Friday 1st October.
Sleep almost impossible partly owing to the bitter cold and mostly due to a fierce artillery bombardment of the Huns trenches by our batteries some of which was close beside my house. This is most bitter cold weather with a strong east wind. I have made a splendid dressing station out of this room, thanks to a fire I am able to keep comfortably warm.
Thompson, MO to the Sussex 36th brigade was killed this morning by a shell at his dressing station and Bell of my old field ambulance was seriously injured by shrapnel.
I have just come back from visiting the recent battlefields. Their 1st two lines of trenches which we captured from them. From Vermelles (where we are) there is a flat plain which gradually slopes up to a ridge, on the summit of this were ours and the Huns trenches separated by about a 100 yards, there was a good deal of shrapnel and high explosive being thrown about, so we had to cover the distance between the two trenches fairly rapidly.
It was a typical battlefield, littered with bodies of our brave Highlanders who let the assault with bombing parties. They still lay stiff with their arms outstretched in the act of throwing the bomb. We entered the Huns 1st line of trenches and saw a good many Bosch lying in and around their dugout. Some of them with ghastly wounds. One German officer lay at the front his dugout with a Femur almost torn in half. Most of the dead wore respirators. Their dugouts are wonderfully strong and beat ours at Armentieres to bits seeing they go down often 15 feet and were built with good timber as well. There were hand grenades, rifles and cartridges lying everywhere.
At one place I found myself standing on the body of a Hun who had been trampled beneath the mud of the trench. In some of the dugouts where was loaves of pumpernickel and Dutch cheese. Behind their 2nd trench you looked down to the village of Loos in the hollow, Then beyond Loos rose the hill(70) up which we pushed the enemy and captured the crest, and there we are now.
We returned (I and Monroe Favre) the way we had come, two high explosive shells burst uncomfortably near us and we were showered with pebbles and earth.
* No CWGC record of Thompson, Sussex Regt or RAMC recorded for the dates.
Saturday 2nd October.
They have shelled our batteries all afternoon. Just heard our divisional General Wing has been killed by shell bursting in his battle H.Q, a great loss.
*01/10/1915 - 39273 Sgt Butcher, Henry, age 25. - 46643, Pte Cooke, Noel Hannant, age 22. 36th F.A. - Vermelles British cemetery.
02/10/1915 - 416 Pte Goldsmith, Charles, age 20. - Capt Bell, Thomas Henry Stanley, age 23. 36th. F.A. - Vermelles British cemetery.
2093, Pte Bendall, William Thomas, age 30. - 7th Battalion East Surrey Regt. Bailleul communal cemetery extension nord.
* 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)