Monday 7th June.
*Ralph Montgomery Vaughan. M.C. 1890-1976. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
In 1912 he began his flight training at the Bristol school, Salisbury Plain. He subsequently joined No3 squadron Netheravon, from there to No5 squadron on its formation. Appointed to R.F.C reserve and in December seconded to the R.F.C as flying officer.
On the 15th August 1914 on flight to France Vaughan made a forced landing near Boulogne and was arrested by the French and kept for almost a week, not arriving at his new airfield until the 22nd August.
He was shot and wounded in the leg 1st November 1914, and on the 17th April 1915 while flying reconnaissance in a B.E.2c his observer Lieut John Lascelles R.F.C and Rifle Brigade had 24 shots with a rifle hitting a German pilot in the head forcing his plane to crash. For this action both were mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military cross. Sadly, John Lascelles was killed in action on the 31st July 1915.
Twenty-eighth March 1915 Vaughan was made temporary captain and flight commander. From the 6th May to 5th July 1915 Vaughan was officer commanding No5 squadron in France . He survived the war.* (Home of the Firebirds website)
*2nd Lieut. Lascelles. John Frederick. M.C. Age 19. Beavual communal cemetery.
Wednesday 9th June.
Jack and I had rather an adventure today. We were filled with curiosity to see the trenches and so we walked out to Chapelle Armentieres about three miles away. This place, a small, was shelled last October and we inspected the church. The top of the tower was blown away and the front walls smashed in so that the organ was exposed and hung out over the road.
We then entered the reserve trenches. Here we met Highlanders in occupation and the Germans one thousand yards away. There was some firing on our right. We had not proceeded far when a corporal and men came running after us, arrested us as spies! It was rather unpleasant and then an officer appeared and said he was afraid we must go before the General. It seemed that some casual questions which we had put to civilians on the way down had aroused suspicion.
At the H.Q we appeared before the captain who was C.O in absence of general. He was quite decent but said we must in future have passes before visiting trenches etc.
They(the enemy) throw about six small shells into the town each evening.
Friday 11th June.
I was very pleasantly surprised with the way the trenches are constructed . The ones we visited are paved with wood just like a pier so that officers could bicycle along quite comfortably from one place to another. There are some trenches that have been constructed for a length of time . There is no mud, there is good sleeping accommodation and protection.
I was orderly officer, which meant a good deal of hanging about our field hospital doing nothing very much. Our division has not yet gone into action so that our hospital cases are for the present confined to ordinary cases of sickness.
Quite a fine Roman Catholic church here at Armentieres, at least it has a very fine exterior but inside the windows are poor.
Sunday 13th June.
Jack and I put our lunch in our haversacks, set out for a long walk of exploration. We crossed the canal and the Belgium boundary into Ploegstert. We the pushed forward for a mile, then turned to the left as we were getting to near our front lines and feared lest we should be held up. We determined to push on to Neuve Eglise but first of all bought a bottle of wine at a little esteminet. We then sat down in a field to enjoy our grub followed by a sleep despite the two British batteries which kept thundering away at intervals.
We then set out through quiet cornfields, we had just begun to ascend the gentle slope leading up to Neuve Eglise when we heard a boom from the German lines, followed by the hum of a shell which grew louder and louder passing over our heads with a screech until it fell with great accuracy on the roof of the church with a terrible explosion, tearing away a great portion of the wall. We watched about six of these fall among the houses of the village.
Further on we came across a small battery of field guns and 18 pound guns, visited the major and captain in their dugout. Had tea with them and afterwards walked.
* All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this blog is the sole copyright of the holder of the diaries of Reginald Hannay Fothergill (author)*