Heavy shelling on our left + Right at 4:30 PM. We send over some trench Mortars, the Huns retaliate + send showers of all sorts. Am 20 feet away when they burst they seem to lift up the place where I am in + shake it. Am outside bombers quarters, the objective of the Huns. The concussion is awful + creates headache. A large lump of debris hits me in back. At about 7 PM Private J. Kelly is killed & the following injured by explosion of bomb accidentally. Private O’Keefe (working party) MacCormick, [Poppy?] + Hanlin.
Archives for January 2016
Blankets rolled in bundle of ten and preparation made to go into trenches tonight. Left Dranoutre 4:45 PM for trenches arr. 6:30. Take over D3 + D4. Night passed quiet except for sniping
Sergt Landells is wounded in leg by bullet discharged by a 42nd Battn Canadian whilst in trenches. General Macdonnell visits trenches.
In tents. Go to bath house + have bath. Some get clean change of underwear.
Mail arrives in great quantity Aunt Louise + Wagstaffe send parcels.
To headquarters at 8 am then on to the trenches. Sniped all the way by Hun snipers. Cutting hair up till 2 PM in the front line trenches. To RE farm about to enter when Huns open fire with Shells. Drop into nearest hole & see the damage done. They burst only 100 yards from me + I take — [photo] of them. Get to farm without mishap. On return, get usual sniping arrive 4 Co at 5 PM. Company moves to Dranoutre for 4 days rest. Arr. Dranoutre at 7: 45 PM. David Yound & Walter Dunham arr: back from leave
*Dranoutre – A city in Belgium close to the French border that was occupied by Allied troops from the beginning of the war. It was taken by the Germans in April of 1918 but was quickly recaptured in August of that same year. It is now the site of 458 Commonwealth graves as well as one German war grave.
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
To Hd. Qrt in morning & shaved Sgt MacCord. Heavy shelling on both sides. To no 2 Coy in the trenches. We (PP’s) using Rifle grenades. Huns retaliate by using same + shells of High Explosives. Am lucky again a shell bursts in Communication trench just as I am going through. Splinters & fragments fly all around. Our Lyddite shells blow up sections of German trench & a Hun is seen in the air with it. The firing line is a series of dug outs & fairly comfortable save for the mud.
* Lyddite shells- British explosive shells filled with the compound lyddite. Invented in 1896, they were the first ever British High Explosive shell. Lyddite is a picric acid that is allowed to solidify so that it is easily detonated. After the shell hit its target the Lyddite explodes, sending fragments of the shell and shrapnel in all directions.
Up at 7:15 am + to Brigade Hd Qrs. saw Wallach. Afterwards to Battn Hd Qrs passed 3 lonely graves + Farm house partly demolished.
Arrived Head Qrs…Hardly there when Germans shelled the place where I had just left. The Farm house was demolished + the ground all torn up around it. I had been extremely Lucky. Would have been killed had I stayed a little bit longer. 5 men of Scots Regt. were in the farm but all escaped injury. When bombardment ceased I go over to see damage done — Very extensive!! The telephone + telegraph wires were cut so I repair them + back to Tea farm.
German shelling all around us after dinner I go explain to Hd Qrs then on to no 3 Co who are in supports to 1+2 Co’s Our Battalion are raining shells on to Huns. As I leave No 3 Co 4 shells burst where I had been + as I stood dazed in the field the fragments of shell fell all round me. The luckiest individual alive¬ as every second I expected to feel a puncture or to be knocked out cold. Arrived back from trenches as a series of Trench Mortar bombs come over from the Huns.
Lonely graves are all over the country with small crosses at head. All particulars are inscribed on zinc plates tacked to cross. One Grave is in a ditch with running water to an unknown soldier. Other by garbage pile, manure heaps. Inside farm yard & just outside some being dug up – deserted on firing line etc.
*Field telephones – During opening of World War One wireless sets were too large to carry into combat so it was necessary to lay down telephone communication wires. Artillery barrages would often cut the lines and they would need to be quickly repaired. Repairing the wires could be a very dangerous job. The Royal Engineers Signal Service who took on this task had casualty rates up to 50 percent during major offensives. As an alternative, runners could be used to relay reports back to headquarters but the time it took the runners to get from place to place often made the messages useless. Though wired communications were mainly relied on, wireless technology continued to develop though the war. Eventually wireless technology became much more practical for battle and nearing the end of the war wireless devices became small enough to take into the trenches easily.
To Bn Head qtrs. to see Sergeant Major re disposition re barber. Nos. 1+2 Co’s go to Trenches tonight at 5 PM with 3+4 in support. We leave 5:45 PM for Tea Farm near Wulverghem. Carry one blanket in our packs with overcoats on. It’s raining hard all night. The whole Co. enter the barn – 15 + 16 Platoon in one barn.