H.E. WITTY Apr 1916
18th SIEGE BATTERY R.G.A.
1st April 1916. Saturday. Counter-battery work – fired 23 rounds with aeroplane observation. Early shoot excellent – remainder indifferent. Finished 1.30 pm. At close one shell fell 200 yds beyond gun near railway line. On reaching billets 62 shells fell in wood nearest 18 yds from gun. One fell in R.F.A. horse lines 30 yds from boys playing footer. 4.2 battery again. Letters from Renie and Scott. Answered.
2nd April 1916. Sunday. Gun position shelled again. Engine draws gun from position into safety. NO MAIL. Church parade in camp. At Garden Street O.P. with Gill. Left Camp at 8 A.M. walked to Reigersburg via Elverdinge & Brielen. Repaired 4 Siege line near Chateau. Found break near 43rd dug-out. Crossed Yser Canal and mended two breaks in trenches. Abnormally clear day. German positions well seen. Very quiet in front of YPRES. Had narrow escape at E., a piece of shell passing between our heads – from a high ex shell in our rear. Reached O.P. 12.30 and landed back 4 pm.
3rd April 1916. Monday. On duty – nothing doing – preparation for the great bombardment – (1) laying line to O.P.s (2) unloading shell (3) preparing dummy guns. Fritz paid us no attention as we were not firing – lovely day temp 70o. Parcel from Renie. Ans. On night duty. Had a bath – read “Shanghaied”, “39 Steps” “A Moment’s Error” (Marchmont).
4th April 1916. Tuesday. OFF DUTY – finished 9 A.M. Grand Bombardment fired 61 rds – broke up German trenches & demolished MOUSETRAP FARM. On battery in the afternoon – little retaliation. Very cold today. No MAIL. Bottrill at O.P. narrow escape from an HZ11. Signs complemented on the excellency of the line. Col praises F.O.P. work.
5th April 1916. Wednesday. On battery. 2nd day of bombardment – 89 Rds – splendid results. German retaliation – no casualties – in action from 9 A.M. to 5 p.m. MAIL – Letters Hilda & Kathie. ANS. Lovely warm day – chilly at night.
6th April 1916. Thursday. Turned out at 4.30 A.M. with Cundrole to go to SPINNEY HOUSE O.P. with Mr Campbell – Travelled in car to Pioneer Corner – Huns very active – shelled battery in front of O.P. with Gas and Explosive shells which fell within 200 yds of O.P. Finished 5.30 P.M. Returned to Camp. Passed through Elverdinge which was being shelled – NO MAIL – Battery shelled with 5.9s no damage.
7th April 1916. Friday. Relaying Hd Qrs O.P. line to No 1 GUN in morning. Road & rest camp shelled in afternoon (broke our wire which I repaired). Shelled the gun with 5.9. Inspected the line under shell fire. Letters R. Mag (pc). Papers (O.H.) Scott. ANS.
8th April 1916. Saturday. Turned out early – walked along the line to REIGERSBERG with Shippen. Tapped in at 43rd dug out and got the order C.I. Reached camp just before dinner. On the whole things very quiet. Took in line from Garden St. to REIGERSBERG. Gun drawn out of action. Two dummies substituted in the wood to draw enemy fire. Very successful. Letters Gladys & Scott. ANS.
9th April 1916. Passion Sunday. On duty – fine day – in action with No 2 GUN air observation – Gun position shelled 50 shells. Leggett wounded – Letters from Bee re Norman’s operation and R. Ans – wrote Mother – sent R a pc **** her tomorrow – On night duty. Read Shrewsbury.
10th April 1916. Monday. Off duty – shelled by 5.9’s at 7 a.m. – broke all lines in neighbourhood of gun. Repaired same under shell fire – seeking “souvenirs” in afternoon – Letters Frank, M and Gilbert. ANS. Wrote Renie. Lovely sunny day. Skelton sees me in morning. Excellent shooting 12 O.K.s in 16 Rounds.
11th April 1916. Tuesday. Cold, wet, miserable. Nothing doing – playing Bridge in morning. Reading in afternoon. On line after tea. Letters Miss Road, J.B. (O.H.) Ans. No shelling.
12th April 1916. Wednesday. Turned out early to inspect line to 4 Siege – laid new line there with Bottrill – Incessant rain – returned Noon – got into bed – had to turn out again as line broken – tapped in at DIRTY BUCKET CORNER – found break in wood – returned tea – wet through – in bed. Letters R., N.J., Scott. ANS.
13th April 1916. Thursday. On R.E. lines in morning. Nothing doing in afternoon – very cold and windy – intermittent showers – Letters from home, Ma, Kathie (with photograph) and J. Robinson. Mags from home also. Very quiet – nothing doing – too windy for action.
14th April 1916. Friday. Cleaning side car in morning. Also connecting O.P. exchange with battery – nothing doing in afternoon – NO MAIL.
15th April 1916. Saturday. Turned out at 4.15 am motored to PIONEER CORNER and then walked to SPINNEY HOUSE. On duty there till 6 Sunday morning – very quiet on the whole – Letters sent up by car in evening when O-O was relieved. Letters Peg, Alice, Mrs Proudfoot, Gilbert. ANS. With Hughes – very cold night. Relieved by 4 Siege. Came back in car.
