1 East York’s R Report 4 January 1916

1 East York’s R Report 4 January 1916


This Reconnaissance was made with the object of finding a way into the enemy’s line with a view to a “silent” raid.


1st E. York R.


Report of Reconnaissance in front of trenches 81 – 83.


Monday 31st Jan[Dec] 1916[?15].      Lt Huntriss left trench 83 No M.G. emplacement at 10 p.m. with two Corporals and followed the line of Willows & on reaching the last one proceeded towards the Salient C.23.c.8.7. a ditch was crossed which could easily be jumped and then a dry ditch.  The patrol then passed through a wire fence some distance from the enemy’s trenches & then proceeded directly for the enemy’s trenches about C.23.c.8½.6½.  Here, when lights were sent up, knife rests could be seen in front of enemy’s parapet but no weak point was noticed.  On returning the patrol crossed a sap which appeared to be grown over & disused & knowing this was not the way they came by they re-crossed it & proceeded towards what they thought to be their starting point.  This was found to be a mistake on shots being fired at them which at first was thought to come from trench 84.  This was discovered to be wrong on the TREES in front of LE HALLOTS FARM being noticed.  A left handed direction was taken which brought the party into the L’AVENTURE – FRELINGHIEN RD &then they returned still being fired at.  Even if a weak point had been discovered it would not be a possible to guarantee leaving a party there owing to its great distance from our lines.


Another party consisting of 2Lt Green & Sergt Barnes left trench 81 bay 15 & crossed the stream in front by bridge C.29.a.3½.5½. & proceeded Northwards for about 30X & then S.E. to enemy’s wire about C.29.A.6¼.5¼.  There they discovered what was thought to be a very suitable gap for the enterprise, the wire being badly damaged & very low as far as it was possible to see.  Two sentries were heard talking just to the left & somebody was walking up & down the footboards.  The party then returned.


Another party went out from Trench 82 under L.Cpl Kelly & proceeded to enemy’s wire C.29.A.8.7. but failed to find any suitable place.


Tuesday 1st Jan 1916.  A party went out under Lt Huntriss to confirm the information gained by Lt. Green on the previous night & proceeded by the same route.  The wire was reached & a weak spot noticed.  Many “Crows feet” were parked which were intended to stick in one’s knees.  A gap was found & apparently the same sentry post was noticed but on this occasion the sentries fired into the wire.  This was again thought to be a suitable place.  The position was kept under observation by listening posts of 1 N.C.O. & 5 men until 5 a.m. but no movement was seen.


A party under Lt. Green set out from M.G. emplacement in Trench 83 with a view of reconnoitring the ground about C.23.c.9.4. but owing to the great distance & the dense mist the party lost their bearings & after great difficulty returned. The ground is very unsuitable for night operations owing to the lack of landmarks.


Wed 2nd Jan 1916.  The enemy’s wire was observed through glasses throughout the day & the conclusion arrived at was that the wire about C.29.A.6 ¼.5 ¼. was the weakest.

A party under Lt. Huntriss left trench 81 with a view to making sure of the former & also of penetrating the wire if possible. On getting about 50X from the enemy’s wire it was discovered that [a] wiring parties were working on a frontage of about 150X. At the same time sniping was very brisk about the gap & on to the ground in front.  A covering party in front of wire was suspected & it was hoped to take a prisoner but on closer investigation the firing was found to be coming from the trench.


The party returned about 11 p.m. & a M.G. was turned on the wiring party.


It was then ordered that a party should go an hour later in order to investigate the gap & see if possible whether it had been closed. When the party arrived within about 50X of the enemy’s wire a great deal of sniping took place the bullets hitting the ground in front of the wire.  The party however continued to within what was thought to be 5X of the gap.  The sentry fired into the gap & the *** & a piece of the wire pierced the forehead of Sergt Baines who was slightly wounded.  Not being able to ascertain the nature of the wound the party returned.


In addition the party heard a great deal of movement in this sector & sniping on the ground in front from all sections. Men were running about & a lot of extra talking took place.  The sentry posts were about 4 times as numerous as previously.  The conclusion is that the enemy are suddenly very much alert or else a relief has taken place.


3rd Jan 1916.  A patrol consisting of Lts Huntress, Green & 2 Corpls & 6 men went out from Bay 30 of trench 82 & proceeded to bridge in willows at & from thence towards the German trenches at ?

The wire was found to be strong & formed of large Knife rests. The patrol then returned & proceeded to work along to the right about 100X & then again to within about 20X of the German wire.  Here again large Knife rests were noticed but a gap was seen between 2 of them which was subsequently found to be *** up.  The patrol was out from 10.30 p.m. to 1.40 a.m.


A strong patrol consisting of 2 N.C.O.s & 10 men went out from trench 81 in search of a white flag with orders to watch it carefully & to attack any party they saw. The flag was not discovered.


Wed 4th Jan 1916.   During the day the German lines were carefully observed through glasses & a position located at — where the knife rests appeared either to cease or to be hidden by a rise in the ground.  The ground behind this appeared to be free from wire except some trip wires on the parapet.  Some distance behind the German front line could clearly be seen a large earthwork which is supposed to be a M.G. emplacement & which commands the front of the German parapet.


It was decided to investigate this position & at the same time to search the willows for a German Listening post.


The patrol consisted of Lt. Huntress, 2 N.C.O.s & 2men & supported in rear about 20X by Lt Green, 1 N.C.O. & 6 men.  The party left trench 82 bay 30 at 10.30 p.m. & proceeded to bridge at —- & thence to 6 ft along the whole line of willows but no listening post was discovered.  They then worked towards the German lines at —– & a working party was heard putting out wire.


Lt Huntriss’ party crawled as near as possible without detection, followed by support at 20X distance.  Both parties could hear the working party talking & one man was thought to be working towards the party with a coil of wire & it was hoped that he would get close enough to the patrol to be captured.  As this did not occur Lt. Huntriss sent to supports for 3 men & decided to approach near enough to rush the party.  When three men arrived delay was caused through one of our men coughing & he had to be sent back & replaced.  When this was done the word was given to go forward but they rather suddenly seeing three men walk along the wire from the left from the working & the whole disappeared over their parapet.


Suspicions that the party would be relieved & also that the party of 3 might be a listening post relieving, the patrol waited about ½ hour on hearing or seeing nothing returned.


The patrol was out from 10.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. The patrol had some difficulty in getting back & although carefully warned the 15th D.L.I fired on them.


F Hammond letter 23 Jan 1915

Dear Mar & Pa
Just a line to let you know I received your Pars letter yesterday. Sorry to hear Mars not so well but hope she will be OK again ere you get this. I am practically free from my cold now just a little hanging on me. The weather is very wintry at present the ground being covered about 6 inches in snow and well frozen. We had a practice at football yesterday morning. Just the right thing for warming one’s blood up. Must congratulate Gladys on her smart performance and hope she will keep it up. Had a letter from Will the other day he seems to be up to the eyes in work. I also had a little letter from Geo saying he had been over on Leave. Believe he’s going rather strong over at Southport? I got the enclosure in your letter am wondering whether it is really worth bothering about seeing that I have left it so long and don’t think the war will last so very long now. Anyhow if you think I should you might mention it again in your next correspondence. Will doesn’t seems to forget Miss S. he mentioned her in his letter to me. It reminds me of the fellow who read his character at Blackpool. You’ll have to be very determined with this young man. Well I think this is about all this time just gogging along quietly. Just do what you think fit about the war Loan business.
Luv Fred.

