George Ryan’s letter home dated 30 July 1915

George Ryan’s letter home dated 30 July 1915
30 July 1915

Dear M & F,

Received your letter of July 2. I suppose you don’t know the post leaves London a day earlier now, that’s why I’m getting your letters a week late. You should post early Thurs morning or Wed night, but perhaps you will have found it out before you get this. I can’t do anything this end about the parcel of cigarettes you sent; I can only write & complain. Several fellows have written but it doesn’t seem to do much good.

Uncle Jack might have had my violin for Reg. You had better get rid of it; it’s no good keeping it.

I’m at Cossipore again this week, among the ants & mosquitoes. Shall be glad to get back to Dum-dum on Monday. I can sleep alright there but very few fellows can get much sleep here at night-time.

We’ve got our pith helmets at last. They are a bit lighter than the others, which we only wear for ceremonial parades now. (Church Parades etc.)

The Prickly Heat hasn’t improved. I got a bit wet coming back from Calcutta Mon night, that did it a bit of good. Rain doesn’t cure it but it eases it a bit. Chaps that have got it all over run out when it rains at night-time.

Heard from Bert again this week; I’m glad he’s being kept at home for a bit.

Hope you are all well.
Love to all,
Yr affec son

Notes of Message from Army Commander 27 July 1915

Notes of Message from Army Commander 27 July 1915
27th July 1915
In the course of his remarks, when addressing the Troops, the Army Commander said that he had not come there that morning to hold an inspection parade, but rather to say a few words to the Brigade before it left to join the new Army to which it was being transferred.
He was glad to say that, the long period during which the men had been engaged in Trench Warfare, had not caused them to forget how to stand still and to handle their Arms; their Clothing was against them and it would not have pleased those who were used to Aldershot Parades, but those who really knew soldiers, were able to judge, in spite of Clothing, and the Brigade had turned out as it ought to have done.
The General went on to say that, he need not remind his hearers of what they had done in the past, for that would be found written in the records, which would form the History of the War. Those, however, who were acquainted with the facts, knew the part which the 5th Division and the 14th Infantry Brigade had taken, in the early part of the War, and they knew that part had been at least an arduous one.
During the period that the Brigade had been in the Sector which it was then leaving, it had been occupied with Trench Warfare rather than with active operations against the Enemy, with one or two exceptions when although not actually employed as a Brigade, two of its Battalions – the Devons and the East Surreys – had been very hotly engaged at “Hill 60”, and by their efforts, had contributed very greatly, to the retention of that Hill.
Since that time, the Brigade had continued to be engaged in Trench Warfare, but Trench Warfare was not to be rated the dull sort of fighting that some were prone to think, as Army Commanders knew full well. Comparisons, the General remarked, were odious, but he had no hesitation in saying that, so far as the 2nd Army was concerned, and for that matter, so far as the Expeditionary Force was concerned, no Brigade had won so high a reputation for Trench Warfare as had the 14th Brigade, under General Maude.
During the operations that had taken place in the YPRES Salient, the 14th Brigade had been engaged in fighting which might be characterized as “Dull” from the Newspaper point of view, but the General reminded his hearers that unless a Commander can rely on the Troops that are holding the Line, he cannot withdraw troops as he otherwise might, for fighting else where. Whilst commanding the 5th Corps, he knew that the Line occupied by the Brigade was absolutely safe, and, he added, it was to the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and men whom he was addressing that he ascribed as much credit as he did to those who were engaged in the more active fighting.
The Army Commander concluded by saying that the Brigade was going to a new Army under General Monro and to a new Corps under General Morland, respectively, both of whom knew full well, the reputation of the Brigade.
On those whom he was addressing would devolve the responsibility of living up to the reputation which they had made and of forming the nucleus of the new Army, for they would be the veterans, and the 14th Brigade standard would be the standard which other Brigades would emulate; it must and it would be a high one, and if all the other Brigades reached it, both the Army and the Corps Commander would have confidence.
The General then expressed his sorrow that the Brigade was parting from the 2nd Corps and the 2nd Army, and wished them the best of luck.

