H.E. WITTY Oct 16
18th SIEGE BATTERY R.G.A.
1st October 1916. Sunday. Most energetic day – Left at 7.30 for TRONES WOOD to dig dug-outs for the H.Q. worked hard until 6 p.m. and then had a six mile walk. Well fagged out ere camp was reached. Grim relics in TRONES WOOD of the fight. English and German dead mixed up. Young English Officer lying there. Pockets rifled and buttons and adornments taken away. Went to pick up a German boot & found a leg inside it. Whew!!!! Much fighting in the air and intense artillery duels continuing. NO MAIL.
2nd October 1916. Monday. A miserable wet day. In the office in the morning and part of the afternoon. Spent the rest of the day in the “bed” reading. Letters R. & Gladys. ANS.
3rd October 1916. Tuesday. Nothing doing yesterday for me. Working parties at Mountauban and Trones Wood. Very dull and showery. NO MAIL. New Biscuits have arrived.
4th October 1916. Wednesday. Turned out 6.30 a.m. and went to Flash to remove camp. Very hard work. Finished 4 p.m. Heavy rain in the morning. Cleared in afternoon. Harper’s M.D. (at Trones Wood). NO MAIL.
5th October 1916. Thursday. In the office. Windy but no rain. In the office. Rumours of a move. Nothing doing. All packed up ready for going. No Mail. Interesting conversation with French soldier.
6th October 1916. Friday. Parades 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for inspection purposes. Busy in the office. Word from Rouen that ‘Barney’ was en route for Blighty. Fine day again. Left X returned to camp in Fricourt. Scarbro’ Post from Bee re trawlers.
7th October 1916. Saturday. Left the Loop at 3.30 p.m. after an idle day. After many trials reached MEAULTE (4 miles) at 7 p.m. NO MAIL. French Officer gives us entertainment on Badgy’s Bugle and trumpet. Fine day but wet night. Stayed here over night.
8th October 1916. Sunday. Heavy rain. Still in Meaulte. Saw 3 guns captured from Germans. Apparently Belgian guns manufactured in Liege. Back to Fricourt again and installed in another German dug-out. Apparently this one has been some Headquarters as it has been fitted up with electric light, heating etc. A chute provides for ventilation. Previous occupant has left his name for his successors. E. Einderits. I wonder what his fate has been. Perhaps the shell which broke in the corner has his name on it. Saw some prisoners today working at Meaulte, two of whom spoke English well. One thought our ‘tanks’ equalled their Zepps in “Frightfulness”. Splendid Mail. Letters & Books (R.). letter and papers (Mother). Letters Bee, Douglas, Mrs. Smith, N.T. and Scott. To be answered tomorrow.
9th October 1916. Monday. Tween found dead in bed this a.m. Verdict & cause at present unknown. Fine day. Kelly at O.P. meet Bottrill again. On telephone. Ans yesterday’s correspondence. NO MAIL. Reported capture of Bapaume.
10th October 1916. Tuesday. On telephone line in morning – saw Hun sniper’s post – NO MAIL. – Very little doing. On night duty. Fine day. Saw Maj. About speaking to Colonel re Commission.
11th October 1916. Wednesday. On telephone otherwise nothing doing. 4 on working parties. Letter R. and G. and shirts from Gamages. ANS. Fine day. Warned for O.P.
12th October 1916. Thursday. Turned out at 4.30 a.m. for O.P. Motored to BAZENTIN- LE-GRAND and walked to O.P. near FLERS via HIGH WOOD. Had a splendid view of GOURDECOURT, EAUCOURT, LE SARS, WARLIENCOURT. BAPAUME about 6000 yds. On a clear day time by clock easily distinguished. When shall we get it? Saw the boys attack at 2 p.m. after a terrible bombardment – not a casualty as far as German front line. Amazed at the splendid way the boys walked across. The treatment of a German who rushed out of his trench. Am wondering what today’s result is. Returned 6 p.m. Saw many wounded, 80 prisoners passed the O.P. NO MAIL. Pay up.
13th October 1916. Friday. On telephone. Fine day. 80 prisoners passed today. No report of yesterday. Arrival of 44 Siege and 53 Siege. Good Mail. Letters Marshall, Kathie, R. (from Crossgates) Frank, M, J.B. (R.). Books (N.T.) ANS. Had a bath underground!!
14th October 1916. Saturday. On duty. On telephone. Gill at O.P. Fine day. Prisoners passing. O.C. told that Colonel intended to recommend me for a commission in R.E. Signals. Wait & see. Letters Mag, Mother, N.J. & Alice. Also pd from Home. Ans.
15th October 1916. Sunday. On telephone – very cold – issue of winter blankets – Letters R. and Ma. Ans. Reported attack – no news.
16th October 1916. Monday. Very little doing – Rare sight today. German aeroplane over the camp. Shells drop in the vicinity. Gun to go to Havre again. Fine day tho’ chilly. Letter from Mr Taylor. ANS. Calley at O.P. intensely cold.