Cover On Active Service FPO D? Ja 17. To E. Hammond, 9 Countess St. Stockport. Passed Field Censor 2812 Cachet Biro 23.11.17

Letter has been folded into four. Outside front quarter has been overwritten later. Shown in text in Bold

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Jan 1916

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne


Extracted from


Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda &







January 3, 1916.


“Even though it was for so short a while I was very glad to get leave and see you all again. I arrived back at the battery this morning.  We expect to be off at any time now.


Tomorrow I am out all day on a Divisional Field Day.


D/175 Brigade.

Corton Camp.




JANUARY 4 1916.

D, 175th BRIGADE R.F.A.




“We are nearly ready to move now and expect to go any day. All leave for men and officers had been stopped here, so I am afraid I shall not be able to get away again.

The weather down here is really awful, and the mud. I have been out with the infantry to-day, getting to know the officers with whom I shall have to work at the front.  I shall be a forward observing officer, and shall sleep one night in three at the Headquarters of the 4th Battalion Tyneside Scottish.  My job will be to direct artillery fire over the telephone to support the infantry.


We drew all our first lot of ammunition on Saturday. 704 rounds of 18 pdr. shrapnel shell.  I wonder how many Germans we shall kill with that little lot.


I had a good day on Sunday. I left camp at 10.30 a.m., arrived at Finchley at 5.15 p.m., left again at 8.15 pm, and got back to camp at 8.15 a.m. on Monday morning.  Some travelling for three hours at home.  Au revoir.


BATH 7.57.p.m. 7th January 1916


Payne, Christchurch Vicarage, North Finchley, N.


We leave early Monday letters to France.  au revoir.



January 8, 1916.


“I wired yesterday to say we were leaving early on Monday morning. If you did not get the wire it was stopped by the Post Office.  Please send letters to France.


Now we are in a muddle and rush to pack and clear up. I have tied all the Horses’ tails in my section with Cambridge blue ribbon to distinguish then during transhipment.  I have one train for my section alone, two guns, horses, men wagons and baggage.  Au revoir.

Boyton Camp.






“The Left Section of “D” Battery left the camp at Corton at 11 a.m., and marched to Codford Station. As this was my section I was in charge, but Hopkins came with us.  It was a fine morning.  Several people came to see us off.  While Hopkins superintended the loading of the vehicles, I entrained the horses.  My mare was very stupid and gave a lot of trouble.  We travelled via Salisbury, where we dropped a R.A.M.C. Colonel who had asked for a lift.  We arrived at Southampton at 3 p.m., and immediately detrained.  I inspected the horses and discovered no casualties.  After signing the embarkation book we went on board the S.S. “North Western Miller” of the Furness Line.  We sailed at 8 p.m. for Havre.  I was lucky in getting accommodation in the Chief’s cabin.  After attending to the posting of stations and seeing the horses fed and life-belts served out, I turned in and wrote a letter home.  I had already sent two wires from the docks.  My wristlet watch, a luminous one went wrong; my first casualty.  We sailed without lights.

The appearance of the horses closely packed between decks in the flicking lamp-light was most weird. All their heads swayed with the motion of the ship.

At Codford we entrained in 25 minutes.






“We had a smooth crossing, and arrived off Havre about 4 a.m. Then we anchored, and waited for the tide.  I was up at 4.30 a.m., a bit tired but not much.  It was a beautiful morning.  We remained at anchor until 11.30 a.m., when we entered harbour.  All the officers were on the bridge.  After a long delay the ship was tied up to the proper hangar.  We saw Hopkins and Freeman-Cowan waiting on shore with sixty of our gunners.  They had preceded us in an old paddle-wheel steamer.


The Landing Staff caused trouble by interfering with our arrangements. The Staff as usual gave us a job of work to do and then worried us by all sorts of ridiculous suggestions.  Why cannot they leave us alone?  We are quite capable of disembarking.


The horses were turned loose in the ship and driven down a gang-way to be caught by the drivers at the bottom. My mare did not like it at all, and again caused trouble.  The hairies, however seemed glad to be on firm ground once again, and there were no casualties.


As at Codford and Southampton I again had charge of the horses. We sorted them out as best we could on the quay side.  After a lot of trouble in finding our guns and vehicles and watering the horses we hooked in and moved off to No. 5 Camp on the Havre-Harfleur Road about 5 p.m.  In the dark we marched through the wilderness of the docks to the camp.  There we found good hard horse lines under cover.  The officers and men slept in tents.  It was quite a warm night.


We had dinner in the officers’ mess at the price of 3 fr. 60 cs. each. After dinner Freeman-Cowan and I stood coffee drinks to all the men of the battery at the Y.M.C.A. Canteen as no arrangements had been made for a meal for them.


Then we went to bed on the floor of our tent by candle light.


My impressions of the place are few and seem to include only acres of dirty water, miles of dirtier quay-side in the wildest confusion with a population of English ladies selling coffee and German prisoners, guarded by a few French Territorials in grubby uniforms, working on the railway and making camps.


I posted a card home.



On Board a Transport


January 11, 1916.


We arrived safely, although the Ship’s officers tried to frighten us by saying there were submarines on the look out for us. We had an escort of two destroyers.


We left Codford by train yesterday morning about 11 a.m., and arrived at Southampton Docks about 3 p.m., so you see we did not hurry to leave England.  My section got on board quite safely without any mishaps.  I was lucky in getting the chief’s cabin to sleep in on the way over.  There were 16 officers with us and accommodation for only 10.  so six had to sleep on the floor.


The crossing was quiet and without incident. I do not know what awaits us on shore as we have not yet landed.


The B.C. is walking up and down outside my cabin at the moment making sundry rude remarks, or jokingly pretending he is the skipper of the ship, ordering us to weigh anchor, hoist the mainsail, water the horses and such like.


The poor horses have had a bad time, and my mare gave a lot of trouble. She is so nervous, and had to have a separate compartment, and even then I thought she would kill herself.


We have started our battery mess, and I am in charge of ours. In order to get these arrangements going and to get accustomed to messing by batteries on Friday last we eat in our bedrooms and slept in the Brigade Mess Room.


One night I went into one mess and found some sausages hanging out of the window by a string to keep them cool. My first effort was breakfast of porridge, eggs and bacon, and marmalade and toast.


I ran into Bath on Friday night to make some last minute purchases, among them a luminous wristlet watch, but it has already gone wrong.


The men had a bad night as they were so crowded. Last night we all put on our lifebelts and paraded at emergency stations in the dark, for we shewed no lights.  It was weird.  Not far from the ship we could just make out the forms of our escorts.


As I write I can hear the bells of Havre though faintly. But I cannot see much yet.


My kit is cumbersome and wearying. It consists of a revolver and thirty rounds of ammunition, field glasses, flash lamp, map case, haversack full of toilet articles, gas helmet, water bottle, knife fork and spoon in a case, a megaphone, compass wire cutters, and what not.  I am sure I shall lose half of them before long.


Did you get my wire from Southampton?





The first sounds of the early morning I heard were made by a Company Sergeant Major shouting in a raucous voice for “B Company”. We had breakfast in the Officer’s Mess at two francs a head.  The morning was occupied in “stables” and arranging the guns and wagons in the roadway.  It rained heavily the whole time.  Detachments paraded at 1.15 p.m., hooked in at 2 p.m., and moved off to the Gare des Marchandises to entrain.  I had considerable amount of trouble in getting the horses into the wagons.  They were boxed in eights, four aside and facing inwards, and fastened by breast ropes and by roof rings.  A fussy little Railway Transport Officer interfered and made confusion worse confounded.  He did not show much knowledge of horses.


