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Grandfather's War Diary, part eight


bmac

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JANUARY 1916

Saturday 1st

Very like yesterday. Nothing much doing. Up late bed early.

Sunday 2nd

Up at 3.30am and leave for Houchin at 9. Decent march and sleep in tents. Awful conditions—mud, etc. Sleep very well. Rumours of recommendation. What for?

Monday 3rd

Rise at 7.30 and march to Les Brebis at 11am. Fairly long march, but get good billet. Narrow escape from shell which killed three and wounded eight. D Coy. very lucky (see note 1). Interesting evening with Coll. Sgts. Good company.

Tuesday 4th

Nothing much doing during the day, but in evening march up to Loos and go into trenches right of copse and chalk pit (taken by us on 25/26th Sept). Take over from French. Rotten trench but goodly number of dug-outs.

Wednesday 5th

Uneventful—much rifle sniping but no shelling, except well back.

Thursday 6th

Usual type of day. Little doing.

Friday 7th

Usual trench day.

Saturday 8th

Usual trench day. Got news of death of L—’s brother. Rough luck. [see Sept. 25th 1915.] Very sorry.

Sunday 9th

Nothing doing. Standby in dug-outs for 9.2 bombardment—washed out. Nothing doing. Go out on ration fatigue to Loos. Much battered but quiet. Visit chalk pit and copse. Much changed.

Monday 10th

The bombardment came off and a 9.2 strikes parados opposite my dug-out. Does not explode but blows trench in. Lucky escape. Gilly and I are jolly thankful. Relieved about 8 o’clock and go back to Maroc.

Tuesday 11th

Slack about and have enjoyable day in an empty room. Spend day in singing. Do nothing else particular except read.

Wednesday 12th

Much the same as yesterday only have a wash and shave. March back to Noeux les Mines. Packs carried by motor from Les Brebis. Good billet in fine hut.

Thursday 13th

Rise about dinner time and do nothing in particular. Feel rotten but passes off. Nice evening in estaminet. Music.

Friday 14th

Up about eight. Inspections and hang about for a bath but nothing doing. Stroll and champagne with Prit. at Epicerie. Home and to bed quite early. Wilf provides champagne. Good news re [??].

Saturday 15th

Inspections and splendid bath. About time. Lose a lot of “friends”, but am glad. Tea with A Coy. chaps. Feel melancholy bed early. C.O. willing to recommend me.

Sunday 16th

Up about eight and have a slack time. See doctor and pass alright. March to trench in front of Double Crassier. Awful scourge. Poor trenches but have quiet night. Wilf Seal goes to Base—lucky blighter.

Monday 17th

Quiet up till 9.30. Whizbangs blow in dug-out and kill two and wound one (see note 2). Feverish digging to get chaps out. Dead when recovered. Rough luck. Much enfillade fire from whizbang battery. Quiet night but little sleep.

Tuesday 18th

Usual fire from battery in coal mine. Good retaliation. Some rain. Move into reserve trenches. Old British line. Nothing doing. Sleep well.

Wednesday 19th

Sit about in dug-out and generally have a slack time. Sleep very well after a very heated political argument. Leave Gilly and Prit. to it.

Thursday 20th

Usual lazy day. Get ready to go into support. Move up at six. Fairly comfortable and have good night.

Friday 21st

Quiet day. Reggie Wood killed. Bad luck—awfully good chap (see note 3). Nothing much doing. Sleep well.

Saturday 22nd

Usual stand to. A magnificent dawn together with going down of the moon. Towers of Loos quite picturesque. Some shelling but we are fortunate. Jack Tooley killed (see note 4)

Sunday 23rd

Stand to as usual and slack about generally. Go out to bury Jack Tooley at night. My first funeral at midnight. Huge fire in house in Maroc. Back late.

Monday 24th

[indecipherable.]

Tuesday 25th

[indecipherable.]

Wednesday 26th

Up at 7. Inspections nuisance. Working party on road from 12-4. Scourge. Sudden move to Maroc. Sleep in former billet.

Thursday 27th

Stand to in billet. Nothing doing and hang about round fire. Germans shell Maroc fairly heavily but we manage to have quite an easy time.

Friday 28th

Sleep all night in equipment. Stand to at 5am. Washed out previous night but of course D Coy. knew nothing of it. Germans shell us with star shells. Awfully painful to the eyes, causing them to water a great deal. Go into reserve trenches at Loos. Awful scourge up trenches from beginning of Maroc. Gas hanging about and quite unnecessary. Decent dug-out and meat pie for supper. Bon!

Saturday 29th

Stand to at 5.30 and, finding a decent stove, managed to have a ripping fire and breakfast. Hang about most of the day in dug-out. Very little to do.

Sunday 30th

Stand to 5am. Too early as it is not light until 6.30am. Usual trench day. Wander about trenches and see 7 aerial torpedos on Loos road. Very little doing but C.O. signs my commission forms. About time too.

Monday 31st

Stand to 5 to 6am. Tremendous shelling, everywhere but on our trench. Chalk pit and Lens road suffer heavily. We have musical comedy during stand to. Much appreciated. Move to front line today. Stay behind to hand over to A Coy. and reach front line about 9 o’clock and dig with White in small but comfy dug-out. Sleep pretty well.

Notes:

Note 1

Nothing for this date on SDGW but these three DoW over following days:

3049 Cpl Alfred Lindon, 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath & Woolwich), DoW 5.1.16. Aged 23, Son of Mrs. Lucy Lindon, of East Leake, Loughborough. Buried in MAZINGARBE COMMUNAL CEMETERY, grave 45

3658 Pte Edwin David Phillips, 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath & Woolwich), died 5.1.16. Buried in ST. PATRICK'S CEMETERY, LOOS, grave I. N. 4.

3802 Pte James John Saunders, 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath & Woolwich), DoW 9.1.16. Buried in NOEUX-LES-MINES COMMUNAL CEMETERY, grave I. F. 24.

Note 2

2618 L/Cpl Alan Robert McClure, 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath & Woolwich), KiA 17.1.16. Aged 20, Son of Robert McClure, of 130, Broadfield Rd., Catford, London, and the late Adeline Elizabeth McClure. Buried in MAROC BRITISH CEMETERY, GRENAY, grave I. C. 5.

2690 Pte John Edwin Victor Wells, 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath & Woolwich), KiA 17.1.16. Aged 22, Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Wells, of 41, New Cross Rd., New Cross, London. Buried in MAROC BRITISH CEMETERY, GRENAY, grave I. C. 7.

Note 3

2187 L/Cpl Reginal James Wood, 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath & Woolwich). KiA 21.16. Aged 24, Son of William James and Charlotte Ida Wood, of King Edward's School, Witley, Godalming. Buried in MAROC BRITISH CEMETERY, GRENAY, grave I. C. 8.

Note 4

1797 Pte Albert John Tooley, 1/20th London Regt (Blackheath & Woolwich). KiA 23.1.16. Aged 23, Only son of John and Bessie E. Tooley, of 44, Stockwell Green, Stockwell, London. Buried in MAROC BRITISH CEMETERY, GRENAY, grave I. D. 25.

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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He records the deaths as if normal, which it was I suppose, given where he was. But it brings to mind, the saying, he was someone's son, someone's brother. They all had relatives that were devestated by their loss. To read 26,000 killed, it is astonishing, but when names are attached, and then you read in the notes that it was an only son, then it becomes very personal and so much harder.

Kim

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