War diary of ‘A’ Battery, 330th, Brigade R.F.A 1917-18
“A” Battery, 330th Brigade R.F.A (T.F.)
OFFICIAL DIARY from February 25th, 1917 to September 27th, 1918
Sunday, Feb. 25th,
Advance Party consisting of Lt. Anderson, Cpl. Russell, Cpl. Harwood and Dr. Bury left Colchester for France.
Left Colchester 8.50 p.m.
Arrived Liverpool St. 11.00 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 26th
Advance Party left London Bridge 1.15 a.m. Arrived Shorncliffe 3 a.m. Marched to Rest Camp at Folkestone. Left Folkestone 3 p.m. and arrived at Boulogne about 5 p.m. after a very good crossing. Everyone had a long uphill march to a Rest Camp where the men were put into tents—without rations—and the officers sent back to Boulogne to fish for themselves.
Tuesday, Feb. 27th
Left Boulogne by 2 o’c. train for LA GORGUE & arrived at 11 p.m. After an hour’s wait some lorries arrived—a further two hours wait at LESTREM (1 a.m.) while some officers who had gone on ahead by car were turned out of their billets. Arrived at St. VENANT at 4 a.m. & put into an empty house.
Wednesday, Feb. 28th
Day spent in parading to move on somewhere else—but each time move was postponed for an hour. Eventually billeted in St. VENANT. Next few days spent in allotting the area, cleaning up & c—but anything that was done was wasted on account of the 49th and 56th Divisions, moving up to and back from the line respectively, occupying the billets by night. Cpl. Russel developed supposed diphtheria & was removed to hospital—at the same time isolating the men for a few days.
Friday, March 2nd
The Battery left Colchester on two trains, the first, Major Yorke & 2/Lt. Osborne at 9 p.m. & the second, Capt. Risdale & Lt. Garner at 10.30 p.m. & arrived at Southampton Docks Station at 3.30 & 5 a.m. respectively. The embarking was completed by about 7 a.m.
Saturday, March 3rd
The men waited about all day & then embarked about 3 p.m. & we sailed at about 5.30 p.m. We went over in a convoy about six vessels & were escorted by T.B.D.’S. Arrived at LE HAVRE at about 3 a.m. presumably and were berthed at about 9 a.m. & finished disembarking at about 12 noon.
Sunday, March 4th
We moved off to a Rest Camp at Fort St. ADRIENNE & arrived there at about 3.30 or 4 p.m. & bivouacked there & the men had tents to sleep in.
Monday, March 5th
Horse exercise and stables. Nothing worthy of note happened except that we practically lived off boiled eggs at an officer’s YMCA. Received orders to entrain at 6 p.m. & made preparations.
Tuesday, March 6th
Moved off from Rest Camp at 6 a.m. for the GARE DES MARCHANDISES. There entrained by 9.30 a.m. which was under an hour & a half from the commencement. Were in the train the whole of that day.
Wednesday, March 7th
Still in the train & eventually arrived at THIENNES at about 4.30 p.m. where we met Anderson & detrained. Then marched to HAVERSKERQUE where we put up in billets and the horses in bivouac. Train twelve hours late.
Thursday, March 8th
Spent day getting everything clean & straight. Luckily quite a nice day.
Friday, March 9th
Squad parades & clean up. Very cold with some snow. We are messing quite well—on tinned stuff & eggs, &c. On the whole very comfortable but a tremendous job getting the room warm in the evening on the small little stove assisted by a brazier.
Saturday, March 10th
Turned out for a practice move which wasn’t too successful. Besides several outriders had a wagon & team in the ditch & a big job to get them out.
Sunday, March 11th
Osborne & Garner with Sergts. Woodward, Gabbut & Gorton, 9 gunners & several telephonists were sent up to the Battery we are going to relieve, for instruction.
Monday, March 12th
A good deal of rain has made the orchard in which are the horse lines, deep in mud & everything & everybody the same. All the horses out for exercise in the morning & in the aft. Gas helmet drill. The men, in their first enthusiasm, censoring, in the evening. This was the usual programme for the next few days.
Friday, March 16th
Got orders to move off at 12 p.m. Left Centre Section behind under Garner to come on in a few days time. A long trek through BETHUNE to BEUVRY arriving there about 4.30. Our orders were changed on the way & the centre section sent for to come on at once. Apparently they think the Bosche may attack, so we are to reinforce the 119th Battery instead of relieving them. Picketed our horses at the 119th Bty. Wagon lines & they supplied us with teams to take the guns into action after dark. The wagons were sent back to HAVERSKERQUE under Anderson. They arrived at about 5.30 a.m. after a weary journey. The Colonel complemented the Battery on being the only one of the four to get back. QMS. Saddler, & Farrier Sgts., Cpl S.S., 2 Cpls. & 4 Bdrs. sent back with wagons.
Sunday, March 18th
Got orders to move the wagon line from HAVERSKERQUE to LOCON. Moved off at 10.30-- Three brigades of Artillery moving along the road imprisoned us for some time in the farm. Arrived at LOCON at 3 & got settled in quite comfortable billets. Half the horses under cover on hard standings.
Wednesday, March 21st
A great sight to see B Sub. march into the camp from isolation in England-- they were well received. Thirty two men with several NCO’s will make a lot of difference.
Thursday, March 22nd
Two more men reported with measles at the wagon lines. More isolation. Garner & Anderson changed places at the guns & wagon lines. The Major went into hospital.
Sunday, March 25th
The 119th Battery moved out less one section, which they left with us with Meysey Thompson. Battery fired for about half an hour on a false SOS.
Tuesday, March 27th
Summer time adopted.
Saturday, March 31st
Ridsdale, calibrating the guns, knocked the front of the cart off. 2/4th East Lancs. in the line.
Sunday, April 1st
The Bosche a great deal more active. Knocked about Fenton’s Folly with Minnies & put 4.2’s including gas shells round Sapper’s House, knocking down part of the adjoining wall.
Monday, April 2nd
Three AA shells very close to the Battery. Organised strafe on AUCHY. The section of the 119th Battery moved out & we moved our guns to be in Nos. 3, 4, 5 & 6 pits, leaving two in the forward position.
Tuesday, April 3rd
Very short of officers & Garner brought up from the wagon lines. Fenton’s Folly knocked about. 2/5th East Lancs. in the line again.
Wednesday, April 4th
A/331 using sappers near OP as Fenton’s Folly is destroyed. We find them very much in the way. Burton posted to the Battery.
Saturday, April 7th
Major Whitehead & Capt. Thomas of 2/5th E.L. in to dinner.
Monday, April 9th
The Major returned from hospital. Shearer posted to the Battery.
Tuesday, April 10th
Anderson attached for a few days to the RFC-- a liason scheme-- & Mason, an observer, attached for a day or two to the Battery.
Friday, April 15th
About 4 p.m. a shell burst on the road near the section killing two TM men & wounding about 5 others. Some of the latter went to the dressing station & some to the position. Sgt. Gabbut with one or two others ran out & carried the dead men to the dressing station & tried to get someone to come to the section to dress the wounded men-- this they were unwilling to do & it was only by appealing for a volunteer that he was able to get someone to come to attend to the men lying wounded at the section.
Monday, April 16th
A/331, on the other bank of the canal, had an intense bombardment by 4.2’s & 5.9’s. Only one casualty & they haven’t quitted. The Bosche paid considerable attention to sapper’s House in the aft.
Friday, April 20th
The Bosche fired about 200 rounds (5.9) at Sapper’s House, starting at 11 a.m. & continuing to 6 p.m. He knocked down most of the outside house, but by a marvellous fluke the OP itself is undamaged. It was visited about midday by the CRA & Bde. Major but they soon decided they could see nothing from there.
Saturday, April 21st
Major Hince in to dinner. Garner went spy-hunting & didn’t turn up again till 10 a.m. next morning. Spy still at large.
Sunday, April 22nd
OP visited by Brig. Gen. Hunter & the Colonel. Fourteen Bosche balloons visible.
Friday, April 27th
Expected visit of the GOC & CRA to the Battery but after getting everything cleaned up, sentries posted &c., a message came through to say they were coming-- next week.
Monday, Aril 30th
The GOC & CRA visited the Battery & seemed very pleased with everything. A Tank’s officer, Capt. Freeman, on a Cook’s Tour spent the morning in the OP but retired hastily when a 5.9 burst outside just as a salvo was being fired from the guns for his benefit-- which in consequence he didn’t see. Hopkins from the 2/1st East Lancs. in for dinner & and a conducted tour of the guns.
Tuesday, May 1st
At 9.15 a.m. the Bosche started shelling the section with 4.2 salvos of the two guns & kept it up steadily till 1.15 p.m. Very soon after he commenced he set fire to No.6 pit but this was extinguished by Sgt. Gabbut & others before they left the position. The detachments withdrew, first of all to no.1 pit & then to the canal bank. The Bosche aeroplane which was evidently ranging on the Section could be seen from the Battery. About 11.30 No.5 pit was set on fire. Sgt. Gabbut & Bdr. Beet then went up to the position and extinguished a fire which had started in no 6 pit. The major came down from the OP about this time & decided to get the gun out of No.5 pit, which was still burning. An attempt was made with the men from the detachments but as they were insufficient several were brought up from the Battery. The gun was pulled out to the front, run to the side & covered up with camouflage netting. Altogether about 250 rounds were fired & very good shooting. There was nothing near nos. 1 & 2 pits. Besides No.5 pit which was burnt out & had most of its ammunition exploded, No. 4 was knocked in & No. 6 damaged, besides the fire which was extinguished at the beginning. The cookhouse was completely destroyed. The gun presented a very black & burnt appearance, had the handspike burnt off & requires new wheels but is otherwise probably undamaged. It was removed that night to the IOM. No. 6 was not out of action & was changed into No. 1 pit.