Translation of a Memorandum, dated 11th July, 1915,

Translation of a Memorandum, dated 11th July, 1915,
drawn up by General CASTELNAU, Commanding the Group of Armies
of the Centre.
The Commander-in-Chief in a recent memorandum laid down general principles to be applied and the steps to be taken to deal with the type of attack as practiced at present by the enemy.
These attacks are invariably preceded by a heavy and prolonged bombardment.
Experiments carried out both by ourselves and by the Germans lead one to the conclusion that it is merely a question of employing the necessary amount of heavy artillery in order to ensure the destruction of hostile trenches. Defensive organisations are demolished. Judiciously placed shell-proof casemates and subterranean dug-outs, of which the Germans have rightly made such extensive use, are alone capable of resistance.
Hence it is no longer a question of spreading men all along a line which was considered proof to any attack; it is necessary to keep a large proportion of them in hand so that they can be brought up wherever they may be required.
For an army acting on the defensive the battle has only begun, when the enemy has crossed the front trenches. It lies with the Commander to have in hand the necessary resources in infantry and artillery, to enable him to intervene at the right moment.
Therefore, Army Commanders should take the necessary steps:-
1. To diminish the numbers in occupation of the front line trenches. The onus of defence should fall on small groups, judiciously distributed, supported by machine guns. The number of observation posts, shell-proof flanking casemates and subterranean dug-outs should be increased.
2. To organise sector reserves along the whole front.
3. To keep in reserve complete formations which can be easily moved.
4. To be able to reinforce rapidly the artillery on the front attacked. This implies the preparation of numerous emplacements, the allotment of zones of fire in advance, (destruction of enemy trenches and counter-batteries, tir de barrages.)
But it is not sufficient to pre-arrange the composition of sector and army reserves; it is essential that they should be able to come into action when and where they are wanted.
As a violent and continued bombardment, which is intended to destroy the front lines, generally begins one or more days before the attack proper, the local commander can anticipate this and make his preparations accordingly.
If the front line trenches are demolished, their garrison will be transferred to swell the numbers in the support trenches or redoubts and “points d’appui” situated to the rear. (Defensive organisations in depth are essential).
It is here, that it will be possible to check the enemy’s attack and to counter-attack so as to drive the enemy back. The success of a counter-attack depends on surprise and determination.
If delivered by the sector reserves, it must take place immediately. This is feasible:
1. If the details of execution have been minutely prepared in advance.
2. If these reserves are thoroughly familiar with the sector.
3. If their moral is unshaken (this entails their being kept immune from bombardment).
4. If they are well provided with grenades.
5. If our own artillery has kept up a continuous fire on the trenches which have been lost in order to prevent the enemy from establishing himself there, and has opened a tir de barrage to prevent the arrival of supports.
The counter-attack, carried out by Army reserves, should be as rapid as possible. For this purpose it is necessary to have studied and prepared their mode of action and employment in good time.
The enemy should not be allowed time to reorganize on the ground they have occupied, otherwise the whole thing will have to be started afresh like an ordinary attack against an organized front, which requires working out and preparing in every detail.
In order to use reserves in this way, it will be necessary:-
1. To have been able to withdraw them, if possible, from the effects of the bombardment and of the asphyxiating gasses (numerous alarm posts and shelters).
2. To be able to use them in spite of the enemy’s tir de barrage, (a study being made beforehand of their mode of employment; numerous communication trenches, a proportion of which will be strictly reserved for evacuation of wounded, dividing the ground into sectors etc.)
3. To have foreseen and prepared the action of the batteries specially entrusted with supporting the counter-attack (reinforcing batteries, preparation of emplacements, allotment of zones of fire etc.)

Whether carried out by Sector or Army reserves, the counter-attack must always be driven home. Exploit to the full the confusion and disorganization likely to arise in the enemy’s ranks, in order not only to drive him back to his own line but also to gain as firm a footing as possible in the hostile trenches.
An Army should deal with an attack delivered by a few brigades with its own reserves, without having to draw upon the reserves of the group of armies. The employment of the latter is worthy of consideration for such tasks as penetrating still further into the enemy’s position in the track of the Army reserves, and breaking the front, if opportunity offers.

