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Tuesday 7th March 1916. Hohenzollern craters.

These two days (Mon-Tues) have been terrific days. The enemy threw shells into the craters, rifle grenades, mortars, the poor boys suffered much. It was snowing and freezing cold. Wounded kept coming down in a steady stream and any sleep was out of the question for me during the two nights. in the late afternoon I was asked by the Northants Pioneers to see a man in C crater who had a shattered limb. I made my way up and passed through some bits of trench which were partially blown in. One had to keep low in order not to be exposed above the parapet.


Then into the crater, what a sight! A huge basin 50 yards wide or more and 50 feet deep covered  in debris and dead bodies of Germans. Around the further lip were our brave boys. A small path ran around it, of cover there was none as there was no time to build dugouts. I found my man lying amongst some corpses, his left limb was hanging by a few tendons and although he was obviously dying I could not leave him. My stretcher bearers of the coy were knocked out and so I had to get three volunteers to help me. A rifle grenade came over and exploded with a deafening report close to me, wounding slightly three or four men.


Captain Richards shouted to warn me that the Buffs were "going over" at 6:00pm which would mean a bombardment of the crater. I could not get my casualty away by then and I heard the German machine guns playing on them as they advanced and our artillery commenced an intense bombardment. After an immense struggle, myself holding one end of the stretcher we got out of the crater and fought our way through the narrow trench expecting to be crumped at any minute. 

The poor fellow however expired  before we had gone very far, felt nonetheless very glad that I had done my best for him. I made my way back to the aid post through the appalling din of the bombardment and got back safely.


*All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this blog is the sole copyright of the holder of the diaries of Reginald Hannay Fothergill*


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