Wednesday, May 2nd
Capt. Buckley, adjutant of the 2/5 ELR & 2nd. Lt. Swanson attached to us for 48 hours, visited the Battery & stayed to dinner. Strafed all through the night keeping some wire open for the infantry.
Thursday, May 3rd
“C” Battery shelled out of their position-- one man wounded & two guns out of action.
Saturday, May 5th
Clarke posted to the Battery.
Monday, May 7th
Shearer posted a AFA & Burton sent on a trench mortar course.
Tuesday, May 8th
Gen.Carey visited the Battery & was shown round by Garner.
Wednesday, May 9th
Capt. Risdale went down to the wagon lines & Osborne came up next day. A gun platform of wood built forward near Ponifex Bridge. A successful raid on our left by the Fusiliers & our own infantry kept us busy all through the night.
Thursday, May 10th
2/10th Manchesters relieves the 2/5th East Lancs. for four days. The first of five nights preparation for a raid.
Friday, May 11th
Thompson of 2/4th East Lancs. attached for 48 hours.
Monday, May 14th
Raid on the Tortoise by the 2/5th East Lancs & on the Embankment Redoubt by the 2/9th Manchesters. We supported it by forming first of all a creeping barrage & then a box barrage round the Tortoise-- & the barrage went very well. We fired nearly a thousand rounds at 1 rd. per gun per min. Unfortunately the raid was not a success as the bangalore torpedo didn’t go off & the reserve one didn’t destroy the wire & the party couldn’t get through. They had 1 man killed & two officers & one or two others wounded. On the right they got through & stayed in the trenches for half an hour without seeing a single Bosche, though groans are supposed to have been caused by throwing bombs down a dug-out. The Bosche retaliated slightly, mostly with Minnies.
Thursday, May 17th
Capt. Sbbot 2/10 Manchester Regt. attached for 48 hours. “B” Battery moved out & are attached to the 49th Divn.
Friday, May 18th
“Y” Battery RHA relieving “A”, 331 & sharing Sapper’s House which consequently was crowded all day. They seem a nice lot. Major Hayley & Lieuts. Dill, Todd & Abbot. A rifle bullet hit the left side of Sappers Hse.& a sniper was busy in the neighbourhood all day.
Sunday, May 20th
Clarke went on special leave. A busy night, firing all through on communication trenches & a gap in the wire.
Wednesday, May 23rd
Humfrey in to dinner. “E” Sub. gun sent to IOM & “D” Sub. moved into No. 1 pit.
Thursday, May 24th
Battery & Section visited by CRA, 1st Army. He was evidently not looking for eyewash & examined guns & pits carefully. He congratulated the major, said if the other Batteries were like this one there was no need to visit them & that if the shooting was up to the standard of the care we took about the equipment, it would be all right. At 11 p.m. 20 GS wagons loaded with RE material arrived without warning. At least six got in the ditch & it was after 1 a.m. before they were unloaded.
Friday, May 25th
“E” Sub. gun returned from IOM. “C” Sub. gun moved into No.2 pit at F18.1. “F” Sub. sent down to IOM to have buffer tank fitted.
Sunday, May 27th
CRA 1st Army visited the wagon lines & expressed himself as very satisfied with both the care of the horses & the condition of the harness. Pritchard, 2/5 East Lancs. in to dinner.
Wednesday, May 30th
A fairly successful raid by the 2/5 EL on the Duck’s Bill Extension at 11.45 p.m. There was an intensive bombardment lasting 5 mins. They got into the Bosche trenches all right & found them very damaged but the Bosche skipped over the top into the support line & they only found one officer killed, whom they relieved of his shoulder straps, gas bag & bible, without, securing an identification. We were successful in the silencing machine guns on the Tortoise. On our side there were four wounded & one killed. Osbourne did liaison in the front line & Burton observed from Sapper’s House.
Thursday, May 31st
Dyson in to dinner & Walmsley & an infantry officer came in afterwards. Our new gramophone arrived with about twenty records-- also a box of liquers & we spent quite a merry evening.
Sunday, June 3rd
The last remaining section of “Y” Battery moved out & A/331 returned to their old position.
Tuesday, June 5th
Six rounds of shrapnel just in front of the section about 10 a.m.-- no damage. “F” Sub. gun was moved last night into No.6 pit to get a 35 degrees right switch on.
Wednesday, June 6th
The infantry had a “peace night”. Not a gun, rifle or Very light was fired. What did the Bosche feel like?
Thursday, June 7th
Gen. Alexander the new Corp CRA visited the section but found it too hot & couldn’t get any further so the preparations at the Battery were unnecessary. The boshe raided on the Canal Left but did not get into our trenches. A few casualties were, however, caused but we must have accounted for a good many Huns with our barrage & machine gun fire. We fired on our SOS lines for about a quarter of an hour. One officer who was out on patrol, was missing, but he turned up the next night, slightly wounded, having lain a day & night in No Man’s Land.
Friday, June 8th
A very successful daylight raid by the 2/5 Manchesters in which the Battery cooperated, just N of the LA BASSEE road. One wounded & three unwounded prisoners were brought back, many Bosche killed & great damage done to his trenches we had only six wounded. Osbourne had his section in a special position, enfilading. “A” Sub. broke one of their outer springs.
Saturday, June 9th
Battery firing in small operation on the right at 12.30-- objectives gained but no prisoners. False gas alarm at 2.30.
Sunday, June 10th
Very successful daylight raid by 2/4 East Lancs. The Battery was firing for two hours. They went over at 8.30 p.m. just S of the LA BASSEE road & brought back 18 prisoners, including 1 officer. We had three killed & 17 wounded, mostly slightly. It was estimated that 160 Huns were killed by rifle fire & bayonet alone & great damage was done to his mining system-- a machine gun, listening apparatus & mining tools were brought back.
Tuesday, June 12th
“B” Sub. had one new outer & two new inner springs fitted. Previously it failed to run up properly, without help.
Wednesday, June 13th
2/5th EL’s got a prisoner-- a Sgt. Major-- which they are very bucked about. Uncertain whether a deserter or not but he was badly wounded & gave a lot of information.
Thursday, June 14th
The Corps CRA visited the Battery. Col. Whitehead in to dinner.
Saturday, June 16th
RE’s commenced building the second ammunition dump. We are working on platforms for Nos. 1 & 2 pits. The Section had a bad night of it, carrying 32 loads of ammunition all the night and next day.
Monday, June 18th
A/331 shelled again with four casualties but not much damage. Heavies put 200 rounds of 6” onto the Tortoise & Bill Extension. Started a new system of duty – relieving at the OP in the evening instead of mid day.
Tuesday, June 19th
Capt. Bickham & Ridsdale in for dinner.
Wednesday, June 20th
Section position shelled but no damage done. He commenced with a round nearer the mess at 2.52 p.m. & finished at 3.56. It was a bad day & he appeared to be firing without observation, though a plane flew in front of position before he started. Of 19 rounds, two were approx. range, most were well over & a few to the flanks.
Saturday, June 23rd
Bosche very active with Minnies, also yesterday. From information obtained from two deserters captured last night a raid on Canal Right was expected but nothing came of it. Ridsdale & Dyson in for dinner.
Sunday, June 24th
The Bosche commenced shelling the Battery at 8.40 a.m. & got the range pretty well-the first round a shrapnel plus. Observation apparently from balloon. He fired 20 rounds 5.9 from 3 to 1 mins. intervals & was then apparently silenced by our Heavies (9.2”). No damage was done. At 3.15 he opened fire on the Section when they were in action but only fired 12 rounds with short intervals. He put one on the tramway between 2 & 3 pits but otherwise no damage was done.
Monday, 25th June
About 7.30 the Bosche started a tremendous of Minnies chiefly on GIVENCHY but also on Canal Left. Garner & Anderson in the OP smothered in dust, tried to get on to the beggars in clear intervals & the Battery kept up violent retaliation. After two hours of this the Bosche raided & occupied Red Dragon & A Sap, meanwhile bombarding the Battery, Section, A/331, C/330 & D/330, who were fiing “SOS Defend Givenchy”. But we seem to have got the best of it as the Bosche left 13 prisoners, 8 of which were captured round Sappers House, one near Orchard Road & one in a CO’s dug-out. We had about 50 casualties, mostly King’s Liverpool’s, but the Hun must have had as many. The only damage to the Battery or Section was a shell through No 1 dug-out & Hanmer wounded.
Thursday, June 28th
The Bosche started shelling the Battery at 11.55 a.m., which evidently postponed a visit of the CRA who was on his way down. The detachments cleared to the right, where they spent an enjoyable day, chiefly in slumber. Our Heavies got onto the Battery & shut him up twice but he wasn’t long in starting again & didn’t stop for good till 7.15 when a big bombardment on our right may have made him think his ammunition might be required for other things. We were extraordinarily lucky to have so little damage after 162 rounds of 5.9. The only hit was on No 1 dug-out in exactly the same place as the shell on Monday night. No 2 gun was damaged by splinters from a shell that burst about 10 yards in front & had to be removed to the IOM for chips in the wings, a perforated shield to the buffer tank & a splintered spoke. His last 40 shells were evidently directed onto the belt of trees just in rear of the Battery, which might easily be mistaken for the position & he put some very good shooting onto that. That night we moved out No’s 1 & 2 guns (the latter to the IOM first) to the alternative position in rear of the mess. A very heavy thunder storm in the evening. Capt. Greenwood attached from R. F’s for 24 hours.