Two companies of the Tyneside Scottish travelled with us. Before leaving we obtained some hot coffee served to us by English ladies in the station.  I had our mess boxes placed in our carriage, and brought four large French loaves, the Illustrated London News of December 25th and La Vie Parisienne.  Captain Longhorne and Hopkins were in one carriage, and Freeman-Cowan and I in another.  The men were in cattle trucks.


We commenced our journey about 6 p.m. Twenty minutes later we had dinner of bully beef, bread and jam, with tea to drink.  The train was tediously slow, and took us through Rouen and Boulogne to Calais. Hopkins was ill.  I slept moderately well on the seat of the carriage under my Burberry.  I was very tired and a bit stiff, caused by the weight of my equipment, which I had worn all day, and to which I was unaccustomed.  Late at night we had some coffee and cake.






I was awake before dawn, and saw we were passing through Calais.  For breakfast we had bread, bully beef and tea.  I gave the men two loaves.


Our train consisted of about fifty wagons and carriages propelled by two engines, one in front and one behind. It seemed that when one wanted to progress with some speed the other desired to stop or save coal, thereby neutralising one another’s efforts and considerably delaying our progress, which was accompanied by shrill and almost continuous blasts from their whistles.


After leaving Calais we passed through Audruicq.  Later we arrived at St. Omer, where we thought we should detrain; but we passed through.  G.H.Q. is at St. Omer.  Finally we arrived at Wizernes, five hours late.  We were glad to detrain, and did so quickly.  Again I had the horses to see to, and detrained them by means of two moveable ramps.  We watered at the river Aa, and six horses fell in.  Finally we got away about 5 p.m., and marched for Herbelle, which is about four miles due south of Wizernes.  It was a dark but moonlight night, cold and with a high wind blowing.


I had to bring up the rear, and had great difficulty with one wagon, which the horses refused to pull up hill. One man was thrown and trodden on.  We actually marched about five miles and parked in a meadow with an inconveniently narrow entrance.


The Battery Headquarters and B.C’s billet were in a farm in the village. Cowan and I managed to find a bedroom over the village schoolroom at the top of the village.


There were no casualties to the horses, and after watering and feeding we issued horse rugs. After dinner of soup, three eggs each, bully beef and a very tasteless village loaf, Cowan and I turned in and sought our beds.  There was no water, so we had to search for it in the dark, finally procuring it from a pump in a farm near by, and carrying it in our canvass buckets to our room.




Billets.             A,B, & C Batteries at Clety.

Headquarters and D Battery at Herbelle

The Ammunition Column at Inghem.






I had breakfast at 8.30 a.m., of porridge and eggs. Then we went to stables and I saw to the erection of incinerators, latrines and cooking places.  “C” Sub-section was 35 minutes late for early morning stables.  An aeroplane went over, and contradictory to orders every one stared up at it.


It was a beautifully fine day. In the afternoon I took the horses for water over to Therouanne some two miles away.  The river Lys flows through the place.  I also did some shopping but could not get much, and I was done over change.  I tore my breeches and damaged my leg.


Later we changed the horse lines.

We heard that the 176th Brigade had lost over a hundred horses in a stampede caused by a hail storm, and that A/175 were seven hours wandering about looking for their billets.  The telephone was installed in our billet and wired to Headquarters at the house of the village cure.  Our first mail arrived.


January 14 1916.


D/175, Bde. R.F.A.

34th Division,




We arrived, and the weather is now beautiful. Fortunately we had no casualties on the journey, except very minor ones.  Disembarking the men, guns and horses took some time, and we were not ready to move off till dusk.  Then we had some way to go through the streets and other camps, before we arrived at our lodgings for the night.  The officers got dinner for three francs per head in the mess, and slept in tents.  It was not very cold.  Next day we left camp for the station at 2 p.m.  All were on the train by 5 p.m., the men and horses in cattle trucks.  The officers of our battery had a compartment in the carriage at the end of the train to accommodate two.  The journey started at 6.30 p.m., and we travelled all night.  It was very slow.  There were two engines, one at each end.  When one wanted to stop, the other did not, and the result was a snail’s crawl.


We arrived at our destination at 3 p.m., the next day. For meals on board we managed to get a primus stove going so we were alright.


After we had detrained we watered the horses, six falling into the stream. At dusk we took the road, and marched five miles to our billets.  On the way one wagon would not go up a hill, so I had to obtain spare horses and see it going again.  One man was thrown and trodden on, so I put him in the mess cart.  The roads are not too bad here, but the cars move at such a rate that they frighten the horses.  My mare as usual gave a lot of trouble and was full of life even after the long journey.  I felt rather tired, and my equipment was heavy, and I am unaccustomed to wearing it.


We finally got into billets about 9 p.m.  The horse lines were in an orchard.  Then we dined on fresh eggs, and bully.  My bedroom is over the village school-room, and I share it with Freeman-Cowan.  The mess is in a farm a little way away.  The men are in barns in the village.  Our two troubles at present are sanitary and drawing rations and forage.  The water for the horses is also a long way away.  This afternoon I had to take the horses four miles for water.

However it is better that Corton.


JANUARY 14 1916.

D/175 Bde R.F.A.

34 Div. B.E.F.

Somewhere in France.


Our first post has just come and I got five letters. At last we are here.  We started last Monday at 10.30 a.m., and arrived last night Thursday at 9 p.m.,  As we are not allowed to mention places I will only say that we came by the usual route for troops.  We marched from camp to station by sections.  My section had a train to itself. We had 1 ½ hours to entrain and we did it in 25 minutes.  The train being troop, moved as such, but it eventually got us to the port of embarkation.  It took some time to get all the men, guns vehicles and horses aboard.  We started at night, escorted over by a war boat of sorts.  I was very lucky and managed to get the Chief’s berth on board, as he was on duty on the bridge, so I slept in comfort.  Some of the officers slept on the cabin floor.  It was a large boat and took a large number of horses.  The poor brutes did not relish it at all.  It was amusing to see all their heads swaying to the movement of the boat.  The Ship’s officers tried to be funny, and told us that there were three submarines on the look out for us.  However we arrived at our port in safely; but it took us from 4 a.m., till 1 o’clock to get into dock.  Then more trouble and worry until about 5 p.m. we got clear, and watered the horses and hooked in.  My mare was very restless and fooled about a lot.  We marched about three miles to our camp, and slept in tents.  We managed to get a fairly decent dinner at 9 o’clock.  The next day we entrained for a long railway journey.  One long train took the whole battery, horses, guns and men, in cattle trucks, and one carriage behind for the officers, two officers to a compartment.  We loaded up with our mess box, primus stove, 5 French loaves, bully beef, jam and tea.  I got the loaves from a stall where English ladies were doling out food to the men.  There is a story of a man who came down after behind in the trenches for a long time, and went up to one of these stalls, and said “’Ere, miss oi’ve bin told as ‘ow yer are Hinglish.”  Assured he went on “Good Gawd, lets ‘ave a look at yer.”


Our journey started about 6 p.m. Two engines helped us on our way, as much as in them lay, one to the front and one behind.  When one got tired, or wished to economise in coal, the other wanted to go full speed ahead and whistled like fury.  The net result was a snail’s crawl full of jolts and jerks.  I managed to sleep fairly well on the seat covered by a Burberry; but I could not get a wash for 36 hours, and I was black.  We passed through many well known places, and arrived at our destination at 3 p.m.  We detrained and watered our horses, six fell in the river.  We marched 5 miles from the railhead to our billets in a small country village.  The battery headquarters are in a farmhouse, horses in the open, and the men in barns.  I have a

room is over the village schoolroom. One man was thrown and trodden on during the march so I shoved him in the mess cart.

