WAR DIARY Headquarters 55th Divisional Artillery 1st March 1916 – To 31st March 1916

Confidential

WAR DIARY

 

Of

 

Headquarters 55th Divisional Artillery

 

From 1st March 1916 – To 31st March 1916

 

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

March 1st – 3rd             Moves in accordance with Operation Order s 7 & 8 and relief of 2nd N Midland F.A. Bde completed by 14th Bde R.F.A. (68th and 88th Batteries) from 4th Division.

4th         4 pm               Bombardment of BLOCK HOUSE 2b.

5/6th                             Moves in accordance with Operation Order No 9.  B/85th Bty moving to cover Left Sector and 4th N Midland How F.A. Bde marching to FREVENT to rejoin 46th Division.

6/7th                             Section 12th Lancs Bty to forward position at R.31.c.3.2. to enfilade.  Operation Order No 10

8/9th                             Section 9th Lancs Bty to forward position R.21.c.8.0.

8th                                Moves to B.A.C.s at SOMBRIN.

11th                              Bombardment of BLAIRVELLE Wood – considerable damage done and result reported most satisfactory by R.F.C.

15th                              9th and 8th Lancs Batteries placed at disposal of 6th H.A.G. for counter battery work and linked direct with O.C. 39th Heavy Bde R.G.A. at BEAUMETZ.

15th                              Arrangements made for use of code word “CUBE” to bring enfilade sections into action on adjoining fronts.

16th     11.45 am         Bombardment of N.W. Corner of BLAIRVILLE – operation order no 13.

17th       9 pm              Section 9th Lancs Bty to forward position at WAILY R.22.d.17 to enfilade.

17th     10 pm              R Battery/ 4th Lancs F.A. Bde (Howitzers) *** B Battery 85th F.A. Bde vacated position occupied by sections at R.9.a.9.3 and concentrated at R.9.b.5.5.

21st                              Instructions for relief of 14th Bde by batteries from 37th Div received.

25th                              Bombardment of LES TROIS MAISONS (X.2.b.7.3. – X2.b.9.1.1 ½).  In accordance with Operation Order No 14.  effect obtained was good.  The enemy parapet was breached at several points.  Possibly better effect would have been obtained by making the bombardment more deliberate and leaving batteries to carry out their task singly by time table instead of simultaneously.

27th   11.45 am            Orders for relief of 14th Bde issued.

28th   10 am                 Orders for relief of 14th Bde postponed owing to unfavourable weather.

30th   7 am                  Bombardment of House X.3.d.8.9. in BLAIRVILLE.  Results most disappointing probably due to bad light in early morning which made observation very difficult.  8” probably obtained a direct hit.  Otherwise little damage visible.  G.O.C. 55th Division decided to repeat at an early date under improved conditions.

29th                              Visit of Commander-in-Chief and G.O.C. Third Army – G.R.A. attended at Div HQ 2 pm.

 

 

  1. Benon

Major

Bde Major 55th D.A.

 

Advertisements

H.E. WITTY Mar 1916.

H.E. WITTY 3 Mar 16.

18th SIEGE BATTERY R.G.A.

  1. Section

 

1st March 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone duty again.

 

2nd March 1916. Thursday.  Off duty.

 

3rd March 1916. Friday.  Nothing doing much.

 

4th March 1916. Saturday. Ditto.

 

5th March 1916. Shrove Sunday.  Arrival of Diary – Church Parade – Letter from R. answered.  Also Shibbs – cold but fine.

 

6th March 1916. Monday.  Nothing doing much – Very stormy – snow storms – shelling of the O. Balloon by the Germans with Shrapnel.  Letter from Mrs. Philippson.  ANS.

Infantry heavy shelled by Germans on YSER CANAL Bank.

 

7th March 1916. Tuesday.  A day of continual snow storms – nothing doing.  Letter from R. to be answered on the 8th.

Snow battle – repulse of R.F.A.

 

8th March 1916. Ash Wednesday.  On night duty and telephone duty – Nothing special.  Wrote R.  Major acting as Temp. B.M. for 33rd Bde.

NO MAIL.

 

9th March 1916. Thursday.  OFF DUTY – Spent the day in putting up 4 beds for Tate, Frost, Bottrill & myself – made of poles – wire netting and canvass.  Played Bridge until bed time.  Letters from Mrs Road and Kathie.

 

10th March 1916. Friday.  Linesman from OP to 4th Siege.  Very little doing – spent morning playing Bridge awaiting orders.  Letters Gladys and Carter with J.B. & L.O.  Answered.

 

11th March 1916. Saturday.  Repairing wire to gun – line broken thro hop field – mild weather.  Arranging stores – Letters R. and Hilda – Answered.  Also wrote Kathie and Mr. Carter.  Completed bed by strengthening it with wire supports.

 

12th March 1916. Sunday.  Lovely day – fine and sunny – went to Ch. in canteen but found we were too late as we arrived at time of sermon.  Letters home and Doris.  ANS. – very quiet on the Front.  “Knowles Madness”.

 

13th March 1916. Monday.  Parade 9. am – The Major’s “goodbye” – entrance of Maj. Graham – nothing doing in the morning – Laying lines to SPINNEY HOUSE O.P. in afternoon – finished about 8 PM.  Letters R. N.T. and Scott to be answered tomorrow.

 

 

14th March 1916. Tuesday.  On the battery – fired 6 rounds in morning for registration and 35 rounds in afternoon – on KIEL COTTAGE TRENCHES and trench (drawn triangle).  Report received 15th says that it was the most successful work on this front of some time 12” deserving special praise.  Wrote R. & N.T.  Letter from Humberstone.

