Frank West's Diary 1915-1916


transcribed and annotated by Evelyn and Christopher Wilcock

[up to April was in UK]

a note at the front says "Robbie buried opposite a cellar used as HQ by 1st Leinster's at St Eloi, N. of Armentieres about March 14th. [Robert Bowen Colthurst, his brother in law]

January 1915

Fri 1st January.  Began this year at Great Baddow Essex

Saturday 2nd.  Went to Whitton to see rifle grenades.  Gen. Heath commended the Div.

Sun 3rd.  Church.

Mon 4th.  Received orders about practice on Salisbury plain.

Tues 5th.  Had a sham fight with Gloucester Inf. Bde [infantry brigade] under Daubeny.

Wed 6th.  Nothing much.

Thurs 7th.  Indented for boots for foreign service.

Fri 8th.  Agatha came for weekend.

Horses inspected by McMunn who was pleased.

Saturday night.  Inspected fancy painted gun.  Too dark.

Sunday 10th.  Church and in the evening at Sandon when Bishop of Chelmsford preached about Elijah.

Mon 11th Court martial at Ingatestone.

Tues 12.  During this week got 4 Chargers, 10 L.D., 32 H.D.

[in overrun to Wed 13th.]   The latter good, the Chargers poor. [assuming this refers to mounts as follows: 4 officers’ riding horses, 10 light draft horses and 32 heavy draft horses]

Thurs 14th.  Rien.

Fri 15th.  Rien.

Saturday 16th. Started for Salisbury at 10:30 PM.

Sunday 17th.  Went to Salisbury plain.  Rollestone camp, now all huts.

Mon 18th.  4th battery shot 50 rounds, a good shoot with an aeroplane, laying poor.

Tuesday 19th 5th battery shot 50 rounds.  Laying poor.

Where Tues 20th.  Return to Great Baddow in red car with Wylie[1].

Thurs 21st.  Rien.

Fri 22nd.  Rien.  Snowed all day.

Sat 23rd.  Went home to make Brodribb a Mason.

Sunday 24th.  At home.  Tried to enlist Hughes.  But failed.

Mon 25th.  Back at Great Baddow, started laying classes, and

Tuesday 26 [filling next three days] drill orders on Galleywood with targets visible, to try and improve the shooting, which seemed poor . . down at Salisbury.

Thurs 28.  [Cont'd] started to apply ginger to 5th battery about this date.

Fri 29.  Rien.

Saturday 30th.  Dance at Vineyards.

Sunday 31st.  Clothing inspection, very little wanted to complete.

February 1915.

Mon 1st February.  Rien.

Tuesday 2nd.  Route March, trotted about four miles.

Wed. 3rd.  Gen Butler made remarks about harness.

Thurs 4th.  Cleaned harness, got 30 horses condemned.

Fri 5th.  Inspection of Div, marching, by Sir Ian Hamilton.

Saturday 6th.  Inspected harness, stripped,  went home.

Sunday 7th.  Found all well and 2 K. O. S. B. officers billetted.  Also 12 horses.[King’s Own Scottish Borderers]

Mon 8th.  Return.  C. Fowler went to France on attachment.[2]

Tuesday night.  Div. Art[illery] route March.  Mem.  Needs more of it.

Wed 10th.  Rien.

Thurs 11.  Drill at Maxalls began teaching aeroplane ranging and small target range.

Fri  12th.  Galleywood.  Foggy day.  Tried to see spodge coloured wagon.

Saturday 13th.  Lecture from Gen Heath on discipline.  Cousin Annie died. [Annie Appleby died 12th Feb]

Sunday 14th.  No parade service owing to meningitis.

Mon 15.  Lecture about observing with aeroplanes and L of Fire [Line of Fire] from maps.

Tuesdays 16th.  Buried cousin Annie.

Wed 17th.  Wet all day, lecture in evening.

Thurs 18th.  Went route March and met Gen Butler who gave a little scheme.

Fri 19th.  A sham fight for 5th battery round Lttle Baddow.  (Not very good)

Saturday 20th.  Gunn Park inspection by Gen Butler.

Sunday 21st.  Reconnoitred with officers round little Baddow.

Mon 22nd. Drilled at Danbury Common.  C. P. N. went to France.

First Tuesday 23rd.  Drilled beyond Little Baddow.  Went home, C. Fowler home from France.

Wed. 24th.  Interviewed three yeomen for commissions.  Bought a car for Agatha.[Agatha his wife]

Thurs 25th.  Inspected by Gen (Long)[?] Smith.

[The next six days Saturday 27th Feb 1915 - Thurs 4th March 1915 are blank in the diary]

March 1915 Fri 5th. Went home.

Saturday 6th..  At home.

Sunday 7th.  Came back to Baddow.

Mon 8th. Drilled at Danbury.

Tuesday 9th..  A billeting scheme at Purleigh.

Wed 10th.  C. P. N. returned from France with many stories.

Thurs 11th. [blank in text]

Fri 12.  Agatha came down.

Saturday 13th.  Went to ‘Odds and Ends’.

Sunday 14th.  Gave final indents before sailing.

Mon 15th. Bought new hat in London with Bill, also to Palace and saw ‘The Passing Show 1915’

Tuesday 16 [this is crossed through] Telephone cart arrived

Wed 17th [blank in MS]

Thurs 18th [this is crossed through] inspected all horses.

Fri 19th.  Inspection of horses by Major Hambro before sailing.

Saturday 20th.  Inspection of harness.  New harness arrived.

Sunday 21st. New harness.  Divisions struck off home lists of service and replaced by 2nd Div

Mon 22nd.  Fitted harness.

Tuesday 23rd.  New horses arrived, a poor lot on the whole.

Wed 24th [blank in MS]

Thurs 25th.  Continued packing etc all the week.

Fri 26 [blank]

Sat 27th [blank in MS]

Sunday 28th.  Inspected the brigade at Sandon before leaving Great Baddow.  Gun's painted funny

Mon 29.  Finish packing and entrained during the night.

Tuesdays 30th. .  reaching Southampton on this date and sailing during the evening on Munich[3] for . . .

Wednesday 31st.  . . Havre where we disembarked at leisure and went to a ‘Rest’ Camp reaching it at 6. 45

Thurs Apr 1st.  And leaving it at 5:15 AM entraining with 4th battery at Gare Maritime and travelling steadily till. . .

 Friday 2  April . . .when we detrained at Stenewerk. [on the A25 Dunkirk motorway just south of Ballieul] Reported to Gen Fox of 4th Div and was told to take over a position. Saw a German shell bursting about 1000 yds away.

Sat 3rd. went round half our line with a Major of North Mids. Saw Messines [in Belgium, due north of Armentieres] etc from Chateau la Hutte.

Sun 4th. - Mon 5th Went to le Geer with Col. Brock to see the other half of our line. Under fire for the first time, but being under cover did not mind rifle bullets going over. Mon 5th. Think I shall object to shell fire if too close, say 50 yds.

5th Battery moved into position.

Tues 6th. 5th battery opened fire effectively on La Douve. (a River south of Messines) 4th Battery moved in.

Wed 7th. 4th battery opened fire. Walked through Ploegsteert Wood with Davidson [Duncan Davidson, possibly who wrote a letter of condolence . Frank had left them a few minutes before he was killed. Davidson survived and wrote to Agatha again thanking her for the book 21 Dec 1921.] looking for positions. C.P.N. shelled.

Thurs 8th. Went to Nieppe for lecture on Courts Martial. Scouted for new observation stations

- Fri 9th. Round the Chateau and found one or two not too good. So built up the Chateau again.

Sat 10th. Had a little shoot at Messines myself.

Sun 11th service in the courtyard. Then went Amm. Col. [ammunition column] and out to La Guerre and arranged about building up a little house. Chateau shelled again.

Mon 12th. Went over to see Mark at La Bizee and saw the country from there.  Found on return that C.P.N. had had a fight owing to the Ger. Shelling trenches near La Douve. Infantry congratulated him on his support.

Tues 13th. A very quiet day. Picked violets among the 4th guns.

Wed 14th. Another quiet day except that Vallancy[4] got us into trouble by firing too much ammunition at a little house.

Thurs 15th. Went up to the Spy Hole with Leather[5]. And shot up The Potteries and Store House with success, bracketing and then hitting both. Saw Claude in the evening.

Fri 16th. Very quiet. Bullock came over near us. Had lunch with Warw. Inf Bde.

Sat 17th. Went and saw new 4th battery position near La Bizee. Got orders to move out to make room for 3rd. heavy rifle fire at night in North Mid. Area.

Sun 18th. Went to Le Gheer and fired at a chimney out of range. Wrongly registered. Moved back to near Nieppe.

Mon 19th did nothing till evening when I had to look for half Fowler’s battery mislaid by 4th Div. Found they had never been told to move.