On one wagon caused trouble as the horses refused to pull up a steep hill. I did not wish to leave it behind as it had my kit on board.  The village people are most hospitable, and we are busy learning French with a Yorkshire accent.


I like these old French villages but they are dirty.


My mare gave a lot of trouble coming across, but she has arrived quite safely. In the train she had to have a partition put up for her, and she objected very much to the ship.


We have developed into thieves out here, by what we call “collecting”. We have already one cart, two horses, hay, oats, and harness to the good.





I was up early and took stables and also the exercise. The day was spent in cleaning harness and vehicles.


Why is it that no one troubles about lights in France, as they do so strongly in England?


A large post arrived. Censoring letters is rarely amusing and generally boring.  It is our evening’s occupation.  I wrote home.  I felt tired and out of sorts.  The village is getting frightfully muddy.





Today I felt very ill. I had a bad stomach ache similar to the one I had last summer.  It must be the bad food or water.  Consequently I was very dull and dismal, and also bored.  I laid telephone wire, paid the battery in francs.  Later I wrote letters in answer to the three I had received today.





It was a fine morning, but later it turned to rain. I was still feeling rotten, but occupied myself in gun laying, sight testing, and telephone laying.  That together with stables fully employed me.  More letters arrived.


We heard that one of our transports when returning was torpedoed.





It was a wet day, occupied in dull routine. I was orderly officer, drew rations in the morning, and took stables.  Watering horses here is a perfect nuisance.  We have so far to go.


Could not our wonderful Staff find a more convenient place for a horsed unit in all this waterlogged country?





We again changed our horse lines to a field next the farm. The old were already hock high in thick mud.  Of course we had a frightful row with the inhabitants, who strongly objected to our spoiling their land.  What else can we do?  We must keep our horses as fit as possible.

The evening turned in wet again. No doubt the new horse lines will be just as bad tomorrow.





I took long exercise in drill order, passing through among other places Therouanne. This place seems to be an interesting road junction of several quite straight roads, which meet here to cross the river Lys.  Doubtless these roads are of Roman origin.  One running in a north westerly direction may have joined another in the neighbourhood of Lumbres which runs straightly in the direction of Boulogne.  Perhaps Roman legionaries went these ways journeying to Britain.  On this occasion we had a hail storm and I got thoroughly wet as I had no coat.  It was very cold too.  I took stables, and after lunch laid some more telephone wire.  I received a box of cigarettes from M.  Later I wrote home.


This country side is not prepossessing. Why is it that the French are so dirty.  Is it because there is no better class to set a good example?  But then why is there no better class as there is across the channel?  There is a great distinction between the chateau and the village.  There is the cure, but he usually does not seem to be better than he should be, at least in cleanliness and his habits.


The numerous signs of their religion are curious. Every where giant crucifixes and wayside shrines, which the troops call “Jesus boxes”.  Their religious decorations and observances are almost grotesque, and the power of priests great, but the inhabitants of the villages do not seem to be more moral than the English, while their practices are certainly more superstitious.


Upon them descends the British army! With its curious little ways.  The General curses the C.O., who curses the B.C., who curses the Section Commander, who curses the Sergeant, who curses the gunner, and all because the rifles are dirty.  But then how could it be otherwise, seeing that there is no oil to clean them with.  How can we make bricks without straw?  So the gunner goes and consoles himself in the village estaminet and spends the few francs which a grateful country allows him on bad beer and the village women.  Who can blame him?  Still I am surprised how few there are who live riotously.


Living among the people here is very different to spending a holiday in Paris or Brussels.  I remember my former visit with my Father to these parts, when I got very different impressions.


JANUARY 20 1916.


Thank you very much for the Cigarettes, which are much appreciated. Up to the present we have been existing on packets of nasty Will’s cigarettes called “Scissors”, really terrible things.  Things are much the same here as in England only worse.  The mud is terrible.  Apparently you did not get a wire I sent you from Southampton.  I gave two to a dock hand to send for me but neither seem to have arrived.






I rode in to meet new officers at Refilling Point, which was at a place 800 yards south west of the “h” in Pihem, but they did not turn up.  So I rode into St. Omer with six horses and the mess cart.  We arrived there at 1 p.m.  I went to the station and saw the R.T.O., who informed me that they had gone.  Thanks to Captain Simmonds of the Artists Rifles, I was able to water and feed the horses at the cavalry barracks.  The Artists are G.H.Q. Guard.  I had lunch with him at the infantry barracks.  Then I went to the Field Cashier and drew 75 francs for myself.  I bought a Morning Post and a Nash’s magazine.  We started back at 2.30 p.m., and rode home against a head wind.  I was very tired when I got in.


I heard that D. d’ A Clarke (18th Division) had been killed, and also General Fitton, G.O.C. 101st Infantry Brigade.


Our new officer is one Cheadle, an Australian just out from Colchester.





In the morning I took exercises and watered at Therouanne. In the afternoon the officers of the Division went in motor busses and wagons to Divisional Headquarters for a lecture on Gas Attacks and Gas Helmets.  We arrived so late that we returned immediately without being instructed.  So the army works.  We arrived back at 7 p.m., too late to do anything.

We heard that Baugh Allen, Adjutant of the 152, Brigade had been sent to the Base suffering from D.Ts. What a noble exit!  Also Fletcher of B Battery is under arrest for neglect of duty, and Newnham of the Ammunition Column as well for drinking in an estaminet with a French poilu.


On the way I saw a British officer try to jump his horse over the high iron foot-bridge at Arques. The horse caught its foot in the iron bars and tore its foot badly.  This officer was put under arrest by Harvey Coomb, the A.P.M.  We went by Herbelle, Bientques, Wizernes, St. Omer, Arques, Fort Rouge, la Crosse, le Nieppe.  All arrangements, of course, by the staff, with the result that all officers, Colonels to junior subalterns were kept away from their units from noon to 7 p.m., without profit, with a considerable wastage of time and petrol.


The difference between the English and French soldiers on guard is very striking. The latter slouch about anyhow.

I received a parcel of cigarettes and writing paper from home. The evening I employed in writing home.

The telephone communication in the division is shockingly bad, and the Staff consistently inconsiderate, which I suppose is the nature of Staffs.

I am very glad we are leaving our dirty and smelly billets.




19-23 Janvier 1916

Lait,                             3 frs.50

Beurre,                                    5 frs.

Oeufs,                         5 frs.50.

Pommes,                      3 frs.60.

Pommes de terre         0 frs.80.

Oignons et carottes     0 frs.70.


Charbon pour faire la cuisine et

chamber chauffee,                               12 frs.


31 frs.10.


Groceries, Maison Klob-Royer,

19, Place Victor Hugo.

St. Omer.


Expeditionary Force Canteen, 100, De Reske Cigarettes, 7 frs.


Madame for mess room                      36 frs.50.





The day was fine for our move from Herbelle. I paraded my section without undue confusion or loss.  We marched by Inghem, Ecques, Roquetoire, Wittes, our destination.

On the way the two horses of the baggage wagon gave up. I had to get men on the drag ropes, send for leaders.  As a result I got left behind with the wagon.  I put two men under arrest for buying in shops on the line of march against orders.

We left at 11, a.m., and arrived at 3.30 p.m.

Our new billet at Wittes is much better and cleaner than the last. We have a mess room, two bed rooms, a servants’ room and a kitchen.  Freeman-Cowan, Cheadle and myself are in one bedroom, which is certainly an arrangement which suits me.

At Roquetoire we passed the 54th Territorial Division, which had been out some time but made no move.

Here we can hear the guns firing quite plainly.