 

15th March 1916. Wednesday.  On telephone – very busy – letter from Hilda.  ANS.  Also wrote Scott, Humberstone & School House Hurmanly.  4 Sign assisting R.E.s on laying wires.  Night duty with CANDWELL.

 

16th March 1916. Thursday.  OFF DAY – nothing doing – reading – Letters Frank – Ma – Kathie.  ANS.  Sections Route March – John Bull (O.H. & N.B.) ANS.

 

17th March 1916. Friday.  Walked to Poperinghe in the morning for a bath – had great difficulty in finding place of ablution – returned 1-0 pm.  Letter from R.  Ans.

 

18th March 1916. Saturday.  At O.P. listing lines with Bottrill. Heavy shelling – especially of French 75”.   Returned 3 pm – en route met a gunner of 39th whom I known in Sheerness, in an estaminet.  Great thoughts from home.  Acknowledge – Had a hair cut.

 

19th March 1916. Sunday.  On telephone duty in morning.  Read “The Inca’s Treasure”.  Called upon telephone by Skelton – Letters Gilbert Peg.  ANS.

 

20th March 1916. Monday.  Inspection of instruments – visit to R.E.s for wood – Jenkinson & Skelton visit – Letter from R. ANS.  In action or dug-outs (on battery).

 

21st March 1916. Tuesday.  Cleaning instruments – hand of Bridge – Reading – Letter from home.  ANS.  No shoot owing to rotten weather for O. work.

 

22nd March 1916. Wednesday.  On duty – rotten day – cold & wet – Letter from Hilda Robinson Crimmins (Boots) and Chronicle.  ANS.  On night duty.

 

23rd March 1916. Thursday.  Off duty.  Went up O.P. in motor to take rations to a working party.  Playing Bridge in afternoon.  NO MAIL.  Cooking Quaker Oats etc.

 

24th March 1916. Friday.  Heavy fall of snow.  Had to walk to O.P. in the line in a terrible snow storm.  Nothing doing owing to vile weather – Letter R. Kathie and Fred (field pc).  ANS.  Reading “Spanish Gold”.  O.P. shelled after we had left.  2 O.K.s.

 

25th March 1916. Saturday.  On battery in morning – fired 3 rds counter-battery work – weather fine and squally alternately – NO MAIL.  Commencement of the Bridge Tournament.  4th Siege Casualties 3 killed & 8 wounded.

 

26th March 1916. Sunday.  Busy day removing stores in morning and lines to new telephone hut in afternoon.  Letters R. Gladys and pcl from Mrs Leslie.  ANS.

 

27th March 1916. Monday.  Early parade – standing by from 3 A.M. to dawn – no shoot.  Went to Poperinghe in afternoon for stores – Pcl from Mrs. Libell and Humberstone – ANS.  Letter from Gilbert.  ANS.  Wrote pa re Renies gift.

 

28th March 1916. Tuesday.  On duty – in new telephone hut – letter from J. Humberstone – very cold & strong gale – broke wires during the night – visit of Childers – (Riddle of Sands) on night duty.

 

29th March 1916. Wednesday.  OFF DUTY – Skelton’s visit.  Jenks on pass – connecting R.T.O. with billet.  Letter R. NI papers O.H. and home.  Ans.

 

30th March 1916. Thursday.  In action – putting battery out of action 4 O.K.s in 9 Rds.  At O.P. lovely day – 31 Siege heavily shelled.  Many air-fights demonstrating German supremacy in air.  At French O.P. – obtained envelope-opener (souvenir).  No Mail – Deflate with Bush Palmer & Page on Army System & Inefficiency of Officer.

 

31st March 1916. Friday.  Arose 4 A.M.  Two cars to Heigersberg suburb of YPRES.  Laid 3 miles wire to Garden Street O.P. YSER CANAL heavily shelled – floating dead fish – line broken on pontoon bridge repaired.  Returned 11 A.M. on battery in afternoon.  Excellent shooting 4 O.K.s in 13 rounds.  New Experience Bty. Shelled by 4.2 guns.  No damage.  Parcel and letter from home.  Letters Ma, Alice, Dorothy, Albert.  ANS.  Retired early.

APRIL 1916

                   APRIL 1916

 

 

The spring of 1916 brought to an end the dominance of the Eindecker, and with it, the “Fokker Scourge”. The arrival of the French Nieuport II, the Airco DH2 and the Royal Aircraft Factory FE2 was an equal match for the German Eindecker.

 

 

On the 21st April 1916, a German submarine transported Sir Roger Casement to them *********************************************************************

volunteered to join the British army. Over 50,000 young Irishmen died in the trenches.

 

On the 23rd April 1916, Vera Brittain volunteered for overseas as a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse). She had joined the VAD at the outbreak of war in 1914 in order to understand the privations suffered by her brother Edward and his three great friends. At the start of the war, Vera Brittain was studying at Oxford University, along with her four male colleagues.

The four men joined had left Oxford University, joined the army, and were commissioned as officer, and unwillingly and unable to endure Oxford on the side-lines, she joined the VAD as a nurse. In August 1915, she became engaged to Roland Leighton, one of her brother’s three great friends. Tragically, he was killed in France by a German sniper in December 1915. She went through a period of mourning by returning to her hospital duties in London. She had reached the end of contract and eventually offered her services with the VAD by serving overseas. 

