H.E. WITTY Dec 16
18th SIEGE BATTERY R.G.A.
1st December 1916. Friday. The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.
2nd December 1916. Saturday. The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.
3rd December 1916. Sunday. The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.
4th December 1916. Monday. The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.
5th December 1916. Tuesday. The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.
6th December 1916. Wednesday. The page covering 30th November to 6th December is missing.
7th December 1916. Thursday. Off duty. Nothing doing as usual. Weather very little changed. Marked improvement in rations. No Mail.
8th December 1916. Friday. On duty with A.A. Langstone leaves for home duty tomorrow. Very quiet day again. No MAIL. Coal ration from BAZENTIN. Did Ford’s & Keywood’s correspondence.
9th December 1916. Saturday. Off duty. Arrival of men from Eng. Had a lot to say. Spent the time in bed. Had a warm time with it. Good mail. Letters R., Ma, home (also pcl), May, Wally Taylor, Scott (also papers) and Hilda. Ans with pcs. Sent £2 to R. and 10/- home.
10th December 1916. Sunday. On duty with A.A. Drizzling day. Observation and visibility still very poor. 7 O.R. and Mr Tribe to go on leave morning of 12th. NO MAIL. Ans Yesterday’s Mail except R.s (to be sent later). Very quiet day in all ways.
11th December 1916. Monday. Off duty. Nice clear day – Much activity in the air. Two HUN Planes brought down. Leave postponed until 13th owing to congestion at HAVRE. Bosches throws plenty of scrap iron over – NO MAIL.
12th December 1916. Tuesday. On duty again with A.A. Candling returns ”Wonders of Blighty”. Letters R. and Badge Pcl (Mrs. Harpson). ANS. Also wrote Frank re 1917 diary – Heavy rain with snow. Prep of forward position. Bottomley here yesterday.
13th December 1916. Wednesday. Off duty – in bed most of the day. Fitted up a toaster on the Primus. Wet day again – Very cold. NO MAIL. Payne returns – missed the boat.
14th December 1916. Thursday. Nothing doing today. Weather still continues cold and wet. Dug-out very damp. Cold a little better today. Warned for O.P. tomorrow. Hope it clears up. Letters G. and Gilbert (to be answered 16th ). Razor returned from LEEDS. Continuous shelling of MAMETZ WOOD.
15th December 1916. Friday. At O.P. with Mr. Campbell. Fine day, cold, with intermittent fog and rain. Dug-out ‘a foot’ under water. Some place. A sudden rift in fog revealed a German train to left of LOUPART WOOD. Disappeared before we could get the guns on to it. Saw occasional Huns on Bapaume Road. High Wood and vicinity of O.P. shelled with 5.9. letter from R. (ans by P.C.)
16th December 1916. Saturday. On duty with Shippen. Still cold rainy and thick. Very little activity. Letter from Douglas and P.C. from Gilbert. Frost to be made A.J. Tate to return to gun. Recommendation for B.S.M. (home Service) required.
17th December 1916. Sunday. Off duty. Very little doing. Four men to go on leave on 20th. still cold and muggy. Spent a good part of the day in bed. Letters Mother, Frank and N.T. answered 19th.
18th December 1916. Monday. Nothing doing. “Western Water Carrier”. 12 petrol tins ¾ of a mile. Phew!! No rain but very thick. Fritz throws his customary scrap iron into the wood. Letters Doris and Kathie. Papers (home). Ans tomorrow. Issue of Whale Oil for Frost Feet. Sergt. Major’s inspection.
19th December 1916. Tuesday. On duty with Shippen – Very cold & frosty with snow. Great improvement on the fog. Fritz shells our neighbourhood with H.V 4.2. pretty near the Amn Dump. NO MAIL. Coal hunting a speciality at BAZENTIN.
20th December 1916. Wednesday. Off duty. Lovely sunny frosty day. Saw about 50 planes up. Fritz very busy with H.V. LX in action C.B. letters R. and Mr. Taylor. P.C home. Ans. Knight and Cable return former very despondent. Blighty ideas had adversely affected his morale.