Sunday, July 1st
Each Section has been having a F. S. M. O. turn-out, Rt. X on Friday, Centre Saty. & Left to-day. Capt. Nelson attached to us for 24 hours. Major Brett, of R.F’s & Ridsdale in to dinner.
Monday, July 2nd
CRA went on leave (permanently). Col. Laird took over as CRA. Major Yorke as Col. 330. Capt. Ridsdale as OC. A/330.
Tuesday, July 3rd
The new Major (Thornburn) & a Sub. came up during the day & looked round. They moved in four guns at night – very late -- & we moved out A, B & E. Got clear about 11 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4th
Moved OFF AT 6 WITH Battery less three guns & 1 wagon under Anderson & Osborne. Rendezvoused at LOCON at 8 & arrived MERVILLE about 11. Very nice billets – watering bad. Ridsdale, Garner, Burton & remainder of Battery arrived about 3 a.m., getting an order to remain in action for a Gas Stunt only after they had pulled out.
Friday, July 6th
Had a very merry evening with piano & many guests & much champagne. Everyone found the society of Yvonne & Cecile very charming.
Sunday, July 8th
Reveille at 12.30. Were just ready to move off when a tremendous thunderstorm descended & soaked everyone & a wagon or two collapsed into the ditch. Arrived in rather bad billets in BORRE about 8 a.m.
Monday, July 9th
Moved onto a large farm near STEENVOORDE ARRIVING about 9. A beautiful field for a bivouac but owing to inclement weather we had to crowd into barns some distance away. Men quite happy but like fools do not take full advantage of opportunities for sleep but prefer to look round the village.
Tuesday, July 10th
Moved off at 4.20 & a very good turn-out, especially considering the weather. Arrived at lines near WORMHOUT about 8. Quite good billets in a large farm.
Wednesday, July 11th
Moved off at 4, things working like clockwork. A longer trek but more interesting as we moved through two French armies & pretty country. Arrived about 10 at lines in a far, near GHYVELDE, where Burton, sent on a couple of days before, met us. Officers at a dirty, empty house some distance away but very happy with hammocks slung & gramophone going in anticipation of three days rest & a quiet evening for once. Messenger arrives with news of another early move next morning-much language. Ridsdale got back from meeting at HQ midnight & held a pyjama conference, giving us the news that the Bosche had attacked N of NIEUPORT & gained an important piece of ground from the 1st Division & we turned in again under the impression that the “Clickety-Clicks” were to be rushed up immediately to counter attack, & win immortal fame by taking back the ground lost by that veteran division.
Thursday, July 12th
Off again at 5.15 & from the Rendezvous at 6. Ridsdale went on in a car to reconnoitre the position. The Battery were delayed over an hour by getting on a road deep in sand marked 2nd class on the map. Arrived in a large filed outside FIRNES about 11 – no conveniences of any kind but we were issued with tarpaulins for bivouacs & were very comfortable in the fine weather. Div. Arty. Wagon lines all in small area. Everyone full of stories of Bosche shelling etc. & we don’t think we’ll be here long. Rt. X with Ridsdale moved into action.
Friday, July 13th
Officers and No’s I’s went up to thr Battery position to look round in the aft. At dusk the remaining guns & all wagons moved into action. There was evidently something going on from the number of rockets & shelling going on. We had several stops on the way owing to shelling in front & when we got to the Battery found that they had been firing on SOS for about an hour. Capts. Ridsdale & Cunliffe didn’t get back from the OP in Nieuport till 5 a.m. & we thought something had happened to them but they had been having a very bad time there with shells & four hours of gas. All night & well into daylight carrying ammunition.
Saturday, July 14th
Ridsdale registered the guns on the Grey Gable from B.M. OP in Nieuport – a wonderful place crowded with officers of all ranks. Major Yorke returned & took command of the Battery & Col. Stewart became CRA. A gas alarm in the night which with these swarms of mosquitoes didn’t give us much rest.
Monday, July 16th
Osborne did Group duty at the OP., Burton & Ridsdale went to the wagon lines & Garner came to the guns. Fired for about half an hour on SOS about 8 & 4 Hun Balloons watching us.
Tuesday, July 17th
At 1.30 a.m. stood by for 2 hours for a raid but nothing happened. Started a scheme of continuous fire – 16 rounds an hour – on a small area to prevent the Hun from massing for an attack. No hope of concealing our positions now. But the concrete dug-outs are a comfort. Major Yorke sent to command 331 Brigade & Ridsdale came up to take command of the Battery.
Friday, July 20th
Bdr. Mottershaw wounded in Nieuport while repairing the line (stomach & wrist) & in the afternoon Cpl. Francis wounded in the hand in exactly the same spot when trying to complete the job. We moved out two guns that night & two of A/246 (49th Divn.) came in, but a pitch dark night & we had considerable trouble in getting them out so that it was 1.30 a.m. before Osborne got away with the pleasant prospect of a long trek over dangerous ground. 12 ammn. Wagons waiting for him & very little darkness to do the job in. But everything went all right with him though he had to send some of the wagons back unemptied.
Saturday, July 21st
Major Shaw & a Sub. conducted over OP’s etc., going through a barrage of splinters which they didn’t like. Pulled out our other guns at dusk & got away in better time, well before midnight. Road by Maison Carre was being shelled & we trotted past at 20" intervals. A shell burst in front of leading team & wounded slightly two drivers on the thigh. Ridsdale & Anderson had not horses, but were pegging it along behind on shank’s mare or they probably would have caught it at the head of the column. This fact & Burton’s skill in lying low for a ouple of day saved this wretch from the most terrible wrath of two infuriated & perspiring individuals. Got the guns in very successfully without further adventure, but position hardly prepared at all & what was done only by the labours of Garner & Osborne & not of the 431 Coy. RE’s as arranged.
Sunday, July 22nd
Officers & men accommodated in dug-outs in the dunes some way from the Battery. An easy morning & continuous three whistles made passage to the Battery difficult. No cover on the position & work very interrupted by showers of splinters from shells on the road. Worked all night & two half hour SOS’s. Men now to sleep at the pits.
Monday, July 23rd
Everyone very happy & thinking how the terrors of the place had been exaggerated. The greatest difficulty in making the men get on with building up cover for themselves.
Tuesday, July 24th
Col. Sykes visited the Battery & told us we must get on with the position, working day & night. So we turned out the men about mid day to start work again, instead of giving them a rest during the day as intended as they had been working all night. We had just got them started when the Bosche started sweeping the wood without any apparent method. Suddenly one dropped in the middle of the telephonists who were building a control post. It mauled them all horribly & hardly one had less than half a dozen wounds. Holden & Bonnell killed & Berry died of wounds later.
Isherwood (died), Bowler (died), Sgt. Gabbut, Mabbut badly wounded (died), Bdr. Tennant, Corr & Taylor less severely. Brown killed & Bdr. Morgan wounded on returning from taking wounded men to ADS. A most unlucky day & it has tried the Battery a good deal. It has meant a hard & nervous day’s work & the position has not advanced at all. But everyone behaved splendidly. We started work again at 6 & kept it up through the night.
Wednesday, July 25th
An SOS during the night. The Bosche started shelling behind the Battery & as it began to get rather close we cleared to a flank. Lucky we did as one dropped behind “E” before we were properly clear. He kept this up for a long time – apparently random shooting but very uncomfortable. This interrupted the work a good deal. A quiet night, thank goodness. Getting up 1000 rounds seems an impossible task. Abbot wounded slightly.
Friday, July 27th
Officers’ mess comes in for a lot of shelling – he puts up a sort of barrage outside. This place is hell. He started shelling as usual in the morning and Sgt. Tomlinson, Chatterly & Bdr. Haworth were wounded, also Brown & Crook, probably by prematures. Haken killed outside Group taking a message. What bad luck we are having. We have to shoot 330 rounds in the 24 hours which makes the ammn. supply still more difficult. Tried to shoot from the OP but planes made this almost impossible – we got off half a dozen rounds in three hours. A big ammn. dump near “C” Battery exploding half the night to the great danger of everyone. Got up 700 rounds boxed ammn., working till dawn with a party from the wagon lines.
Saturday, July 28th
Five 4.2’s just plus on the Battery in the morning – hard to say what he is up to. A much quieter day &the men much cheerier. A good deal of gas about in the evening but didn’t affect the Battery. An SOS about 11 p.m. & we discharged gas at 1.30 a.m.
Sunday, July 29th
Thunderstorm in morning & dull day with few planes – a change. Bosche left us alone. But in the evening he shelled the road & wounded 3 of our men loading at the RE dump & killed Dr. Knowles as he was bringing ammn. for the Soho dump. We were really lucky to escape lightly & got in 1000 rounds. We now have to fire 1000 every 24 hours.
Monday, July 30th
TM’s set their dug-out, next door to our mess, on fire & we were smoked out. We thought it would reach the ammn. & blow the place sky-high – but after breaking out again several times it was eventually extinguished. Practiced the barrage for Group & Corps for the coming attack. “C” Group is said to have put up the show barrage. The Hun knocked the roads about & no wagons could get up.