We are near the railway and also a stream. There are no stables and the horses are on open lines.  The mud is worse than ever, and the sergeants are disgruntled because there is no room for a mess.



The 34th Division was attached to the 3rd Corps, First Army.  The Brigade moved into billets at Wittes.


January 23 1916.


We have moved our quarters today, and are now in much cleaner billets. We are also near a stream, so it does not take us such a long time to water.

I have been to G.H.Q. twice in two days. Once by car and once on my horse.

The mud is the worst I have ever experienced, so I wear gum boots all day.




As it was my turn for Orderly Officer, I was up early. The whole of my left section was late for stables.

After breakfast I rode into Aire to shop. I went to the Expeditionary Force Canteen for groceries, and then to a greengrocer.  I spent about thirty francs.  In the Square I bought the Sunday Times and Pictorial and La Vie Parisienne.  I delivered letters at the Field Post Office.  I had much trouble purchasing nut-meg, as I could not remember the French name.  There were three people in the shop, whom I completely mystified, but at last a girl understood.  I also bought two sacks of coal.  My mare cast a shoe, so I had to send her home and rode back in the mess cart.  I got back in time for stables.  After lunch it came on to rain, so I rugged up the horses at once.  One horse in C Sub-section died in some agony from pneumonia.  I had it dragged by two of the farm horses through the yard and buried in a hole or rather pit dug with considerable labour by the troops.

After tea there were prisoners for trial. Captain Towel came for dinner at 8 p.m.  I received a letter from Reg.  Went to bed late very tired.




I changed the Left Section’s horse lines to a place nearer their billet. I took exercise of the left section.  A driver went up to an overworked and much harassed storeman and asked,”Where are the latrines?”  The reply was, “Dunno which wagon they were packed on.”

A dog arrived and was duly taken on the strength. His name is Chirgwan, the white eyed kaffir.  He becomes the battery mascot.  He is a small black dog with the aforesaid eye.

I have a bad cold and felt very ill and rotten.



Orders were received that the 34th Division should relieve the 23rd Division in action at Armentieres, the 175th Brigade relieving the 104th Brigade R.F.A.




I was ill and in bed all day, with a bad cold. The doctor visited me, and told me to remain in bed.  I read “In the Firing Line”.  I received a letter from Father and a parcel of two books, which were acceptable.




I felt much better and got up. Later the doctor came and saw me.  I did not go out at all, wrote five letters, and went to bed fairly late.  Captain Langhorne went up to the front to visit the battery we are relieving shortly.




I felt rotten again, but took early morning stables. The weather was very bad.  Marching drill started in the afternoon, and I took some gun laying.

Lice troubles among the men begin.




I turned out my section in marching order. We were inspected by Colonel Stevenson, who was in a very bad temper.  He said my harness was disgraceful.  This was quite untrue.  It had never been so clean.  C, gun team was exceptionally good.  At the end even the Colonel grudgingly admitted it.  He was also annoyed because the blankets were rolled on the saddles instead of overcoats.  We had a short route march to Boeseghem, followed by stables.  A bad morning.

All afternoon was occupied with harness cleaning as a result of the cursing. It was quite clean this morning, but even the Colonel could not find a speck now.  The trouble is that these pre-war regular officers expect these new troops to keep their horses and equipment as clean as they did in peace time in barracks.  They forget that the horses are standing in fields, and sometimes the equipment is never dry.  The conditions cannot be compared.

In the evening there was a lecture on gas-helmets at Brigade Headquarters. The scene was weird.  The interior of a smelly village schoolroom, dimly lit by three guttering candles.  Officers sat at desks suited for infants of three.

The Doctor took up his tale. He explained that the Germans had used a new and deadly gas, which had put the staff at their wits’ end.  It travels low and quickly, and though apparently not at once noticeable, it is effectively deadly enough up to 9000 yards.  At first it causes lassitude, and then is lethal.

This was most interesting and cheering news!! Especially as this is the worst time of year, and we go up into the line in a week.  It was a strange sight to see all the officers sitting solemnly in this tiny schoolroom in the dim light with their gas-masks on, looking like members of the Spanish Inquisition holding a midnight sitting hatching some horrible plot.

After dinner I had a bath and was in bed by nine o’clock.




Hopkins, whose turn was next, departed this day for the front line, and I was left in charge of the battery.  Cheadle was Orderly Officer, and took rough exercise at 7 a.m.

The battery paraded at 9.30 a.m., when I gave them a lecture on gas and gas-helmets. I rubbed in what I heard last night.  The whole battery put them on twice under my directions.  Then I inspected mess-tins, bandoliers, ammunition, water-bottles, field service dressings and identity discs.  We are all wearing gas masks slung in new satchels.  I inspected rifles and found them dirty.  After stables I changed my left section horse lines for a better place.  I thought I had better make hay while the sun shone, the battery commander was away.

The day in reality was very dull, a moist, cold foggy day.

My mare is lame. She was pricked in shoeing.

The Captain returned.





The battery went out under Captain in marching order. We left at 9.30 a.m., I got cursed because the harness was not as clean as it should be.  I had not had harness cleaning the day before because I considered it more important to do what I did, viz, inspect the mens’ equipment and teach them about gas.  We marched by the main road Wittes to Racquinghem, turned right at Belle Croix for Wardrecques Station, and so back by the outskirts of Blaringhem to Wittes.

In the afternoon we did harness cleaning, and stables.


JANUARY 31 1916.


A large bundle of magazines has just arrived. Four other officers wish to convey their thanks also, for here we have all things in common.  It is extraordinary how the arrival of the Post is the event of the day.  It arrives about 1.45 p.m., and is delivered in an enormous mail bag, full of parcels and letters for the battery.


We are five in the mess. There is the Battery commander Captain Langhorne, who was for about four years A.D.C. to General Willcocks in India, then there is Hopkins, who has been in the army for ten years.  The next in seniority is Freeman-Cowan, an “enfant terrible”, fresh from the “shop”, and quite a good sort.  The other is Cheadle, who has only held a commission for 8 weeks.  He is a better sort of Australian.


I am Mess President. We live chiefly on our rations, which consist of Beef, bread or biscuit, tea, sugar, bacon, jam, tinned butter, salt, pepper, mustard, and sometimes potatoes.  Everything else we buy, such as eggs, fresh butter, milk and vegetables.  But the mess cook is the limit, slack and oily, and half asleep, assisted by one who is even worse.  So you can imagine my trials.  It is a red letter day when we get a clean cloth for the table and clean utensils.


Gas. Now why on earth can’t the Boche – strafe them – wage war like gentlemen, as in old days when the doughty knight rode forth clad in armour and all that, and the troops were drawn up on either facing one another.  Then some one called out “Are we all present?  Then let the fight begin”.  Now if you please, we wander about like with satchels slung over us carrying two gas-helmets – just like school boys.  These things have to be inspected once a day by N.C.Os and three times a week by Section Commanders, and once a week by the Battery Commander, besides numerous returns saying all is correct, or indents asking for more.  But the sight for the gods is to see us in these things, for we look like the Spanish Inquisition let loose.


There has been a good deal of artillery activity lately and the guns have been making a bit of a row. The French do not seem to mind the Zepps a bit.  And they do not darken their towns at all as we do in England.


Yesterday we received boxes in black and gold containing chocolates from the colonies of Trinidad, Granada and St. Lucia.  The colonies have turned up trumps.  They have at least done more than was expected of them.


An officer wrote home the other day for some photographic chemicals. His letter was promptly opened by the censor, and court-martialed for having a camera in his possession.  It is just as well I did to not bring mine out.


