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. Romantic! Miss him about 8am. Am only one left of section of eight under [Lieut. or Capt.] Tomasett. Awful 2 hours. Get out from A? in front of chalk pit. Rain and cold—no overcoat and little food. Some of the Yorks turn up. Always standing to.
We lose 3 officers killed and five wounded on 25th. Stand to all morning with 10th and 5th Yorks nearby and Scots on left. Heavy shelling. Snipers do a lot of damage. German attacks repulsed. Shelling continues heavy and effective. Wonderful German gunfire at Loos. Hungry. Yorks retire and cause stampede in village. Many losses. 20th hold on. Recover. Cold night and very little happens.
Orders to rejoin company in communication trench. Attack on spinney lasts 20 mins. Germans bombed out with heavy losses. We lose a good many. Position on ridge in front of Lens established. Awfully busy 2 hours. Bloody fighting. Quiet night but cold, some rain.
Stand to 4 to 5am. Cold, nothing much doing. Hear Jimmy Nightingale dead. Gilly and I visit trench captured in search of survivors’ valuables. Gilly gets sentimental. Rumours Germans massing on Lens road. Stand to for counter-attack. Much shelling. Receive letter from L— during stand to. No counter-attack. News of relief. Get ready at 8 and leave trench at 12.30! Get to Maroc at 3am through piles of German dead. Awfully tired.
After arrival have tea and Maconachies. Overcoats lost. Cold night. Gilly and I share an overcoat. Rise at 12 noon. Breakfast and then roll call. Rotten feeling—about 230 casualties. Hopes they may be less. News of move to Quality Street rather soon. Wretched wet weather. Quite well and healthy. Move to Quality Street and get a well placed billet. Glorious supper. Pickled walnuts, salmon, sardines, pineapple, cheese and lemonade. Cold night but slept.
Up at 7.30am. Go up Lens road to battlefield. Heaps of kit left by 15th Division. Terrible number of Scots on battlefield. Get shelled and return. Leave Quality Street to go back for rest. Meet Dai Jones of Welsh Guards. Spend day in congratulating each other on escaping alright. Get to Hesdigneul after a march of six and a half hours. Sleep in a loft. Rather cold.
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