 

 

The “Easter Uprising” commenced at noon on the Monday 24th April 1916 in *********************************************************************        

called for military style manoeuvres in a defensive war against the British.     .

 

 

 

Four German Battlecruisers opened fire on Lowestoft at daybreak of the 25th April *********************************************************************

British vessels anchored at Lowestoft.

 

 

The Sykes-Picot Agreement became official on the 26th April 1916 with an exchange *********************************************************************

secretary, to Paul Gambon, the French ambassador to London on the 23rd May 1916.

 

 

By the 29th April 1916, the “Easter Uprising” was over. The British army, taken by ********************************************************************* Irish leader’s decision to surrender in order to avoid further civilian deaths.

 

 

At the Battle of St.Eloi in April 1916, British troops wore the Brodie Helmet for the *********************************************************************

replaced the traditional Pickelhaube with the steel “Stahlhelm” helmet.

 

——————————————————————————–

 

The Balkans

 

On the 3rd April 1916, two hundred and fifty thousand Serbian troops were evacuated from Albania. Allied warships had transported the Serbs to Corfu by the largest naval evacuation to date.

 

Appointed on the 4th April 1916, General Alexei Brusilov was to command the Russian southern front.

 

On the 14th April 1916, the Russian offensive at Lake Naroch ended, as German counter attacks had eliminated the gains the Russians had made. Requested by the French, the offensive was an attempt to help divert German forces from Verdun. The Russians sustained 120,000 casualties for very little gain.

 

On the 14th April 1916, the newly appointed commander of the Russian southern front, General Brusilov, proposed an offensive over an extended front. This offensive was to differ from the ill-feted Lake Naroch debacle having a revised bombardment strategy

.

On 22nd April 1916, Flora Sandes, the only English woman to have fought in the *********************************************************************

letter was written and signed by the Commander of the Company, Janachko Jovitch. 

 

 

After declaring war on Serbia in October 1915, the Bulgarian army soon opposed to ********************************************************************* the Bulgarian offensive but had finally withdrawn their objections.

 

 

——————————————————————————–

 

The Caucasus and Middle East Campaign

 

On the 15th April 1916, the British received dropped food supplies at Kut-el-Amara. This was one of four attempts to relieve Kut. The five months siege by the Turks had left the British troops exhausted and starving.

 

During the Caucasus Campaign, on the 18th April 1916 the Turks abandoned Trebizond leaving the Russians in occupation until the Russian Revolution of 1917.

 

On the 26th April 1916, agreement between the British, French and Russian diplomats discussed the future partition of the Ottoman Empire. The British commitments were to conflict with later promises made to the Arabs.

 

29th April 1916. The British forces surrender to the Turks ending the five month long *********************************************************************

Ottoman soldiers and prestige for the Ottoman army in the Middle East.

The British Government was forced to pour more resources into Mesopotamia.

 

—————————————————————————

 

Verdun

 

On the 2nd April 1916, the French counter-attacked the eastern sector of the Meuse River regaining part of ruined village of Vaux. The village was to change hands thirteen times throughout April.

 

On the 9th April 1916, the Germans launched, across a 32km (20 mile) front,**************************************************************** Douaumont and Vaux, throughout April.

The German Fifth Army had lost some 120,000 men by the end of April.

 

—————————————————————————

 

NOTE !! Italics represent the text already submitted, and the remainder is required as an insert.

APRIL 1916

APRIL 1916

 

 

The spring of 1916 brought to an end the dominance of the Eindecker, and with it, the “Fokker Scourge”. The arrival of the French Nieuport II, the Airco DH2 and the Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF) FE2 was match for the German Eindecker.

 

 

On the 21st April 1916, a German submarine transported Sir Roger Casement to the coast of Kerry, Ireland where he was due to meet a consignment of captured Russian guns and ammunition. Shortly after landing, he was arrested by the waiting British authorities. The German ship carrying the arms consignment failed to reach the Irish rebels as it had put into the wrong port. British intelligence had intercepted messages between the Irish rebels and the German Embassy in New York.

Irish revolutionary nationalists had looked towards Germany for aid in funding an Irish uprising, and Casement was the central figure in developing the rebels’ relationship with Germany in order to promote the cause for Irish home rule.

The English had occupied Ireland since the twelfth century and the Irish had always fiercely resisted throughout the centuries. Introduction of home rule was due to be implemented in 1914 but was suspended because of the Great War. Misguided in the belief the Irish would eventually obtain peaceful home rule, hundreds of thousands volunteered to join the British army. Over 50,000 young Irishmen died in the trenches.

 

On the 24th April 1916, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) began to show violent resentment against the British in the 1880’s, but gradually promotion of Home Rule was on the agenda. Home Rule was suspended in 1914 on the outbreak of war. There were elements of the Irish population who were determined to hold a rebellion. While the outbreak of the “Uprising” was in the planning stages, publication of an article in The Irish Volunteer on the 8th April 1916, called for military style manoeuvres in a defensive war against the British.     .

The “Dublin Easter Uprising” commenced at noon on the Monday 24th April 1916.        Approximately 1,600 Irish nationalist volunteers captured a number of buildings selected to form a crescent shaped defensive strong point against the forces of the British army occupying Dublin.

 

On the 23rd April 1916, Vera Brittain volunteered for overseas as a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse. She had joined the VAD at the outbreak of war in 1914 in order to understand the privations suffered by her brother Edward and his three great friends, Roland Leighton, Victor Richardson, and Geoffrey Thurlow. At the start of the war, Vera Brittain was studying at Oxford University, along with her four male colleagues.