Tues 20th. Went and watched Fowler start registering on the water tower Falingham

Wed 21st. Went to the follies at Armentieres

Thurs 22nd. Went to Bailleul to see the aeroplanes and to Le Gheer to show Pridmore[6] round.

Fri 23rd. with Leather shot a cottage near Bellheim.

Sat 24th. Had my hair cut in Armentieres.

Sun 25th. Went for a ride down the Lys tow path.

Mon 26th. Shot up Tilleul with Selby Lowndes.

Tues 27th. Went up the village street at Le Touquet to act as F.O.O. with Wylie. v. interesting, Germans 25 yards away.

Wed 28th. Had tea with Butler and talked about 40 lb shells etc.

Thurs 29th. Helped save the furniture of an old lady at Le Bizet whose house was fired by German shell.

Fri 30th. Washed all the horses on the HQ staff down by the Lys.

Sat May 1st. heard the cuckoo. Shot up the Brewery and fort wall at Frelingham with 4th and went on to 5th. Watched Germans shelling “stables” and Leather shelling La Douvre. And then went round trenches with Col. Stuart. A very interesting walk.

Sun 2nd. Inspected HQ harness and interviewed A.S.C. about shortage of supplies.

Mon 3rd. Went and saw supplies issued. Shot up trenches up Messines valley with Selby Lowndes. Then called on Col. Collet and went to St Yves.

Tues 4th. Shot at Trois Truees farm with Willie Anderson.

Wed 5th. Got orders about sending photos home. Heard R. Poulton[7] was killed so destroyed Dresden House as he was sniped from there.

Thursday 6th. Went over to 4th battery with Doctor, made remarks about latrines.

Friday 6th. Received orders about combined shoot. Visited Spy House and Le Lueer to see that [sic] we could observe. Selected new place in front trenches for Pridmore at Le Ghur,

Sat 8th. Went and called on both batteries and told E. K.S.[Saunders] his harness was dirty. Much trouble.

Sunday 9th. Made a demonstration all down the liner while the 8th Div fought. Saw all the Div. Art firing together for an hour, quite well done.

Mon 10th. Went over to 4th battery to see how they had got on. Got Bill back to teach cable laying.

Tues. 11th. Took Fowler up to Hill 63 to look at Frelingham from there. Butler sent home and Ross Johnson appointed C.R.A.

Wed 12th. Shot a corner of birdcage trench with Anderson.

Thurs 13th. Got orders to go back to work again and learn all the needs of our Div. For H.E. Shell. Got billets near the windmill at Plugstreet.

Fri 14th. Moved in to Chappel farm near Plugstreet

Sat 15th. Settled down and saw people around.

Sun 16th. Heard the fighting down near La Ràmé. All quiet here.

Mon.17th. Went with CPN [Cecil P.Nickalls] to look at position for GH2 lines. Had long talk with an observer.

Tues 18th. A wet day showed CPN a suggested new position.

Wed 19th. Another wet day, nothing doing.

Thurs 20th. A nice fine day. 5th Battery fired to register with an aeroplane.

Fri 21st. Fired to register S. corner of Birdcage with Bill Wylie.

Sat 22nd. Fired at trenches E of St Ives in morning with Anderson and at Avenue with SPN in afternoon. Went round Back Trenches with Seracole.

Sun 23rd. Was waked at 3.35 by battery fire 3 sec. By Kitch. Batteries. Played again at 12 to pretend an attack.

Mon 24th a lovely summer day. Did nothing except fire with aeroplane observer by wireless  and clock code.

Tues 25th. Fired again with aeroplane. Went and saw 4th battery. Had respirator parade.

Wed 26th. Fired again with aeroplane with 5th battery and walked south of Plugstreet Wood to see how much is visible of our country from the enemy.

Thurs 27th. A gusty day.

Fri 28th. Fired with aeroplane. 5th Battery. Billet shelled and one man ‘Dunbar’ killed. He was on guard and the shell hit the road a yard away.

Sat 29th. Buried Dunbar in front of billet. Grave shelled ½ hour after.[8]

Sun 30th. Went to Church at the Barn at Petit Pont. Fired with aeroplane wireless at Bde H.Q.          

Mon 31st. rode into Armentieres and ordered handkerchiefs for kiddies. Had aspirator parade at 4th Battery.

June 1915

Tuesday 1st June. Nothing much.

We 2nd. Went along subsidiary trenches in front of Chateau and called on Col. Stewart.

Thurs 3rd. went up Oxon trenches in front of St Yves, later shot at Snipers House with Pardmore.

Sat 5th. Shot up Dresden House. Mulliner[9] came and saw it. Got orders at 12 midnight about the mine at Birdcage. Issued orders and went up to Le Gheer. The mine was not fired till 10.20 a.m. when it put the front trench into the rear one. Opened fire and fired also on Communications Trenches. Ger. Replied violently. A working party of Ger. Returned almost at once and another good shell wiped them out. (this entry runs over into Sun 6th.)

Mon 7th. Went round subsidiary trenches with Doctor.

Tues 8th. Shot at La Basse Ville with Bill. A very hot day. 82° in a shady room.

Wed 9th [ blank in text]

Thurs 10th. Ger. Blew up mine at Le Gheer. Went to Bailleul to see dentist and attended gas demonstration. In vide [?] Person being gassed. [he means he was gassed at the dentist] Called on Browne.[10] and Saunders.

Fri 11th. Went round telling people about being gassed. Had green peas and strawberries for dinner.

Sat 12th. Went to Nieppe and saw aeroplane photos. Shot Rt x at Tilleul with little success.

Sun 13th.  Ger. Exploded a mine at Le Touquet. Shot at Messines road barrier in evening, destroying same.

Mon 14th. Waked at 2.15 a.m. by Ger. Mine at Birdcage another failure. Went all round Le Gheer[?] trenches with Pridmore and to see the crater.

Tues 15th.walked round the St Yves trenches to look at a house between the two lines too close to shoot at.

Wed 16th. Went to Bailleul and got a tooth stopped. Shot Bellheim in evening. Took S.M. Taylor up to the trenches on Hill 63 climbed to the top of the Château again.

Thurs 17th . a quiet day. Buried much telephone wire.

Fri 18th. A quiet day. Walked up to Le Gheer but did not shoot.

Sat 19th. Cecil[11] went home on leave. Saw Pridmore about Longbarn Farm and Duriez Farm. A Masin was turned on Le Gheer.

Sund 20th. Got 4th Battery back. Shot at Storehouse with 5th Battery with Edgar Saunders.

Mon 21st. registered lines with 4th Battery and had a shoot at forward Bastion not too good. But set fire to Ger. Trench for 20 min.

Tues 22nd. Rode into Armentieres and registered new sight lines with 5th battery.

Wed 28th. Received orders about moving.

Thurs 24th. Canadian officers came to take over. Had a last hate at Dresden House.

Fri 25th. Went to Armentieres again. a thunder storm in afternoon.

Sat 26th. Shot Douvre trenches and La Gheer barricade for a final hate. Marched to W. of Bailleul 9-p.m. to 2a.m.

Sun 27th. A nice quiet day at a big farm. Went on to Vieux Berquien 8.0 - 11 p.m.. Marching improving but slow.

Mon 28th. Vieux Berquin quaint little one street town. Stayed with Maire. Went on to Robecq 6.15 to 11. Marching quite good and harness clean after rain.

Tues 29th. A very pleasant day in the country at a large farm. Trees grass and water. Went on at 7 p.m. to 10.30 to Ferfay, inspected on the way by C.A.A. who was very pleased.

Wed 30th. A very peaceful day. Went up a coal bank to see a view of all the Northern Plain  up to Kemmel.

July 1915

Thurs 1st. July Rested, and then rode to Bethune. A good ride through Bois des Dames.

Fri 2nd. Rested

Sat 3rd. Had a drill order in field hear Ferfay. In evening went for ride with Bill.

Sun 4th. Kit inspection. Sutton (of A col.) shot himself. [ammunition col.][12]

Mon 5th. Reconnoitred Bois de la Marequet and neighbourhood for a night attack (manoeuvres)

Tues 6th. Went for  ride in Bois de Bailleul. Took part in night manoeuvres with 144th Inf, Bde.

Wed 7th. Slept in morning. Went and had swim in Fillers in afternoon. Was told Kitchener was going to inspect.

Thurs 8th. K. only inspected infantry. Had short route march. Had conference about second and third line defences of South part of our line by Neux les Mines.

Fri 9th. Motored to Vermelles and neighbourhood to see front line. Saw it from La Basse to Loos. Vermelles is in ruins completely. [he enters Sat 10 a page later and his entries then continue in the wrong slots up to Wed 14th.]

Sat 10th [out of order] Had a staff ride with Fanshawe and Nicholson. F’s idea is to use artillery in advance guard to send shell as reinforcement for scouts if attacked.

