June 1915

June 1915

Tuesday 1 June

Ready to move at 8am. Ms. [1] received to say we are transferred to 3rd Div. therefore /this order.  4pm order to move at once towards Poperinghe a Staff Ofr.[2] to meet us and show us our billeting area.  Moved off at 4.20pm arriving at billets 8.20pm, found permanent wire tapped in and got communications at 8.35pm.  Nice clean billet in barn.  Had tea at 9.30pm then turned in in barns of Chateau Schabalie.  In our wrong area.

Wednesday 2

Very hot today.  Nothing to record as we are about 7mls. Back from the firing line.  Had a look through  a male part of town Poperinghe.  About 7pm 6th Div. 5th Army Corps went through the town.  They came from Armentieres.  Intended cycling to Booschape [3] to try and find an old friend but was prevented owing to certain work cropping up.  Heard that J. King had been seen today by some of the 6th DLI going towards Ypres with a party of ———

Thursday 3

Nothing special to do all day.  Can hear that heavy firing is going on, thankful to be well away from it.  Had a look through cemetery here. A splendid place.  Toms look as though coffins have been out and tombs used as shrapnel proof shelters. Intended cycling to Boochape[4] again stopped as Capt. had to go out so I had to stay in.

Friday 4

4.30am pulled out of bed to be ready for move at 7.30.  Breakfast at 6.  Ready for time and got to our starting point at time.  10.15 halted waiting for 7th Inf. Bde. clearing out of billets.  Got into them at 4.30pm.  3.15pm M.Gen. Hubert Plumer visited us and spoke to all our Cols. & Gen. & Bde. Maj. He shook hands with them all.  Y&LI[5] moved out of huts so as we could take over.  We are in wrong place and the Divl. mistake.

Saturday 5

Not much doing today.  Very quiet except a few shells they are putting into Dickebusch and an odd German aeroplane being fired on.  Day very hot with slight breeze.  Had parade under a special officer giving instructions on the use of respirators and spray us in the trenches.  Soldier injured by bomb when on bomb throwing practice.  Batt of Y&LI moved tonight 6th & 8th Batts are now known as the Composite (6th & 8th) Batt. DLI under Col. Turnbull of the 8th.

Sunday 6

The same as usual nothing much doing.  Had a splendid bath in the P.O.Parcel Bag.  Germans shelling Vlamertinge all day.  7th DLI going up tonight as working party trench digging.  We are staying at this place until we move up to the trenches.  Received orders to lay cable into 7th Batt who are in reserve to Y&DLI Bde.  Commenced at 7.40pm finished 10.43 a very difficult line to lay.  We arrived back at midnight found our line had been cut.  He took 3 miles of cable.  Heavy rifle fire near Dickebusch.  I suppose owing to fog.

Monday 7

Got 7th line repaired by 6am.  Linesmen sent out to make a safe line.  Were out from 8am to 1.30pm. Germans shelling Ypres very heavy.  A waste of shells as the town is now a hopeless mass of stones bricks and mortar.  7.30pm and 8.45 German armoured train put a number of shells right over Vlamertinge into our camp near Ouderdom.  I expected something of the kind as their aeroplanes had been busy about here.  Naval aeroplane brought down a zeppelin near Bruges.

Tuesday 8

1 am armoured train again at work.  Our engineers repairing railway through towards Ypres.  1pm very heavy thunderstorm passing over Reningeist.  Armoured train again shelled our place at midnight.

Wednesday 9

Cycled with Capt. To schools on Menin Road, Ypres.  Saw my brother at their HQ.  He is looking fine.  Told me he had taken captive a spy yesterday.  Pleased to hear such news.  We also visited our Divl. advanced HQ.YFKR.  It was very hot cycling.  Enemy very quiet.  6pm thunderstorm, the rain cooling the air fine.  Rained very heavy all night.  Heard 13th F. Ambulance have gone to near Hill 60.

Thursday 10   

5am pouring down, thundering very heavy.  Heavy rifle and artillery fire beyond Dickebusch at 3am.  Telephone line 9th Batt a constant source of trouble.  6th and 8th Batts kicking against being formed into a composite Batt.  Sgt. Broadbelt went up to Ypres at 2pm with three men to be shown over the lines we are to take over on Sat.