The last page/pages are missing.

Alfred George Richardson’s Diary July 1915

Alfred George Richardson’s Diary July 1915


1915 diary shows Bombardier Gunner (Signalling Dept) A. G. Richardson 4th Section, West Riding Divisional Ammunition Column R.F.A., Norfolk Barracks Sheffield.

Home Address:- Station House, Ben Rhydding near Leeds. Yorks.


Au Grand Bois d’ Estaires – Caestre – Watou.


Thursday 1st July 1915:           Went to H.Q. for forage & rations.  Packing up all day.  Moved off 8.15 pm. with A.S.C. wagons & cooks’.       Staff  4th Section set off at 9.  Passed through Neuve Berquin, Vieux Berquin, Strazeele & arrived Caestre 11.45 pm. & found billets & watering place.

Friday 2nd July 1915:               Got up 6.45 am.  Went for forage & rations at 8 am.  3 miles away.  Came back in motor.  Left Caestre at 8 pm. via, Steenvoorde & arrived 1 mile from Watou at 12 pm.  On Guard.

Saturday 3rd July 1915:           Awake all night.  Drew rations & forage at 8 am.  Went, for first time, into Belgium, 3 Kilos past Watou.  Asleep all aft.  Shifted position 1 Kilo away (nearer Winnezeele.  Slept in the open.  Saw Reg Rhodes in Belgium.

Watou – Poperinghe.

Sunday 4th July 1915:             Reveille 7.  Went for forage at 8 to 3 Kilos past Watou in Belgium.  Saw Arthur Bilbro’.  Church Parade at 12.  Visited Arnold.

Monday 5th July 1915:            Went to Watou for forage & rations at 8 am.  Back at 11.  Parcel from home.

Tuesday 6th July 1915:            Went to Watou for forage & rations at 8 am.  Back at 11 am.  2 spies attack Holmes on guard & steal his rifle.  Alarm in Camp.

Wednesday 7th July 1915:       Went to Watou for forage & rations at 8 am.  Back at 11.  On Guard at night.  12 extra on Guard.  Sharp look out kept.  Nothing doing.

Thursday 8th July 1915:           Went to Watou for forage at 7.  Back at 11.  Left Winnezeele at 6.30 pm. & went via Poperinghe to camp near Woesten.  Arrived there 11.30 pm.  4th Sect arrived 3.30 am.  Bed at 3.45 am.  A*** at 4.45 am.

Friday 9th July 1915:               Went to Watou for rations.  Set off at 5.30 am & arrived there 8.45 am.  Left 11.30 am & arrived Peselhoek [Pezelhoek] (A.S.C. H.Q.) at 2.30 pm.  Left 5.30 pm & arrived “home” 7 pm.  Had tea & went to bed, requiring a well earned rest.

Saturday 10th July 1915:         Reveille 6 am.  Went to Peselhoek for rations at 7.30 am.  3 shells drop near at 7.10 am.  44 shells burst ½ mile away in late afternoon.

Sunday 11th July 1915:           Went to Peselhoek for rations at 7.15 am.  Back at 11. Stables at 12.  H.Q. in afternoon.  Moved position to another field ½ mile away.

Monday 12th July 1915:          Went to Pezelhoek for rations at 7.15 am.  Back at 11.  Stables 12.  Afternoon holiday.

Tuesday 13th July 1915:          Went to Peselhoek [Pezelhoek] for rations & forage at 7.30.  Back at 11.  Went for letters in afternoon.  Terrific attack by Germans at Ypres.  (Took 400 shells).

Wednesday 14th July 1915:     Went to Peselhoek for rations.  Moved position to a place 1 mile from Poperinghe: (near Peselhoek).  Left 8.30 pm. & arrived 11.30 pm.  Raining hard.  Wet through.  Terrible.

Thursday 15th July 1915:         Rose at 5 am.  Wet through.  Went to Pezelhoek for forage & rations at 8 am.  Back at 11.  Filled nosebags.  Wrote letter home.

Friday 16th July 1915:             Went to Peselhoek [Pezelhoek] for forage & rations. Filled nosebags all day long.  Went to H.Q. for stores.

