1 Monday:

Very dull, raining heavy all day.  I heard very heavy firing in the distance nearly all night.  Our Arty are making the enemy feel very uncomfortable.  We send over about 12 to their one returned.  Our guns again fixed on the transport tonight.  A few heavy shells fired on town.  One near our old HQ in Rue Bayard.

2 Tuesday:

Very wet, cold and dreary.  Our trenches are falling in with the constant rains.  This afternoon heavy firing towards Kemmel.  Arty also busy on our front.  Firing I heard Sat. and Sun. Nights was enemy attacking near Souchez.  Roughly 3 miles away.

3 Wednesday:

It is still dirty weather.  A lot of arty fire on both sides.  A good few fired on town.  5pm enemy shelling on Houplines road just above our HQ.  The 9th DLI going into the trenches were held up with it.  Our 6” guns were told to retaliate by firing on Perenchies.  This soon stopped their fire.  11pm not one single shot to be heard.  I visited concert again tonight.

4 Thursday:

Very thick and foggy, cleared out about 11am.  Not much firing going on.  2pm aeroplane (German) over our transport lines dropped bombs.  Their arty then shelled transport and Pont Nieppe breaking barbed wire in our reserve defences.  Shells on town also near our billets into the bargain.  Our guns giving as good as they send.  Pont Nieppe road shelled.

5 Friday:

Much clearer today.  Arty and aeroplanes busy.  Houplines and the town again shelled.  Our snipers had good bags today and yesterday. Ped rockets fired from some of trenches at 6pm then we opened up a very heavy rifle and MG fire.  Cold and frosty tonight.

6 Saturday

Very cold this morning but clear.  Nothing much doing until afternoon when heavy firing could be heard just on our left.  The enemy again put a few into Houplines.  7pm very quiet.

7 Sunday

Much clearer but very cold.  Very heavy bombardment went on all day towards Ypres.  During the morning our Arty caught one or two working parties.  A Sgt. of the 5th L.N.Lancs fell into canal at 8pm and drowned.[1]  His body was recovered at 9pm.  I heard very heavy firing at 10.30pm right away south.  It went on all night.  Town also shelled.

8 Monday

Enemy busy shelling our trenches this morning.  One or two fired into town.  Arty very busy all day long.  Enemy again using searchlights.  They have been using these for quite a long time now.  Our Div have decided to start using them tomorrow night between 6 and 7pm.  10.15pm two heavy shells fell near here.  The first fired after dark since the Loos affair.

9 Tuesday

Damp but not so cold.  Afternoon and night wind and rain.  Plenty strafing went on all day again.  The town came in for its usual share.  Our trenches were shelled causing a few casualties.  11pm calm but raining very heavy, everything quiet.  Sap. Jones time-expired leaves here at about 2am tomorrow, 5 men to Bailleul.

10 Wednesday

Dull, wet morning.  Enemy dropping shells into town at 7.30am.  11am still shelling town.  Very lively today.  Shells dropping all over the town.  Six fell near our billet while we were having tea.  Pieces flying all over the place and on the glass roof under which we were sitting.  I saw one man wounded with them.

11 Thursday

Frosty and clear.  Arty very quiet, not one shell fired on town today.  Aeroplanes very busy both British and German.  Another 11 men went to Bailleul today.  The remainder of us go down tomorrow for a months rest. 64th Bde are taking over our portion of the lines.  Raining.  Very heavy outbursts of MGun and rifle fire on our front.

12 Friday

64th Bde taken over at 8am.  All section left except myself and a corpl.  We left when General left at 2pm.  We got a ride the whole journey.  Very thankful as it rained the whole day long with hail about 9pm.  Enemy shelling Armentieres just as I left.  No communications down here yet and no sign of any.  I arrived in Bailleul about 4.15pm

13 Saturday

Roads almost impassable owing to mud and water, one foot deep near the 6/DLI HQ.  Report that enemy put about 30 shells into Armentieres last night about 11pm.  Some into our old HQ, some into Divl. HQ, others into 7th DLI billets wounding several.  Still no communications except to 6th DLI and that very faint.  Frosty tonight.

14 Sunday

Very fine day but firstly visited 6th DLI and 5th DLI to see the lines and Sig.Offices.  3pm went to aviation ground saw aeroplanes both coming and going.  These are the first I have seen start.  I also saw a 12” B.L.I. howitzer.  It takes 6 caterpillar engines to draw the gun then 12 motor lorries to carry amtn.[2] etc. I would like to see it in action.  The shells are monstrous.