17th October 1916. Tuesday. Very unsatisfactory day. On duty 3 to 6 a.m. and stayed in bed until 11 a.m. had a walk up to left X in afternoon. Quaker Oats for supper and bed at 7.0 p.m. on duty again midnight to find a pouring rain. Much warmer. Letter R. to be answered later.
18th October 1916. Wednesday. On telephone otherwise very little doing. Wet day and cold. Had a tour of the various canteens. ANZAC’s jolly good. NO MAIL. Winter holder downwards reverted as formation to be made in Group.
19th October 1916. Thursday. On telephone in the morning. Wire from 4th Army that we had to move to HAVRE. Modified to the extent that only artificers and guard were to accompany guns. Much tribulation. exceedingly cold wet miserable day. Shippen at O.P. Moved into another dug-out. NO MAIL.
20th October 1916. Friday. Frightfully cold this morning when I went on duty at 3 a.m. Ugh!!! Stayed in bed until 11 a.m. had a stroll to O.P.F. Heavy German counterattacks fail. Glorious clear day. Enemy aircraft active – two brought down in view of Fricourt. Letters Mother and G. ANS. tonight when on duty.
21st October 1916. Saturday. On telephone. Another intensely cold day. Reported success near Warlencourt. Rumours of leave!! Improved and made most comfortable our little dug-out. (in the Somme). Fitted up a sleeping bag on my bed. Hope it is a success. Spent last night rubbing myself to help the circulation. Finished Mrs. Firth-Brassey (Jolly good). Mail. Letters R., N.T., F.Aus & Mr. Carman. ANS.
22nd October 1916. Sunday. On telephone 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Very cold. My sleeping bag well tested last night proved a perfect success. Mr. Mallins joins 48 Siege on temporary duty. Reading ‘Hocken & Hunker’ (Q) NO MAIL. Caudlin at LE SARS O.P. Spent day ratting and playing football and then suddenly discovered it was Sunday. Shall I ever become accustomed to the old fashioned Sunday?
23rd October 1916. Monday. On telephone last night and during the day. Cold slightly modified. Inspection of gas helmets, field dressings etc. by Major Read. “Profit & Loss” by Oxenham. Very good. Mail up. Pcl (home). Letters Miss R., Scott, Mr. Carter. Ans.
24th October 1916. Tuesday. On telephone during early morning – rain sets in with an appreciable fall in the temperature. Spent the afternoon in bed. As nothing doing inclement weather stopping operations. Letter from Humberstone. Ans. List of first 10 men for leave sent in to H.Q. Will it materialise? Reading “At the Foot of the Rainbow”. Bott to move to A.J. in BAZENTIN WOOD.
25th October 1916. Wednesday. Telephone midnight onwards. In bed part of morning. Spent afternoon reading “Queed” (Harrison). Exceedingly wet. Miserable day. On duty 6-9 (Pay day). Letter R. Ans. Rumours of an early move forward.
26th October 1916. Thursday. On telephone 9 to 12 – and also at midnight onwards – Weather showery and chilly. ‘Rumour of Leave’ still in atmosphere but no materialisation at present. Finished “Queed” absolutely it. Reading “8days” (Forrest). Things very quiet on the whole. NO MAIL.
27th October 1916. Friday. Midnight to 3 a.m. rather cold wet and miserable. On telephone 5 – 9 tonight. Very little doing owing to inclement weather. NO MAIL. Spent morning in bed! Only thing to pass the time.
28th October 1916. Saturday. On telephone 6 hrs as usual. Clear cold windy day – Excellently for drying. Working party goes to BAZENTIN WOOD for railway construction. Obtained a new tunic from Q.M.S. NO MAIL. Shell drops in 10 Siege Officers’ Mess. 2 killed (Lt. Reed over in 18 and Major of 21st Heavies who was a guest). 3 wounded and O.C. suffering from severe shell shock.
29th October 1916. Sunday. On working party constructing light railways in BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND for the transport of amn direct to batteries. Heavy rain and a rotten task – finished at 3 p.m. and arrived in camp 4.15. good mail. Letters R., Ma, Home, Kathie, Gilbert (pc) and Marshall. ANS.
30th October 1916. Monday. Walked to O.P. via BAZENTIN-LE-PETIT & HIGH. Awful day of rain and mud (up to the knees). Had a good view of BAPAUME to the left of which easily distinguished Germans walked along the main road. Three shells dropped in vicinity of O.P. one to left, one to right and one behind in a radius of 20 yds. Ugh!! Walked as far as CONTALMAISON on return journey where was met by car. Met young Bennett in BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND – looked well with his three stripes. Car stuck on nearing FRICOURT and we had to walk to bty. Change. A wash and tea made a new man of me. I have grave doubts that B– will fall this winter. The Butte looks as impregnable as ever. Letter from N.T. ANS.
31st October 1916. Tuesday. Collapse of dug-out entrance 3 a.m. Had to dig ourselves out removing about a ton of earth. Repairing the damage in the morning. On telephone in afternoon. At H.Q. in evening. Visit of enemy planes tonight bomb dropping. Destruction of lorries and A.S.C. canteen. NO MAIL.