Saturday 17th July 1915:         Went to Peselhoek for forage & rations at 7 am.  Back at 9.30.  Afternoon holiday.

13th N.B.  There was a terrific bombardment of German heavy artillery on Tues night for 5 hrs.  Poperinghe was also bombarded almost each day with “Jack Johnsons”  Tues we took up 400 rds.

Sunday 18th July 1915:           Went to Peselhoek for forage & rations.  Tobacco & cigs issued.  Afternoon holiday, spent writing.

Monday 19th July 1915:          Went to Peselhoek for forage & rations.  Back at 9.30. Received large pcl from home & letter.  On Guard at night.  Turner fired a shot.  Guard turned out.

Tuesday 20th July 1915:          Went to Peselhoek for forage & rations.  Moved position once again; this time into a wood 2 miles from Poperinghe.  Rumours about leave.

Wednesday 21st July 1915:     Went for forage & rations to Peselhoek at 7.  Back at 9.30 am.  Filled nosebags.  Cpl Wilf Dawson came over tovisit me.  Champion aft spent.

Thursday 22nd July 1915:        Went for forage & rations at 7.  Filled nosebags.  Wet day.  Letter & blanket from home.

Friday 23rd July 1915:             Went for forage & rations at 7 am.  Put up 50 tents for Kitchener’s Army in wood & painted them.  No breakfast, no dinner, no tea.

Saturday 24th July 1915:         Went for forage & rations at 7 am.  Received blanket from home.  Cpl Clarkson goes on leave.

Sunday 25th July 1915:           Went for rations & forage at 7.  Raining.  Aft sleeping writing & reading.

Monday 26th July 1915:          Went to Peselhoek for rations.  Received pcl.  Free Press                                          & letters from home.  On Guard at H.Q.

Tuesday 27th July 1915:          Went for forage & rations at 7.  Received parcel from Miss Whitaker.  Out exercising at night on a mule.

Wednesday 28th July 1915:     Went for forage & rations at 7 am.  Raining.  Went to interpreter at farm house with Jack & Luke R.  Went for letters at 12 noon.  Afternoon holiday.  Wrote letters.

Thursday 29th July 1915:         Went for forage & rations at 7 to Peselhoek.             German aeroplane over us.  Shrapnel drops in our camp.  Out with wagons at night.

Friday 30th July 1915:             Went for forage & rations to Peselhoek at 7.  16 Jack Johnsons fired at Poperinghe.  Saw one burst.  3 ***.  Afternoon holiday.

Saturday 31st July 1915:         Went to Peselhoek for rations at 7.  Cpl Clarkson comes back from home leave.  Brings a letter for me.  Afternoon holiday.  Writing letters & reading.  2 Taubes over us.  Heavily shelled.

G G Hammond letter July 15

P/e G.G. Hammond no 3142


Dear Father & Mother

I received your letter yesterday when I was in a very depressed condition.  I was put in charge of a prisoner to go on Church Parade. There was a corporal with me and the rotter gave us the slip.  Things don’t look exactly cheerful as it may mean a DCM, but as the prisoner turned up last night it may ease things a bit.  I have not the slightest idea now how the commission will go on, it may be alright but I am afraid I shall stay as a common Tommy, still it will save a lot of money and it will be a lesson to me.  Now don’t begin imaging all sorts of awful things will happen to me as the prisoner was a desperate criminal and I had received no definite orders to take charge of the man.

I received a letter from Uncle Tom yesterday I will just let you know what he says.  “Your Father tell me you are trying to get a commission.  I hope you do.  I shall be pleased to help you in cash.  I will do all I can for you.  It is very generous of him, but it may not be needed now, of course we learn by our mistakes but it is a frightful disappointment for me.

Gladys G. wrote me some time ago saying she was going to go to Mac and she said that in all probability she would come round to see you.

I am going to see Captain Nasmith sometime today and see if he will sign a note for me to go and be examined by the doctor.  You know I have not given up hope yet.  Tell Timmy I will write to him soon.  I have been very busy lately and tonight we- the Grenadiers- are having a night attack from 10- to 2am.