Sun 11th . motored to Neuz les Mines and walked to Mazingarbe [?] to scout for positions for 2nd line.

Mon 12th. Got orders about relieving the 2nd Londoners. Motored to Neuz les Mines again and went round gun positions at Les Brebis. Spent the night in a miner’s cottage there. Batteries marched there but at midnight

Tues 13th. Got orders to go back to Ferfay as the exchange was cancelled. Rode in myself starting about 10 not having had the orders in the night.

Wed 14th. Applied for leave. Saw Indians and French playing football. Neither understanding each other’s language.

Thurs 15th. Leave stopped. Took out Bge and battery staffs into hills for a drill.

Fri 16th. Again a skeleton drill.

Sat 17th. A cold wet day. Did nothing but got orders to entrain at Lilliers on Monday.

Sun 18th. A quiet day, good weather returning.

Mon 19th. Went by train Mondicourt about 25 miles north of Amiens a slow journey but horses went in easily.

Tues 20th. Reached Thievres and billeted in a nice farm. Good water for the horses. Then Chez Cailly.

Wed 21st. Moved on to the next village Authie and slept out making a bivouac in a small orchard.

Thurs 22nd. Went to Bus to interview a French General of artillery with R.J. [not in Pridmore’s diary, so might not be him] the former explained the laws of this part of the front.

Fri 23rd. went up to Hebutern[e] to choose gun positions with the two Cecils. Met French officers who took us round and showed us the observation stations.

Sat 24th took digging parties up to Hebuterne to prepare gun pits. Also secured billets in rather a nice house.

Sun 25th. Rested.

Mon 26th. Went up to Hebuterne in the evening.

Tues 27th. Started registering with 4th Battery. Not allowed to do so with 5th.

Wed 28th. Continued registering and walking round trenches looking for observation posts.

Thurs 29th. Went down to front trenches captured by the French from the Germans in June.

Fri 30th. Registered German trenches opposite these and a wood for night lines.

Sat 31st. went for walk along top of ridge looking for observation post for myself. Got news of leave.

August 1915

 

Aug 1st. started on leave by motoring to Amiens thence train to Boulogne and home by the “onward.”

Mon 2nd. To London in a Pullman car and on by the Newspaper train arriving home at 8.00 a.m. and finding all well.

Tues 3rd. went to dentist

Wed 4th. Went Leeds and saw Uncle William and Michael and went over Leeds forge.

Thurs 5th. Went down to Rainsbrook to see the horses.

Fri 6th. Drove over to Malvern to see Ettie, also had dinner at Stratford with Hester.

Sat 7th. Finished with dentist.

Sun 8th. Returned to France by “Victoria” a good voyage leaving Victoria 5.40 p.m.

Mon 9th. And coming back by train, motor bus and horse to find all well but a big thunderstorm in the evening flooded all the trenches.

Tues 10th. Arranged about horse lines for the winter, if here.

Wed 11th. Went along to the Southern observation station which had been well built up.

Thus 12th. Watched C.P.N. knock out a machine gun emplacement with success.

Fri 13th. Rode down to Thievres to call on M.Cailly and get some honey.

Sat 14th. Selected 2 gun positions and not allowed to use either. Chose observation post for 4th battery.

Sun 15th got leave for gun positions and started digging.

Mon 16th. Shelled Serre Beehive without success owing to wrong orders going on telephone. (iv) [reference in mss, but not understood]

Tues 17th. Shelled front trenches near farm S.Nom and Serre Beehive.

Wed 18th. Went down to Gloucester listening post but could not see from there (near Gommecourt Wood). Got shelled near French heavy observation post.

Thurs 19th. Rode down to wagon lines. Watched 4th battery firing.

Fri 20th. Shot into Gommecourt in the evening. In return for kind attention.

Sat 21st. Shot with Stamps and Motram at Serre House. Guns fell short after hitting.

Sun 22nd. Fired with 5th battery at Sunk Road Fort. Resulting in 6 stretchers going there from.

Mon 23rd . very quiet.

Tues 24th. Rode down to Thievres.

Wed 25th. Nothing doing.

Thurs 26th. Still nothing.

Fri 27th. And continued to do it.

Sat 28th. Henderson and other Labour people came down and went round trenches. When they would put their heads up they saw Farm S. Nom being shelled.

Sun 29th. Bassett joined us.

Mon. 30th. Nothing doing.

Tues. 31st. Remaining 2 guns of 4th battery came into position on sunken road.

 

September 1915

Wed 1st Sept. 4th Battery fired at La Louviere from new position.

Thurs 2nd. And went on registering

Fri 3rd. 5th Battery got orders about digging new gun position further north.

Sat 4th. And started to dig.

Sun 5th. Got leave at last to open fire with other section of 5th battery. Walked round Fonquevillers.

Mon 6th. And shelled Gommecourt Wood.

Tues 7th. Beat the observation balloon by starting to fire at 6.30 a.m.

Wed 8th. Drove the newly sprung doctors cart into Pas[?] to buy wine

Thurs 9th. Went down  and watched bopth Batteries doing driving drill. Mem. To send Adj. Down daily to teach. Bill went on leave.

Fri 10th. Nothing doing.

Sat 11th. Went over to Achieux and saw 4th Div playing polo. Played with a Minenwerfer in Gommecourt Wood.

Sunday 12th. Nothing doing except that leave is stopped.

Mon 13th. Got orders to register Serre front from road pits.

Tues 14th. And did so early in the morning.

Wed15th. Hebuterne got slightly shelled. So Gommecourt was.

Thurs 16th. Rode down to Thievres to see Browne and took tea with him.

Fri 17th. Was to have shot with aeroplane, but it did not fly, so shot Gommecourt Wood instead.

Sat 18th. Shot a battery with aeroplane but only two shots. Rode over to Bus.

Sun 19th.went round 2nd and Corps line positions with Bowles. Tea at Bus and service at H. Quarters.

Mon 20th. Showed 2nd line to the two Majors.

Tues 21st. got forward orders about a possible fight.

[Wed 22 is crossed out and the space used for Thurs 23.]

Thurs 23rd. started bombardment at 5 points , to (100 rounds) knock down strong places in trenches and at Gommecourt village. [cont in space for Thurs] Shelled all villages and back trenches with all guns How and field firing at once. Bosch replied a few hours later.

Fri 24th. Fired 110 rounds with good effect at three trench forts, La Louviere, Rattenoy Farm and Gommecourt.

Sat 25th. A pouring wet day. Continued bombarding firing 150 rounds. Heard the news of a good advance by 1st Army.

Sun 26th. Fired 80 rounds, 20 with an aeroplane very slowly, the rest at trenches, with great success.

Mon 27th. Kept perfectly quiet.

Tues 28th. Ditto. Heard that the French had broken through in Champaigne.

Wed 29th. No firing, went down trenches with Fowler to see pt 301 and got very heavily shelled on way home. In afternoon went along the Ridge to look out.

Thurs. 30th. Kidd[13] went to 1st Division. Appointed Leather as acting Adj.

October 1915

Fri 1st. started digging 2nd line positions for both batteries.

Sat 2nd. Nothing special

Sun 3rd. drove down to Thievres and round Pas in the new trap with Doctor.

Mon 4th. Had a game of fives in school room next door.

Tues 5th. A wet day.

Wed 6th. Selected retiring positions for both Batteries.

Thurs 7th. Which failed to please R.J. but are the only possible ones.

Fri 8th. Nothing.

Sat 9th. Got fired at by Minnewerfer from Gommecourt and replied.

Sun 10th. Went to see damage done and generally round the Fonquevillers lines.

Mon 11th. Rode down to Thievres  and had tea with Browne.

Tues 12th. Had a small bombardment of enemies [sic] front line with 4th Battery.

Wed 13th. - Sat 16th [across whole spread] Mostly rested after this hard work. As it was foggy we could barely see the enemies lines.

Sun 17th. Nothing much except rode over to Bus and had tea at R.A.  HQ.

Mon 18th. Got bombarded by about 1000 5.9 shell and the wire cut by field guns. Replied with all guns as arranged for our own bombardment.

Tues 19th. Went down to trenches to see result of bombardment , mostly repaired.

Wed 20th. Rode round reserve pits with Leather and arranged about dug outs.

Thurs 21st. had to explain how we had iron girders meant for the mil. Fort. Registered with new 5th Battery kits further n[orth].

Fri 22nd. Rode over to see Gen. James and on from there to wagon lines seeing 5th Warwick sports on way (very dull).

Sat. 23rd. Had a good 40 round bombardment of trenches round pt. 301. Good shooting

Sun 24th. A dull day. Went all round gun pits.

Mon 25th and Tues 26th. Rained and rained.

Wed 27th. Went to see wagon lines which are a sea of mud.

Thurs 28th. Went up to Auerstadt for a look round and to 5th Battery new pits to look at damage caused by rain.