21st December 1916. Thursday. Off duty. Much rain and increase of mud. Heavy shelling of the vicinity about 7.30 p.m. “Knights’ Scare”. Nothing doing otherwise. NO MAIL. “Coal raiding again”. Gill returns.
22nd December 1916. Friday. On duty with Shippen. Very clear day – but fickle weather. Guns and planes very active. Letters R. (Christmas Card), Taylor, ”Times”. P.C. from Frank. Letter from Scott. ANS. (R. with P.C.).
23rd December 1916. Saturday. Off duty. Very little doing. Procedure as usual. Letters N.T., Mr. Woodthorpe (with Photo), Gilbert and papers home Ans with pcs. Letters to be answered on Xmas day. Shelling in Mametz Wood.
24th December 1916. Sunday. Walked up to Bazentin Canteen for grub. Nothing doing. Also coke picking. Weather warm with a little sun. NO MAIL. Intermittent shelling.
25th December 1916. Christmas Day. Monday. Fine clear day. Very high wind. Splendid for observation. On duty with Shippen. Splendid feed for dinner. Quite a “Christmassy air”. Major’s neat speech in round of dug-outs. No armistice. Bosches shell High Wood heavily. Papers Ma and “Times”. Ans previous mail.
26th December 1916. Boxing Day. Tuesday. Shell fell in our vicinity last night. Chiefly “duds”. Off duty. In bed as usual. Very little doing. NO MAIL. Wet and misty.
27th December 1916. Wednesday. Scouting for grub at the Canteens. Very fine just like a warm summer day. Mud chronic. NO MAIL. Three leaves come in. ready for moving forward.. sent Renie’s letter off.
28th December 1916. Thursday. Cold clear frosty day. Fritz drops 12” shells (firing from Achiet) near us. Narrow shave for Calley and myself. Shell very Flying Corps. Good mail. Letters R., Ma, Mother, Marshals C.C.C., Cards Mag and Mum. Books from N.T. Ans (30th). Wrote Carter and C.C.C. re Gardening notes. Shippen goes to”Signalling School”.
29th December 1916. Friday. At O.P. with Mr. Tribe. Heard wonderful stories of ’The New England’ and “a sub’s experiences in London” most amusing. Very dull and wet in morning but cleared in afternoon. Saw numerous parties of Germans walking up the slopes and on the ’High Road’. Also two officers on horseback. Unable to fire on them owing to lines”DIS”. NO MAIL. Many shells (5.9) in the vicinity of O.P. Awful sights now visible in High Wood neighbourhood the recent heavy rains having revealed the shapeless bodies and skeletons beneath the surface. Erection of a great Cross in memory of 1st DIV officers and men.
30th December 1916. Saturday. On duty with Gill. Very warm day but dull. Nothing doing. Had a bath while on night duty. Letters (& pcl) from R., Home, Mrs. Hampson, Pc from Frank, (AW) & Gilbert. Answered all correspondence.
31st December 1916. Sunday. Off duty. NO MAIL. Warm but foggy. Repairing telephone dug-out side of which collapsed last night. Had a good bath. End of 1916, a year of triumphs and failures! Where will the new year lead us? Surely to Victory. Instinct seems to tell me that this is our last Winter Campaign. Will Christmas 1917 find me at home? I feel deeply grateful that I have been spared through this year and have endured successfully the exposures, dangers and hardships active service entails. Here’s to a quick ending and a speedy re-union with my beloved wife. Written in my dug-out BAZENTIN.
Summary of Year’s Mail
Letters Pcls Pcs Papers R. Home
472 64 37 67 109 99.
On back cover of diary: – Mrs. Hampson, Groveside, Westhoughton, Bolton.
Pte. H. G. Witty 37735 33rd I.B.D. 3rd West Yorks. A.P.O. Section 17 B.E.F.
- W. Taylor, 153863 B Section No 4 Motor Amb Convoy B.E.F.
Private Arthur R. Witty, 33613, Block 29/B, 27th Company, 19th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Gefangenenlager Dulmen i. W. GERMANY Prisoner of War.