The four left Oxford University, joined the army, and were commissioned as officers. Unwilling and unable to endure Oxford on the sidelines, she joined the VAD as a nurse. In August 1915, she became engaged to Roland Leighton. Tragically, he was killed in France by a German sniper in December 1915. She went through a period of mourning by returning to her hospital duties in London. She had reached the end of her hospital contract and eventually offered her services with the VAD serving overseas.

 

 

 

 

Four German Battlecruisers opened fire on Lowestoft at daybreak of the 25th April 1916. This raid was to coincide with the “Easter Uprising” by Irish rebels in Dublin.

After Admiral Reinhardt Scheer had been appointed commander-in-chief of the German High Seas in February 1916, he proposed and commenced a campaign against the Royal Navy to force the British Grand Fleet into a naval war.

The British Grand Fleet were at their home bases, Rosyth for the Battlecruisers and Scapa Flow for the remainder of the fleet. Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, commanding a squadron of 3 light cruisers and 18 destroyers was ordered to move north. Tyrwhitt reported sighting the German fleet at Lowestoft and turned away hoping the German ships would follow but they did not.

The German attack on Lowestoft lasted approximately 10 minutes, causing the destruction of 200 houses and 2 defensive batteries. In addition, 3 civilians were killed and 12 people injured. The German ships moved on to Great Yarmouth where only a few shells were fired before reports arrived that a British force had engaged the remaining German fleet. The German Battlecruisers broke off their attack on Great Yarmouth to re-join the fleet. When Tyrwhitt realised he had failed to draw the Battlecruisers away, he returned to engage the six light cruisers and escorts. When the German Battlecruisers arrived Tyrwhitt realised he was massively outgunned, so broke off the action and turned south. The Germans failed to follow the retreating ships, as they were concerned larger British war ships were in the vicinity. The Germans turned North West in the hope the British would follow but they did not. The German operation had been a complete failure as the damage to Lowestoft, and Great Yarmouth was minimal, and they had failed to take advantage of their superior numbers to engage the British vessels anchored at Lowestoft.

 

 

The Sykes-Picot Agreement became official on the 26th April 1916 with an exchange of notes regarding the partition of the Ottoman Empire among the Allied Powers. Francois-Georges Picot represented the French Government and Sir Mark Sykes represented the British Government. Russia was also privy to the discussions.

According to the agreement, Britain would exercise direct control over Southern Mesopotamia with protection of the Arab state in the area to the Mediterranean Sea.

South of the French zone the area covering Jerusalem, extending southwards from Gaza to the Red sea, was to be under International Administration.

The terms were ratified in a return letter from Sir Edward Grey, British foreign secretary, to Paul Gambon, the French ambassador to London on the 23rd May 1916.

 

 

By the 29th April 1916, the “Dublin Easter Uprising” was over. The British army were taken by surprise by the uprising. Germany had intended to supply captured Russian arms but the ship carrying the consignment put into the wrong port. Eventually, 12,000 British reinforcements arrived. Firing from the GPO building the rebels managed to cut down a group of British Lancers who rode along O’Connell Street. With a degree of confidence, the rebels prepared their defensive tactics, but were not expecting the British to use artillery to attack them. The artillery caused considerable damage to the rebel held buildings. In various infantry attacks, the British suffered a great number of casualties, but eventually they began to overwhelm the rebels. At noon on the 29th April 1916, the British accepted the Irish leader’s decision to surrender in order to avoid further civilian deaths.

 

 

At the Battle of St.Eloi in April 1916, British troops wore the Brodie steel helmet for the first time. The helmet was introduced to replace the traditional cloth caps, which offered zero protection from modern weapons.

John L. Brodie of London patented the first design, which had been ordered by the British War Office. The design enabled the helmet to be manufactured from one sheet of steel and incorporated a brim of approximately 1.5” to 2”. The “soup bowl” shape was designed to protect the wearers head and shoulders from shrapnel projectiles bursting from above the trenches.

The French had their own design of steel “Adrian” helmets, while the Germans replaced the traditional Pickelhaube with the “Stahlhelm” steel helmet.

 

——————————————————————————–

 

The Balkans

 

On the 3rd April 1916, two hundred and fifty thousand Serbian troops were evacuated from Albania. Allied warships had transported the Serbs to Corfu by the largest naval evacuation to date.

 

Appointed on the 4th April 1916, General Alexei Brusilov assumed command of the Russian southern front.

 

On the 14th April 1916, the Russian offensive at Lake Naroch ended, as German counter attacks had eliminated the gains the Russians had made. Requested by the French, the offensive was an attempt to help divert German forces from Verdun. The Russians sustained 120,000 casualties for very little gain.

 

On the 14th April 1916, the newly appointed commander of the Russian southern front, General Brusilov, proposed an offensive over an extended front. This offensive was to differ from the ill-fated Lake Naroch debacle by having a revised bombardment strategy

.

On 22nd April 1916, Flora Sandes, the only English woman to have fought in the trenches in the Serbian army, was promoted to sergeant. This promotion was to honour her work and devotion to the Serbian forces who had retreated across the Albanian mountains and arrived in Corfu two months earlier. She had organised food, warm clothing and medication for the emancipated forces transforming them into a force ready to join the fight to liberate their homeland. Upon promotion Flora’s deputy Sgt Milidan provided the experience she needed running the 1st Decetar (Section of 10 Men) of the 2nd Regiment. He assured her she would never be taken prisoner by Bulgarian forces while he was still alive.