Fri 29th. Had a combined bombardment of enemy trenches, they did not reply.

Sat 30th. Exchanged a few shots about the shelling of villages.

Sun 31st October. Shelled new trench down by 301 and those near F. Sans. Nom. With new 5th Battery section.

November 1915

Mon 1st. Nov. nothing special except a few shell exchanged in the villages.

Tues 2nd. The  Minnewerfer came back and was chased away again.

Wed 3rd. nothing.

Thurs 4th. And still nothing.

Fri 5th. Had a bombardment of usual points. Watched it from Auerstadt where Fowler was shooting. Ger replied  only a little along the ridge.

Sat 6th . Rained steadily.

Sunday 7th. Rode over to wagon lines to look how they did. On to Thieves [?] and by flying ground to Bus to try and get cover for wagon lines.

Mon 8th. Tried the new 40lb shell and found them good and accurate.

Tues 9th. Twins’ birthday. Fired 40 lb shell again at 5570 yards and find the range table fairly good.

Wed 10th. Watched J. Nickalls shooting at trenches near La Louviere. He shoots fairly well.

Thurs 11th. Nothing but rain.

Fri.12th. Rode down to the wagon lines. Found them very wet but the standings were firm. Half France was being scraped off the field.

Sat 13th. Took the Padre round flooded trenches. Moved 5th Battery guns back to old pits. Dined with Gen. Fanshawe.

Sun 14th. Fired about 80 rounds at Chemin Creux and point 301 and at trenches running to La Louviere doing a good deal of harm. Had service in evening.

Mon 15th. First snow of winter. Later rode down to wagon lines.

Tues 16th. Consulted with Leather and Hayes about mounting telescope and rifle together . Got Markey to try and make it.

Wed 17th. Started for home. Riding to Doulens , car to Amiens, train to Boulogne.

Thurs 18th. Onward to Folkstone and caught 8.45 home by 3 min. Reaching home about 11.

Fri 19th. [no entry]

Sat. 20th.[not entry].

Sun 21st. went to church.

Mon22nd. [no entry]

Tues 23rd. went hunting at Clifton. A poor day.

Wed 24th. Went to Lond and saw Bric a Brac and Tonight’s the Night.

Thurs 25th.returned to France reaching Amiens.

Fri 26th.went back to Heb. [Hebuterne]. Finding Fowler’s battery at Archaves and 10th London instead with 4.5 Hows.

Sat 27th. Looked round and saw 10th London shoot.

Sun 28th. Rode down to wagon lines. Still in a mess but getting head cover.

Mon 29th. Continued registering with 10th. Moved two of them in instead of 5th Battery, left x.

Tues 30th. Registered with this new section round Gommecourt.

December 1915

Wed 1sr December. And again round point 863 and Bois Rossignol.

Thurs 2nd. Gen R.J. inspected 4th Battery who were dirty so that he was not pleased. Rode to Archaves to see them.

Fri 3rd. had a little hate against point 863 and north of Rossignol Wood. Went with engineer officer to see 5th Battery pits in the open which are damp.

Sat 4th. 10th London Battery was taken away and went leaving everything dirty.

Sun 5th. 4th Battery came back. Rode over to St Leger and on to Vauchelles to see them on the march.

Mon 6th. The Mini came back above Gommecourt.

Tues 7th. And fired again so that we fired 30 rounds at it before it would stop.

Wed 8th. Much shooting at 8th Warwicks Mini. At last got them to shoot back themselves, having interviewed James about them.

Thurs 9th. A wet day. Balfour came to tea and dinner and played bridge.

Fri 10th. The fourteenth day of rain at intervals. Went to Ch. La Haie to hear gas lecture. Had lunch with 7th. War. [Warwicks]

Sat 11th. Nothing.

Sun 12th, went with CPN to see Minnie. Got her to shoot, she put one five yards each side of us. Strafed her.

Mon 13th. Again had words with this vulgar lady.

Tues 14th. A foggy day with rain.

Wed 15th. Another Minnie started on the edge of Hebuterne and got answered.

Thurs 16th. Rode down to wagon lines to see about billets, as they were too crowded. Went to sunk road sap to look for Minnie.

Fri 17th. Rode down to wagon lines and met Fanshawe who was pleased. Strafed Gommecourt in afternoon.

Sat 18th. A foggy day.

Sun 19th. Shot up quarries round La Louviere with Vallency.

Mon 20th. A foggy day but shot down Louvieres valley with Fowler.

Tues 21st. pouring wet day, shot Gommecourt Cemetery with Pridmore[14] who did it very well.

Wed 22nd. Rode over to Bus with Bombardier Farren to see the General about a Commission for him.

Thurs 23rd. had a bombardment against 863 and watched an 8” shooting from Sonis. The Bosch replied quite a lot.

Fri 24th. Shot trenches round Farm sans Nom with Pridmore. Bosch answered with a Minenwerfer into Hebuterne.

Sat 25th. Shot 170 rounds at the Bosch as souvenirs. Had service in HQ.

Sun 26th.again knocked his trenches for him at 863 with J. Nickalls. Dined with R.J.

Mon 27th. Watched Pridmore shooting a sap outside Gommecourt Wood. Had a Bde [Brigade] dinner in evening.

Tues 28th. A nice quiet day. Four Bosch aeroplanes came over and were missed by Archie.

Wed 29th. The village was slightly shelled and Melisande wounded.

Thurs 30th. Had a pretty little shoot of all the Div Arty as a battle practice lifting from one line to another.

Fri 31st. Ended the year with a shoot at Minnenwerfer [sic] ending in an explosion in the wood.

In the notes at the end he lists his children’s birthdays

Mary May 16th

Ruth July 13th

Twins Nov 9th.

 


 

 

 

Frank West’s diary for 1916.                                                    

Full transcription starting opening of battle of the Somme July 1916 but later completed for all 1916.

January 1916

Saturday 1st.  Went over to Flying Ground at Marieux to see their practice range.

Sunday 2nd.  Put out a dummy section where we used to have guns.

Mon 3rd.  Went over to 5th battery pits in the plain, and hated bitterly.

Tuesday 4th.  Stayed in to nurse a rubbed leg.

Wed 5th.  Rode over to Bus [sic] to get Arnold a commission.  Arranged about getting new 4.5 guns.

Thurs 6th.  Drew new guns, complete with sights, having fought hard to get these, even to refusing the new guns without

Fri 7th.  Went and saw the new guns.  poured in the afternoon so that Corps Bombardment was postponed.

Saturday 8th.  Had a little bombardment both near Fonquevillers and opposite La Louviere, the heavies helping.

Sunday 9th January.  Went and saw all the harness and suggested cleaning it as a whole and not just if the driver likes.

Mon 10th.  Inspected and encouraged gun drill with the new toy.  Not so bad considering.

Tuesday 11th.  Got the other new guns in

Wed  12th. Fired them with fair success

Thurs 13th.  Had a bombardment with 5th battery, getting gunfire 15 secs.

Fri 14th.  Went over to Marieux to hear a lecture about the Administration at Loos Battle

went down trenches with a sapper to arrange about building observation station.

Saturday 15th examined Ger [?German] country for back wire.  A very clear day so I saw a lot.

Sunday 16th January.  Watched Anderson [Willie Anderson] and Withers shooting at Bois Rossignol and La Louviere.

Mon 17th.  Went over to army HQ to hear Budworth on the artillery at Loos

Tues 18th..General Nicholson to an observation station to watch 5”[?] shoot at Gommecourt Wood.

Wednesday 19th.  Disturbed during the night by Minniewerfer firing at Warwicks.

Thurs 20th.  Corporal Jesson shot in the head while walking in the village and buried.

ROBERT WESTON JESSON  DCM ,  Corporal 251, 5th Warwick Bty. 4th South Midland Bde., Royal Field Artillery  who died on Thursday 20 January 1916 . Age 21 . Son of James and Sarah Jane Barratt Jesson, of Spring House, East Langton, Market Harborough, Leicestershire. HEBUTERNE MILITARY CEMETERYPas de Calais, France 1N19

Fri 21st.  Little to note

Saturday 22nd.  And the same.

Sunday 23rd.  Had a match with 6th Gloucester's and got beaten 3-0.

Mon 24th.  8th Warwicks let the Germans in and lost a Lewis gun.

Tuesday 25th.  Went to Forceville to dentist, and Marieux for lecture by Col Tudor on Loos

Wednesday 26.  Went down trenches with Willie Anderson and shot at machine-gun in Gomm. Wood

Thurs 27th.  Uncle William's birthday is on January 30th

In Jan he notes Uncle William’s birthday is 30 Jan. cant decide who this might be.

Mark Field  took over command of 5th battery for a while. [Capt. Mark G. Field survived the war and wrote to Agatha West thanking her for the copy of her book 19 Dec 1921]

Fri 28.  Showed him the front and

Saturday 29th.  Watched him shoot a bit.  Made a great effort to raid Gommecourt Wood but it failed.  6th Gloucester's losing their way in the fog and the 5th Warwicks refusing to try.

