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Grandfather's War Diary, part one


bmac

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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 1916 before being machine gunned in Bouleaux Wood on the 25th September. He ended up as the commandant of the military hospital at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, one of whose leading patients being Robert Graves who mentions his stay in 'Goodbye to all that'. The diary covers the period August 1915-May 1916 and part one covers August. Hope it is of interest.

1202 Pte Ewen MacDonald MacCormick

Born: 29th October 1893, Ross of Mull, Argyllshire

1905 Won County Scholarship—Top of Kent

1908 Won Senior Scholarship—Top of Kent

1912 Won Major Scholarship—No position

Educated: Mathematical School, Rochester, Kent.

Captain of School/Cricket/ Football

Trained: Goldsmiths Teacher Training College 1912-14

Cricket and Football XI’s 1912-13-14

Champion Shot 1913-14

Finished 12th in List of Academic Year

Attested as a Private, 20th Battalion London Regiment, 27th September 1912

Embodied for Service 5th August 1914

Proceeded to France 19th August 1915

DIARY 1915-16

AUGUST 1915

Thursday 19th

Left Southampton in afternoon. Great send off. Dinner at Prices last in England. Arrived at Le Havre 11.45pm. Splendid voyage.

Friday 20th

Disembarked 7.30am. Marched from Le Havre to Rouelles to rest camp. Beautifully fitted out. L.T’s birthday.

Saturday 21st

Left to join 1st/20th. Marched five miles to station. Left 10.30pm for Rouen.

Sunday 22nd

Arrived Rouen 4am. Stayed all day in station. Left at 5.30pm and after tedious & tiring journey arrived at—

Monday 23rd

Fauceviat? 11.30am. Marched to Houchin and joined battalion. Billet in barn with dirty courtyard in rear. Attached 14th platoon D Company.

Tuesday 24th

Went to Noeux les Mines to dry trenches. First sight of German lines and shells bursting. Country flat.

Wednesday 25th

Went on guard at headquarters at 6.30am. Uneventful. Cold at night.

Thursday 26th

Relieved at 7am from guard. Had day off.

Friday 27th

Went digging. Bullets over trenches and shelling on Lens road. Went to bathe at Barlin—good.

Saturday 28th

Platoon and battalion drill. Church parade in evening to sound of guns. Quite dramatic.

Sunday 29th

Inspection by Brigadier. Day off. Tea with bombers. Went over to Divion.

Monday 30th

Packed and moved by motor buses to Mazingarbe. Arrived at 8.30pm and went digging just outside town.

Tuesday 31st

Nothing eventful very cold. Left trenches at 2.15am. Slept until 9.00am. Left for front line at Maroc. Went in 8.30pm through coal mine. Passed four graves on a slag heap. Digging from sap 300 yards in advance of firing line. Plenty of shells over. Fine shelling display by our artillery. Got out safely.

NOTE: No part of this document to be re-printed or published in any form without specific written permission of W A M MacCormick © W A M MacCormick 2006

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