Whilst still a corporal Flora had received the Sveti Sava Medal from the Serbian Crown Prince in recognition of her services to Serbia. She also received a letter entitled “To the high Esteemed MISS FLORA SANDES”, from the soldiers of her regiment stating their declaration of thanks for all her assistance in their welfare. This letter was written and signed by the Commander of the Company, Janachko Jovitch.

 

 

After declaring war on Serbia in October 1915, the Bulgarian army soon overwhelmed the Serbs, who had retreated to the Adriatic Sea via the Albanian mountains. They had repulsed an Entente force who had attempted to assist the Serbs. By the spring of 1916, the Bulgarians had advanced into Greece with the assistance of some German troops. The German high command had previously opposed to the Bulgarian offensive but had finally withdrawn their objections.

 

——————————————————————————–

 

The Caucasus and Middle East Campaign

 

On the 15th April 1916, one of four attempts were made to carry supplies to the British by aeroplane to the besieged Kut-al-Amara, located on a bend in the river. Owing to the location of Kut, airmen found it difficult to land. A shipload of provisions on its way to supply the British forces ran aground in the Tigris, only four miles from the hungry soldiers. The five months siege by the Turks had left the British troops exhausted and starving, leaving the British with no option but surrender.

 

During the Caucasus Campaign, on the 18th April 1916 the Turks abandoned Trebizond (Russian/Turkish border on the Black Sea) leaving the Russians in occupation until the Russian Revolution of 1917.

 

On the 26th April 1916, agreement between the British, French and Russian diplomats discussed the future partition of the Ottoman Empire. The British commitments were later to conflict with promises made to the Arabs.

 

29th April 1916. The British forces surrender to the Turks ending the five-month long siege of Kut-el-Amara. General Sir Charles Townsend finally submitted to the largest single surrender of British troops up to that time. Townsend and his fellow officers were well treated. His remaining 12,000 British and Indian troops were marched 1,900 km (1,200 miles) to prison camps in Anatolia. The troops were already in poor health because of the siege. More than a third of them died before the end of the war due to mistreatment and neglect leading to starvation.

The siege of Kut was an important Ottoman victory, greatly raising the morale of the Ottoman soldiers and prestige for the Ottoman army in the Middle East.

The British Government was forced to pour more resources into Mesopotamia.

 

——————————————————————————–

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verdun

 

On the 2nd April 1916, the French counter-attacked the eastern sector of the Meuse River regaining part of ruined village of Vaux. The village was to change hands thirteen times throughout April.

 

On the 9th April 1916, the Germans launched, across a 32km (20 mile) front, an offensive on both sides of the Meuse River. On the first day, they took the secondary crest of Le Mort Homme but subsequently failed in their attempt to take the summit. Fighting on the west bank slowly stopped four days later, due to the relentless rain. Fighting, however, continued on the east bank around Forts Douaumont and Vaux, throughout April.

The German Fifth Army had lost some 120,000 men by the end of April.

 

——————————————————————————-

55th (West Lancs:) Divisional Artillery March 1916

SECRET

Appendix V

Copy No 13

 

55th (West Lancs:) Divisional Artillery

Order No 11

 

 

Reference Trench Map 1/10,000

Sheet FICHEUX

 

  1. Arrangements have been made for 6” and 8” Howitzers of 6th Heavy Artillery Group to bombard suspected work in BLAIRVILLE WOOD communication trench (R.34.b.5.2 – R.34.b.8.2) tomorrow.       This bombardment will begin at 11.30 a.m. and last till 12 noon.
  2. 3 18 pr batteries Centre Group will take part under arrangements made by Centre Group Commander.

Objective                                 Ammn to be expended

2 Batteries Front Line Trench                                    20 S   20 HE

R.34.b.3.1. – R.34.b.5.4

1 Battery   Support Trench                                        10 S   10 HE

R.34.b.3 ½ .0. – R.34.b.5.2.

  1. Section 12th Lancs Bty at R.31.c will enfilade above trenches. Ammn to be expended 5 S 5 HE
  2. 4.5” How Battery (to be detailed by Right Group Commander) will fire on Support Line R.34.b.3 ½ .0. – R.34.b.5.2.       Ammn to be expended – 20 HE.
  3. Bombardment will begin at 11.30 a.m. with 2 rounds gun fire from each of the above 18 pr guns, and will be continued at a deliberate and irregular rate of fire till 12 noon by all guns.
  4. Batteries not taking part will be prepared to retaliate.

 

 

 

 

Capt for Major R.A.

Brigade Major

55th (W.L.) Divnl Artillery.

 

 

Issued at 4.45 p.m.

Copy no    1.  Right Group Comdr.

  1. Centre Group Comdr.
  2. Left Group Comdr.
  3. 4th W.L. F.A. Bde.
  4. 55th Division “G”.
  5. 6th H.A. Group.
  6. 14th Divnl Artillery.
  7. 37th Divnl Artillery.
  8. 164th Inf Bde.
  9. 165th Inf Bde.
  10. 166th Inf Bde.
  11. 7th Corps Artillery
  12. File

WAR DIARY OF 2/Lt. Alfred Benjamin STREET March 1916

WAR DIARY

OF 2/Lt. Alfred Benjamin STREET

48 SIEGE BATTERY RGA

 

1st March. Wednesday.  Fine sunny day.  Battery drill in the morning, Harvey doing B.C.  In afternoon exam of Lydd class on Helio and reeling in line from Water Wks Hill to Battery.  Went into Town after tea.  Orders came in during evening for Battery to move to Suez, half on 3rd & ½ on 6th.