Tuesday, July 31st
Major Yorke returned & took over command of the Battery. Got in 3000 rounds in the evening – our best night’s work – but the Bosche started shelling & we had 3 drivers & several horses wounded & 1 horse killed. Several rounds on the position luckily did us no damage.
Wednesday, August 1st
Osborne on night OP. Rain started last night & finished up in the thunderstorm this morning. The men woke up to find themselves sleeping in water, with their change of clothes, blankets, coats – everything soaking. It continued all day & everything was flooded except No. 6 pit & that didn’t last long. Eighteen inches in the Officer’s dug-out. The men miserable with no places to sleep & no means of getting dry, but they stood it well. Platforms under water & we had to keep up the firing day & night. These conditions prevailed for the next three days, getting worse each day. The pits were weakened & we decided to re-build them, starting on No. 5 & working all night.
Friday, August 3rd
We cut a drain across the road which lowered the water level about 4" & helped a bit. Most of our ammunition under water & has to be moved. CRA visited the Battery. Bdr. Cooper went away with appendicitis.
Saturday, August 4th
Sunshine & strong wind made a wonderful difference & everyone cheered up But with more rain at intervals. RE’s made good progress with 00’s dugout. A driver & horse wounded. Four shells n to position at night.
Sunday, August 5th
Mustard gas in the night & masks on for two hours. A plane dropped bombs nearby at 10.30a.m.
Monday, August 6th
Heavy shelling between us & “B” Battery & the latter had a few casualties. 1600 rounds in the evening but interrupted by three shell storms. Gas at night & Helmets on for half an hour.
Tuesday, August 7th
Gas again at night & a few pip squeaks
Wednesday, August 8th
Cut down several trees in the wood in front to clear a field of fire. Osborne, Garner & Anderson had a narrow escape from a pip squeak ten yards off. Another Gas alarm in the night.
Thursday, August 9th
Battery shelled but no damage. Four shell storms at night. No. 2 taken out to have a buffer tank fitted.
Saturday, August 11th
CRA shot the Battery from the Camera Obscura in Poplar OP & was very pleased with himself. Three shell storms in the middle of the night & a pip squeak about 4.30a.m. wounded Gnr. Parker badly. Capt. R. went to wagon lines.
Sunday, August 12th
Bosche a good deal more active all round. Anderson on night OP.
Monday, August 13th
Gr. Owens killed on his way to the ammunition dump. Bosche much more active & liberal with his shelling all round. Shells round the position at night made us send the pack horses back. Has a good dose of gas about 12.30a.m., masks on for two hours. He put a tremendous number but mostly well behind- - a few minus.
Thursday, August 23rd
Some gas round the battery at night. Seven shell storms.
Friday, August 24th
Bosche pretty quiet round the battery but dropped an 8” shell on the wagon lines, killing 9 horses & wounding 3 drivers of the right section. A disturbed night with three false SOS’s from apparently the Hun having got hold of our rockets. Also 3 zone calls.
Saturday, August 25th
SOS rockets went up about 9.30 & we were firing for about two hours mostly in gas masks, for the Hun tried to neutralise with gas. D. Sub. Camouflage caught on fire three times. More gas shells & a zone call came through afterwards. A rotten night.
Sunday, August 26th
Bosche more lively & shelled all round us. The spare men went down the wagon lines at 6 & the remainder marched down under Osborne & Burton about 8. Garner came on next day. The Major and Anderson in trying to dodge the shelling missed their horses & walked the whole way. Rain came down in torrents from 8.30 onwards & everyone soaked. Bosche shelling Suicide Corner heavily & the road all the way back to the wagon lines & we were lucky to get everyone through safely. Left 1 man per unit under Cpl. Nelson & a few signallers to keep up the lines.
Monday, August 27th
General clean up in the morning & church parade at 2p.m. The rest of the day free for bathing or LA PANNE. Unfortunately it rained a good deal. Two groups of field & some heavy guns moved out of the line - - the stunt here is evidently off.
Tuesday, August 28th
Our programme is: early exercise 6.30 & parade 9.30. Stables at 11.30 & everything in inspection order by 1 p.m. The rest of the day is then free to all except 1/3 of the men & the orderly officer who attends to afternoon stables at 4.30 & any emergency. The men took advantage of passes to LA PANNE & the officers were seen there a good deal. The major established his headquarters at the Hotel Perlink & Osborne, Garner & Anderson each spent two nights with him in turn & enjoyed it thoroughly. Rained hard most of the day. We moved our mess in to the late Bde. Hqrs. Office (this having moved on account of the shelling, in Col.’s absence) in order to have more room (& regretted it.) The Bosche shelled the cross-roads & put some very close to us. Everyone finds the shelling here most uncomfortable. CRA wounded on the Aeolian Rd.
Wednesday, August 29th
Bosche shelled us (the X roads) the whole day. long at intervals. Very disquieting but luckily he did no damage to us.
Friday, Sept. 1st
Garner, who for some time has been unwell & living on pills, departed for a rest camp, tacking with him his faithful dependants Buck & Legs. Bosche put a shell on the hospital at La Panne.
Saturday, Sept. 2nd
The rest, alas, came to an end & we moved back into action. Anderson and Burton marched the Battery up in two
halves, starting at 5.15, & Osborne & the major rode up. A shell dropped about 150 yards behind us outside OUSTE DUNKERQUE - - which justified the little extra spped set up by the long-legged leaders. Otherwise the journey uneventful but hot. Everyone has enjoyed & benefited a great deal by the rest. It was apparently chosen for the right time as the Bosche had been very active in the vicinity during our absence. There were several new plus & minus holes & a lot in the wood. Although we sustained no damage - - except the cook house & a couple of shell dumps. B Bty. had two pits knocked in. After our return the weather cleared up & the Hun quietened down. He still puts over a good deal of stuff but the whole atmosphere had changed.
Sunday, Sept. 3rd
Gr. Bell slightly wounded by shell splinter.
Monday, Sept. 4th
A practise barrage. The major went on leave. Capt. Ridsdale came up to the Battery, leaving BSM in charge at WL. HTM beside the mess started firing.
Thursday, Sept. 7th
We moved our mess to some large emplacements just behind the position, sharing with Le Hoy who has a section there. It is more comfortable & convenient & safer, now that the flying pip have opened up on both sides & in front of our old place. Orders have come to discontinue night harassing fire.
Friday, Sept. 8th
Almost a peace day. What a pleasant change & we quite enjoyed ourselves basking inn the sunshine. Osborne produced a soft cap. Projected gas attack with our complicated assistance. Hope it doesn’t move the Hun to retaliation.
Saturday, Sept. 9th
The Hun wore up in the afternoon and shelled heavily, keeping it up all night. Burton put on a very swagger dinner on a parcel from Fortnum & Mason - - in the Battery mess. When Ridsdale and Anderson got back to their dugout they found the Bosche had put a direct hit on it, without, however, doing much damage.
Sunday, Sept. 10th
Bosche again very active all day but shelling all round. The mess shelled deliberately after lunch & came in foe two shell storms & intermittent shelling in the evening. Group was shelled deliberately all aft. with 8”. Ridsdale & Anderson after being imprisoned there for 3 hours visited a proposed new position for the battery.
Monday, Sept. 11th
The Bosche less active except with his planes, which were up all day & there was a god fight just over the battery. A very noisy night.
Thursday, Sept. 14th
An aeroplane shoot on three batteries & only one correction for the lost - - all OK’s.
Sunday, Sept. 17th
The Bosche raided & SOS went up about 5a.m. We were the first battery to open fire. It lasted 3/4 of an hour. We had no casualties & got a prisoner & the whole thing was a failure form the Bosche point of view on account of “the effective artillery support”. OP shelled - - Burton in it.
Monday, Sept. 18th
The Bosche started shelling the Battery about 9.30a.m. After four well placed shots Osborne cleared them but Sgt. Willatt was killed, going back for his respirator. He kept it up till about 2p.m. with pauses of about half an hour. He put over a tremendous amount of stuff, 8” & 5.9” & took on B Bty. (who moved out last night) at the same time. On the whole the position stood it well & was lucky. D Sub. Pit & telephonists pit suffered most. A & E Sub. Guns had their guides damaged & were moved out to IOM that night & D & F Sub. Guns had their own wheels damaged slightly. A & E detachments moved under Ridsdale & Osborne to get started on a new position straight away & material was brought up that night. But unfortunately, after getting two pits half done, they were made to move out of this very promising area as some 8” Hows. had come in the night before. So their work had to be taken down again & as good positions are not plentiful we are rather at a loss what to do.
Tuesday, Sept. 19th
Major Yorke returned from leave - - rather unfortunate for him that he should come back & find us in this unsettled state.
Wednesday, Sept. 20th
Ridsdale, after spending a very anxious day, left in the evening for the wagon lines en route for Blightly & ten days leave. The Bosche took on several batteries just behind us & chucked over tremendous amount of stuff - - but quieter in back areas.
Thursday, Sept. 21st
The mess shell stormed at intervals during the night & the battery got it too, The battery mess had a direct hit on top, but luckily, only a pip squeak.
Friday, Sept. 22nd
A new position selected in front of Group. A French dugout for a mess & two others available but everything else has to be built. But it is quite promising. A Sub. Gun brought back from IOM. A party of 9 men sent down to live at the new position.
Sunday, Sept. 24th
The usual shell storming of the mess. Our infantry moved south relieved by the 42nd Division. Will we follow?
