July 1915

JULY 1915

Thursday 1

We have had a double issue of souvenirs today. I don’t know why? Otherwise everything as usual. My suspicions were aroused as to the inhabitants of a certain house. Later I discovered one of our cables was —- at a point just under a bedroom window. Men have been warned to watch without been seen if possible.

Friday 2

Had a lively time this afternoon. Went down Gelia[1] trench to see how work on various lines was progressing. Two of us had five shots fired at us, two of the bullets we were able to find. At 6 pm the Capt. and I went down same trench with the same result. We went down the full extent of our fire trenches testing the lines. The enemy at the time were putting shrapnel over which made it dreadfully uncomfortable.

Saturday 3

Paid our friends from Oakenshaw a visit only to find that my friend Castle [2] was at home on leave but is due back on Monday. We travelled via Loue & Westoutre. On our road back we came on a point of the road the enemy were shelling heavily. We got through safe. Our arty very busy. Rifle fire heavier than usual. 9th DLI relieved L.N. Lancs. 6/8th the 7th DLI. Reports from various positions of the line to the effect that gas could be smelled but nothing more occurred.

Sunday 4

New Bde.Gen. Shea arrived today. He should be good coming on a Sunday. Divl. orders stated we must try and get and enemy corpse or a prisoner so as to find out what Germans are in the trenches.  Enemy have been seen carrying cylinders into their trenches so we can expect a gas attack if wind should be favourable.

Monday 5

Yorks. on our right bayonetted a German last night of the 243 Reg. thus proving who the troops are on our front. Two of us spotted a German Sigs lamp at 8.30. We were unable to read it owing to distance. Our arty also saw it and shelled the place. It eventually disappeared. A Zep dropped bombs on Neuve Eglise at 10.10pm. Heavy bombarding towards Ypres. General Martin left at 7 am today.

Tuesday 6

2.45am to about 6am very heavy firing in direction of Ypres. What was on I cannot say. Went to 5th Div.HQ for 4 miles cable at Reninghelst. Enemy sending a few extra shells over today. Message 7.15pm states 6th Div successfully attacked near Ypres this morning taking 100 prisoners.

Wednesday 7

Nothing doing until 4 pm when the enemy gave us a very warm half hour. The Chateau was not hit direct but we got plenty splinters through the windows, one piece struck the ground and then rebounding caught one of our D. Riders[3]. Our lines were cut in a large number of places. Very heavy rifle fire at night.

Thursday 8

Went out with working party 8 am returning 8 pm. In the morning and afternoon the enemy shelled Hannants Farm where a lot of our reserves and supplies are kept eventually firing it. Everything destroyed in it. That is the result of men and officers being too careless and not keeping under cover as much as possible giving the place away themselves. News of Foster’s death.

Friday 9

2am unconditioned surrender in German West Africa. 9am until 4 pm out with working party. Another farm shelled and fired by enemy. Germans are massing on the British front and are expected to make an attempt to break through on Calais within the next 10 to 12 days. It is interesting to know if our estimate of the date of their intended attack is anything like correct. It is not known at which point it will be launched yet.

Saturday 10

7th relieved 6 & 8th N.Lancs relieved 9th DLI last night. Enemy fired another farm yesterday and one today. Our own artillery put another shell into our own trenches yesterday. This is the second time.  No-one injured each time.  Enemy aeroplanes busy.  Watched our artillery here and in the vicinity of Voormergeele shelling the enemy’s lines.  8pm enemy started bombing our rear trenches occupied by L.N. Lancs who replied assisted by RGA with trench mortars.  They gave the enemy a very hot time and a little work, as we blew a good portion of their parapet down.  Saw where two men have been buried close to where the fire trench is now.  The feet of both men are sticking out of the side of the trench.  Dozens of Germans, French and English lying between the firing lines unburied.  Some have been there for months.

Sunday 11

8am out with working parties until 4pm.  Saw the enemy putting shells in Neuve Eglise three at once, they all seemed to be incendiary shells.  Every one bursted in or near the church.  Two of 9th men out sniping were sniped themselves, both killed.  Three Germans found unarmed through our lines said they came in to surrender.

Monday 12

The usual working party again.  Enemy put machine gun fire on one of our working parties, no casualties.  Another party shelled with the same result.  The whole of our left sector trenches were taken over at dark by the East Yorks.  We are expecting to move again.  28th Division taking over our trenches.  Blew up German trench inflicting many casualties near Ypres.

Tuesday 13

8am until 3pm out with working party.  All working parties heavily shelled.  One shell fell among a party of 6th DLI killing one and wounding 3, 2 of these not expected to live.  They also got one in among some N.Lancs blowing one man’s leg off.  A great number of casualties among 7th DLI in the firing line.  The enemy using trench mortars, rifle grenades etc.  8pm gas attack by enemy near Ypres.  Heavy fighting went on practically all night.

