February 1916


1 Tuesday

Dull, cleared about noon.  Enemy planes busy and doing pretty much as they wished.  Our 0.2 guns had a fine straf destroying a strong work of the Huns.  One of our lads took ill while attending to electric motor.  Wind is now SSW so the Huns have not taken advantage of the E wind.

2 Monday

Nothing much today still dull and very cold.  Heavy firing in direction of Pilkem, it sounds like an attack in progress at 11am.

3 Thursday

Still very cold and freezing hard.  A little clearer today.

4 Friday

Cold and wet+windy.  Enemy shelling the end of our line of dugouts with HE.  Arty very busy today.  Capt. returned from leave before daybreak.  He still looks ill.  11pm until 1am enemy dropping heavy shells in vicinity of our dugouts.  No harm done.  One German sniper had a good bag today killing one and wounding nine men.[1]

5 Saturday

Nice fine day.  Aeroplanes very busy especially German.  They got a hot welcome every time from our guns.  They have some splendid machines, proper beauties.  Our guns quiet, the enemy just the opposite.  They have put hundreds of shells over of all descriptions.  Enemy shelling our immediate vicinity 8pm-10pm.  No damage at all in spite of all their fire which was very intense all day.

6 Sunday

Heavy shells falling in Ypres but our guns are having a little more to say today.  Nothing else of note except we saw our artillery duel between two batteries.  We could see the flashes of the German guns.  One of our heavy batteries came in silenced one gun of the enemy’s in fine time.  This occurred about 5pm.

7 Monday

One of our planes came down near Ypres about 10am.  Aeroplanes very active.  Fine clear weather.  Arty more or less the usual 10.50pm the enemy shelled our HQ with heavy howitzers.  We got some very near ours.  They got one or two into the M.Gunners dugouts killing two and wounding two.[2]  Then a few more wounded as the men were cleaning out.  It also dised[3] our lines to the trenches.  Got to bed after 1am.

8 Tuesday

Very clear this morning.  Enemy planes very busy.  Saw 7 of out planes coming back as though from a raiding expedition.  Arty very busy today.  Our HQ again shelled from about 7pm until 9pm. 6pm they also shelled the road just opposite for transport.  The enemy are rather active these few days.

9 Wednesday

Enemy again strafed us at 7.30am.  First shell 6” howt. fell near  our dugout shattering the window.  One dugout blown in 3 men killed[4] 2 wounded of the R.Fus.  Then at 8am the gas shelled us all round, it made our eyes very painful.  Planes busy the whole day, especially Germans.  Quiet otherwise after 10am.

10 Thursday

Dull, clearer about noon, very cold wind.  Aeroplanes scare.  Enemy again shelling just behind us at different times all day.  One gas shell only put over but did not reach us.  They shelled other places today more than our HQ.  Quiet the whole night.

11 Friday

Raw wet day.  Not so much shelling today but our guns had a small straf which rained the Huns ire.  He still dropped them around our HQ.  The enemy in front of our right sector found to be entrenched 15yds in front of our wire.  They had driven 2 saps out and worked over and holed then during the night they allowed this to cave in thus making a trench, very cute.  Sent the most of our stores down tonight to our rest billets.

12 Saturday

Very clear, aeroplanes active especially Germans.  We move tonight for 6 days rest, relieved by 149th Bde.  3pm very heavy firing heard on 6th Corps front.  News came through that enemy were making a gas attack.  It did not come off as our Arty prevented them leaving their trenches.  Our men got away in batches, I left with Capt. and 12 men at 8.15, got lost up to the knees in mud arriving at our billet Ouderdom at 11pm.

13 Sunday

Enemy aeroplanes busy over here.  Numerous small fights with planes.  One German dropped three bombs near, another two about 4pm.  They seem to have the best of ours each time.  6am I heard heavy firing in same direction as attack yesterday.  Heard no news yet.