Monday, Sept. 25th
Bosche put odd rounds on the Battery at intervals all afternoon - -uncomfortable tactics. One shell came right in to No. 3 but didn’t detonate properly & only injured Gr. Thornton & Bdr. Martin slightly. Sgt. Gorton also wounded & Gnr. Perryman gassed in the evening by an odd shell. Garner returned.
Tuesday, Sept 26th
A practise barrage & “Counter Preparation Right” in the aft. The major left to take on duties as Brigade Major for a month.
Wednesday, Sept. 27th
Bosche started a bombardment of our trenches about 6.10 a.m. & soon after SOS went up & we fired for half an hour. Gr. Guickan wounded in the wood slightly about 8 a.m. & in the aft. near new position. Major Edwards arrived to take command of the Battery. A bad night of gas, 2.30 a.m. to 5.
Thursday, Sept. 28th
C Bty. heavily shelled & ten casualties.
Friday, Sept. 29th
Started on out new position with ten men but did not get very far on account of countless Bosche overhead all day. Another bad night of gas, 2.30 to 5.30.
Monday, Oct. 2nd
Shell storms on the mess at intervals all day. The relieving battery’s advance officer arrived. (Horner of A/210. 42nd Division)
Tuesday, Oct. 3rd
Bosche after a quiet morning gave a very unpleasant aft. He pasted the wood & the mess & a few on the Battery. He knocked the camouflage about a bit & we had to hand the position over in a rather mess. An extraordinary quiet evening & we drew our guns out at 8. One gun hit by splinter. An exceedingly lucky day for us.
Wednesday, Oct. 4th
Spent the day getting ready at the wagon lines. The major returned to take command of the Battery with the news that we are to bring off a stunt in a day or two at YPRES - - our battery position being still in the hands of the Germans. We moved off at 7.15 & had a weary trek to a farm just past GHYVELDE. Fixed up by 1 a.m. Very cold. Burton went in advance.
Friday, Oct. 6th
Moved off at 7 & went through 1st French Army area to ESQUELBECQ.
Saturday, Oct. 7th
The major, Osborne & 20 men went off on advance party in motor buses. Maj. Edwards returned to D Bty. & Anderson & Burton brought on the Battery to VLAMERTINGE. Moved off at 5.45 & arrived 3 p.m. - a weary trek owing to countless traffic blacks. Pouring with rain & very miserable when we arrived at very muddy wagon lines, with flooded tents and bivouacs for quarters.
Monday, Oct. 8th
Were to have moved into action at 2 a.m. but got orders at last minute to stand fast. Orders & counter orders all morning. Eventually CRA arrived at 4.30 p.m. said we should have been in action by mid day. Turned out at once & moved off. 5.45. Pouring with rain & everyone soaked. Roads in forward area impossible & advance party had to abandon first position (being the only Battery to get platforms down) & come back to the FREZENBERG cross-roads. Roads packed with traffic, three lanes abreast & progress appallingly slow with constant jams. Had to establish forward wagon lines in a map square, for pack horses, in pitch dark. Found nothing but shell holes . We moved forward gradually all night, having jams about every 100 yards. We met our infantry having same difficulty in getting forward & hours late for going over the top. At 5 a.m. we were only a few hundred yards from position when the barrage opened with a crash all around us. Orders came fown that we were to go back, so with difficulty we reversed & had got about 2 miles down the road when counter orders came that we were to go back into action again. We got the first guns into action about 8. No one could understand the complete absence of shelling by the Bosche as the whole road was under direct observation from PASSCHENDAELE & were expected to start any minute. The stunt had hardly started when wounded & prisoners came straggling back along the road. The pack carriers had to start work at once but it took hours to get a load up on account of the constant traffic jams.
Thursday, Oct. 11th
Capt. Ridsdale returned from leave, having been sent to Reinforcement Camp near HAZEBROUCK. Packing of ammn. goes on ceaselessly day & night – a hopeless job. Forward wagon lines in vary bad state of mud – men in bivouacs. HV gun shoots all day & bombing all night.
Tuesday, Oct. 16th
Burton slightly wounded yesterday & Anderson went up to the guns from forward WL. Moved forward to a position in ZONNEBEKE, handing over guns to C/331 & having other guns brought up by them to our new positions. Worked hard putting up dug-outs - - of sorts. Shelling all round but luckily none on us.
Wednesday, Oct. 17th
Lawton wounded & other orderlies a marvellous escape. Shelling & Hun planes very low made work almost impossible. C Bty immediately adjoined position.
Thursday, Oct. 18th
Had three guns knocked out last night & got them away in the morning. Bom. Martin killed & Bdrs. McConville, Starkie, Durham, Gnr. Winter & Williamson wounded. Our four best layers. Very heavy shelling all day & shell storms through the night with an hour of gas. We were very lucky to escape with only Thompson and McMorran wounded, White & Clegg, Gas & Caborne & Cottingham slightly wounded.
Friday, Oct. 19th
Shelling as usual all day. Could hardly leave the dugout. Pedder wounded. We had just started dinner when dugout of C Bty. got knocked it. We rushed out & got out the poor devils. Before we had finished dinner Cottingham staggered in to say Rt. Sec. dugout had been blown in. A big job getting them out in the dark – all buried & had legs smashed. Thompson killed & 6 others wounded or shocked.
Saturday, Oct. 20th
The major & Osborne & all except 15 men left for a rest at the wagon lines - - as work for improvement of the position was impossible. Anderson left OC. C Bty. came into share our mess. Shelling as usual; smith injured.
Sunday, Oct. 21st
Usual shelling & C Bty. had a dugout knocked in, with many casualties. Bosche putting up short barrages all round us. Another gun came by.
Monday, Oct. 22nd
Quieter day. Ridsdale came up with two more guns. Campbell shell-shocked & our drivers nearly caught on position by shelling. Barrages regularly.
Tuesday, Oct. 23rd
Anderson to Levi House OP. Major & Osborne & gunners returned in evening. Ridsdale returned to WL.
Wednesday, Oct. 24th
When we turned out for a barrage at 4 a.m. found one gun missing - - daylight revealed it muzzle down in a shell hole 6 yards away, where it had been thrown by a shell right underneath it. Impos. to move. A lucky day - - no casualties though plenty shelling, mostly in front. D Battery caught it badly.
Thursday, Oct. 25th
Pitt came up from WL & relieved Anderson. HE was transferred to D Bty next day - - where he was killed.
Friday, Oct. 26th
Burton did FOO for attack by Canadians. A shell hit the officers dug-out in the evening & the major was wounded, not severely, but Osborne, also in the dug-out at the time, escaped unhurt. Catterall posted from C Battery, 330 Brigade.
Saturday, Oct. 27th
Battery relieved by 17th Bty. CFA. Heavy shelling round the position & we were very lucky to get clear without any casualties. I don’t think the Canadians ever got to that position. We left the guns in.
Sunday, Oct. 28th
Moved to a farm near WATOU arriving 11.30. Fair billets but two subs. In tents. We had a good champagne dinner to celebrate the occasion.
Wednesday, Oct. 31st
Anderson went on in advance at 4 a.m. & the battery arrived in new billets near ESTAIRES about 2.30. Covered standings & quite good quarters in a farm which bears marks of occupation by the Bosche - - with a female pestering everyone for badges.
Thursday, Nov. 1st
Burton went on camouflage course near Boulogne (returned 4th) and came back tight.
Sunday, Nov. 4th
Mailer posted to the Battery.
Monday, Nov. 5th
Anderson went on leave.
Friday, Nov. 9th
Catterall & Osborne went to a rest camp at Merville.
Saturday, Nov. 10th
Bridgett attached. Battery was moved to RENINGHELST to camp knee deep in mud.
Sunday, Nov. 11th
Mailer and Ridsdale went on in advance to battery position & Battery took over a camp near KRUSSTAAT. Took over from Australians & lost Gnr. Smith killed & another gunner wounded in doing so. No cover on position but we cleared an old sewer for some of the men & the officers were in an old cellar (TOKIO). Front has quietened down considerably since our last visit to these parts.
Wednesday, Nov. 24th
General Lowe killed & Bell wounded.
Friday, Nov. 26th
Capt. Ridsdale promoted to major & Osborne awarded the MC for gallantry on Oct 28th.
Wednesday, Dec. 1st
Anderson promoted to capt.
Friday, Dec. 3rd
Battery assisted in attack on POLDERHOEK CHATEAU with enfilade barrage. Attack only partially successful but the battery specially complimented for its share. A shell coming through the door & bursting in the middle of the signallers dug-out, hurt no one.
Sunday, Dec. 5th
Hard frost which lasted for several weeks - - varied by snow.
Monday, Dec. 6th
Two bombs & another, a dud, just outside the wagon line mess put the wind up Burton & Anderson.
Wednesday, Dec. 8th
Burton left for a month’s gunnery course near Amiens.
Tuesday, Dec. 14th
Corps horse-master came round the lines & eventually sent in report which briefly was – A good, C fair, B & D bad.
Tuesday, Dec. 21st
Had to commence work on new position - - to the disgust of all, as we were quite satisfied with TOKIO. Our new spot is where Canadian Battery caught it very badly - - judging by the debris& dead horses. We were to have been in line with C Battery but they went elsewhere & we took over their pill box as a mess.
Saturday, Dec. 25th
Day spent very happily both at guns & wagon line. The dinner was in danger of being a failure owing to the turkeys not turning up but thanks to the resource of the QMS it went off very well with rabbits as a substitute.
