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Grandfather's War Diary, part five




Publisher emailed this morning to say they are hopeful of taking my Gommecourt book and that, if they do, they will publish for July! Panic ensues.... They need ideas for photographs so a trip to the Imperial War Museum photo-library will have to be arranged for next week. It would probably help if I could finish the writing but I keep finding other fascinating things to fit in somehow. So, better get down to it!

Grandfather's diary continues...

October 1915

Saturday 16th

Much the same as yesterday. Much shelling and get covered in dirt two or three times. Still, no damage is done beyond one or two slight shrapnel wounds. In the evening take out a mining party and get some work done.

Sunday 17th

Shelling but a lot more than usual. Still cooking our own food, i.e., what there is of it. Shortage of bread. Sleep well during afternoon. Take out a patrol at 11pm for an hour or so. See plenty of dead ‘uns. No excitement.

Monday 18th

Shelling continues but doesn’t do much damage. Quiet night and get some sleep.

Tuesday 19th

Still more artillery duels. We sap out and make a salient parallel to German lines. Have a terrible lot of shells over and get a few casualties. Quiet night.

Wednesday 20th

Having had little sleep at last, manage to sleep all the morning but am awakened by one of our damn artillery demonstrations. Go up in the evening to prepare a support trench in rear of A Coy. Take a party of 20 for pit props into Loos. Awfully windy time with bullets flying across Loos-Hulluch road. Get back safely and get to work.

Thursday 21st

Return to our trench at 4.45am and take over Seals dug-out and manage to get about two hours sleep. Having got a parcel from L—, manage to have quite a bon feed. More heavy shelling during the day and one or two casualties. Go up to support trench again for digging. Another long night—up till 4.30.

Friday 22nd

After giving out rations and generally mucking about, I have breakfast and go to sleep. Awoken by most awful shelling of the week. Several parapets blown and chaps buried. Many casualties, including two killed and many wounded. Glad when shelling eases up a bit. Thousands of our smoke bombs catch fire and large volumes of smoke are sent down our line. Go up to our garrison support trench parallel to Lens-La Bassée road.

Saturday 23rd

Take a party over the top in the small hours. No incident except one or two strays. Get parcel and chocs from L—. Fine—must reward her. Rifle demonstrations by us leads to more shelling by Germans and we get fifteen casualties. Quiet morning but unable to sleep. Go back to support line about 1000 yds. back. Poor accommodation for sleeping.

Sunday 24th

Nothing doing during day except sleep. Go on working party at night to get absolutely soaked. Get back from 19th lines at 1.30am and get no sleep owing to dug-out collapsing. So sit out under shelter of waterproof sheet. Very cold.

Monday 25th

Rains all day and spend most of time in Sgt. Chesney’s shelter where we light a big coke fire. Not bad. At night excused work but cannot sleep owing to cold. Fire goes out, is relit and blazes beautifully. Get a little sleep.

Tuesday 26th

Up early, make the fire, and cook a splendid breakfast of two rashers of bacon. This was really fine. Hang about most of the day. Make some Oxo and Maconachies stew. Quite good. Get ready to move back to firing line and leave at six. Get to line over the top without mishap. A quiet night but jolly cold. Fairly decent dug-out with Thomas and Webb. Some rain.

Wednesday 27th

Stand to 5 to 6am. Pretty cold. Cook some breakfast. Not bad but handicapped by rules concerning smoke. Go to sleep for a bit but wake up feeling jolly cold. Some rain during day. Open dug-outs for the men. Heavy shelling.

Thursday 28th

Get news that we are not to be relieved until Saturday. Artillery demonstrations from 3 to 5am. Awful affairs. Several casualties when Germans reply. Fairly quiet during the day. Nothing of interest occurs. Take out ration party. Uneventful.

Friday 29th

Stand to 5.15am. Colder than usual. Shelling starts at l0am as usual but we are lucky today. Artillery demonstrations at 3 o’clock. Quite a small affair. These demonstrations tend to make one nervy, looking forward to tomorrow’s relief. Good nights sleep. [N.B. Today was his 22nd birthday.]

Saturday 30th

The day of our relief arrives. We due to be relieved by the 7th London. Rather a quiet day for which many thanks. Take a lot of trouble trying to snipe a German but can’t get him. No luck. Pot at an aeroplane to pass away the time. Stand to at 5.30pm and go out at 8.30pm. Tiring march and glad to reach Mazingarbe at 10.45pm. Billet in old estaminet, much battered. Cold night.

Sunday 31st

Get up at 9 o’clock and have good breakfast. Have a shave and feel civilised once again. A great relief to be away from the crash of H. E.’s and whiz-bangs. Rains most of the day so don’t go out. Spend evening sitting about and get to bed about 9.45pm. Much better night.

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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