Friday 11

2.30am Armoured train again sent over six shells.  No damage.  5th Batt Loyal North Lancs attached to our Bde.  5am very heavy firing in direction of Dickebusch. 6pm order sent up to bring Sgt. Broadbelt and men back again.  I see clock and tower on the Cloth Hall Ypres also two tower on church have been blown off since my last visit 10pm Sgt. Broadbelt arrived from Ypres.  Our order to take over lines Y & DLI cancelled.  Do not know why.

Saturday 12

9am walked to Gas Works Ypres saw my bro.  He got a pass and came back with us had tea and left us at 6.30pm.  Enemy shelling us tonight commenced at 6.15pm.  A peculiar shell there is a kind of explosion and the shell is then compelled further forward.  Between 9 and 10pm heavy arty and rifle fire over Dickebusch.  Enemy continued shelling until 10pm.  They also shelled Vlamertinge their shells firing the church tower which collapsed at 11.15pm.  It was a fine sight.  I believe these shells were fired from some sort of gun that is rushed up fires some rounds then retires.  They came from the direction of Dickebusch.

Sunday 13

4pm to 6.30am again heavily shelled.  Transport bivouacking in next field caught it hot.  Horses stampeded. 2 Indians and 2 D Guards killed.  Went down to La Bassee for mails from there to 50th Div. HQ to move as they are pulling the huts down.  We have choice of outbuildings on these farms.  Very quiet all day, occasional arty firing.

Monday 14

Very cold all night.  Been over to new HQ and then tried to find a more direct line to 9th DLI. 2pm laid cable from our line to farmhouse about 30yds.  What luck.  Did not move today although expecting it all day.  I slept at new place to watch stuff already taken there.

Tuesday 15

Got all moved today.  Communication through to Div & 9/DLI.  Put up bivouac etc. Big move expected tonight, expect going up among it.  Bde. Maj & orderly had near go.  The orderly Clark was riding and leading Bde. Maj. horse when hit with shrapnel.  Clark hit through knee, his horse killed, lead horse 13 wounds in it died later.  What I expected orders to move at 11pm.  Left at 10.40pm arriving near Kruisstraat at 1.00am.  A general attack along the line to take place at 2.15pm.

Wednesday 16

British bombardment commenced 2.30am.  Enemy evacuated three lines of trenches which our men occupied.  Bombardment very severe practically along the whole of the British line.  French soldiers on this farm very good, gave me bed to sleep on and coffee as soon as I awoke in morning, heavy firing did not stop me sleeping.  First line of German trenches occupied also 2nd line but we were counter attacked from it, 150 prisoners taken.

Thursday 17

Heavy firing throughout night.  Shrapnel galore, no damage.  A working party of 14 Div (K of Ks army) passed here for trenches 3.30am.  Enemy used gas at midnight but to no effect.  Discovered Tel. Cable laid in Dickebusch Beck.  I traced it for about a mile forward and no end towards Ypres.  Tapped in from cable and laid a line to Sig. Office.  Nothing from it.  Then went to Dickebusch but could not find it in stream there near the Chateau———.    On the road saw hundreds of civilians (Belgians) going up trench digging.

Friday 18

12.30am Awakened by Batt. of the Border Regt. Going by.  They were intent on pinching our rations when I popped on the scene.  6.30am went up to stream to Dickebusch and found cable referred to yesterday tied on streamside and newly cut.  The Cpl. Hall and I traced it up to the ramparts Ypres and along the moat to Porte de Lille.  I think it has been used to send news to the enemy.  Enemy using gas shells on Cambridge Road, we replying with shrapnel.  Ordered to be ready to move at 8am in the morning.

Saturday 19

Breakfast 6.30am Moved off at 8.30am Arrived at our old billet near Ouderdom at 9.30am.  Saw fire in direction of Dickebusch caused by shells.  6th 8th & 7th still in trenches.  N. Lancs came back during last night.  We are under orders to move to a new portion of the line.  More shells over Vlamertinge, a few men wounded.