Wednesday, Dec. 29th
Burman attached to the Battery, temporarily.
Thursday, Dec. 30th
2 guns moved to new positions.
Friday, Dec. 31st
False SOS on our front. A senior substantive captain being posted to the Battery unfortunately returns Ridsdale and Anderson to their former ranks. The same thing happened to D/330 & D/331.
Saturday, Jan. 1st, 1918.
The Bosche treated us to a firework display on the advent of the new year but our side took no action. Col., DSO & Capt. Caruas & Bde. Major the MC.
Sunday, Jan. 2nd
Capt Carus joins the Battery.
Monday, Jan 3rd
Howells attached from the Inf. A terrible fellow - - talks too much.
Friday, Jan. 7th
Anderson departed for an intelligence course at Abeels.
Tuesday, Jan 18th
Ridsdale left on a month’s course, followed by fortnights leave in Blightly. Anderson returns.
Friday, Jan. 21st
Bosche shelled the position. The first round knocked out No.1 gun just as men were turning for action. Bdr. Hahn was wounded rather badly.
Monday, Jan. 24th
Anderson relieved the major at the position. The latter had to spend the first few days of his rest at the wagon lines in bed.
Wednesday, Jan. 26th
Thick fog, shell storms & count out barrages the order of the day. If it is clear enough for balloon observation the Hun invariably shells Devil’s Crossing & several rounds usually drop short on to our position, so we have to keep the men under cover. Working on sandbagging dug-outs, clearing up & dispatching old ammunition & empties (at the rate of 1000 per day, 20 pack horses coming up every morning to move them on to the road), building a cook-house & keeping the road in repair. We have 4 men per detachment, cook, A/NSM, fitter & six signallers on position. Three Australians attached the Hotchkiss gun. Three men per gun slepp in baby elephant shelters behind the guns, the remainder in the pill-box in the embankment. An officer sleeps here at nights also. Officers mess in pill-box, 3 mins. from guns. Both PB’s fairly comfortable but flooding, as usual, the trouble.
Thursday, Jan. 27th
The GOC, CRA & Col. inspected the position in the morning and seemed very pleased.
Shelling at Devil’s Crossing & several rounds on the Battery. One landed right under No.3 but did practically no damage. Hun fairly active all day.
Saturday, Jan. 29th
Hun very annoying with harassing fire. The road, the Battery, STEENBEEK VALLY & our pill-box all got odd rounds. GARTER POINT was gassed & the wind blowing in our direction, we had to put our masks on.
Tuesday, Feb. 1st
Orders came through that we were to move on the 10th. Where? Clear of Belgium? GOC inspected wagon lines & was very satisfied. Anderson & 3 orderlies coke-gassed in pill-box. The major came up to the Battery.
Friday, Feb. 4th
Barrages & shell storms in order to harass the 31st Div. just arrived from Russia. Hope they enjoyed the change. Catterall & servant left Battery for wagon lines directly after the stunt & were unsuccessfully pursued with 5.9 & 8”, which greatly expedited their departure down the duck-board track.
Wednesday, Feb. 9th
An FSMO in the morning in preparation for our move. Anderson & Catterall spent a successful aft. In POP., choosing records at Ypresiana, tea at Kiki, Cocktail at Skindles & dinner at La Poupee & a ride back in the dark without accidents.
Thursday, Feb. 10th
Burton took up 50 packs to commence clearing the ammunition from the position. A stormy day, so the limbers went up at 2 & drew out the guns. Mailer stayed to clear up.
Sunday, Feb 13th
Advance party, Anderson & 4 OR’s left for CROMBEKE, - - pouring wet day.
Monday, Feb 14th
Battery moved off at 6.30 & pulled into the camp at CROMBEKE about 12.30. Luckily no rain & very good turnout. The whole Brigade in one large camp, lately vacated by the French. Good mess & men’s quarters but too much mud for horses. Horses divided & C Sub. in the open.
Tuesday, Feb 15th
CRA came round casting horses but said all of ours were good enough to keep. He cast over 30 in the other battery. Advance party left for GUILLANCOURT about midnight.
Thursday, Feb 17th
Battery entrained at PROVEN.
Friday, Feb 18th
The train arrived at GUILLANCOURT about 8.15 p.m. Very cold night & it took over 2 hours to detrain owing to the bad facilities for unloading the vehicles. Luckily a beautiful night for the trek to CAYAUX & we eventually settled down in our billets about 2 a.m.
Saturday, Feb 19th
A beautiful day, sunny & frosty & everyone happy. Even the horses hold their heads higher at the sight of open country, green grass & clear water. In ate aft. Catterall, Burton & Anderson rode into MOREUIL, which turned out to be rather a find & was frequently visited later. Anderson brought a cap.
Sunday, Feb 20th
A chicken & champagne dinner to celeb rate of farewell to the salient.
Monday, Feb 21st
We have had the wind put up us rather by a very ambitious programme of training from DH. With threatened inspections by the CRA. It looks as if all of our time is going to be taken with revising our long since forgotten gun drill & formulae. A riotous evening in the mess with champagne & song. Walthew & Reid were guests. The mess rendered in good style its celebrated chorus: “Gen. Birt(whistle)’s got work upon the brain”, & was loudly encored, chiefly by itself.
Friday, Feb 25th
Moved off at 7.45 for a scheme with the Infantry - - the major, Anderson, Catterall, Burton & Battery staff. A wretched day & all together a total failure. Bitterly cold & we were all very miserable till “Go Home” came through, which was the only message we succeeded in getting through the whole day. Rasmussen posted to the Battery.
Saturday, Feb 26th
Turned out in the morning with Bty. Staff to remedy the faults of yesterday & a Beautiful sunny day as a contrast. The Divisional Band came & played in the Chateau grounds & in the sunshine it seemed quite a perfect scene of peace.
Sunday, Feb 27th
Drill order in the morning. The GOC & CRA inspected us in the aft. When, being forewarned, we were hard at work at gun drill & laying.
Tuesday, March 1st
Our move was advanced 24 hours last night. Burton had an unexpected rush as he & Mailer had drifted into Moreuil & arrived back - - apparently - - about 3 a.m. However they both got away at 8, thanking heaven that they had to go in motor lorries & didn’t have to ride. Burton went on to take over from the Battery we are relieving & Mailer to pitch tents for the Brigade at BRIE. As they left in different lorries B’s bright servant naturally put himself & B’s kit in the wrong lorry, so that B spent the next few days kit less.
Wednesday, March 2nd
The Battery moved off at 6.30 a.m. & put up a very good turn-out. But very cold with strong wind & later it came on to snow. Everyone was miserable & it seemed the last straw when we arrived at our destination about 3 to find twelve tents pitched up for us on top of a bleak & wind-swept hill. Luckily we found an empty Nissen hut in the camp of the 6th DG close by, which they allowed us to have & so we spent a fairly comfortable night.
Thursday, March 3rd
The major took 3 guns into action & Anderson went on to take over the wagon lines at HAMLET.
Friday, March 4th
Catterall brought on the rest of the Battery & A/107 moved out about 8.30 except for 4 guns and limbers. Luckily it was another misty day so we got our gun in daylight & without a hitch. Capt. O’Connor was A/BC. They seemed a very nice lot & very pleased at such an easy relief. Their horses looked very well. The most remarkable thing about them was that they managed to carry on with 60 men on leave.
Saturday, March 5th
We had to tidy up a very dirty camp. Fuel a great problem & very cold. Ridsdale came back from leave - - married.
Monday, March 7th
Evens posted to the Battery & M. Blondel attached.
Wednesday, March 9th
Burton on leave, almost a year without. Much wind everywhere about a Bosche attack in this neighbourhood.
Monday, March 14th
The warning “Prepare for attack” came through about midnight & the Battery & wagon lines had to stand to. A very cold frosty night & everyone was annoyed. “Resume normal conditions” only at 7 a.m. A good deal of noise all night further north but nothing deployed on our front.
Tuesday, March 15th
Dr. Wilson wounded in the Adrian but by a bullet from our own planes firing at the Bosche paper balloon.
Friday, March 18th
Gr. Murphy killed & Gr Strugnall wounded by a 5.9 while on their way from the tank gun to draw rations at the Battery. Work started on the officers mess. Vegetable garden at the wagon line. Got 3 good remounts, 2 blacks and a bay.
Monday, March 21st
Were warned last night to expect Bosche attack. At 4.30 tremendous barrage opened on whole front. All communications went in the first few minutes & owing to a thick fog visual was useless & SOS rockets not seen. Runners took hours to get through if they go through at all, owing to the fog & barrage & the valley being flooded by gas. The Battery fired on “Counter Preparation”. In the first half hour all three guns at the main position were knocked out with many casualties & the tank gun suffered the same fate without being able to see a target. The two guns at the forward section kept going to the last & finished up with open sights as the Bosche came over the crest and withdrew with breech blocks. Hardly any of the inf. came through the battery and it was difficult to realise what was happening. When the three main guns were knocked out the major took the men back to B/331 position were there had been casualties to men but guns intact. They manned these & supplied them with ammunition & defended the position with rifles till the guns were destroyed. The supply of ammunition was very difficult owing to the fog & gas & very few packs could get through. For most of the day the Battery was isolated as no orders came through from Group. The men collected at the wagon line which during the night was moved to a cavalry camp near COURCELLE.