14 Monday [5]

Nothing until about 6pm when enemy attacked the 50th + 17th Div fronts.  The 50th (149 +150 Bdes.) repelled all attacks with heavy losses to enemy.  The enemy took from 17th Div. 6 front trenches but were counter attacked from 1½.  All attacks during the night failed to move them from the others.  I was at Reninghelst YMCA when the alarm was raised.  Different Regts. being called back to camp so I returned and found we were under ½hrs notice to move if needed.  Still standing to arms, slept with all clothes on.

15 Tuesday

Still under arms, nothing doing as yet.  Firing went on all night.  Counter attacks still left enemy in possession of 3½ trenches.  I intended visiting Bailleul today but this has knocked it in the head.  Sent £10-10 home today.  Very windy and cold until about 1pm.  After then quiet calm + mild.  We countered again at 9pm, the Scottish Borderers were the attackers.  From our place we could see the flashes of guns and bursting shells.  We only gained the ½ trench still leaving enemy holding 3 trenches.

16 Wednesday

Wind and rain commenced again at 8pm last night.  Blowing a proper hurricane.  Part of our billets went over and others threatened to go also.  Very quiet all day.  Still standing to arms.

17 Thursday

Very cold and frosty.  Capt. and 4 men went up to our new position.  We are taking over from 150th Bde.  Sent most of the baggage up tonight.  We take over finally tomorrow night.  Zeppelin over Ypres at 9.36pm.  Our anti-aircraft guns got a bit of night practice.  Zep raided Poperinghe about 1am.  Brother Ben arrived home on leave.

18 Friday

Aeroplanes raided Poperinghe about 8am and dropped bombs on the railway line.  About half the men moved up at 2pm.  I followed at 5pm with the others.  Our artillery were having a proper straf at this time.  It is miserable and wet since 3pm today.

19 Saturday

Very quiet until dinnertime then we got our HQ shelled with whizzbangs one going into Officers Mess Store.  No-one injured.  Then at 10.30 they shelled us with 6” howitzers but were short of this place.  One hit a dugout of the 72nd D.Bde.  They kept it up until midnight.

20 Sunday

Frosty and very clear.  Enemy planes very busy.  At 7.30am I saw one hit, he fell about 100ft then righted then planed into his own lines.  He got fired on en route by the men in the trenchesLt. Atkinson [6] Lt. Bomb Officer got sniped in the trenches.  The bullet first passing through a sandbag and hit him in the lungs.  The Gen. was with him when he died.  He remarked to the Gen., “Isn’t it topping.”  He was buried at 8pm same night.

21 Monday

Very dull still, aeroplanes are out observing.  Enemy arty busy.  They are shelling practically the whole countryside.  They fired salvos on our dugouts but missed every time.  The Capt. and I could see some of the shells falling.  Wind since yesterday in right direction for an enemy gas attack.  I visited our Visual Stn. on the lake side.  The place was thick with weeping gas.  Enemy persistently shelled us and our Arty all day.  I could hear heavy firing in southerly direction.

22 Tuesday

Snowing this morning.  The first this winter.  Our Arty doing most this morning.  1pm enemy shelled very heavy in the vicinity of Menin Road and Ecole.  It looks like something brewing.  5pm very heavy firing just NE of Ypres, 5.30pm wire to say enemy were making gas attack on the 50th Inf. Bde, we just got the tail end of the gas.  It quietened down about 7pm.  As far as I can learn they gained nothing.

23 Wednesday

Still snowing and freezing hard.  Enemy artillery still very active, our arty busier than usual.  Aeroplanes scarce on account of the strong north wing blowing.  They shelled the roads after dark trying to catch our transport.

24 Thursday

Still freezing hard.  Very quiet this morning.  Enemy plane got this place to himself but our guns are keeping on him.  M. Woodward going on a months’ leave today.  All leave stopped.  Enemy again shelled transport.  A large number of casualties in the trenches today.  Eight including an officer buried in our little cemetery by the railway side. [7]

25 Friday

Still very cold.  A little snow occasionally.  Everything what one may call quiet today.  I am convinced that our people are contemplating an attack and that very soon.