Sunday 30th.  Rode down to wagon lines.

Monday 31st [left blank]

 

February 1916

Tuesday 1st February.  A small bombing party made Gommecourt Wood unpleasant.

Wednesday 2nd.  Walked round Fonquevillers with Bill and lunched with 7th Warwicks

Thurs 3rd.  Received orders that we were getting a third battery.

Fri 4th.  Had a small bombardment of little merit round points 862 and 863.

Saturday 5th  Rode over to Bienvillers in the morning to see the new battery 126D.  Their pits and sights were unclean.  In afternoon walked to Fonquevillers and saw 126C in first-class pits, wonderfully hidden.

Sunday 6th.  Rode down to wagon lines and on to Bus where I met General Ward  [H.D.O. Ward] who had just arrived.

Mon 7th  Took over D battery.  Went round trenches with Doctor and had a shoot on my own at  Trench Mortar.

Tues 8th.  Walked to Fonquevillers  with Pridmore and Bassett meaning to go on to Bienvillers (with General) but was thwarted. rode down to wagon lines to see D battery horses (thin)

Wed 9th. Rode over to Bienvillers.

Thursday 10th. Rode down to wagon lines and saw D battery horses. Very thin.

Friday 11th Took M. Field   [Mark Field ] over to Fonquevillers and appointed him O.C. D Battery.

Saturday 12th. Rode down to the wagon lines and tried Pat O’Keefe for absence.

Sunday 13th. Walked over to Fonquevillers with Doctor to see Mark.

Monday 14th. Rather a wet day. Had three small bombardments. Took Gen Ward round the home pits.

Tuesday 15th. Took Fowler round the new part of the line and saw all the O.P.s from Monchy to Fonquevillers   

Wednesday 16th. Was waked up by a Ger bombardment and raid on Fonquevillers, when they captured some Worcesters.

Thursday 17th. Tried the little shoot gun which is nearly right for show.

Friday 18th. Walked over to Fonque [villers] and lunched with Mark. Also saw 7th Warwicks

Saturday 19th. Went to a conference at Sailly and had tea there. Had a little bombardment on Serre front both ways.

Sunday 20th to Saturday 26th . [Entry continues over the whole week] Went in the motor to Deauval and stayed there having an instructive and interesting conference going to see bombing school and having lectures on aircraft  Maps and the 3rd Army Infantry School as well as Artillery subjects till I returned to Hebuterne and found it white and cold with Snow.

Sunday 27th. Went round all gun pits and found all well.

Monday 28th. Still got a bad cold just pottered around.

Tuesday 29th. Walked over to Fonquevillers and saw 5th Warwicks.

March 1916

Wednesday 1st March. Put a boiler in to Trench otter (?alter) to act as a conning tower. Got orders about taking over the Serre front and being 10th Corps 4th Army. 

Thursday 2nd. Went over to Mailly Mailly to take over a section position for 4th battery.  Also moved D from Bienvillers to 5th Batty plain pits.

Friday 3rd.  Went to Fonquevillers and lunched with Mark and saw observation station.  Also called on 7th Warwicks

Saturday 4th.  Stayed in all day to try and get rid of my cold.

Sunday 5th.  Had service in the Cellar.  Went over to Colincamps to see Gen. Nicholson who said he was glad to get back to our artillery.

Mon 6 th. Saw Gen Dove about strong points opposite.

Tues 7th.  Walked over to Colincamps and saw Rawlinson cdg [commanding] 4th Army.  Saw M. Field about alternative pits and rode to Bus to see Ward.

[Rawlinson was Commander of the whole army, several formations up in the hierarchy of command. i.e Frank West commanded an artillery brigade which was part of a division which formed part of a corps which in turn formed part of an army. CCW]

Wednesday 8th.  Got orders about digging many new gun emplacements and took Gen Ward round my observation stations.

Thursday 9th.  And started same for all batteries, having heard the plan of campaign.

Fri 10th.  Reregistered the old road pits with 4.5.  Shooting farm sans nom Gommecourt cemetery.

Saturday 11th.  Went round all pits to see how digging was getting on and rode on to Colincamps.

Sunday 12th.  Walked out to Fonquevillers and in afternoon rode out with Ward to look at reserve positions.

Mon 13th.  Rode round with Leather [J.H. Leather wrote to Agatha after Frank died]shewing [sic] him reserve positions and choosing second line ones round Sailly.

Thurs 14th.  Again rode round scouting and went on to see Gen  James and had to tea with him.

Wednesday 15th.  Handed over the sniping machine to the Oxfords.

Thurs 16th.  Walked to Fonquevillers met the General there went round reserve positions with him and in afternoon rode down to wagon lines.

Fri 17th walked round all pits and arranged about a loophole for 5th battery O. P.

Saturday 18th went over to Chateau La Haye in evening to arrange about a stunt.

a disturbed night, Bosch [sic] tryin to raid the 6th GL [Gloucesters] in the valley below Serre, but they were rebuffed.

Sunday 19th.

Went over to meet Sladin of the fifth Warwicks and see Mark shoot some saps. [side trenches] In afternoon, to Colincamps to see General Nicholson.

Monday 28th.  Went round Fonquevillers with Col Innes in morning and over to CRA [?Commander Royal Artillery]  in afternoon.

Tuesday 21st took Gen Tancred CRA 8th  Corps all round the divisional front in morning and went over to see James in evening about his stunt.

Wednesday 22nd.  After a quiet day, shooting at Germans with the sniping machine the 8th Warwicks raided the Ger[man] trenches getting in N. of Gommecourt.  The fifth Warwicks s[outh] of bomb and the fifth Glouc[esters]  south of the sunk road failed.

Thursday 23rd.  walked round and saw all the infantry concerned in the stunt and round all the new gun pits.

C. P. N. went home or on "stale" leave.

Fri 24.  A snowy day,  walked round fifth battery pits and arranged about their building the new ones.

Saturday 25th.  Still Snow.  Stayed in all day, having been stuck with anti-typhoid

Sunday 26th.  Rode down to wagon lines and looked round D battery horses.

Mon 27th.  Rode down to wagon lines and looked round fifth battery horses and got rid of 24 of D battery.

Tuesday 28th.  Walked round pits to see how the work went.  Saw Gen Ward about three guns facing south.

Wednesday 29th.  Went to Amines by car and Boulogne by the night train.

Thursday 30th crossed to England and got home two hours late owing to all telegraph wires being  snowed down on the N Western [London and North Western Rlway]

Friday 31st.  All very well at home

April 1916

Saturday 1st April [blank]

Sunday 2nd April.  Went to church and in afternoon walked down to Ashwell's farm to see the keeping.

Mon 3rd.  Drove to Coventry to see about Joyce enlisting and back through Brinklow to see Atherstone hounds.

Tuesday the 4th.  Mother and Neddy came over and saw us.

Wednesday 5th.  Went up to London and saw Follow the Crowd at Empire and My lady fraile at Shaftesbury with Agatha

Thursday 6th. crossed to France, waiting at Boulogne for some hours.  Saw the Sussex and bought fish.

Fri 7th.  Arrived at Doulens [sic] about nine and rode out to St Leger and Hebuterne on Skibbereen.  Found one section 4th Btty out.

Saturday 8th.  Walked round gun pits and observation stations and found nothing fresh.

In afternoon: a conf. With Fanshawe when he told us what he had done in the beginning of the war.

Sunday 9th.  Shot up and destroyed machine gun in placement near target 38 and a little hut in [?]Rissis Wood.  Walked to Waterloo to look at Serre.

Mon 10th.  walked round the new trench which had been dug by the Oxfords during the night.  About 700 yards of it.

Tuesday 11th.  Went to fourth battery O. P. in Auerstadt and arranged about altering it.

Rode down to Coin for one of Fanshawe's lectures.

Wedensday 12th.  Walked over to Fonquevillers in the rain and saw also 8th and 6th Warwicks.

Thurs 13th.  Another lecture at Coin.

Fri 14th. walked down to Touvent farm, into and all round it.

Saturday 15th.  Fired to try and quell the constant firing at new trench.

Sunday 16th.  Rode over to Mailly Maillet[ sic] for dinner with 13th Y. and L (Barnesly) [sic]

Monday 17th.  Showed some of their officers round our trenches.

Tuesday 18th.  Walked over to Fonquevillers and in afternoon to Coin for another lecture.

Wednesday 19 [blank]

Thursday 20th.  Wet as

Fri 21st.  Wet could be.

Saturday 22nd.  went down to fifth battery OP [observation post] to see higher the outlook was.

[In the memory space]

Sunday

rode down to wagon lines and then to Coin to see divisional HQ horse show

Monday

An officers’ ride from Sailly to Coigneux [?]