Alfred George Richardson’s Diary Jan 1916

Alfred George Richardson’s Diary Jan 1916

Inside front cover: – A.G. Richardson, Scarbro’ Dec 29 1915


317 Bombr A.G. Richardson, 4th Section 49th (W.R.) D.A.C.

B – E – F. Somewhere in Belgium.  Jan 2nd 1916.


Brought at Scarboro’ Dec 29th 1915.


On Memoranda from 1915.

Enlisted in 49 (WR) DAC Dec 9th 1914.

Went to France April 16th 1915.

Entered Ypres District July 3rd 1915.


Went on leave to Ben Rhydding Dec 25th Xmas day.


“Great Push” – opposite THIEPVAL July 1st 1916.



Ben Rhydding – Boulogne.

Saturday 1st January 1916:      Left Leeds 12.30 am & arrived London (St Pancras) 6.30 am.  Had good breakfast & dinner in London & left Victoria 12.55 pm.  Left Folkestone 4 pm & had a terrible & trying crossing.  Tremendous gale.  1½ hrs crossing 2½ hrs to enter harbour.  1 drowned, 2 legs broken, 12 scalp injuries.  Arrived Boulogne 8pm.  Marched up to St. Martin’s Camp 9.30 pm.

Sunday 2nd January 1916:       Rose at 7.30 am & spent day in St. Martin’s Camp Boulogne.  Two good meals at E.F.C.  Left Camp 5.30 pm & left Station at 7.30 pm.  Awful journey.  Terribly slow train and very uncomfortable carriages.  Practically impossible to sleep.


Monday 3rd January 1916:      Arrived Poperinghe Station 2.30 am.  Had a cup of coffee at Y.M.C.A. & along with Barber lugged 50 Gramophone Records up to D.A.C. where we arrived at 4.30 am.  Went to bed 5 am & slept till 3 pm.  Interview with Capt. P.H. Walker about my stay at Ben R.  On H.Q. Guard!  The Limit.

Tuesday 4th January 1916:      Left H.Q. guard at 6 am.  Left camp for rations at 8 am & went up the West Veeteren Road to the old 49th Div dump.  Attachd to 14th Div. A.S.C..  K’s army seem awfully jealous of us.  Corpl. A. Clarkson mentioned in            Sir John French’s Despatches for delivering amn on May 9th, 16th, & Dec 19th 1915.  Whole camp “pleased as Punch”.


Wednesday 5th January 1916: Set off 8 am on a mule with party from H.Q. to go & find new billets in next position.  Mule no good.  Came back & got an Australian horse named “Lion”.  Collided with a wagon & wrenched my ankle.  Very painful.  Saw Doctor.  Ordered to bed.  Sergt Casson goes with party.

Thursday 6th January 1916:     Ankle rather painful.  In bed all day.  Busy packing up ready to move away.  Saw Doctor.  Massaged my foot.  Spent day sleeping & reading.

Poperinghe – Esquelbecq.

Friday 7th January 1916:         In bed all day with my ankle, but greatly improving. Reading & playing games all day.  Packed up ready to leave our position.

Saturday 8th January 1916:     Reveille 4 am.  Left Poperinghe 7.30 am. – Pattinson comes to grief on his wagon, which upturned, but is            only badly shaken.  Long & cold journey through Watou, Wormhout, to Esquelbecq, where we arrived at 7 pm.  Good night’s sleep in barn.


Sunday 9th January 1916:        Resting my ankle all day.  Settling down in new quarters.  Lawson goes for rations.  Decent people in farm & a ripping barn to sleep in.  Gramophone at night.

Monday 10th January 1916:    Went to Arneke at 7.30 am 7 Kilom away.  Ripping place.  Market Day – plenty of mademoiselles about.  Delighted with dump.  Fine place in the square near the Church.  Grand scenery – Roads excellent.  Out in village at night.

Tuesday 11th January 1916:    Went to Arneke for rations at 7.30 am.   Arrived there at 9 am & left 10.30.  Plenty of estaminets on the way.  Arrived back at camp at 12 noon.  On Guard at night.  Sergt Casson dead drunk – Capt. Walker has row with him & asks my opinion of him.

Wednesday 12th January 1916: Went to Arneke for rations at 7.30 am   Exchanged my A.S.C. horses for two fine black mares of Brayshaw W.  Back in camp at noon.  Out in village with Harry Eagle in afternoon & at night.

Thursday 13th January 1916:   Rose at 5.30 am & went to ARNEKE for rations at 7.30.  Arrived there at 9 am & left 10.30.  Back at Esquelbecq at 12.30.  Went for letters with Eagle.  Out in aft at Maximillian’s.  Gramophone working

Friday 14th January 1916:       Rose at 5.30 am to go for rations to Arneke.  Fine weather.  Back at noon & called for letters.  In “A l’agriculture” at night with the gramophone.

Saturday 15th January 1916:   Rose at 5.30 am to go for rations & left at 7.30.  Afternoon holiday.  Played H.Q. at football & beat them 3 – 2 after a good match.  At “Maxi’s” at night.

Sunday 16th January 1916:      Rose at 5.30 am & went for rations at 7.30 am.  Back at noon.  Letters.  Afternoon holiday.  Beat 10th Battery 3 – 1 at football. Arnold & Ralph came over to see me.  Very pleasant at “Maxi’s” at night.

Monday 17th January 1916:    Rose at 5.30 am & went to ARNEKE for rations.   Back at noon.  Went to Baths at Begus-Cappel in aft.  Saw Peter & Clarence Borthame from Bolton Abbey.  Pleasant chat.  On Guard at night.

Tuesday 18th January 1916:    Rose at 6 am & went to Arneke for rations.  Returned at 12 noon.  At ”Maxi’s” at night.

Wednesday 19th January 1916: Rose at 6 am & went to Arneke for rations.  Called at “Pomme d’Or” & had rum & coffee.  Returned at noon.

Thursday 20th January 1916:   Went to Arneke for rations.  Writing letters in aft.

Friday 21st January 1916:        Went to Arneke for rations.  Returned at 12 noon & called for letters.  “Maxi’s” at night.

Saturday 22nd January 1916:   Rose at 6 & went to ARNEKE.  Had chips & steak at “Au Soleil”.  Had a feed in village at night.

Sunday 23rd January 1916:      Went to Arneke for rations at 7.30 & again in aft at 2.30. Arnold plays on the Church organ.  Enjoyable aft spent.  Nice organist.  Returned on bike & had 2 spills owing to greasy roads.

Monday 24th January 1916:    Went to Arneke for rations at 7.30.  Returned at 12. Letters at H.Q.  Went to H.Q. in afternoon.

Tuesday 25th January 1916:    Rose at 6.30 am & went to Arneke for rations.  Returned to Esquelbecq at 12.30 pm.  Called for letters.  Aft washing & cleaning up.  At “Maximillian’s” at night with arcadians.

Wednesday 26th January 1916: Rose at 6.30 am & went to Arneke.  Returned  12 noon & called for letters.  Aft spent at estaminet “L’Agriculture”.  Also at night there.

Thursday 27th January 1916:   Rose at 6.30 am & left for Arneke at 7.30 am.  Back at 12.30 pm.  Spent the afternoon at “L’Agriculture” – a very enjoyable aft.  On H.Q. guard at night with Cairns, Humphries & Turner.  Terribly cold.

Friday 28th January 1916:       Returned to camp at 6 am after a terrible & cold night. Had breakfast & went to Arneke at 7.30 am, arriving there at 9 am.  Left Arneke 10.45 & back at 12.30 pm.  All amm (old 5”) taken back & new 4.5” taken to 11th Battery.  At “Maxi’s” at night.