 

2nd March. Thursday.  Dull early and windy but fine and sunny later.  Went out with the Left half B.C. staff in the morning doing Map reading; in the afternoon with the Signallers doing some soldering of wires with some success.

 

3rd March. Friday.  Fine hot sunny day. Harvey and I took our guns down in the morning and got them ready for travelling; in the afternoon went down to the Station and finished loading the rt half guns.  The Rt half Battery with Hill and Meade King left for Suez at 8.0 p.m.  Melville was posted to my section No. 4 yesterday.

 

4th March. Saturday.  Rather dull.  Loaded up Beams and Ammunition in the morning and then went into the Town with Melville and cashed a cheque at Cox’s.  Went into the Town again after tea, ordered 3 boxes of Lonconns at Temracas to be sent home also brought a Persian rug at Tave’s for £6 10/- to be sent home.  Wrote 2 letters at The Mahomet Aly Club.

 

5th March. Sunday.  Fine hot sunny day.  Church at 7.0 am and 6.15 p.m. dined afterwards at Larene’s .  Loaded up remainder of Ammun at 9.0 a.m.  Mail in.

 

6th March. Monday.  Fine sunny day.  Accompanied Caterpillars and guns to Gabbari Station and entrained them.  Struck Camp after lunch and the whole of the left half left Camp about 5.0 p.m. for Gabbari.  Got some dinner in the Town.  Train left at 10.0 p.m.

 

7th March. Tuesday Fine hot sunny day.  Had a good night in the train.  Woke up about 6.30 and found we had not yet reached Ismailia, interesting journey down to Suez but slow owing to many stops on the Single line.  Saw many Camel trains going towards Ismailia.  Arrived Suez about midday were supposed to be there at 7.0am.  Unloaded very successfully and quickly by 2.10.  Accompanied guns and caterpillars up to Camp.  Got fairly well settled down by 5.0 p.m.  Very sandy and not hard as at Mazacita.  Troops wearing helmets, said to be much hotter than Alexandria, but today was a cool day.

 

8th March. Wednesday.  Fine sunny day but windy which caused the sand to blow about horribly.  Spent the m’ning with Lane in the side car.  Went to the outflow of the Sweet Water Canal then along track between Sweet Water Canal and Suez Bay to El Kubri, examined Bridge across Suez Canal there which has been built strong enough to take Caterpillars, then along track by side of Suez Canal to Signal Station at Kilom 152 after having tried to cut across marshy land unsuccessfully.  Back to El Kubri and across Sweet Water Canal by Railway Bridge and back to Camp along desert track.  Very rough travelling indeed all the way.  Afternoon parade now 4.0 to 6.0 with the Signallers,  sending test messages.

 

9th March. Thursday.  Fine day no wind but dull.  Out with signallers, started laying line from Water Tower to K. 152 only got line across canal.  4.0 to 5.0 attended lecture by Major to NCOs on the country and our probable work.  After tea went in car with Major, Langford, Melville and Hill to Tewfik, back for dinner.

 

10th March. Friday. Fine sunny day. Battery Ord. Off.  Out with B.C. staff in the m’ning, one party at Water Towers and the other at The Signal Station on Suez Canal K. 152.  Lorry took 1 ¼ hrs. to get there.  Distance between the two 4,440 yds.  Signallers also proceeding with the laying of the line between these two points.  Afternoon with the section on Rifle drill.

 

11th March. Saturday. Fine day but windy and dusty.  With the section for about an hour while they were putting the gun into the cradle.  Then proceeded on Motor bike to see signallers who were laying the line and walked across the Marsh to K. 152.  Parade at 2.0 p.m. for handing in Rifles and inspection of socks and Titles.

 

12th March. Sunday.  Fine day not much wind.  Wrote some letters.  Went into Suez with Hill intending to go to Church but found it was 5.30 instead of 5.50 as we thought, Church was vary full with people standing outside so gave it up.  Wandered about the Town till 7.30.

 

13th March. Monday.  Fine hot day.  Went with Hart by train at 7.18 am to Geneffa and found on getting there that it was about 23 miles from Geneffa Canal Station where we had to cross the Canal to start our reconnaissance.  There was no means of getting there so had to wait until the train back at 3.20 p.m.  Visited a Camp of a troop of Patiala Lancers near the station, entertained by a native officer to tea and chapatti.  This man had been here on the Canal for 17 months and had fought against the Turks in the attack last year.  He spoke with intense loyalty and struck me as a very fine man.

 

14th March. Tuesday.   Fine hot day.  Went with Lane by 8.0 am boat from Suez Docks to El Shatt.  Met there by horses from E. Lancs. (T) R.F.A Bde. at 8.30, rode across desert and walked too far South eventually reaching Junction Post from there struck N. W. to Point 153 and then on to Pioneer Post where there is a Company of Imp: Service Rajpatana troops with English Officer, stayed and talked to him for a bit and left him just before 2.0 and rode back to El [Esh] Shatt returning to Suez by 3.30 boat.  This was the first time I had been into Asia and the first time I had been on a horse for about 5 years.

 

15th March. Wed.  Weather same.  Left half By drill in the morning, did B.C.  Signallers laying a line out for Aeroplane practice.  In the afternoon with the trained signallers doing exchange work.

