December 1915

DECEMBER 1915

1 Wednesday

Nothing much today.  Firing only very moderate.  Medical inspection at 2.30 for scabies.  Six to hospital.  Put in very wet at night.  Pay day

2 Thursday

The usual today.  Nothing to report.  Weather much warmer.  No rain.

3 Friday

Dirty, wet and misty.  No firing to be heard all day.  Our two cooks arrested for drunkenness.  No breakfast until 10am the result.  I suppose they will be court marshalled for it.  Received three days mail this morning, none again tonight.

4 Saturday

Nothing to record today except plenty rain and mist.  Very little firing could be heard.  One of yesterdays prisoners discharged.

5 Sunday

Fine all day until 5.30pm when it started to rain.  The clear weather meant artillery activity and the bombarding all along the line was heavy.  43 leaves per day in Bde commencing tomorrow, 33 Lancs and to the remaining 4 Battns.

6 Monday

Dirty and wet all day.  Nothing special except the usual firing could be heard until about 9pm when one of our largest guns started sending them over.  The shock shakes the whole place.  We are expecting to move up to firing line again about 16inst.

7 Tuesday

Fine & clear but cold.  9am Provided escort for Fd. Gen. C.M. nothing more until 4pm.  when is started raining again.  Heavy firing about same time commenced south and went on until late at night.

8 Wednesday

No rain all day, very clear and quite mild.  The latest news states we go into trenches somewhere between Kemmel and Dickebusche.  Some hopes for the winter.  The usual artillery fire going on all day.

9 Thursday

Very wet and dirty all day.  Rained very heavy at night.  Heavy arty fire all day.  Armentieres & Ypres bomb storeman went to Houplines unable to get back through Armentieres owing to shell fire.  6pm Brother went into hospital.  The bombardment of Armentieres commenced prompt 12 noon with a salvo of about 100 shells.  This

10 Friday

continued for 24 hours finishing at 11.40am today.  Continual rain.  The whole of our billeting area under water, some places 3ft deep.  One barn where men are supposed to sleep is covered with 2ft of water.  I visited the doctor today and obtained a supply of medicine.

11 Saturday

Nothing much today except that it still continues to rain very heavy.  Hospital train left here today full of wounded.  There should have been an inspection and march past today by Divisional Commander.  This was impossible owing to the condition of the roads.  In some places the water is waist deep.  In the ditches it is up to 12 and 14ft deep.  It is definitely settled that we take over the trenches in vicinity of Zillebeke and Hill 60.  We are going once more to that unearthly district.  Living in dugouts in this weather is decidedly uncomfortable and unhealthy to say the least.

12 Sunday

Much finer today until dinner when we got some rain.  A party of men of the 5th L.N. Lancs returning from leave left Steenwerk station about midnight when owing to the floods they got off the road into the ditch here and was absolutely covered except horses head.  One of the men being drowned.  This after being on leave and before he reached his unit.  10pm heavy firing commenced.

13 Monday

7am rather heavy firing heard forward Armentieres.  I examined sigs of the 7th & 8th DLI at the 7th DLI billets.  Rather a handful for one day.  Unusual bombardment went on all day.  Capt. Baynall visited our New HQ near Ypres. 2 Canadians motor drivers were wounded at Nieppe this afternoon.

14 Tuesday

Fine and very clear this morning.  It lasted all day.  Heavy firing could be heard up different points of the line.  After dark heavy guns quite close to Bailleul were engaged.  Capt. Says we will be in dugouts near the lake.  A glorious lookout for the winter especially Xmas.

15 Wednesday

Very cold but fine.  Firing still going on.  Pay day again today.  Brother came out of hospital again, some of our men going up to new area tomorrow.  About 9pm I could hear very heavy firing.  Armentieres again shelled.

16 Thursday

A dirty foggy morning.  14 of our men left for new area about 10am.  9.30am started to carry out exam of 6th DLI. 8th Somerset LI carried out a successful sortie this morning between 3 and 4 am near Armentieres.  They captured a German listening post, the men were asleep then invaded enemy trenches doing a great deal of execution.  Our arty prevented reserve coming up.  Their arty heavily bombarded our trenches thinking it was an attack.  Our casualties 2 killed, 1 wounded.  The enemys’ are unknown but must be severe.

17 Friday

There is nothing today but rain and fog.  It is awful the rain we have had since about the middle of October.  4 more prisoners arrived at put in the Caisse d’Epaignee.  There is a little firing going on in spite of the weather.  I have a very severe bout of colic.  About 4pm our arty opened heavy fire lasting 10 mins.  Must have had good target.

18 Saturday

Weather fair all day, nothing until 9pm when exceedingly heavy bombardment was heard in direction of Ypres where we go tomorrow 11pm for about 15 mins.  Arty towards La Bassee kept up terrific fire and then finished.  The firing towards Ypres continued throughout the night.  We are to be in the 5th Army Corps in the area we go to.

19 Sunday

Strong smell of chlorine in Bailieul at 6am so I concluded from this and the heavy firing going on that a German attack is in progress.  Left Bailleul for Outerdom at 11am.  Arrived Outerdom at 1pm.  Saw airfight en route 4 English 1 German.  He got away, one of ours compelled to descend.  The enemy gained nothing this morning but a damned good hiding. 6th DLI in the attack.