[entries for Sunday 23rd and Mon 24 th are crossed through, presumably he filled them in on the wrong dates.]

Tuesday 25th.  Went over to Havernas to see the artillery school and dined with Benson in evening.

Wednesday 26th.  Another conference at St Leger.  Finished the battle.

Thurs 27th.  Went down to wagon line and saw fifth battery.

Fri 28.  Went to dentist at Souastre then on to Fonquevillers to see D battery and their new O. P. in corner of orchard.

Saturday 29th.  Rode down to wagon lines to see D battery try to drill.  Very bad.

Sunday 30th.  Rode down to wagon lines and lunched with Div. arty. [ Divisional Artillery]

May 1916

Mon 1st May.  Walked over to Fonquevillers.

Tuesday 2nd.  Had a pretty little bombardment of the point.

Wednesday 3rd.  Hebuterne was invaded by 56 division who come from London.

Thurs 4th. Put a gun into Earls Court with great success.

Fri 5th.  Shot at a white dugout with Selby Lowndes and then at trenches generally with shrapnel.

Saturday 6th.  Shewed  56th  division round their gun pits, got orders about resting.

Saturday's 7th.  Rode down to see Lyon about being relieved and then to wagon lines.

Mon 8th.  Went and saw Vallancey shooting various targets round Serre.

Tuesday 9th.  Walked over to Fonquevillers and arranged to hand over to Colville.

Wednesday 10th.  Ranged on Serres front with CPN and fifth battery.  Fourth battery and D battery came out of action.

Thurs 11th.  Took C. P. N. down to front trenches by Toutvent farm returned to St Leger.

Fri 12th. had some ranging with flags and riding school.

Saturday 13th wet all-day went for ride on John.

Sunday 14th.  Went to church parade and rode down to Thièvres.

Mon 15.  Lost the Am Col. [Brigade amunition column - was moved to Divisional Ammo Column under reorganisation. CCW.]

Tuesday 16th.  Mary's birthday.

Wednesday 17th.  Went up to Hebuterne to arrange about some more gun pits for Hows.

Thurs 18th.  Lost the old 4th Brigade at 10 AM and became the 243 Bde RFA with 3 18 pdr (pounder] battery. [sic]

Fri 19th saw B and C batteries drilling not to bad.

Saturday 20th.  Rode to Doullens to try and get some forges.

Sunday 21st.  Church parade.

Mon 22nd.  Drill.

Tuesday 23rd.  Drill

Wednesday 24.  Took officers for a map reading ride.  They needed it.

Thurs 25th.  Had conversation with general about new pits and positions in southern division  areas.

Fri 26. got up early (4 AM) to see Warwicks practice in attack.

Saturday 27th [blank in text]

Sunday 28.  Big church parade.  Went out withWard and Colville to Auchonvillers to see places for forward gun positions.

Mon 29th.  Drill.  Got bridges from 242 brigade.

Tuesday 30th.  Drove a battery over a bridge to test it.

Rode over to see General Pak.  C RA 29th division [Comanding Royal Artillery 29th Div] about positions etc at Acheux.

Wednesday 31st.  Rode over to Mesnil  and showed the BCs their new positions and OPs in the 29th division going round the front line trenches.

 

June 1916

Thurs 1st June.  Drill, some amusement by driving over the bridges

Fri 2nd.  Went over to Doullens having been up to Sailly to see Winford about taking over.

Saturday 3rd.  Saw the batteries being drilled by subalterns and in afternoon instructed in taking to pieces and fitting wheel harness.

Sunday 4th.  Took over to group at Sailly.  Saw the batteries fire for the first time.

Mon 5th.  walked down to Toutvent farm with Sutherland.  Rode over to Mesnil to see how to work went.  Good.

Tuesday 6th.  Arranged about giving support to Warwicks digging a new front trench.  Had Knox attached.

Wednesday 7th. went round gun pits in morning and evening to Papin Ridge.  Got orders about dumping ammunition.

Thurs 8th.  Took Knox round heavy Guns, 9. 2.  Eight inch and 60 pds. [pounds].

Friday 9th.  Went round gun pits in the morning with Lyon and in the evening round all OPs to make a report.

Saturday 10th.  Walked round OPs with Ward and Cossart very wet day.

Sunday 11th.  Walked to Hebuterne and saw Constantine shoot.  Rode to Mesnil with Selby Lowndes 

Mon 12th .  Walked round all gun pits with Gen. Ward.  Got orders to be relieved.

Thurs 13th.  Was relieved by Cossart and returned  to St Leger.

Wednesday 14th.  Walked round trenches in front of  Beaumont Hamel with Leather and then went and saw General Peake CRA  29th division.

Thurs 15th.  Took BCs [Battery Commanders] over to Mailly Maillet to see the roads into position of readiness and then to call on Monkhouse

Fri 16th.  Went out with the telephone cart for a ride.

Saturday's 17th.  Saw Basil Hallam at the curios.

Sunday 18th.  Went to church and to dinner with Browne .[G. Buckstone Browne]

Mon 19th.  Road to Doullens to buy collars.

Tuesday 20th.  Tried a rehearsal for the great day.

Wednesday 21st.  Repeated the same. Looked at a 75 battery which had come in. [75s were the French artillery, so he was loooking at a french gun.CCW.]

Thurs 22nd.  Went over to Auchonvillers to have a last quiet look at things.

Fri 23rd.  Road to Doullens and bought a stud and had my haircut.

Saturday 24 of Road over to Acheux and got orders.  U day.

Sunday 25th

[each day this week is marked to the left with a large capital letter running alphabetically V. W. X. Y. Z. Y2. Z2]

V rode round Thievres went to church went and watched the bombardment.

Mon 26th W. rode over to Acheux and arranged about wagon lines.

Tuesday 27th X. had a quiet day.

Wednesday 28. Y went to Bivouac behind Mailly Maillet ready to advance tomorrow but returned as the war was postponed.

Thurs 29th Z. at last turned fine.

Fri 30th. Y2  to went back to Mailly and bivouacked.

July 1916

Sat 1st.  July Z 2  Took the brigade out at 7.30 to a position of readiness behind Auchonvillers. Waited till 3.30 p.m. and returned to bivouac as the 29th Div was badly beaten and did not gain a yard. Watched a great German counter attack near Thiepval which ought to have been stopped. The Irish running hard.

Sunday 2nd . July Went as liaison officer with 145 Brigade for an attack on trenches just N. of the Ancre, but operations were cancelled at last moment.

Mond 3rd.  July. Returned to St Leger after watching a bombardment of trenches around Thiepval.

Tues 4th. Went up to inspect gun pits round Colincamps.

Wed 5th. Came into action again with my brigade and walked down to inf. Trenches. A great mess of dead about between lines and at back.

Thurs 6th. Went down to 6th Gloucester HQ ?{H2} for the night to see the barrage working.

Fri 7th.  Bombarded at intervals with 120 rounds a gun. A pouring wet day. Contalmaison reported taken.

Sat 8th. Bombarded on communication trenches all day. Went down front line to get a place for wire cutting.

Sun 9th. Went down to it and cut wire.

Mon 10th. Walked round Ops (observation posts) with General Ward. Went back to Courcelles to live in a little camp.

Tuesday 11th. Chose new position further back for C. Battery.

Wed 12th. and moved them to it. Curtain bombardments every day.

Thurs 13th. Ruth’s birthday. Spent the night in the trenches with 6th Gloucesters and saw smoke attack and gunning for attack on 2nd line.

Fri 14th. Went round gun positions and rode down to Coin to see General Ward about Cope. Went down trenches to see S.W.B.

Sat 15th. A quiet day. Went to 241 Brigade OP and registered C battery on Quadrilateral.

Sun 16th. Went down trenches to see infantry and on to the front to see if the German wire had been mended.

Mon 17th. Rode down to wagon line. Walked over to Hebuterne to look at old house, which had only got one shell.

Tues 18th. A very misty day. Watched Todd and Higgins doing a little shooting with the Doctor.

Wed 19th. Went down to Albert and round the trenches by Ovillers preparatory to taking over down there.

Thurs 20th. Brought the Brigade down and took over the command of Left Group, including my own brigade, Brown 240 and Fowler 240. [Frank’s brigade was 243]

Fri 21st. registered and examined the country round Ovillers and arranged to support an attack by 6th Gloucesters. Sat up all night with General Nickolson [?Nicholson] . . .

Sat 22nd [entry runs on] but attack failed. Out again early to arrange for another attack, but it was counter ordered, so went with the Doctor up Mash Valley to look for Ops.

Sun 23rd. walked up Pozieres Road to Dead Man’s Shell hole and to Ovillers to look out. Much shelling of Mash Valley.

Mon 24th. Went up to Ovillers to look at Ops. Got shelled by 5.9s, one of which wounded Barlow and killed Capt Stone, a very good officer.