 

16th March. Thursday.  Hot morning but clouded over about midday.  Picked as Prosecutor for a Court Martial on Gr Whitford at 10. am, afterwards went on bike to Kubri and then up the Suez Canal by road to Kilom. 144.  Did Semaphore with the Sect in the afternoon.

 

17th March. Friday.  Fine day but very windy and dusty.  Out with Lane all day on reconnaissance.  Left Camp at 8.15 on motor bike for Kubri.  Crossed Canal by the bridge and followed the road by the Canal to Shallufa, very good for 3 miles then all loose sand very heavy going; arrived Shallafa at 11.0.  Found the horses which were waiting for us and dismissed them.  Went to Geneffa by a very good macadam road, blinding dust and unable to see any distance.  Returned to Shallufa crossed by chain ferry, mended puncture in my back tyre and proceeded back to Kubri on W. side of Canal, bad going some of the way but good in parts.  Arrived back in Camp at 4.0.  Mail in.

 

18th March. Saturday.  Fine and hot early but clouded over and was windy and dusty the rest of the day.  The Major, Harvey & Condon (Sig) left in the Car at 8.0.  I went on my Motor bike.  Crossed over the Canal at Kubri and went up the road to Railhead where we met the horses and continued to Halfway House, I went there on my bike.  I mounted a horse here and went with Condon to Gebel Murr, found a position for observing effect on a target at a point to which The Major and Harvey had gone.  Driving sand very bad on the top of Gebel Murr.  Went into the 10th Gurkha’s Mess here.  Returned to Halfway Hse and then back to Railhead.  Stopped sometime in the 57th Native Inf. Mess and then back to Kubri and had to wait for the bridge at 5.0.  Back into Camp at about 5.30.

 

19th March. Sunday.  Rain during the night.  Fine day but windy.  Went to church parade and afterwards biked up to Kubri to find the road to Shallufa on this side of Suez Canal.  Track very slippery in parts owing to the rain.  Did not do all I wanted and returned to Camp at 12.20.  After lunch went with Hill and followed a track through to Shallufa, very loose sand for the latter part; returned over the desert on the W. side of the Ry.  Very good going most of the way.

 

20th March. Monday.  Fine day but cool breeze.  Took a route march in the m’ning.  Went to Suez and Tewfik with Meade King after tea.

 

21st March. Tuesday.  Fine hot day.  Camp and Battery Ord. Off.  Battery Drill in the m’ning.  Put Cartridges in recess in afternoon.  Capts. Massy and Cobb and Lieut. Kennedy to dinner in mess.

 

22nd March. Wednesday.  Fine hot day.  The Major went to Ismailia.  I went with Hart in the Car to Shallufa to see gun position.  Returned for lunch.  Mail in.

 

23rd March. Thursday.  Weather same.  With the section all the m’ning cleaning up the gun and digging drainage pit.  No afternoon parade.  Major rtd at midnight.

 

24th March. Friday.  Weather same but hotter.  With the Signallers most of the morning. Harvey put my gun into his cradle and had the drawing and hauling chains off the wagon to clean them, replaced them in the afternoon.

 

25th Mch. Saturday.  Fine but windy and sandy.  First half of the m’ning with the signallers on the vibrator; second half, Harvey and I took the Left half to Kubri to bathe.

 

26th Mch. Sunday.  Weather same.  Camp and Btty Ord. Off.  Had the whole Btty all the morning digging a trench for the Shell.  At 5.0p.m. Lane, White and I joined a Rugger team that Carey of 90 Heavy got up against 29th Div. Train.  Quite a good game, were beaten 17 nil.  Mail in.

 

27th March. Monday.  Fine hot day.  Lane and White were both crocked up after the footer so I went out to Kubri to where they were digging in.  Retd at 4.0p.m.  Melville went to Alexandria to draw 4 4.7” guns.  News came in after dinner that Johnstone had died in Hospital from Dysentery.

 

28th March. Tuesday.  Weather same.  Cleaned up gun bed in the morning.  Paraded at 3.50 with party for Johnstone’s funeral.  On arrival at Hospital found no coffin had arrived which caused a delay of an hour.  Quite a long walk to the Cemetery, the Burial took place at 6.10.  Back in Camp about 6.45.

 

29th March. Wednesday.  Very hot.  Hill drove me in the car to Shallufa and I took Pts. Wide and Winchester.  Went to the gun position and after doing about ½ hours work an Officer came and told me that piece of ground was quarantine for Camels suffering from Camel Pox, a horrible disease.  So we had to clear out.  Saw a Sanitary Off, and the A.D.M.S. who said we couldn’t go there.  The car got stuck in loose sand and took 1 ½ hrs to get out.  Went and had a lovely bathe and returned to Camp at 5.0p.m.

 

 

30th March. Thursday.  Fine day hot sultry with a very little rain in the m’ning.  Hill drove the Major, Br. Wilde and myself to Shallufa.  The Major approved of a new sight for the guns which I had chosen and then was told that the camels were being moved from our original sight area and that we were to take it up.  Arranged a ground for camping and then returned to Camp about 2.20.  After tea went with Hill and Hutchings to Suez.  Capt Langford went to Hospital with Dysentery.  Meade King not at all well.  Mail in.

 

31st March. Friday.  Fine day corker.  Btty Ord Off.  Rt half Battery moved their Camp out to Kubri taking their guns with them.  Left Half scheme for going to Shallufa cancelled.  Langford reported to be doing well.  Meade King still rather bad.