20 Monday

Everything very quiet owing to mist.  Left Outerdom for trenches near Zillebeke Lake at 3.30pm.  Capt. went up this morning.  Arrived after a very risky trip at 6.15 pm we came via Ypres again, what a change, very little left of the town now.  The shells are constantly falling in the place and gas from yesterday’s affair still hanging about.  Have just heard that cousin Jack was killed with same shell as wounded Both Col. and Adjt. of 6th DLI.  The mud here is knee deep.  Rain tonight.

21 Tuesday

Firing went on nearly all night.  Daylight brought mist and rain therefore arty were very quiet for this position of the line.  This is a miserable hole, not a soul to be seen except those who are compelled to be out.  The place is not worth fighting for.  Work today has been constant and very heavy.  The enemy again shelling our transport as it came up.  The rest of the men arrived.

22 Wednesday

Today for weather, the same as yesterday.  Two Russian prisoners escaped and got over to our lines in the dark.  I saw one at our HQ.  The other was wounded.  Our transport again shelled tonight.  Enemy at 10pm seemed to have got the range of our batteries.  He put some very heavy stuff over to destroy it.  The shells simply rained in.  The battery must have been agitating them a lot.

23 Thursday

Very fine therefore arty and aeroplanes very busy.  The shelling here is terrific compared with former times.  The afternoon put in dull and wet.  Tonight is very wet and dirty.  The transport got its usual dose again.  Work in Sig office at present is busy.  About 240 messages dealt with daily.

24 Friday

Clear again this morning but showery.  The usual strafing going on.  The enemy about 3pm put a few shells over our HQ into a field about 200yda away.  We had a jolly night last night.  The motor cyclist bought stuff at Reninghelst got it up with the rations and we had a jolly time.  Then sung ourselves hoarse in front of officers’ mess.  They thanked us, asked us to continue singing and gave us a bottle of whiskey, box Abdulla cigs and a few cocoanut cakes.

25 Saturday

Enemy very quiet until they replied to out arty fire.  A good number fell near here wounding a 5th DLI Ofs.  The strafing was kept up more or less all day.  7 aeroplanes in the air at once at 3pm both Allied and German.  I expected to see a battle royal.  We had quite a good time today.  Xmas pudding for dinner given by the officers.  Two 8lb puddings from the Daily Mail these were the best.  We also had cigars, cigs, sweets, veal & ham paste, quite a good tuck in.  We have had quite a good Xmas considering the circumstances.  Quiet tonight.

26 Sunday

Very fine but cold wind.  Arty commenced their strafing about 8.30am.  Three enemy aeroplanes over at 10.00am got a hot reception & driven off.  3pm regular arty duel raged until dark.  The shells simply rained over each way.  I think our boys had the upper hand all the time.  The enemy used a lot of HE, shrapnel this gives off dense black smoke.  They also shelled all roads into the bargain.  Transport unmolested tonight.

27 Monday

Cold + windy with rain.  Wind very strong tonight.  Arty very busy again strafing in our vicinity went all day.  Very heavy arty fire heard at a distance.  I could hear our heavy guns speaking.  9th DLI went to the huts for a rest tonight and the 6th went into trenches again.  Received a letter from Mme. Pailleul today.  Transport were not shelled again tonight when up with rations etc.

28 Tuesday

Clear but quiet until 2pm when the enemy tried to find and destroy one of our batteries but unsuccessfully.  He used either 9” or 12” HE but the whole damage as far as we could see was to make a hole in the earth.  One fell in the Ypres moat.  The old town still gets above its share of hate.  Aeroplanes were busy also.  Two of them having a resap.[1]  Our guns keep them going.  Transport with rations again not shelled.

29 Wednesday

Mist but cleared at 11am.  Arty + aeroplanes busy.  11 planes went over German lines together.  Then heavy arty fire commenced at noon.  2.30pm arty covering 149th front give the enemy a special.  Germans shelled and caused a few casualties in 150th HQ.  They put a large number of gas shells over and transport had difficulty getting rations up.  Otherwise they were unmolested.

30 Thursday

Bde. Maj. promoted Staff Of. 2nd Class.  Maj. Stevens to be Bde. Maj. 151 Bde.

Very clear until 11am. when it put in misty.  North of Ypres heavy firing went on for an hour, 10-11am.  Otherwise we had about the usual every day.  We had no shells over here today.  It is the quietest day we have had since coming up here.  Transport got up without trouble tonight.  We are expecting an attack as soon as the wind is favourable for their gas cloud.  Our 12” guns towards Bailleul from 10-12 could be heard being———

31 Friday/Saturday 1 January 1916

Wind guard placed on last night in anticipation of a gas attack.  Wind was south, we expect a gas attack with SE wind.  This morning arty very uneasy.  Continual strafing all day.  They always take spite at a battery near ramparts.  1pm they are shelling it now at 4 at once.  Our other batts retaliating.  The brigades on our right were getting it this afternoon.  Our arty and the Huns had a fair get too, the din was awful.   We have only had a few near today.  All arty on this Bde. front assisted by others are giving the Huns an exhibition tonight at 10.55 – 11.15 and 11.55 – 12.55am.  sort of a New Year’s gift.  The strafe went off A1 each time.  It was a better sight than the fireworks at Scarbro.[2]  The Germans put the flares up wholesale also Red and Green ours.  This is finish to the old year in which I have had many ups and downs.  I sincerely hope this is finished long before next year ends.

Notes:

[1] Resap=what does this mean?

[2] Scarborough