Saturday 29th January 1916:   Rose at 6.30 & went to ARNEKE for rations.  Visited “A la Pomme d’Or”.  Called for the mail.  Afternoon holiday spent playing football.  At “Maxi’s” at night

Sunday 30th January 1916:      Went to ARNEKE for rations at 7.30.  Beautiful fine morning.  Had chips at “Au Soleil”.  Returned at 12          noon & called for the mail.

Monday 31st January 1916:     Went to Arneke for rations.  Returned 12 noon.  In village in aft.

H.E. WITTY Jan 16

H.E. WITTY Jan 16


  1. Section


1st January 1916.  Saturday.  OFF DAY.  Very wet – played footer in morning.  Reading ‘Les contes des collines’ and writing afternoon and evening.  Letter from R.  ANS.

Gormley’s court martial **holder before Major for shooting a dog in camp – got off with a rep.


2nd January 1916.  Sunday.  At gun position on telephone in morning, afternoon and evening reading *** letters from Ma, Mrs. Bailey, Dorothy Marshall. ANS.  Much rain. DAVIES came in morning.


3rd January 1916.  Monday.  Barleys shot G “inconnue femme” with revolver 1 am.  Bethune Hosp.  arrival of 52nd Bty to relieve us.  Sent to Mauser Range to point out wire to new signallers (20 J. Gentlemen) 400 yds wire “wiped out”.  Returned after dinner to repair it.  Smith & I heavily shelled (Shrapnel).  Much damage in canteen *** of Garston and parc from BETHUNE.  PC from Kathie.  Letters Alice, Mr. Dundoon, Gilbert, Peg.  ANS.  Lovely day.  Met HUNSLEY.


4th January 1916.  Tuesday.  Packing up for departure.  Left B. at5.30 pm arrived HAZEBRUCK 10. pm.  Slept in vans.  Letters from Norman and A. Houshan

5th January 1916.  Wednesday.  Stayed Hazebrouck until 2 pm.  Went into H with Bush and saw Willie F.  Gormley left behind.  Arrive at Steenwerk 3 pm and N. Eglise 5 pm travelling along old Farm route.  2 engines needed for running gun up ANS.  N.T.H


6th January 1916.  Thursday.  Slept last night in truck.  Full day unpacking stores running up gun positions (1 ½ miles) on a trolley – place full of Canadians.  Examined lines in morning & next 22 Siege.  Settled in huts for night.


7th January 1916.  Friday.  At Canadian concert last night.  On fatigues building huts, drawing water etc.  Much rain.  Mail up but no letters.  On night fatigues emptying motor lorries of wood, trench wire, corrugated iron, bulk rests for mud etc.  Listening to R.A. Band in Y.M.C.A. hut.


8th January 1916.  Saturday.  On hut erection – off colour today with diarrhoea.  Fetching water.  Letter from Hilda J.B. (W.B. and O.H.).  cigarettes from the mum.  Old Scholars.  Wrote N.T. Municipal & R.


9th January 1916.  Sunday.  Inspection of Gas helmets Iodine ampoules & dressings.  Spent morning digging drains, erecting latrines etc.  in afternoon on fatigues with trench cart at Y.M.C.A.


10th January 1916.  Monday.  On telephone duty with Bottrill Pcd & letter from R.  Letter from Scott.  J.B. from Carter.  ANS.  Knight’s departure also Brown & Gale.



11th January 1916.  Tuesday.  Turned out 6 am.  Left 7 am for LE AIZET in car passing thro’ ARMENTIERS en route.  In church tower with Hughes, Mallins & Humfries till 5 pm – 21st good shoot – observation of shelling of HOPLINES CH. Battery etc.  crossed LYS – much flooded country.  Letters from R. & N.T. Katherine.


12th January 1916.  Wednesday.  Despatch riding on Triumph to BAILLEUL.  Vile roads – T clutchless – breakdown coming back with belt.  Letters N.T. & paper from Scott.  ANS yesterday post also wrote Frank.  New Green Envelope order in Force.


13th January 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone duty at NO 2 GUN not in action as wind was too strong.  Letters from Gilbert and Alice Ans.  Friday Y.M.C.A. occupied by Canadian XMAS SUPPER.


14th January 1916.  Friday.  On telephone exchange.  In action on Pottery Farm 10 rounds – Good shoot by No 2 Gun.  On night duty.  Read ”Game” and part of musketeers.  Letters Dorothy & West (Pcl). Ans.


15th January 1916.  Saturday.  Came off duty 9 am.  Repaired Rudge multi and brought back Triumph broken down on roadside.  Gill trying to go to B-L.  went on multi.  At  Y.M.C.A. in afternoon.  Letters F (pcl) R. Gladys.  ANS.  Sent remittances to FRANK & R.


16th January 1916.  Sunday.  Assisting wireless operator – also on duty at Exchange.  NO mail – at Y.M.C.A. reading EVERYMAN.  Very fine and warm.


17th January 1916.  Monday.  On line visited N. Eglise the MOUND and 22 Siege Bty (12” caterpillar).  Had a bath with 8th Canadians.  Letter from R. J.B. (cater)  ANS.  Also wrote Herin, sent Silk cards and P.C.s to Home N.S. (Trio) & R.


18th January 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone exchange – line laid to Tocquet O.P.  Rain.  NO mail.


19th January 1916.  Wednesday.   .  In action on Tocquet – 29 rounds – British Gas attack – Big bomb – preparation.  Letters Scott, Frank – Miss Road – Gilbert.  Very fine day.


20th January 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone exchange in morning – After dinner went to TOCQUET O.P. to get wire in 25 yds from Germans.  Shrapnel – maxims rifles bombardment.  Trenches in good condition.  Case of shelled dug out and the “buried leg”!  Letters F. Ma, NT. Mrs S.  ANS.


21st January 1916.  Friday.  OFF DUTY – Bottrill and I walked into BAILLEUL – stayed for dinner & returned to camp for tea.  No letters.  Brought a few pcs and envelopes.  Had a good dinner for 1/2.  spent evening reading.  New order re telephone room.


22nd January 1916.  Saturday.  On “all day” plate laying, shifting “bearings” of line for Monday’s big shoots.  Letters R. Gilbert, James Humbertal.  ANS.  Bottrill comes into our hut.


23rd January 1916.  Sunday.  Laying wire to O.P. Le Tocquet – in reserve trenches – In trenches till 7.15 pm.  First experience of trench rats – Returned in car about 9 pm.  NO MAIL.  ANS yesterday’s post.  P.C.s Green and Robinson.


24th January 1916.  Monday.  In action on The Brasserie – a “fort” in German trenches – at O.P., reporting observations – 40 rounds – Excellent shooting – Brasserie blown to pieces.  Letters Peg and Frank – JB (O.H.).


25th January 1916.  Tuesday.  Standing by for O.P. Nothing doing.  Ans yesterdays post – NO MAIL.  At Y.M.C.A. in evening.


26th January 1916.  Wednesday.  Aeroplane combat over camp – shells from anti-aircraft guns fall in village 50 yds from us.  On telephone exchange with KNOWLE.  In action – fired 5 rounds on BRASSERIE.  Letter from R.  Answered.  Rather foggy and inclined to rain.  On night duty.


27th January 1916.  Thursday.  Off duty during the day.  Had a good bath in the shower baths.  Pcl from F.  letters from N.T. and Mrs. Philippson.  ANS.  Acknowledged Mrs Parker’s socks.  At Y.M.C.A. in evening.


28th January 1916.  Friday.  Replacing wire to the gun – In action 6 rounds on Brasserie.  NO 3 reported short and dropping in our trenches.  Pay day.  Letter from Kathie. Ans.  Y.M.C.A. concert.