26 Saturday

Still cold.  I visited right and centre sections and aligned Sig lamps.  Occasionally strafing all day.  6.15 enemy made a bombing attack on centre of 52nd Bde overnight.  9th NF were in that sector.  The enemy did not gain our lines and suffered heavily8th & 9th DLI suffered a large number of casualties.[8]  The attack finished and all quiet at 7.15pm.  Little else after.

27 Sunday

I again visited centre, also left sections and aligned lamps again.  Both going and coming back from 6th DLI were sniped at near Sanctuary Wood.  I enjoyed both days out.  Message states that the French are very pleased with things as they go near Verdun.  Arty very uneasy tonight.  Our heavies had a straf about 6pm.

28 Monday

Clear and fine.  The straf arranged for tonight is postponed.  We are to be relieved tomorrow.  I wish we would have stayed to see it.  Aeroplanes very busy.  6.15 pm enemy commenced straffing our HQ.  8.30pm Intelligence 2nd Army wires that enemy are active behind Sanctuary Wood and to be on the alert.  10.30 wire to stay, we will not be relieved.  Good means will be present at the straf.  8pm-1.30am Huns shelled us.

29 Tuesday

Very fine + bright, visited centre sector and got lamps permanently fixed.  3pm Enemy shelled our HQ and behind our trenches very heavy.  Our Arty replied.  A heavy bombardment which lasted two hours.  Two planes had a scrap and brought each other down, each falling in their own lines.  German seemed to come down very heavy.  After tea everything very quiet but a very windy dirty night.


[1] SDGW records that 3 soldiers serving with 1/6 and 1/9 DLI were killed in action 5 February 1916.  They were 2647 Serjeant A.R. Bainbridge 1/6 DLI age 22 from Crook, 887 Private J.R. Stafford 1/6 DLI from Leadgate & 714 Private T. Evans 1/9 DLI age 18 from Felling.  All are commemorated on a special memorial in Perth Cemetery (China Wall).

[2] Possibly 1956 Private R.H. Adamson 1/6 DLI killed in action 7 February 1916 and commemorated on the special memorial, Perth Cemetery (China Wall), 3783 Private W. Atkinson 1/6 DLI died of wounds 7 February and buried at Lijssenhoek Military Cemetery and 1427 Private E. Thompson 1/9 DLI killed in action 7 February 1916 and buried at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

[3] Dised=undecipherable word

[4] Possibly included 2800 Private D. Hodgson 1/6 DLI killed in action 9 February 1916 and commemorated on the special memorial, Perth Cemetery (China Wall), 3302 Private P. Brown 1/6 DLI killed in action 9 February 1916 buried in Perth Cemetery (China Wall).

[5]  Wyrall p.115 & 115:  Note:  Casualties for 150th Brigade included 4th Yorkshire Regiment 13 killed and 4 wounded for 14 February and then later 1 Officer killed, 2 wounded, 20 Other Ranks killed, 51 wounded [presumably the total for this tour in the line]

[6] Lt. R.E. Atkinson 9/DLI (Territorial) killed in action 20 February 1916 and is buried at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground

[7] The following 6 soldiers are buried side by side at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground Lt. J.H. Edgar, 9/2665 Private W. Davison, G/2297 Private W. Dunnett, 9/2680 Lance Serjeant J. McNeill, 9/492 Lance Corporal H. Moody and G/1637 Private J.H. Pearson all 1/9 DLI killed in action 24 February 1916.

[8] The following 11 soldiers are buried side by side at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground 8/3565 Private F. Alderson, 8/2664 Private M. Coyle, 8/2766 Lance Corporal J.H. Fletcher, 8/3395 Private A. Lambert and 8/1803 Private A.J. Robson all 8/DLI and 9/1347 Private F.G. Baggaley, 9/2776 Private R. Clary, 9/2877 Private G. Cook, 9/2043 Private W. Elliott, 9/1216 Lance Corporal T.G. Moffatt and 9/3619 Private J. Tuff all 9/DLI  also see Moses p.38