Wednesday 14

Working parties done.  Now we are expecting to move.  Visited our sick men at St. Jans Cappel then went onto Boeschepe and saw my friend W. Castle. Everything very quiet up to 6pm except in direction of Ypres.  Enemy blew up G.S. Trench causing about 16 deaths and many injuries.  In the confusion they charged but were repulsed with very heavy loss.  This occurred about 8.30pm while it lasted, firing was very severe.

Thursday 15

Packed and making preparations to move tonight 6.30pm.  The enemy have succeeded in firing Neuve Eglise church after several attempts, otherwise everything very quiet.  Unable to get all the men who were killed buried in last night’s explosion.  Relieved at 11pm by 84th Bde.  I stayed with one Cpl. and 3 cyclists until relief was completed.  Message to say relief was complete.

Friday 16

Arrived 1.10am then I had a walk of 3 miles to Loue.  The church clock chimed 2 as we entered the town.  Up again at 7am busy all day then packed again, ready to move at 7.30pm.  Brother and 3 cyclists went in advance at 5.30pm.  Raining heavy.  Moved off at 7.40pm and marched via Dranoutre, Bailleul to Point Nieppe arriving 12.30.  Rained the whole blessed way.  Got to bed 2am.

Saturday 18

Reveille at 7am No rations, drink was low, went up to our new Sig Office now the 80th Bde 27 Div then up to trenches.  Got back at 1.15pm.  Little dinner, back to our new place in Armentieres by 2.30pm Looking up lines etc and getting to know all communications eventually taking over at 10.30pm.  The usual, got to bed at 1.30am.

Sunday 18

Reveille at 7am again no rations, it is great & heavy firing in a southerly direction since dawn.  Had a very busy day in Sig Office until 12 midnight.  Our present position is Chapelle d’Armentieres.

Monday 19

Slept until 8am very quiet all day nothing to record.  It is very strange here, the town full of life and very busy although only about 2 miles from trenches.  The enemy often put a few shells into the place.

Tuesday 20

Road between Batt and Bde HQ shelled from dawn until about 7.30am.  Intermittent Arty firing all around.  In the afternoon heavy artillery fire heard in a southerly direction.  Enemy aeroplane brought down by “Archibold”[4] south from here by one of our quick fliers on a French plane.

Wednesday 21

5am awakened to hear shells falling in the town mainly in the houses bordering the main road to Lille.  It went on until 7am.  No casualties.  Heavy artillery fire heard in a southerly direction probably La Bassee.

Thursday 22

Firing still going on to the south.  Lord Cavan visited our line of trenches and reported that they were clean and in excellent condition.  He also praised our men for their “splendid devotion to duty.”  Had a walk through some of the principle parts of Armentieres.  Two shells fell near station, an engine there had drawn the shots.

Friday 23

Nothing startling of any consequence today.  Two shells burst in the market square today near the Town Mayor’s house.  No casualties.  Heard today our leave commences next week.  I hope so.

Saturday 24    

Nothing doing today except a few rounds from the artillery on either side.  Aeroplanes very busy.

Sunday 25

Thought there was no war today, not a shot heard until almost teatime.  Here it was just the same as yesterday.  Heavy bombardment going on tonight towards Ypres.

Monday 26

Still firing towards Ypres up to 7.15am.  9am until just about 2pm enemy shelled the Lille road in Chapelle d’Armentieres.  German aeroplane flew over the town was fired at by an aircraft of ours which made good practice ie. he was then chased by one of our planes.  It was a fine sight but our plane was hopelessly outclassed for speed.

Tuesday 27

Enemy again shelled the Lille road today.  After dinner went into trenches to arrange for lines entering Batt HQ dugouts.  Enemy shelled asylum today where our 2nd North Field Coy. are billeted.  No casualties.  Lt. Miller [5] MG Officer hit in head with explosive bullet dying an hour after.  Lt Howe went up in his place.

Wednesday 28

This morning was a repetition of yesterday but not so severe.  Asylum again shelled.  I suppose it is enemy’s daily “strafe” but it does very little damage although civilians are moving from this quarter owing to the short period of bombarding.  I am surprised at them staying so long.

Thursday 29

Large number of shells put onto Chapelle d’Armentieres at 8.30 to 9am one bursting in one of the billets of the Royal Scots another about 6 yds. from a party of our linesmen.  No casualties.  Quiet until 3pm when they put a few over intended for the station.  Enemy plane dropped 2 bombs in town which failed to explode.

Friday 30

Left Chapelle d’Armentieres 11.45 left Steenwerck 3.20, Bailleul 3.30 St. Omer 4pm arriving Boulogne 7.40pm.  Boat sailed 10.15 arriving Folkestone 11.40pm

Saturday 31

12.40am train left arriving Victoria Station 3.5am left Kings X 4.55am arriving home 12 noon.  We crossed the Channel on “SS Onward”


[1] Name undecipherable

[2] 8997 Private W. Castle 13th Field Ambulance 5th Div. R.A.M.C.

[3] Despatch Riders

[4] Archibald or “archie”=anti-aircraft fire

[5] Second Lieutenant J.C. Miller 6/DLI was killed in action 27 July 1915 and is buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery Armentieres.  He was 22 year old and came from Wolsingham, County Durham.