Tues 25th. Went up Mash Valley to look for Gun Positions and on to watch Pozieres being shelled by Bosch [sic]. Buried Stone in Aveluy Cemetery. [ARTHUR EDWARD STONE  Captain "A" Bty. 243rd (1st/4th South Midland) Bde., Royal Field Artillery, who died on Monday 24 July 1916 . Age 38 . Son of the late Thomas Edward and Ellen Stone, of Bristol.]

Wed 26th. Put a battery of 240 Bgd up Mash Valley    close to German old 1st line. Went round Ovillers trenches with the Doctor and Col. Harman.

Thurs 27th. Registered with the forward battery and took General Ward round the Ovillers trenches.

Fri 28th. Handed over the group to Col. Hext of the 12th Div again and went to wagon lines.

Sat 29th . Marched to Amplier near Doullens early and had a bathe in the Auty river.

Sun 30th. Marched all day to Saint Ouen, a little factory town and camped in a large field full of trees near the river. A very hot day.

Mon 31st. a nice quiet day. Saw Guy Kidd marching through and gave him back Kathleen.

Tues 1 August. Went into Amiens and had a good dinner.

Wed 2nd. Inspected in camp by Gen. Ward who seemed satisfied. Got Vallancy as B.C. of A Battery.

Thurs 3rd  Had a driving drill before breakfast in the fog.

Fri 4th. Peaceful.

Sat 5th Took officers driving before breakfast.

Sun 6th Full church parade and 2nd service of about 170 men.

Mon 7th. Drove over to Abbeville in Padre’s trap. And bought a toothbrush. Took officers driving first.

Tuesday 8th.  Had battery drill orders.  A was good, C. was fair, B was bad.  Went and saw General about B., but he only warned Sutherland.

Wednesday 9th.  Marched back to Amplier from 9.30 to 5.  A very hot and dusty march.

Thurs 10th.  Went over to Aveluy with General Ward and Cossart [?] and walked up to Leipzig Redoubt.

Fri  11th. Rode into Doulens for lunch at the Bon Enfant.

Saturday 12th.  Marched to Bouzencourt and saw the king on the way.  Lay in the wagon lines

Sunday 30th.  Took over left group from Col. Hext and walked round the batteries and to Ovillers to see them shoot.

Mon 14th.  Assisted attack on Pt 62 which failed, after spending the afternoon at Ovillers seeing all batteries shoot.  145 Brigade took back skyline trench.

Tues 5th.  Again 4th Gloucester's failed to get pt 62.

Wed 16th.  A proper heavy artillery bombardment of the German trenches.  Preparing for an attack.

Thurs 17th.  Continued preparations and registered barrages.  Then moved guns to get a better angle of descent.

Fri 18.  Had a good battle with 143 brigade taking German trenches, 4 lines deep, 300 yards on a 600 yards front.  All Div Arty in my group. Took over 500 prisoners.

Saturday 19th.  A nice quiet day, registered Leipzig Salient.

Sunday 20th.  Had two battles.  Worcesters and 6th Gloucesters in morning attacking 31- 79, but being kept out by rifle fire.  So artillery had to keep on firing.  In afternoon 4th Gloucester attacked Leipzig Salient in great form and took two lines. 

Mon 21st. Went over the new trenches with Leather.  They were much cut up by the heavies. 

Tues 22nd.  Moved my Hd  Qurs back to near the left brigade after being nearly sent to the Rt brigade.

Wed. 23rd.  Bucks made an attack on 31 - 79 which failed owing to German barrage, which they mistook for our own.

Thurs 24th. Supported 25th Div in attack on Hindenburg Trench which they took well with one gone to 8 yards for barrage

Fri 25th. Helped repel a counter-attack on Hindenburg trench.  German firing very heavy.

Saturday 26 th. Registered for another attack which was postponed.  Went and saw the Inf. And spent the morning above Ovillers.

Sunday 27th.  Had a very good battle with 5th Gloucester and Berks taking German trench 33-50-79-91 Barrage worked very well.

Mon 28th.  Was relieved by Col Butters 112 Bde 25th Div and went back to Bouzencourt.  The batteries went into action near Mesnil.

Tues 29th. Rested completely at Bouzencourt.

Wednesday 30th.  Pouring wet day.  Rode over to see the batteries behind Mesnil.

Thurs 31st.  Went round wagon lines and rode toWarloy.

September 1916

Fri 1st Sept.  Went into Amiens, had lunch at Godbain [?blain].  Went round Cathedral and bought chaff cutter.

Saturday 2nd. Started chaffer at work.

Sunday 3rd.  Spoof attack on Thiepval failed utterly, being delivered in the dark.  Church parade in 240 wagon lines.

Mon 4th.  Went down and saw the batteries again.  They had been shelled and gassed.

Thurs 5th.  Enjoyed ill health.

Wednesday 6th.  Withdrew the personelle[sic] of the Batteries to wagon lines as they were constantly shelled for no purpose.

Thurs 7th.  Went to the Tykes [TYRES?] a 49th Troop at Hedonville.  Quite a good show.

Fri 8th. Got Ryan as B. C. of the battery instead of Sutherland gone to England wounded.

Saturday 9th.  Rode over to Aveluy to see the trench mortar people, who collect many strange weapons.

Sunday 10th.  Enjoyed ill health with the aid of the Doctor.

Mon the 11th.  Continued treatment and felt better for it.

Tuesday 12th .  Went to Ovillers again to look for O.P.s against Thiepval and laid wires to them.

Wednesday 30th.  Went up to Ovillers and got registered on Wonder Work and edge of Thiepval.

Thurs 14th.  Supported attack of 11th Div on Wonder Work which was successful.  Stayed the night at Mesnil.

Fri 15th. Rode back to Bouzencourt and stood by while a big attack was made.        At2.15 pm started for Albert with General Ward and after scouting for positions, got the Brigade into action about 6.40 to support attack of Canadians on Courcellette.

Saturday 16th.  Went up to trenches between Pozieres and Mouquet Farm.  And saw the new country.  Also registered under certain difficulties and sat out a 5.9. barrage in a very shallow trench.  In the evening supported an attack when Canadians took Mouquet Farm.

Sunday 17th.  Chose a position for C. P. N. and his Hows near Pozieres and went for a walk with Dr to 62.90 etc. and on to 91 79 05 to look for O.P. and saw well from 91

Mon 18th. Went with General Ward to Pozieres and its Windmill and on nearly to Courcelette. A very wet day.

Thurs 19th. September. Went to Pt. 91 with battery commanders and registered on trenches round Mouquet Farm. + Bill Wylie[15] and +Brown[e] killed and Vallancey badly wounded while at 240th brigade headquarters.

Wednesday 20th. Another wet day.  Moved HQ along to Usna [?] Redoubt into tents and huts.  Much more comfortable

 

Thurs. 21st.  Went with Selly Loundes [Selby Lowndes] to Leipzig Salient for another look at Mouquet Farm.

Fri 22nd.  Took Leather round above Mouquet Farm and onto Pozieres windmill, seeing an injured tanker on the way.  Also a very extensive view from Posieux round Bapaume to Morval.

Saturday 23rd. Went up Skyline trench with General Ward to look at the country and again with BCs to register the Zollern Redoubt.

Sunday 24th walk.  Walked up nearly to Mouquet Farm and to the front line there to try and get another view of the Zollern.

Mon 25th.  Went up Skyline and registered all the group on High Trench ready for the battle. 

There are no further entries but on the opposite page on Fri 29th he notes that its Agatha's birthday.  The entries in this diary seemed to have been recorded  every two, three or four days some in pencil others in ink.

The Chaplain who took Frank West’s funeral (cf diary of Pridmore and letter of condolence was H. Maude-Roxby, a temporary replacement for their regular Chaplain.