15 Monday

Visited transport lines with the Capt.  After diner went to Divl.HQ at Merris to draw clothing.  We started a mess yesterday in a private house.  7 of us.  We get our meals in comfort now.  A concert near billet for benefit of prisoners of war was quite a success.

16 Tuesday

There is very heavy bombardment going on up the line.  Our motor cyclist took a special message to Vlamertinghe says they are shelling that town heavily.  It is almost as bad as Ypres now.  Issued clothing this morning.  10pm and remainder of night very heavy gun heard near Kemmel.

17 Wednesday

Canadians early this morning rushed Germans front line just to see if it was strongly held and what Regts. were in.  They captured 12 men of the 11th Reserve all that was in that particular trench.  7 of these arrived here at about 4 pm and looked nervous and agitated.  They were put into a guardroom near a fire and had a good feed.

18 Thursday

Firing all night again forwards Kemmel.  The wounded from yesterday mornings work now arriving.  There is nothing more to record except firing still going on towards Kemmel.

19 Friday

Commenced buzzer class this morning.  That is part of our rest I suppose.  Saw aeroplane brought down this morning but whether ours or not I could not say.  I was near aeroplanes at 4.45pm.  Quite dark and one plane had not returned.  Two large fires burning and white and red flares put up to direct him if he returned.  7pm very heavy firing sounds quite near.

20 Saturday

Very heavy firing all night.  German plane came down yesterday.  I saw the pilot and observer taken away this afternoon en route for England also the plane going to St. Omer.  Neuve Eglise shelled all day.  Heavy bombardment tonight again along the front.  The 12” gun that was lying here has gone into action.  I have a very severe influenza cold these few days.  Much worse today.

21 Sunday

Very heavy firing all day on all our front especially in direction of Ypres.  Otherwise there is nothing to report.

22 Monday

Firing continued all night.  The whole Bde. marched Gen. Maj. Hebert Plumer this morning at 10.30.  I thoroughly enjoyed it except when our own Gen. said our section was a most disreputable turn out.  I thought shame for him.  He is no gentleman to say that in front of the men to a brother officer.  Has photo taken today.

23 Tuesday

No firing to be heard except the usual strafing.  We are continually at work with instructional classes.  Feel a little better today.

24 Wednesday

Nothing much to report.  Practically the same each day.

25 Thursday

Nothing doing today.  Had the afternoon off and Sgt. Howe and I walked all over Bailleul finishing up at Aviation ground seeing the aeroplanes come in.  Heavy firing commenced during afternoon towards Ypres and went on until bedtime.  Seen proof of photos they are good but dear.

26 Friday

Today we had our first fall of snow but it was only very light and did not lie.  Heavy firing heard early this morning and during the night.  Hunted the town for a place to bath.  It is over three weeks since I had my last.  Went to Canadian concert. cost 2d and robbed at that, absolutely.

27 Saturday

Hard frost but very fine all day.  Hunted again for a bath, found a place but had to book a time for tomorrow morning.  No firing heard today.  Letter from home states that my cousin Sam was killed a while back. [3]

28 Sunday

Clear but very frosty about the coldest day we have had.  We can hear the guns going very strong today towards Ypres and Armentieres.  I have also heard the 12” howitzers speak a few times. It shakes the whole place.  Still firing busy at 7pm.  Enemy shelled Armentieres again last night.  One fell in Pont Nieppe bde.

29 Monday

Very wet, frost giving, all was very wet and dirty.  Heavy gun fire in same directions as yesterday.  Our heavy 12” gun sending occasional ones for luck.  This gun shakes the whole place when it fires.  Received photos today and sent them home.  They are very decent but expensive.  Night raining heavy therefore no lamp practice.

30 Tuesday

Today bright & fine but wet and sloppy under foot.  Heavy firing towards Armentieres and La Bassee.  2pm Bde. section played.  7th DLI football and got beat 4 to 1.  Went to Canadian concert at night which turned out far better than the last one I was at.


[1] 2042 Serjeant J. Grist, 1/5th Battalion (Territorial Force) Loyal North Lancashire Regiment died 7 November 1915.  He is buried at Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension.

[2] ammunition

[3] 7267 Private S. Rowlandson 11th Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action 16 November 1915 and is buried at Gunners Farm Military Cemetery, Hainaut, Belgium.