16th April 1916. Palm Sunday. Humour of Fritz signalling from aeroplane “Hurrah” when strafing our dummy gun. Returned in car from O.P. 7 a.m. – Huns sent over 200 (5.9 shells) near NO 1 GUN position – much damage in wood – cartridge recess fired but DUMMY and shells untouched. Rendered position untenable – taking in line from this position – Line badly damaged. NO MAIL.
17th April 1916. Monday. On duty – very quiet – battery played R.F.A. and beat them 6-1. Visit of A/Corps Commander – Pcl from R. (ANS). GILL & Cardwell at O.P. (Canal Bank). No strafing – no guns in action – cold with rain.
18th April 1916. Tuesday. OFF DUTY – very wet and stormy. Read “In raiment white” (Quex). Nothing doing. Wrote John Bull on C.O. Letter from R. ANS. To be despatched tomorrow.
19th April 1916. Wednesday. Cold and showery. Reeling wire in morning and burying cable – Same in afternoon. Very quiet altogether – Letters N.T. ANS. Sent off R’s & John Bull’s letters. Night alarm – great activity round St. Eloi – guns called into action – laying lines to old No 1 position. No firing.
20th April 1916. Thursday. Burying line from 4 Siege – sunny but cold and windy. Departure of 90th A.C. R.F.A. Reeling wire in afternoon – Letters Gladys, home, S.C from Scott. Nothing doing – no firing. ANS correspondence.
21st April 1916. Good Friday. Turned out at 5 A.M. on battery – strafed Fritz – 86 Rds – little retaliation – NEAREST 100 yds – many ‘duds’. Excellent shooting especially on HIGH COMMAND redoubt. Bolt on O.P. (2 a.m.) Letters R.S. & paper from home. ANS. 16 5.9 shells near No 1 last night.
22nd April 1916. Saturday. On duty during the day – constant rain therefore nothing doing – on night duty also – Read “The Unnamed” (Quex). Learnt from 14 Corps that Skelton left a week ago for “Somewhere”. NOMAIL.
23rd April 1916. Easter Sunday. Fritz sends souvenirs over all day at intervals – no damage – aircraft very active – shell cases fall in camp – one through Sgts hut – Pages’ narrow escape – off duty – Letter from Frank (Ans – asked for necessaries). Reading BUTOR CHAPERON (Williamson).
24th April 1916. Monday. At O.P. – Turned out at 3.45 a.m. & left camp for C.A. at 5 a.m. with Mallins – Huns heavy shelling of all batteries especially Dawson’s Corner with incendiary shells. Camp shelled all the night unceasingly & No 2 put out of action in morning – 300 shells in one day – No 1 Magazine exploded – Interview with General Wardrop at O.P. NO MAIL – Glorious day – very warm.
25th April 1916. Tuesday. Left O.P. at 6.30 and walked back to camp after waiting at PIONEER Corner for “the car that never came” for 1 hour. Arrived about 9 a.m. – lovely weather continues – Read BUTOR CHAPERON, “The One Before” and “Lieutenant etc” (By Sapper). Yesterday “Pop” bombed early this morning. Off duty – Gun got away 4 A.M. to be done up. No shelling today. NO MAIL – Very fine.
26th April 1916. Wednesday. Awakened 6.20 a.m by shell dropping in front of Officer’s Mess which was demolished the same shot killing Mr. Dyke instantly. Frost wounded – only casualties – Camp shelled for 3 hrs with 5.9 and 4.2 – many huts demolished, cookhouse destroyed etc. Exodus in pyjamas, stocking feet, men minus coats, hats etc – great excitement. Splendid bursts and good shooting – Glorious fine day – breakfasted in a farm house (coffee and a slice of bread and butter). Dined at H. Qrs off bread and bully – tea same place. In action from emergency position in afternoon – aeroplane shoot enemy shelled old positions – Gill at O.P. Campbell (vice Dyke) at Canal Bank. Letters R., Home, Gilbert. ANS. R. others with F.P.C. After tea went to RENINGLOST in lorries (8 miles) to be present at Mr. Dyke’s interment. Buried at dusk – very impressive and very sad.
27th April 1916. Thursday. Had a good night at HD QRS in hut – laid a line to Evergenay Pn and new HD. QRS – out all day – others busy removing remains of camp to new pn. – Excellent site in every way – Letters Kathie, Alice, Ma, N.T., Home (papers). ANS. Slept in open – very fine day.
28th April 1916. Friday. Had a splendid night – fresh air treatment fine. Out in morning with BOTT connecting up Emergency Pn to CX and CG4 – Lines smashed to pieces – tedious work. Weather excellent. Mr. Mallins appointed O.O. NO MAIL.
29th April 1916. Saturday. On duty with Arrowsmith – lovely day. In action – fired 12 shots counter-battery work – On night duty – “went off” for five minutes – Capt walked in at 1 a.m. and found me in the land of nod – Explanations – let off owing to long hours. Results in shortening of telephone hours – Bombardment near St. Eloi – very intensive. John Bull from R.
30th April 1916. Low Sunday. Glorious day – off duty – Kit inspection at 11 a.m. – much missing attributed to “shell fire” – Letter from R. ANS.