 



4th Battery, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13

5th Battery, 4, 6, 7, 12, 13

Achieux, 10

aeroplane, 1, 2, 6, 7, 10, 11

Agatha, 1, 19

Amiens, 8, 9, 13, 24, 25

Amm. Col. See Ammunition Column

ammunition column, 4

Annie, 2

Appleby, Annie, 2

Archaves, 13

Archie, 14

Armentieres, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7

Auerstadt, 12, 19

Authie, 8

Baddow. See Great Baddow

Bailleul, 4, 7, 8

Balfour, 13

balloon, 10

Bapaume, 26

Bassett, 10, 16

Battery, 3rd, 4, 17

Battery, 4th, 6

Battery, 4th., 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 17

Battery, 5th, 10

Battery, 5th., 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18

Bde H.Q, 6

Bellheim, 5, 7

Bienvillers, 16, 17

Bill, 5, 6, 8, 10, 16. See Wylie, Bill. See Wylie, Bill

Birdcage, 6, 7

Bois des Dames, 8

Bois Rossignol, 13, 15

Boulogne, 9, 13, 18, 19

Bowen Colthurst, Robert, 1

Bowles, 10

Brock, 4

Brodribb, 1

Browne, 10, 11, 26

Browne, Col. G. Buckstone, 7

Browne, G. Buckstone, 22

Bus, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17

Butler, 2, 5

camouflage, 1, 3

Canadian, 7

Cecil, 7

Champaigne, 11

Chemin Creux, 12

Chez Cailly, 8

Claude. See Mortinson, Claude

Clifton, 13, 26

Court martial, 1

Courts Martial, 4

Daubeny, 1

Davidson, Duncan, 4

dentist, 7, 9, 16, 20

Dewar, Michael, 9

Division, 2nd, 3

Doctor, 5, 7, 11, 16, 17, 23, 25

Doullens, 13, 19, 24

Dresden House, 5, 6, 7

Dunbar. See Dunbar, Leslie

DUNBAR, 6

Dunbar, Leslie, 6

Duriez Farm, 7

Ettie, 9

Falingham, 4

Fanshawe, 8, 12, 14, 19

Farm Sans Nom, 14

Farm Sans. Nom, 9, 12

Field, Capt. Mark G., 4, 16, 17, 18

Field, Capt. Mark G., 16

Field, Mark, 17

fives, 11

Fonquevillers, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

Fowler, 4, 5, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 23

Fowler, Major Cecil, 2

Fowler, Major Cecil, 2

Frelingham, 5

French, 8, 9, 11, 22

Galleywood, 1, 2

gas, 6, 7, 13

Gen R.J, 13

Gloucestershire Regiment, 1, 9, 16, 22, 24, 25

Gommecourt, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Great Baddow, 1, 3

Hambro, 3

harness, 2, 3, 5, 7, 15, 21

Havre, 3

Hayes, 12

Heath, 2

Heath, Gen., 1

Hebuterne, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23

Henderson, Arthur, 9

Hester, 9

High Trench, 26

Hill 63, 5, 7

horses, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 16, 18

Hughes, 1

Indians, 8

Ingatestone, 1

James, General, 12, 13, 15, 18

Kidd,, 11

Kidd, Guy, 24

King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 2

La Basse, 7, 8

La Basse Ville, 7

La Bizee, 4

La Douve, 4

La Gheer, 7

La Louviere, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15

Le Bizet, 5

le Geer, 4

Le Gheer, 4, 6, 7

Le Touquet, 5, 7

Leather, 4, 5, 11, 12, 21, 24, 26

Leather, J.H., 18

leave, 7, 8, 9, 10, 18

Leeds, 9

Lilliers, 8

London

10th London Battery, 13

Longbarn Farm, 7

Loos, 8, 15, 16

Lttle Baddow, 2

Lys, 5

Marequet, 8

Markey, 12

Masin, 7

Maude-Roxby, Chaplain H., 26

Maxalls, 2

McMunn, 1

Messines, 4, 5, 7

Minenwerfer, 13, 14

Minnewerfer, 11, 12

Mondicourt, 8

Morval, 26

Motram, 9

Mouquet Farm, 25, 26

Mulliner, H.H., 6

Nicholson, C.P., 4, 9

Nickalls, Cecil P., 6, 13, 20

Nickalls, J,, 12, 14

Nieppe, 4, 7

Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, 6

Padre, 12, 24

Palace. See theatre

Pas, 10, 11

Petit Pont, 6

Point 301, 11

Point 863, 13, 14, 16

Point, 301, 12

Poulton, 5

Pozieres, 23, 25, 26

Pridmore, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14

Pridmore, Reginald, 7

Pridmore, Reginald J., 16

R.A.  HQ, 11

Rainsbrook, 9

Rattenoy Farm, 11

Ross Johnson, 5

Rossignol Wood, 13

Royal Berkshire Regiment, 5

Salisbury, 1

Sandon, 1, 3

Saunders, 7

Saunders, Edgar, 7

Selby Lowndes, 5, 20, 21, 26

Serre, 9, 10, 17, 18, 19, 20

skyline trench, 24, 26

Skyline trench, 26

Skyline Trench, 26

Smith, 2

Southampton, 3

St Ives, 6

St Leger, 13, 19, 20, 21, 22

St Yves, 5, 6, 7

Stamps, 9

Stenewerk, 3

Stewart, 6

Stratford, 9

Sunk Road Fort, 9

Sunken Road, 10, 14

Taylor,Sgt Maj.  J.W., 7

telephone, 3

theatre, 3, 13

Thieves, 12

Thievres, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22

Tilleul, 5, 7

Twins. See West, Bar and Bridget

Vallancy, 4, 24

Vauchelles, 13

Vermelles, 8

Victoria, 9

Vieux Berquien, 7

Vineyards, 2

Ward, Gen H.D.O., 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24, 25, 26

Warwick Regiment, 5th, 12, 15

Warwickshire. Inf Bde, 4

West, Agatha, 2, 3, 26

West, Bar, 12, 14

West, Mary, 14, 20

West, Ruth, 14, 23

Whitton, 1

Wylie, Bill, 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 26

Zollern Redoubt, 26


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary and Notes copyright Evelyn Wilcock 2009



[1] Bill Wyley aged c. 23 from Coventry. see note to 19th Sept.

[2] Major Cecil Fowler, one of the two Cecils.

[3] a British ship in spite of the name, ref Memoir of F. West by Agatha West

[4] Capt H.H. Vallancy cf. Pridmore, wounded Sept 1916

[5] J.H Leather, Lt. Mentioned in despatches 1.1.1917, ref Pridmore p. 82 (not on cemetry list)

[6] REGINALD GEORGE PRIDMORE MC ,Major "C" Bty. 240th Bde., Royal Field Artillery, Son of George William and Sarah Louisa Pridmore, of Coventry, Warwickshire. 1908 British Olympic Hockey team.  Died Wednesday 13 March 1918 . Age 31 . GIAVERA BRITISH CEMETERY, ARCADE, Italy Plot 1. Row D. Grave 5. The inscription on his original wooden cross erected by his comrades read: "A most Gallant Sportsman and Comrade."  The town of Giavera is in the Province of Treviso. It is 12 kilometres east of Montebelluna and 14 kilometres west of Conegliano on the main road between the two places. Giavera British Cemetery is 500 metres north-west of the town close to the church.

 

[7] RONALD WILLIAM POULTON PALMER, Lieutenant, 1st/4th Bn., Royal Berkshire Regiment who died on Wednesday 5 May 1915 . Age 25 . Son of Professor Edward Bagnall Poulton and Mrs. Emily Palmer Poulton, of Wykeham House, Oxford. Captain of the England Rugby Football XV in 1914. HYDE PARK CORNER (ROYAL BERKS) CEMETERYComines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium B. 11.

 

[8] LESLIE JAMES DUNBAR  Gunner 141 4th South Midland Heavy Bde., Royal Field Artillery who died on Thursday 27 May 1915 . Age 20 . Son of George and Ellen Dunbar, of 12, Park Rd., Rugby. Native of Dunchurch, Rugby. YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIALIeper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium Panel 5 and 9 2

[9] H.H. Mulliner  wrote a letter of condolence, founder of the Horse Scheme

[10] G. Buckstone Browne – see letter of condolence

[11] Major Nickalls went on leave. Ref Pridmore Diary

[12]In Memory of W H SUTTON, Driver, 261 1st/4th South Midland Bde, Royal Field Artillery who died on Monday 5 July 1915 . FERFAY COMMUNAL CEMETERYPas de Calais, France, In South-East part, near South boundary.

 

[13] Major Guy E. Kidd, DSO. "A" Bty. 70th Bde., Royal Field Artillery, died  Tuesday 26 September 1916, buried II. F 5, Flat Iron Copse Cemetry, Mammetz, Somme. Flatiron Copse Cemetery is on the right hand side of D929, Amiens-Albert-Bapaume, 10 kilometres east of Albert. From Albert take the right turn at Y junction (102nd Infantry Brigade Memorial) after the Routiers resta+urant, on the D20. Follow on the D20 through Ovillers/La Boisselle and Bazentin, then after 2 kilometres the Cemetery is signposted onto a 750 metre mud track. The Cemetery is accessible by car.

 

[15]+ buried at Aveluy cemetery.Notes from CWGC website.

 WILLIAM REGINALD FITZTHOMAS WYLEY, Lieutenant, Royal Field Artillery, who died on Tuesday 19 September 1916 . Age 24 . Son of William Fitzthomas Wyley and Clara Margaret Wyley, of Charterhouse, Coventry. AVELUY COMMUNAL CEMETERY G. 44

GEOFFREY DENNIS BROWNE  Major, Royal Field Artillery who died on Tuesday 19 September 1916 . Age 28 . Son of the Rev. Ernest A. Browne, of 1, Miles Rd., Clifton, Bristol , AVELUY COMMUNAL CEMETERY H. 39

 

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