Sunday 20

Brigade moved at 8.15am composed 6th & 8th DLI 5th NF 5th Border 7th Field Coy. RE No.3 Coy. Divl. Train and 2nd Field Amb.  We have never since coming out worked as a Bde proper, always had Batt. attached to other Bdes or have strange Batts attached to us.  We arrived at Dranoutre at 12.30pm.  We are taking over from 138th Bde 46th Div.  It seems a fine quiet spot.  Had a nice hot bath as soon as we arrived here.

Monday 21

Sig. Ofrs. & NCOs of Batts and Sig Section visited our new Batt HQ before taking over.  Everything very quiet.  I was astonished at the condition of houses compared with our last district.  6th 8th 9th & 3 Coys. of 7th relieved Leicesters 4th & 5th Lincolns 4th & 9th Batt N.Mid Bde 46 Div just after dusk.  We took overall lines at 9pm.  We had a few shells rather close to Dranoutre this morning.

Tuesday 22

After dinner went up into the front line trenches and travelled the whole front held by our Bde.  Had a few peeps over parapet but could not see one single Hun.  This was my first visit into the fire trenches.  7.30pm stood on hill and saw our artillery bombarding enemy lines near Ypres.  We had a splendid view of it all.  I guess the enemy would find it very unhealthy.  

Wednesday 23

I have nothing to record today except very heavy firing heard at 1.00am in the direction of Lille and Armentieres.  It continued throughout the day.  Rumoured that French and British had cut off 15,000 Germans.  I find it hard to believe.

Thursday 24

9am went and saw Kemmel Chateau where we are going at 8.30 tonight.  83rd Bde are in possession at present.  A fine spot but got to keep very much indoors owing to aeroplanes.  Heard that T. Laws had died and was buried today.  Left Dranoutre at 9pm.  Arrived the Chateau Kemmel about 11 pm.  Had the usual running around til all was unloaded and out right.  Prepared for bed at about 1am.

Friday 25

Did not get to bed, went out with Capt. To find line to our Reserve batt also to warn them to be in readiness as the messages received have stated enemy massing for an attack which fortunately did not come off although there was very heavy outbursts of rifle fire.  I got to bed at 5.10am uo again at 7am.  Nothing more of importance.  Had a very heavy thunderstorm, it came down wholesale.

Saturday 26

We have a splendid billet here.  I have a bedroom to myself with a fine bed, easy chair etc.  I spent the morning cleaning and putting the room right.  It is now quiet comfortable although within 1000 yds of enemy trenches.  Spent remainder of the day putting wires in order in signal office.  All lines working A1.  We have a matter of 30 stations to communicate with.

Sunday 27

Owing to our Bde line being too long to our trenches, E1 & E2 were taken by York & Durham Bde and two trenches F & F on our left were taken over by 83rd Brigade who were on our left.  The other Bde is on our right.  Everything is very quiet.  It is like being at home compared with Ypres.  7th Durhams relieved 6th & 8th DLI, the L.N. Lancs relieved the 9th DLI from the trenches

Monday 28

Our pigeon carrying service from the front line trenches to Bailleul is working satisfactorily.  The Germans fire on the birds when thrown.  None have been hit yet.  Aeroplanes have been very scarce in this part lately on account of weather conditions.  We got a few souvenirs over occasionally which do no damage except explode on houses already in ruins.

Tuesday 29

As usual kept very busy in office until a very late hour.  A few more souvenirs, 2nd Bde RFA HQ near us.  There has been a change in the zones of artillery fire.  Each Arty Bde has a certain zone to defend.  The Captain and I paid a visit to a Field Batty and laid them a line from F4 & 5 to E2 trenches.  Capt. Also pointed out to me one of the German strongpoints.

Wednesday 30

Paid a visit with Capt. To the 5 North. Howitzer Bde. With a view to laying cable to them.  One of the men explained the working of the gun and showed me the various shells, fuses etc.  These guns are for firing on the enemy trenches.  Reinforcements arrived today for each Batt of the Durhams.  Heavy outbursts of rifle and artillery fire towards dusk.  Sentry shot a black dog.  It is supposed this dog was carrying messages for the enemy.


[1] Ms. = message

[2] Ofr. = officer

[3] Boeschepe

[4] Booschep=Boeschepe

[5] Probably Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment