It rains all day most unmercifully absolute wretchedness prevails. Colonel Buller lines up the troops & praises them for good work done at Hooge & Ypres Salient expect Huns to break thru at St Eloi.
Drizzly rain in morning. I go sniping with Private Mackenzie & bag 4 Huns, they retaliate when they find me & give me a few close calls. Pte. Colville wounded in hand by snipers & Corp. Milne killed (shot through head). My waterproof is pierced by bullets from snipers. We put up dummie head (turnip) & Huns land shots through. We locate sniper & my hun goes with 6 inch shell. I fire elephant gun with telescopic sight. Leave trenches at 4 PM with advanced party to Locre. Griggs goes on leave.
*Elephant Gun – A large Caliber rifle originally used by big game hunters to kill elephants. During WWI both English and Germans used elephant guns to defend their trenches. The English found them very efficient as a countermeasure against German snipers who would often use large plates of steel as cover. The elephant guns were able to penetrate the steel, killing or incapacitating the sniper in hiding. Elephant guns could also be used as anti-tank weapons as they were often able to penetrate lightly armored tanks.
Heavy artillery duel in morning. Scores of aeroplane battles take place. Huns failed in their invasion.
2nd MacGill bunch go on leave while old Pats have to take back seat – rotten!! numerous protests. CQMS [Company Quarter Master Sergeant] Beaton goes on leave. Shells fall all around us but none strike. I walk to Kemmel & Lindenhoek & back.
Early this morning the Huns take a few trenches from the British troops near Ypres. Our artillery pound the devil out of the Huns making hellish roar and din. We retake trenches. Aeroplane fights numerous all day.
Up at 5:30 AM, breakfast 7:30. Company works in trenches. I make wind vanes for gas alarms. General Macdonnel, Col Buller, Major A. Gault make tour of the trenches. 2 PM to Battalion HQ. Transport back into trenches. 2:30 PM lively artillery duel goes on.
About 5 PM Huns give us hellish rapid artillery fire, Griggs gets nasty wound in hand, I bandage up, bled very much. Lance Corporal Lightbody and Private Blair go on leave.
* Lt Col H.C. Buller – Colonel Buller took command of the regiment after the death of Colonel Farquhar. He was injured during the Second Battle of Ypres and lost an eye but did return to command the regiment in 1916. Buller was killed in the Battle of Mount Sorrel on June 2nd 1916.
The General passes up the trench at 10:30 after a severe bombardment. The Huns again bombard in afternoon doing consid. dam. to dugouts + trenches. In fixing up a trench we dig up a dead German with belt + bayonet on. Hair off skull
Cold, damp, then frosty night
Sallied out of supports to Bde Hd Qtr. Returned after making purchases for the boys. Out again at 1 PM to the trenches across the field about 100 yards and outside a couple of shrapnel burst overhead, bullets flew all round I hurried on but 30 yards behind me a high explosive burst right on the path I had previously trodden. Stuck close to [hedge?] as I pass a gateway two rifle shots strike thru trees one at the roots + other at 5 ft up. I lay on ground flat as if dead for 15 min then up & on again. Gone about 200 yards when Huns open up a battery gun on our Headquarters. For 20 minutes they send over high explosives shells. One enters door of barn and bursts inside just after 3 men had made their escape. I took cover in a shell hole & waited. Afterwards I ran over an open piece of ground which was being swept by machine gun fire by Huns. Reach the trenches puffed out. As I rest a while the Huns absolutely pepper us with shells knocking our parapets to bits in places. Strangely enough only one casualty Lieut M Newcombe struck in the neck by Rifle grenade from Hun trenches seriously wounded. After cutting a few heads of No Co I depart. With exception of a few more shells + sniping the return journey was done in safety. Afterwards to Hd Qrs at 6 PM with Corpl Griggs
McLean of No 2 Co. dies of Wounds
Fair later Rain. Went to Neuve Eglise & took photos. Then on to Wulverghem & ditto. Met old friend William Borrie of Canadian Engineers & of Vancouver. Great reception. Heavy shelling by us the Boshes reply feebly. I see many men being brought out of trenches on stretchers. Boches using Rifle grenades & Trench Mortars. Back to RE’s [Royal Engineers?] dugout & take — [blanks here may mean ‘photo’] of Will Borrie & Chums. To Neuve Eglise & take —[photos?] Back to billets at 1 PM. Cut hair. Huns viciously bombard trenches at night with rifle & hand grenades.
Left Thieushouck at 11am for Godewaersvelde. Here I had boots re-paired by a Veteran of 1870 who showed me his medal. Left Godewaersvelde for Eglise at 12 noon. One Kilometer outside Eglise I got into a motor lorry & travelled the 5 Kilometres into Poperinghe arr 2 PM. The town which I entered by way of Cassel Street or Rue de Cassel was bombarded last week & the evidence of such can be seen.
Market square is deserted by carts of any kind. The Huns centered their attack on this square. Bought souvenirs had dinner (2 eggs & chipped potatoes with Coffee) + departed. Walked by same route back to Thieushouck. In billets at 5:30 PM. The weather was very stormy a howling wind blowing on into Poperinghe. There were no Canadians at La Hewplace
* Godewaersvelde – A village nearing the Belgian border half way in-between Poperinghe and Hazebrouck. Today it is the sight of a military cemetery whose first burials were later in the war, around 1917.
*Franco-Prussian War – Also known as the war of 1870, this was a conflict between the French Empire and the North German confederation, led by the Kingdom of Prussia. The outcome of German success was the collapse of the French Empire and the German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. The conflict was also successful in uniting the German states under Prussian King Wilhelm I. The political ramifications and changes in power balances after the Franco-Prussian War helped in part to cause the First World War.
Score of aeroplane flights. About 15 aeroplanes make a raid over Messine and Menen. They are heavily shelled by the Huns. I go to 5th Field Ambulance for operation on my finger. Sent there by our own Officer (Medical). I faint twice during the operation. The splinter is then taken out.
Later, I return to camp, pay to Captain Barclay 4 Francs. In afternoon go for a walk to Kemmel as I am feeling restless after the operation. Cross fields, dykes, and hedges, very muddy. Outskirts of Kemmel is [pitted] with large shell holes. Huns busy shelling us. Anywhere is safe so what’s the difference. The trenches around Kemmel are named after Vancouver and its Streets, Winnipeg and its streets.
The village is badly shelled and majority of houses and shops in ruins. Strange enough the church has only been struck once in the tower but churchyard is torn up by shells and lots of graves have been blown up. Crosses and monuments scattered. I return to camp same way.
Huns drop few shells in La Clytte killing two civilians and wounding two of our transport men seriously. I was only at La Clytte a few hours before having my wound dressed. The rats torment us at night.
* Mont Kemmel – A large hill hear near the municipality of Heuvella in West Flanders. It was an important battle site during the war held by the Allies during most of WWI but taken by the Germans in mid-1918 during the battle of Lys. However it was quickly recaptured in September of that year. The hill was extremely battered by shells during the war.