I have just been up to the BOR. The prisoner has been remanded for a DCM.  We have not been tried yet.  I have just asked the Captain to sign my paper for the doctor & he did it quite willingly.  With regard to the “Watch” I wanted one like the other I had once.  They were gold.  I don’t know whether you understand but I wished to pay for it if the Com. Does come off.  I shall have to have either a gold or silver one.

I will send Uncle Tom’s letter on to you after I have replied to him.  Will write more when I feel a bit better, I have a rotten headache.

Love George


Letter to Will from F Hammond 24 Jul 15

62210 RE

9th Sig Co

HQ 28th Bde

24 7 15


Dear Will

Just a line to let you know I am OK.  I recd your letter the other day alright.  We are in our rest billets now after our first experience in the trenches.  I am pleased to say there were no casualties in our Section altho one fellow had a lucky escape from a shrapnel bullet which struck his pliers and penetrated thro a quarter of an inch of leather finally finishing up in his pocket.  Two more of them had a shell on the top of their dugout but were successfully dug out.  There was plenty of shells and a village was laid to the ground by the Huns.  There were no bayonet charges but it took the Commanders all their time to keep the Scotties in the trenches at times.  There is an old German trench which the Canadians took some time ago full of German dead but it doesn’t half hum.  Sorry I can’t give you our position but we expect to have it pretty hot as we are further advanced than any other portion of the English Line & when the Huns have finished with Russia if they manage to we expect they will try to avenge our advance here.

The Germans have plenty of spies out and they are a clever lot in that respect.  They dress up as officers etc.  There is one round here & it is said the man who catches him will have a 100 fr & a fortnight in England.  I only wish your humble could only meet him.  I suppose Geo will get his Com OK.  I think the conditions the Col referred to is only in peace times altho I suppose they try to keep up to the same style.  Anyway I hope it comes off altho from what I have seen of Comns in the Infy it is no sinecure & a man deserves to be at least kept by the army for what he has to do.  Altho we are in rest billets we don’t get much freedom & as a matter of fact I would much prefer to be where we have left.  It is supposed Sgt O’Leary won the VC in the trenches where we were.  Well I think this is all at present OM.  Hoping to see you at Xmas 11 11  Fred.

F Hammond letter 19 Jul 15

62210 RE Sigs

HQ 28th I Brigade

9th Sco Div

19 7 15


(I tried darning a pair of socks yday made a nice bunch of it.)


Dear Mar & Pa

I got a letter from Gladys the other day in it she asked if I had received my cake.  I sent you a letter about a week ago saying I received the parcel etc.  I don’t know whether it landed to you.  We are at a big farmhouse and very comfortable.  There was a small encounter the other night it was just like being at Belle Vue.  They send lights up at night which light the country up for miles round.  I am at the Headqrs of the Brigade.  The only thing we get is the noise of the big guns occasionally.  I heard from Will today and he told me that Geo had an offer but that they required about £50 per annum.  Well if it is possible I am willing to let him have £1 per month if that would be any use.  I don’t suppose they require £50 in war time but it’s only to make it appear difficult to obtain.  I know plenty of men who have got commissions who never possessed that sum without working for it.  I think with Geo’s education, profession & experience in the army he is quite fit to take it on.  Of course there will be expense at first but I think that could be met.  Well you might let Geo know what I think.  Oh Bye the way when I left for overseas I sent a big kit bag home with several things in it did you ever get it.  Glad to hear of Gladys medal for tennis.  I expect to see Gold Cups etc in the house when I come up.  So Arthur B is a ***** for the time being I suppose he’s walking up and down the road like a retired Knut.  So Turk is a legal dog now.  I did my washing today and suppose it will be about dry now.  What is the matter with the Welsh Miners?  There’s always something the matter with some section.  I hope the Govt skated it over until apre la Guerre.  The flies are a nuisance out here.  I am still in the pink of course.  We are very quiet and live like country farmers.  Of course we have always got the section wits to console us.  Well I think it is all this time.  Hope Gladys passes her exam & Geo gets fixed up also that all are well.

Love to all  Gus.