29th January 1916.  Saturday.  On No 2 Gun – very warm & fine.  Hut inspection by “old man”.  Letter from R.  Ans.  Reported night Gas attack.  Stand by with helmets.  Y.M.C.A. concert postponed.


30th January 1916.  Sunday.  Much work – took trolley to Steenwerck Station for a weigh – brought it back – Shunted many trucks to bring forward amn truck – Weighed 50 shells transferring when weighed to empty truck – Dinner (Macaroni) finished 2.0 pm – went off for a Douglas broken down on Baileul Rd.  returned for tea 4.20 pm.  At Y.M.C.A.  Letters Gilbert & Rowell.  ANS.


31st January 1916.  Monday.  On the line – walked through Neuve Eglise to 22 Bty.  Line in good order – Huts lined partly with canvass – bon – letter from Frank.  Answered – very cold today.  Excellent concert at Y.M.C.A. Givenchy Canadian Division.

Diary of 2/Lt. A. B. STREET Jan 16

Diary of 2/Lt. A. B. STREET



1st Jan. Saturday.  Went over to the Docks by train; they had now started loading Tentage and there was nothing for us to do.  Meade King went up to Town for the night to see his wife.  I returned to Bristol soon after midday.  Went to the Pantomime “Goody Two Shoes” in the evening, a very good show, amusing and some of the scenes very pretty.


2nd Jan. Sunday.  Went to church at 8.0.  Paid my bill at the Hotel and went to the Docks.  Meade King returned.  Went to the Rest Camp at 2.0 and marched our 15 men and the 30 for Malta down to the ship and embarked them.  Paraded them at 3.0 for inoculation against Cholera and I was vaccinated as well.  Meade King went off to his cousins at Stoke Druid for the night.  I slept on board.  Rain all evening & night.


3rd Jan. Monday.  Cleared up about 9.0 and was a fine sunny day.  Meade King returned at 10.0.  Said we were both asked by his cousins for lunch, dinner and the night if not sailing.  I went into Bristol to see Mr. Meade King re a power of attorney for Mother and returned to Stoke Druid to lunch with his wife; into Bristol again after lunch to sign P of Att: then to tea at Stoke Druid.  M. K. and I then went out to the Docks to see if the ship would sail.  On finding that she wouldn’t we went to Stoke Druid for the night which was very pleasant.


4th Jan. Tuesday.  Caught bus after breakfast and were at the Docks shortly after 10.0.  They finished loading by midday and we expected to sail between 4 and 8, no orders came however so we are here for the night.  Started raining in the afternoon and continued.  Sent a wire about 3.30 to say were off!!


5th Jan. Wednesday.  Fine sunny day.  Took a walk round the Docks in the m’ning.  Cast off about 6.10 p.m. and anchored off Barry at 9.30 p.m. awaiting escorts.


6th Jan. Thursday.  Left Barry Roads soon after midnight accompanied by our escort which was two armed trawlers whose speed was so slow that we had to reduce to half speed.  A fairly fine day but a bit thick.  A good many men were ill there being a fair amount of motion.  Meade King succumbed also.


7th Jan. Friday.  A fair day, fresh breeze and some sun.  Most of the men were ill., Meade King in bed all day, the ship was rolling a lot.  Made the Wolf Lightship about 8.0 am and picked up a new escort, 2 armed trawlers which could steam at our full speed, they left us at about 9.0 p.m. when off Ushant, we passed about 60 miles off.


8th Jan. Saturday.  Fine sunny day, light wind but a heavy swell.  Sunny.


9th Jan. Sunday.  Fine day, dull.  Wind veered round to the E.  Bigend of H.P. Cyl[inder] began to knock about midday.  Hove to at 6.30 p.m. for engineers to repair it.  Under way again about 10.0 p.m. Abreast off Cape Finisterre, about 150 miles out, at about 5.0 p.m.


10th Jan. Monday.  Lovely sunny day calm with an Easterly breeze.  Stopped in the forenoon for about 15 minutes to adjust Bigend.


11th Jan. Tuesday.  Lovely sunny day calm with an Easterly breeze.  Altered course about 9.0 p.m. for the Straits of Gibraltar.


12th Jan. Wednesday.  Lovely sunny day very calm Easterly breeze. Sighted land N. coast of Africa at 4.0 p.m.  Met Patrol boat outside Gibraltar about 9.0 p.m. and arrived in Examination Anchorage about 12.0.  Did not anchor.


13th Jan. Thursday.  Lovely sunny day, very calm, practically no wind.  Left Gibraltar at 5.0 am.  Saw Sierra Nevada 11,000 ft. snow covered.


14th Jan. Friday.  Fine sunny day, fresh breeze dying away in the evening.


15th Jan. Saturday.  Fine sunny day wind went round to the North.  There was a swell which caused her to roll rather heavily.


16th Jan. Sunday.  Fine sunny day.  Swell went down v. light wind.  Passed several ships, one a 4 funnel cruiser on the horizon.


17th Jan. Monday.  Hot sunny day calm light breeze.  Arrived off Malta at 4.45 p.m. and were sent round to St. Paul’s Bay to anchor for the night.  Anchored at 7.30.


18th Jan. Tuesday.  Weighed anchor at 6.30.a.m. and proceeded into the harbour, anchoring off the fish market about 8.30.  The 30 men for Malta were disembarked before noon.  Meade King and I went ashore in the afternoon, cabled home, did some shopping and walked about.  Fine sunny day.


19th Jan. Wednesday.  Fine day but cloudy.  Meade King and I went to lunch with 3 Subs. of 603 Coy. M.T. A.S.C. at Mosta Cross Roads about 7 miles outside Valetta.  Did some shopping and posted letters.  30 men R.N.D. ratings joined on board.


20th Jan. Thursday.  Fine sunny day.  Fresh breeze from N.  We left Malta at midday.


21st Jan. Friday.  Warm sunny day no wind.  Clouded over in the evening.


22nd Jan. Saturday.  Dull.  Rain on and off all day.


23rd Jan. Sunday.  Dull and wet in the morning but cleared up in the afternoon.  Calm sea fresh breeze.


24th Jan. Monday.  Arrived off Alexandria at daybreak and entered about 7.0 am.  We anchored out in the harbour.  Rather windy some showers but warm and pleasant in the sun.


25th Jan. Tuesday.  N. W. gale all day.  No communication with the shore.  Some sunshine and heavy squalls.


26th Jan. Wednesday.  Fine day fresh breeze.  Hill came on board in the m’ning and gave us news of the battery.  Pilot came on board after dinner and we berthed at No 44 at 2.45 and soon after cargo began to be discharged.  Meade King and I drove up to the town after tea and sent some cables.  30 R.N.D. ratings disembarked at 5.0.p.m.


27th Jan. Thursday.  Fine day fairly sunny fresh breeze.  Continued to discharge tentage.  Harvey, Lane and White came down in the afternoon.  Langford and Hutchings in the m’ning.


28th Jan. Friday.  Warm sunny day.  Began discharging lorries.  Sent a cable to Judith.


29th Jan. Saturday.  Lovely hot sunny day.  Continued to unload lorries and tentage.  Received mail from home.


30th Jan. Sunday.  Lovely hot sunny day.  Continued unloading all day.  Got 4 of the gun pieces out.


31st Jan. Monday.  Fine sunny day.  Finished discharging the ship at 4.15p.m.  After tea on board we all left for the Camp after just a month on board.  Had a very comfortable happy time on board and a very pleasant voyage.  Dined at Camp, sharing a tent with Harvey.  Quite comfortable.