Alfred George Richardson’s March Diary 1916

Alfred George Richardson’s March Diary 1916

Bavelincourt.

Wednesday 1st March 1916:   Went to Warloy-Baillon at 10.30 am for rations.  Extra rations drawn from other A.S.C dumps.  Waited in        Warloy until 5 pm for 3 extra wagons.  Had dinner with Arnold, photos taken together & listened to Div Band           all aft.  Returned at 6 pm.

Thursday 2nd March 1916:      Went to Warloy-Baillon at 10.30 to draw rations.  Drew extra rations for men, who have been attached to A.S.C. & who have now returned.  On Guard at night, with Harry Clough.

Friday 3rd March 1916:           Went to Warloy-Baillon for rations at 10.30 & returned at 2.30 pm. Reading & writing.

Saturday 4th March 1916:       Went to Warloy-Baillon for rations 10.30 – 3 pm. gramophone on at night.

Sunday 5th March 1916:          Went to Warloy-Baillon for rations.  Gathered some balm at Vadencourt.  Returned at 3 pm.

Monday 6th March 1916:        Went to Warloy-Baillon for rations at 10.30.  Saw Arnold.

Tuesday 7th March 1916:        Went to Warloy-Baillon for rations.  Saw Arnold & had a look over 4.5” Howitzer.

Wednesday 8th March 1916:   Went to Warloy-Baillon for rations.

Thursday 9th March 1916:       Went to Rubempre for rations, via Contay, & Herissart.  Drew at 10 am.  Returned via Pierregot & Molliens-au-Bois & Beaucoutt.

Friday 10th March 1916:         Went to Rubempre at 4 pm to draw rations via Pierregot, Molliens-au-Bain & Beaucourt-sur-l’Hallue.  Returned at 10 pm.

Saturday 11th March 1916:     Went to Rubempre for rations.  Fine day.  Drew at 6 pm.  Returned at 11 pm.

Sunday 12th March 1916:        Went to Rubempre at 4 pm.  Canns rather drunk.  Struck in an estaminet by a French civilian, he fairly gives him one & knocks him down.  Returned at 10 pm.

Monday 13th March 1916:      Went to Rubempre at 4 pm for rations & returned at 10 pm.  Lovely night & a nice ride.  7 miles each way.

Tuesday 14th March 1916:      Went to Rubempre at 4 pm & returned at 11 pm.

Wednesday 15th March 1916: Rubempre at 4 pm & returned at 11 pm.  Had a lovely ride.

Thursday 16th March 1916:     Went for rations at 11 am to Rubempre & returned at 3.30 pm.  Nice day.  Gramophone at night.

Friday 17th March 1916:         Went for rations at 11 am at Rubempre & returned at 3.30.  Kingswell, Cains & co attd to 10th Army Corps to make gun pits up near the line.

Saturday 18th March 1916:     Went for rations at 11 am to Rubempre. Gramophone.

Sunday 19th March 1916:        Went to Rubempre at 11 am for rations.

Monday 20th March 1916:      Went to Rubempre for rations.

Tuesday 21st March 1916:       Went to Rubempre for rations.

Wednesday 22nd March 1916: Went to Rubempre for rations.

Thursday 23rd March 1916:     Went to Rubempre for rations.

Friday 24th March 1916:         Went to Rubempre for rations.

Bavelincourt – Rubempre.

Saturday 25th March 1916:     Reveille 5 am.  Busy packing up.  Left with Jack Hutson on billeting party, at 9 am & arrived Rubempre at 10.15 am.  Found billets for horses & men who arrived at 1 pm.  Drew rations at 2.30 pm.  On Guard at night.  Very cold.  No shelter.

Sunday 26th March 1916:        Stawed to the bone with cold.  Had hot coffee at 6 am at a house.  Settling down in new quarters.  Fine barn & a lovely house.  (Marthe Sasre)  Helped Pattison with his horses & found him some grand stables.  Rations Dump at 1 pm.

Rubempre.

Monday 27th March 1916:      Rose at 8.  Helped Pattison with stables & harness.  Rations at 11 am.  Went to the Dump at 12.30 & drew for tomorrow.  Out in village at night.

Tuesday 28th March 1916:      Rose at 8 am – Breakfast in bed, 2 fried eggs & bacon. Helped Pattison with harness.  Rations at 11 am.  Went to A.S.C. dump at 12.30.  Spent afternoon reading & writing.

Pernois.

Wednesday 29th March 1916: Rose at 8.  Fried eggs & bacon.  Dinner at the farm – omelettes apples & cider etc with Eagle.  With Jock        Hutson on the advance party – I going on Clarkson’s bike.  Went through Talmas, Havernas & Canaples to Pernois.  Drew rations at Heavens at 11 pm & returned at 1 am.  Tired out.

Thursday 30th March 1916:     Got into bed at 1 am.  Rose at 6am.  Extremely cold on a damp floor – never slept a wink.  Went to Heavens to draw rations at 10.30 am & returned at 2.30 pm.  On Guard at night.  Playing football a bit.  Gramophone in the tent.  Tired.

Friday 31st March 1916:          Gave Reveille at 6 am.  Had a hot coffee in village.  Drew rations near Canaples.  Saw Arnold & had a good chat with him.  Went on bike & returned at 1 pm.  Nice & hot.  Capt Walker catches 10 trout in stream.

Saturday 1st April 1916:          Rose at 7 am.  Went for rations to Canaples.  On Clarkson’s bike & returned at 1 pm.  Lovely day – Had a “sunbathe”.