On the 21st the detachments were made up as follows:
OFFICERS: Major Carus, Lieut. Catterall (wounded), 2nd Lt. Mailer, 2nd Lt Evans, 2nd Lt. Rasmussen, Tank Gun, (missing).
SIGNALLERS: Cpl. Smith (wounded), Bdr. Taylor, Bdr. Willard (wounded), Gr Kelles (missing), Gr. Waterhouse (missing), Gr. Thomas (missing), Gr Ramsden, Gr. Edwards, Gr. Snelling, Gr. Cavannah (wounded), Gr. Howarth, Gr. Langley (missing).
COOKS: Gr. Pedder, Dr. Tyas (killed)
CPL. Fitter: Scholfield (wounded)
ORDERLIERS: Gr. Tennent, Gr. Brewin, Dr. Buck, Gr. Davis (missing).
SS. Downing, Dr. Davies, Dr. Harman wounded from WL.
A SUB: Cpl. Chappell, Bdr. Hayes (missing), Gr. Redman (missing), Gnrs. Oddie, Edwards (wounded), Reeves (missing), Boden (missing).
B SUB: Sgt Waller (missing), Cpl. Harwood, Bdr. Hargreaves (wounded), Gnrs. Goodfellow (wounded), Strugnall (wounded), Henry (wounded), Saunders.
C SUB: Sgt. Nelson, Bdr. Townsend, Gnrs. Jones (killed), Clark, Higham, Ingram.
D SUB: Sgt. Wallace, Bdr. McINtosh, Gnrs. Nutley, Leather.
E SUB: Cpl. Miller (wounded), Bdr. Smith (wounded), Gnrs. Morgan, Edwards (wounded), McLean.
F SUB: SGT. Russell (wounded), Bdr. Utting, Gnrs. Sant (killed), Smith (killed), Upton (killed), Strugnell (missing).
Tuesday, March 22nd
The day was spent hanging round ready to move off at a moment’s notice. Alarming reports kept coming through about the extent of the Bosche advance & in the absence of orders it was difficult to know whether a further move back of the wagon lines would not be wise. Eventually orders cane to move to LE MESNIL & we had just go settled in the camp of the 8th Hussars when further windy rumours cane through & Baker of the 331 came to say that Col, Adams advised a move across the river. Accordingly we packed up & moved across the BRIE, camping on the outskirts of VILLERS CARBONNEL, where some Canadian railway troops were very good to us.
Wednesday, March 23rd
Got orders in the morning to move to BAREUX but as this seemed doubtful & the road was impracticable the major moved to FONTAINE-LES-CAPPY & this was later confirmed by 50th DA, to whom we are attached. The air was again full of rumours & it always seemed that the Hun was close by, so that we were always ready to move at a moment’s notice. Persistent rumours that we have taken Ostend & Lens & advanced at YPRES cheer things up a bit & the general impression is that our retirement is part of a large scheme - - otherwise it would seem to be a rout of the British Army. There seem to be no fresh troops coming up & a very conspicuous lack of aeroplanes, machine guns, &c. Our infantry, who are naturally tired after so much hard fighting & so little support, seem to fall back easily but anything in the nature of determined resistance seems to hold up the Bosche without difficulty.
Thursday, March 24th
Moved at dawn to a field just outside BRAY. Here we got our first experience of an occupied village just evacuated. The houses were full of provisions &c. & we had to be careful in preventing the men helping themselves to excess. The sight of so many civilians trekking along the road is distressing. Towards evening we got orders to move to CHINGUES & pick up the 331 Bde. & DAC. As we had to move by a longer route to avoid traffic it was late when we drew into a field on the outskirts of the village. Drew 5 guns from Army Park.
Friday, March 25th
Wagon lines moved on again to MORCOURT & picked up with the ASC again for a change. Anderson went forward to do liaison & was attached to Bde. HQ.
Saturday, March 26th
Wagon lines moved to MARCELCAVE at 6 a.m. & moved on at 8 p.m. to DOMART.
Sunday, March 27th
The Battery came up into action again with 4 guns. An unlucky round dropped behind the trail of one gun killing Gnr. Hannum & wounding Bdr. McIntosh, Gnr. Nutley & Sgt. Wallace. Retired that night to a position near GUILLACOURT.
Monday, March 28th
Retired again to a position near CAYEUX where we took on the Hun with success & got some good targets. On the way back near BEAUCOURT we were stopped by Corps & told to go into action again & fire a few rounds to encourage the French, some of whom by this time had come up. We were also met by the 50th Div. general who told us it would be dangerous to cross at DOMART as we had been ordered but to cross at MOREUIL. This was a very long trek as there was so much traffic on the road - - English & French - - & numerous checks. It was raining also & when we came in for some uncomfortable shelling at MEZIERES. Once across the river we were uncertain what to do, so Anderson & Mailer went to report to HQ for orders, but in the darkness & rain the messengers missed the Battery & it spent the night in a field. The wagon lines had moved previously to JUMEI.
Tuesday, March 29th
Battery & wagon lines went to DOMARTIN & then the former moved forward to take up a position near CASTREL. Col. Adams of 331 Bde took over command of the Group.
Wednesday, March 30th
Battery moved to a position near GENTELLES & the wagon lines spent a most uncomfortable night in an open field near the main road. Pouring with rain all day & very cold.
Thursday, March 31st
Battery removed during the night to another position near VILLERS BRETONNEUX. The wagon lines moved to GLISY.
Friday, April 1st
A record for both wagon lines & Battery being taken in the same place for 24 hours. The Brigade being reorganised at the wagon line on a 4 gun basis. We handed over 10 horses to D & a gun to be.
Sunday, April 3rd
The morning was quite quiet at the position - - rather uncannily so. A 6” How. Battery in position on the front edge of the wood just behind our battery was not looked upon likely to improve the health of the neighbourhood, & sure enough the Hun started shelling it in the aft. As the wagon lines were just beside it, they had to move. A new position was chosen on the edge of the wood further back - - an innocent & quiet looking spot.
Monday April 4th
Casual shelling by the Hun during the night caused six casualties (3 killed). About 4.30 he opened an extensive barrage. His first few rounds landed right there in the middle of the wagon lines, as if he knew they were there. They cleared at once to a flank & were extraordinarily lucky in having only 1 killed and 2 wounded. Wherever they moved the shelling seemed to follow them & they spent the whole day trying to dodge the shells, never staying in one place for long & finding the open country the best place - - avoiding woods and villages. We lost about 28 horses. The Bosche attacked 3 times in the morning & was beaten off, each time with only slight gain of ground. It was a great battle, as we could feel that we were holding him at last. But he came on again in the evening. The infantry started pouring through us again & we got orders to retire. It seemed like the old story again & we limbered up with heavy hearts. Pouring with rain all day & very miserable.
Tuesday, April 5th
We rendezvoused at BLAGUEY CABARET soaking wet & every one absolutely done in the world. Somehow or other the Bosche advance had been stopped by the Australians & a magnificent counter-attack by the 16th Lancers, who rode to the front line on their horses. We got orders to move back practically to our old position. We took up a position in the open near CACHY & found some old bomb-stores belonging to the aerodrome, where we got a little shelter & managed to get a fire going & some hot tea. These dug-outs were a god-send to us. The two cooks Gnr. Brown & SS Godfrey, were heroes & really kept the whole Battery going. Their gift of making fire from wet wood with the help of a candle & providing tea just when most needed, was invaluable. Day quieter with random shelling.
Wednesday, April 6th
The next few days were quieter but anxious & uncomfortable. We repeatedly stood-to, expecting a Bosche attack but it didn’t come. Rain continually & no one was ever dry. The advanced wagon lines were in the open a few hundred yards behind – sleeping on the wet ground.
Friday, April 8th
Relieved by A/91. Our feelings indescribable at getting out of it at last - - still raining but what matter with billet to look forward to? The relieving battery caught it rather with a shell fire the first day. We didn’t have to move our ammunition (A/91 came into another position), as another battery agreed to do this in consideration for 2 cows which we found wandering about the country. Went to wagon lines at CAGNY, got into dry clothes & celebrated in champagne. Burton, who left us just before the stunt, skilfully turns up 1-2 an hour late after we pulled out.
Saturday, April 9th
Spent day cleaning up. Are very crowded in this village, as there are our two Brigades here and also another Div. Arty. Anderson went on advance party to CREUSE. Ridsdale & Bell from DA in to dinner.
Sunday, April 10th
Moved to CREUSE. Good weather. This village seems very nice & clean & unspoilt by troops.
Monday, April 11th
Received orders in afternoon that the French are coming into CREUSE this evening & we have to move. Move into BOIS DE BACOUEL by 7 p.m., nearly dark.
Wednesday, April 13th
Moved to BEHENCOURT, a 20 mile trek & with the horses in such a bad condition after the last three weeks strenuous times, it doesn’t improve them. No accommodation & begins to rain as soon as we are in.
Thursday, April 14th
Obviously the Staff don’t know what to do with us, as we are moved back through AMIENS to within three miles where we were yesterday morning - - namely PONT DE METZ. 38th DA are in the place & have not yet cleared out. Receive orders to entrain tonight at AMIENS, St. Roche Station, for ST. OMER.
Friday, April 15th
Arrive at ESQUELBECQUE at about 10 a.m. & march about a mile and a half to ZEGGERS CAMMEL. A nice clean village & quite good billets, although the horses are in the open & still in very poor condition. Ridsdale rejoined Battery from DA.
