.

3.5.15

No move yet. Things fairly quiet. E Surreys & Lancs Fus had the gas on them yesterday & suffered rather badly. Orders to march at 7.30pm to MERVILLE to join 1st Army. Presume we are going to LA BASSEE area. Moved off at 7.30pm and marched via STEENVOORDE-HAZEBROUCK to MERVILLE. Raining whole time. Arrived camp 3.0am.

4.5.15

Reveille at 7.30am so managed 4 hours sleep. We go into action tonight - Centre section - remainder of Battery follow tomorrow. Apparently it is the place we should have gone to before we were hurriedly called to support the Canadians NW of YPRES. One thing, we are having a smack in all along the line, and if they give bars for each of these engagements we shall have to wear our ribbon back & front. Marched at 6.15pm (Raining) via MERVILLE, LA GORGE into action about 3/4 mile E if LAVENTIE, arrived about 9.30pm.

5.5.15

Quiet night. Registered a lot of targets during morning. Guards Brigade hold trenches in front of us. Nothing doing this afternoon. Remaining 4 guns of Battery come into action tonight - as soon as it gets dark. We are fairly comfortable but I don't like being near prominent buildings as the Germans have a liking for lowering everything to the ground. anyhow - our fate remains to be seen. Battery arrives about 8.0pm.

6.5.15

Quiet night. Nothing exciting during day. Did a little 'Registering' and opened on a Battery a couple of times. A lazy day. A big attack apparently coming off tomorrow or saturday.

7.5.15

Another quiet day. Big preparations in progress for an attack. No definite orders out yet.

8.5.15

Attack should have come off this morning but postponed for 24 hours. Received a shelling during early evening, a direct hit on No.5 Wagon - no other casualties. Attack to take place tomorrow morning, believed in conjunction with a big French offensive. Orders to be at guns by 4.45am.

9.5.15

3.30am. Reveille - 4.0am Breakfast. All ready at 4.45am. Bombardment opens - my time - 5.0am We kept up continual fire until 7.10am firing roughly 100 rounds per gun throughout Battery. Information from front line at 7.25am to say we have taken 3 points and a number of prisoners. Comment from G .o.C - "Shooting good." Our objective is AUBERS RIDGE - same as the NEUVE-CHAPPELE affair. We are living in hopes of a complete success today. Now 11.30am our immediate front is fairly quiet, although they are going at it on our flanks. I wonder whats in front of us today. Attack is being launched by VII VIII & Indian Divisions with an unallotted Corps in our immediate vicinity - We only being lent for this affair. I believe our Cavalry are all ready just behind to push the thing on if we are successful. Paper(?) bays should do a good trade tonight.

10.5.15

VII & VIII Divisions succeeded in taking 3 lines of trenches on the left, but Indian Divn were held up by machine guns. 2 Divns on left were bombed out of their trenches during night and had to withdraw to their original line. Another attack expected today. Put off and things are very quiet. Fired at intervals during day. Reported that French have made good progress on our right.

11.5.15

In action at 3.0am but nothing exciting happened. Bombarded at intervals during day. Good news again from French front at GIVENCHY.

12.5.15

A quiet day. Usual bombardment during day. A little excitement during evening. Apprehended 2 as suspected spies, wearing uniform of British Red Cross, handed them over to P.M (?) at ESTAIRES.

13.5.15

Bombardments at intervals during day. Nothing really exciting happening. VII Division removed to our right to support I and II Divisions in offensive in co-operation with French. Raining slightly.

14.5.15

Same routine as yesterday small bombardments at intervals during day and night. nothing exciting on our immediate front. French & our 1st Army making splendid headway at CARENCY and SOUCHEZ. Raining.

15.5.15

Nine months today we left Dublin Bay. Short bombardment during night & day. Going at it hammer and tongs on our right. 1000 odd prisoners taken by French & 1at Army. Nice day.

16.5.15

Nothing doing today in our immediate front. Still going at it on our right - an incessant bombardment now for 24 hours - I wish they would stop for a few minutes to let us have 40 winks. A nice day.

17.5.15

Nothing during night but our left have not left off yet. 9.0am reported officially our I & VII Divns captured 450 prisoners. 4.0pm a lull on our right, first stop in 50 odd hours. Arrived Havre 9 months today. Our immediate front very quiet, although they sent a few searching rounds over this afternoon, but hit nothing. Raining. Official number of prisoners taken by VII Divn 546. General Gough has only just left us to take command of VII Divn - a good start for him.

18.5.15

Quiet night. Raining. Quiet day, only fired on house containing guns.

19.5.15

Two guns opened fire during night on trench mortar, located in German 1st Line. Raining. Quiet day. Another go at mortar during afternoon and believe put it out of action.

20.5.15

Nice day. Nothing doing so far 10am. Another go at trench mortars during afternoon. A little rain.

21.5.15

Quiet night. A card from Albert. Appears he was here a week ago. A quiet day. 10.0 pm big German counter-attack at NEUVE-CHAPELLE on our immediate right. We took no part. Like a firework display standing looking on. Heard today that Edgington had been killed.

22.5.15

Our right kept it going all night but quietened down about 5.0am. Nice day. Nothing doing immediately in front of us. 1.0pm just heard (another time) that Italy had started. 9 months today fired first round at Bray.

23.5.15

Stood to guns at 12am and fired 2 rds per gun. Nice day. nothing exciting, occassional rounds only.

24.5.15

At 11.30pm last night they started shelling us. Had to head for dug outs. Only lasted a few minutes. No casualties. A glorious day, but fairly quiet. Occassional bursts.

25.5.15

Quiet night & day so far. They shelled Battery on our right rear, and also near our Headquarters but left us alone.

26.5.15

Quiet day. Scottish Rifles shelled out of billets immediately in front of us. Apparently they were observed by German captive balloon over Aubers Ridge which has caused us a deal of trouble today. A brilliant day and every movement must be visible to observer in balloon.

27.5.15

Quiet day. Strong winds, favourable to us, and rather cold. Nothing doing. Heard today of another German gas attack at YPRES. They will have to be careful when we get the gas as the wind is generally more favourable to us.

28.5.15

Quiet day. Nothing doing in front, but both flanks are going it as hard as they can. A small German gun keeps throwing rounds this way and gets uncomfortably close at times. Battery on our right rear got found today.

29.5.15

A good deal of shooting during night. Nothing serious in front of us. Battery on our right rear again stopped it today.

30.5.15

Nothing doing. A glorious day. A few shells flying round but no casualties.

31.5.15

Quiet night, but on our right they are going at it again. Orders received to rejoin Cavalry Brigade at or near EBBLINGHEM. To withdraw from action after dark. Now 7.0pm and have got to start getting things together. Do not know what time we shift.

END OF DIARY

CITATION FOR MILITARY CROSS (London Gazette July 26th 1918)

LIEUT. ARTHUR CASTLE , R.F.A.

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He organised parties at the ammunition refilling point, and took over the corps ammunition dump, where he remained to supply retiring batteries, though under hostile fire, which was concentrated on the vicinity of the dump. Again he remained at the ammunition railhead after its evacuation by the railway personnel. On another occassion, being warned that the enemy were appraoching, he stayed to destroy all records, and only left when the railhead was between our infantry and the enemy. His perseverance, steadfast demeanour and courage were a fine example."