Well, about three weeks later than expected, the proof copy of the book dropped through the letter box this morning (slightly untrue that. It's so damn big it was left in the porch, but never mind). It's a strange feeling to have something you have worked on for six years resting in one's hands. Lump in the throat time. From my days in the music business I have plenty of albums on which I played and co-wrote songs but this book means more to me than they do - this is, after all, all my own w
After last minute visits to the NA and having worked through several additional books for more information about the planning of the Battle of the Somme, the book is nearly ready to go to print. A visit to the IWM Photo Library was very useful and I have ten prints on order. The cost of a 7"x5" print is a not unreasonable £5.70 and I hope to get them later this week (in spite of a glitch in processing the credit card order!). I also had it confirmed that for print runs below 1,000 the IWM doe
On the 25th September 1916, the 1/4th Londons were involved in an action to clear the northern end of Bouleaux Wood. The action was successful but a number of men were either killed or wounded, 2nd Lt E M MacCormick being one of the latter. His family were informed by telegram:
Post Office Telegraph dated 29th Sept 1916
To: MacCormick, 27 Rock Ave., Gillingham , Kent
06598 Regret to inform you Second Lieut E M MacCormick 4th Londons wounded 25th. No further particulars.
The account of the actions of the 1/4th Londons is taken from 'The War History of the 4th Battalion, The London Regiment' by F Clive Grimwade. For his actions in the this battle my grandfather was awarded the Military Cross (citation at end). His next appearance on the battlefield would have a less happy conclusion.
The battle of the 9th September was an attack on the whole front of the Fourth Army, the French co-operating on our right. The object of the XIV Corps, of which the 56th and 16t
On the 16th December, my grandfather completed Army Form E.536 giving the necessary answers for someone wishing to be considered as a candidate for a commission. He had been recommended by his CO for a commission into the 3/5th Leicestershire Regt but before this could be considered various people had to certify that he was a suitable person.
On 19th December, the acting warden of Goldsmith's College at New Cross signed as head of his last educational establishment (he was training to become
The final entries for my grandfather's diary.
Grand inspection by Major General at Houlin. Very hot and tiring march. Afternoon off and watch footer match in evening. Have decent evening and supper, but working party after until 2.30am at Ablain St. Nazaire. Very tired.
Up at 10 and parade early to march to Gouy Servins. Billeted in room in chateau. Some rain, but turns out fine. Nothing much doing. Watch footer and have happy evening.
In which not a great deal happens apparently.... Things get a lot more exciting in tomorrow's twelth and final entry from the diary.
Again visit the hills and see British aeroplane brought down by clean hit at Calonne. Get a piece of machine nearly two miles away. No working party—thanks, Brig.
Go billeting to Villers au Bois. Stay here four hours and then go into the line in evening. Take over the same sector as before. Long and tiring march throug
In which he gets offered a commission and the battalion moves from Loos to Souchez, near Vimy.
Route march. Footer beat l9th Coy. 4-3.
Final and Semi-final of Footer Comp.
Semi-final Beat 17th 6-2
Final Beat M.G. 7-1
Speech by Brig. Happy as sandboys. Offered Com. (commission) in 20th and accept.
Trek begins and we march to Enguingente. Sleep in estaminet after terrible march in snow storm.
In which my grandfather is politicall incorrect in his description of an Irish regiment
Stand to at 5am. Much cursing at early hour. Hundreds of whizz bangs over during the day but no casualties. Do a little sniping during the day but get little in the way of targets. Stand to 4.30 to 5.30pm. Quiet night and owing (to) hour early. Have quite a good sleep.
Stand to 5am until 7am. Too long—staff get up at 9am and don’t know when it gets light. Awfu
Very like yesterday. Nothing much doing. Up late bed early.
Up at 3.30am and leave for Houchin at 9. Decent march and sleep in tents. Awful conditions—mud, etc. Sleep very well. Rumours of recommendation. What for?
Rise at 7.30 and march to Les Brebis at 11am. Fairly long march, but get good billet. Narrow escape from shell which killed three and wounded eight. D Coy. very lucky (see note 1). Interesting evening with Coll. Sgts. Good
Start on trek to Grecque—a hot and tiring march. Get a bed in Grecque and have a good sleep. Meet Gilly. Forward young woman.
Parade again at 8am. A “field crime” Incident causes amusement to Balls. Pritchard pinched it. Awful scourge back but glad it was only two days.
Usual parades. Rain washout.
Usual Parades. Rain washout.
Went to church. Good feed. Walk across fields.
Publisher now hedging bets and referring book to third party who organises WW1 trips to Western Front!? Oh well, never mind. If all else fails, self-publishing seems the answer...
Anyway, November entries for Grandfather's diary for anyone interested. He goes on leave after his father is killed in an accident on a pre-dreadnought in the Dardenelles.
Up at 8 o’clock and get ready for bath at 10.30. Splendid bath. Change and cocoa after. Fine arrangements. Fine
Publisher emailed this morning to say they are hopeful of taking my Gommecourt book and that, if they do, they will publish for July! Panic ensues.... They need ideas for photographs so a trip to the Imperial War Museum photo-library will have to be arranged for next week. It would probably help if I could finish the writing but I keep finding other fascinating things to fit in somehow. So, better get down to it!
Grandfather's diary continues...
Much the s
As usual a fascintating time at the NA with some excellent material to finish off the book plus some intruguing stuff that I will pursue in the coming months. But, before I sit down to start writing here's the next part of my grandfather's little diary.
Rise about 9 o’clock and have breakfast in adjoining house. Get invitation to sleep there. Do so that evening and have a splendid night with Gilly. Speech of congrats. by Brig. News of another attack. Tea with A Coy
Off to the NA at Kew for some last minute research on artillery... In the meantime, my grandfather's diary reaches the opening of the Battle of Loos.
“THE DAY”. Get in trenches at 1.30am. Cramped and cold and wet. The game starts at 5.45am with gas and smoke. Germans reply gamely. We get out over the top at 6.40am. Phew! Bit of a mix-up at first but push on to reach our objective. Take four prisoners and get revolver. Meet L—’s brother in middle of advance. R
This section of my grandfather's little diary takes him up to the beginning of the Battle of Loos.
Arrived home at 2.30am. Went to bed at 9.00am. Nothing doing. Went to trenches again at 6.30pm. Rained, terribly soaked. Worked all night. Nothing touched us.
Marched from trenches and got on buses and arrived at Houchin. Marched in rain to bivouac outside town. Terribly wet. Slept outside in wood—quite warm. Nothing doing during day. Went to tea
I thought I'd use this blog for a useful purpose too. My interest in WW1 was originally piqued by the discovery of a small diary in which my grandfather, then a private in the 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath and Woolwich) had written his brief impressions of life on the Western Front. Having fought at the Battle of Loos, he went on to be commissioned into the 3/5th Leicesters before being tranferred to the 1/4th London Regt (Royal Fusiliers), winning the MC at Leuze Wood on the 9th September 19
Eight years ago I had to give up work because of ill-health. For six of those years I have been researching the 56th Division's attack on Gommecourt on 1st July 1916. It became something of an obsession and, as my research grew in volume, so it seemed appropriate to turn it into a narrative of the events. This grew and grew until, lo and behold!, there was a 200,000+ word document sitting on my computer. What to do with it? Well, being a bit of a prat, what I did was wait until two weeks b