Tuesday, April 19th
We and C Battery have to go into action tomorrow. We are being made up to strength to-day in horses & men by B & D Batteries, who, of course, have given us the “duds” in both.
Wednesday, April 20th
Early start & move to HAMHOEK wagon lines which are quite good - - messing with a signal school officer who is quite nice.
Thursday, April 21st
Battery moves into action by ST. JEAN
Friday, April 22nd
Wagon lines moved to a new place in front of ELVERDINGHE. Though good joined Battery.
Tuesday, April 26th
Battery pulled out to W. lines & were relieved by 38th DA.
Wednesday, April 27th
Battery moved to CLIFFORD CAMP near ST. JAN TER BIEZEN. The next fortnight consisted of reconnaissance of BLUE line, strenuous training & horse inspections, with very frequent inspections by CRA - - too frequent. Evans joined Battery during this period.
Friday, May 13th
Ridsdale took two guns to AT. JEAN to calibrate them, starting at 5 a.m. & got back at 7.30 p.m. Major went on leave
on May 10th.
Saturday, May 14th
Into action behind DICKEBUSCHE, where for the next week or more we received attention from 8” & 5.9” regularly, being in full view from KEMMEL. Sgt. Gorton the old BSM killed in action here, also Sgt. Houghton got shell shock & also about 5 wounded. Wagon lines near BUSSENBOOM were strafed & Bdr. Dootson, battery tailor, was wounded.
Sunday, May 22nd
Withdrew to W. lines, luckily without casualties & had to cart away 15 loads of Ammn. as the positions were vacated Anderson in advance to WINNEZEELE.
Monday May 23rd
Marched to WINNEZEELE to a wagon lines without cover & no place for men of harness. Ridsdale presented with Croix de Guerre by CRA, 14th French Division.
Wednesday, May 25th
Marched from WINNEZEELE TO BLARINGHEM & glad to be getting of sheet 28.
Thursday, May 26th
Marched BLARINGHEM to WESTREHEN, a very dirty little village.
Friday, May 27th
From WESTREHEM to HOUDAIN, where we are going to have a rest, presumably.
Saturday, May 28th
11” shell dropped on a billet occupied by Bde. HQ & didn’t hurt anyone - - quite close to the lines. Holes through all the tents & bivvys. Very lucky. Much bombing at night.
Sunday, May 29th
Mailer awarded MC. While Evans, Ridsdale & Mailer are having tea in the mess another 11” shell dropped on the house on the opposite side of the street, where some of our men were billeted. Dr. Brunt died of these wounds. A Frenchman killed & his wife had her arm blown off. Very unpleasant. Moved into a tent in a field nearby.
Tuesday, May 31st
Strafed by CO for having dirty horses. At noon four 11” shells dropped quite close to horse lines. You cannot hear them coming. Very unpleasant. Cleared horses into a field nearby. Anderson went out to find a new place & I went to CO to ask permission to move. Got it & moved to BRAFFLE a most glorious spot & a great advantage being that we are 2½ miles from HQ & DA.
Wednesday, 1st June
Inspection by 1st Coprs ADVS, who said our horses were best in brigade as for cleanliness & also for condition, which made the CO ask what we’d been doing to them since yesterday. We suggested bicycle pumps and vacuum cleaners. After this time we did intensive training including rifle range shoot by each man of 15 rounds. FSMO’s & Bty. Staffs order of the day. Anderson awarded MC in King’s Birthday honours.
Sunday, June 12th
Moved from BARAFFLE to BOIS DE DAMES & same night Battery in action near HINGES.
Thursday, June 16th
Battery withdrew to W lines.
Friday, June 17th
Burton’s 21st & much Champagne.
Saturday, June 18th
Moved to ENQUIN LES MINES, where we had a pleasant stay.
Wednesday, June 22nd
Moved to wagon lines SW of CUARBECQUE & the same night battery relieved DA 16th behind ST. VENANT. A top-hole place with a most gorgeous mess & bedroom & bathroom complete with porcelain bath. This isn’t war at all.
Thursday, June 23rd
Mailer goes on leave to get married, with all the Battery congratulations.
Saturday, July 9th
Mailer returned from leave. The Battery having a very quiet & nice time during this period. Haslett joined Battery.
Friday, July 15th
Battery relieved by 74 DA just out of Palestine & very sorry to leave. Roumers of sheet 28 again.
Saturday, July 16th
Moved to STAPLE area. A very indifferent W line.
Sunday, July 17th
From STAPLE to HAANDEKOT, where we are in good wagon lines.
Wednesday, July 20th
Move away from this place & all go to the wagon lines NE of STEENVOORDE. Horses all in the open & men & officers in bivvys & tents. Raining all day & the Bosche shelled just over our wagon lines with a HV gun. Evand takes Left Section forward to pos. in observ. at WIPPENHOEK, covering the East pop. line known later at the 2nd pos. The major goes up to stay with him to get the show working, and as there is a good restaurant quite near, Mailer goes up later also.
Wednesday, July 20th
Ridsdale “relieves” major at pos. in obs. & Evans also goes down to WL.
Friday, August 5th
Mailer contracts Spanish flue & is sent to hospital.
Saturday, August 6th
Ridsdale takes a party of men from the Bde. To see the King at WINNEZEELE. In the evening the major takes 4 guns into action in one position on the shoulder of SHERPENBERG & Ridsdale takes 2 guns of A Bty. & 2 guns of C Bty. into action near LA CLYTTE, forming a composite Bty. All this to capture about 5 posts.
Tuesday, August 9th
Pull out to arrive at W lines at about 5.10 a.m. (10th)
Wednesday, August 10th
About 2 p.m. orders received that AC & the composite Battery are to go into action again tonight on account of “wind”, which has sprung up quite suddenly & is now vertical. Everybody cursing like blazes. We all get into action about midnight. Have to fire on CP at about 3 a.m. for an hour.
Sunday August 14th
Last two or three days quiet; nothing to do but fire on CP each morning at between 3 & 4 a.m. This evening the Bosche started shelling Ridsdale’s composite Battery at 7 p.m. & kept it up until 10 p.m.with 8”. Considerable wind up seeing that we have to pull out tonight. However, no damage done. Later all his men get slightly gassed through a small gas shell falling near them. All arrive at wagon lines at about 4.30 a.m. quite safely.
Tuesday, August 16th
Major yesterday went to ST. OMER to have his teeth attended to by a dentist & has not yet returned. Orders in that we are relieving the 41st SA for about a fortnight to give them a rest. Ridsdale and Burton go forward to see battery that we are relieving, A/187.
Wednesday, August 17th
Battery moves into action tonight.
Thursday, August 18th
Wagon lines moves from STEENVOORDE area to ABEELE area. 12 wagon loads of ammunition up tonight, a local operation coming off.
Friday, August 25th
Battery pulled out & came to w. lines. All merrie.
Sunday, August 28th
We go into action relieving the 33rd DA who are in action near KRUISSTRAAT - - only a thousand yards behind our wagon lines last winter.
Monday, August 29th
Remainder of Battery go into action tonight. Also hear that one of the guns we sent into action last night is blown out - - the Bosche has been shelling Forward Section for about 4 hours. Wagon lines moved to PESELHOEK district.
Thursday, Sept 1st
Wonderful rumours today that the Bosche has evacuated KEMMEL & BAILLEUL. It is obviously true because we got orders at W.lines to stand ready with teams. Sent up 4 gun limbers & 8 ammn. wagons at 1 a.m. to no avail.
Saturday, Sept 3rd
Change 4 gun position from rear to front as it appears that the Bosche has gone back on one front. Rumours this evening that there is a big stunt on south & that CAMBRAI & DOUAI are captured & that we had broken through at VERDUN. Splendid news if its true. Had two drivers wounded & 2 horses & 2 mules killed changing position tonight.
Sunday, Sept 4th
In action near CAFÉ BELGE X roads. Not a very healthy position & pleanty of gas.
Tuesday Sept 6th
Guns come out of action & remain at wagon lines. CO & Adjutant of our bridges & CO & Adjutant of relieving brigade all gasses while handling over - - pretty bad too. All to England.
Thursday, Sept 8th
Moved from PESELHOEK wagon lines to CAESTRE where practically the whole brigade was billeted in a small farm. Rained like the devil all day & night.
Friday, Sept 9th
Moved from CAESTRE to LA VERRIER near DOULIEU & passed through VAUX BRIQUES which was very badly knocked about, infact, hardly one brick remained on another.
Monday, Sept 12th
Received orders to go onto action in front of STEENWERCKE taking over from 28 A Bge. RFA., who were covering the 40th Divnl. front. Ridsdale doing A/Adjutant as Walmsley away & Tile not back from course.
Tuesday, Sept 13th
Batteries have fairly quiet time but having difficulty with ammunition supply as WL’s are so far away.
Sunday, Sept 18th
A & B Batteries moved about this date to a beastly position about a mile north of their present position. Shelling & gas shelling continually. A Battery had 11 signallers gassed at once & B Battery had the major & Trott wounded badly.
Tuesday, Sept 27th
All batteries moved to positions just East of PLOEGSEERT WOOD preparatory to a stunt coming off in a day or two’s time. All batteries getting ammuntn. up to position & a more unpleasant time of it, too. Mailer gassed just before the move. Wagon lines moved to LA CRECHE, not a salubrious place, because the field where the horses are standing is full of shell holes & is quickly turning in to mud.
(Here the Diary end abruptly, forty five days before the signing of the Armistice.)