October 1916


1 Sunday [1]

Everything usual 3.15pm when our arty commenced heavy strafe on German lines.  Infy. went over about 3.45 pm got their first objective at once, second objective also gained.  We now hold the whole of Eaucourt L’Abbaye and part Le Sars.  Enemy aeroplanes over here again dropping bombs about 8pm.  About 30 prisoners came through during the night.  Three messages by aeroplane.

2 Monday

Very wet and misty all day.  Nothing special except the usual arty fire.

3 Tuesday

Still wet and dirty, mud everywhere.  Nothing unusual.  About 40 prisoners came down this way.  They were thick with mud head to foot and seemed glad to be out of it.  Division relieved today by 23rd Div. for a six day rest.  Myself and a few others left up here.

A later entry in the diary reads:


To/50th Divl. Sig Coy RE

On Oct 2/16 the C-in-C sent one of his ADCs to Divl. HQs to congratulate all ranks of the Div on their work since the Div entered the battle of the Somme.

Please convey these congratulations to all ranks

Signed H. Karslake

Lt. Col. Gen Staff

50th Div 

4 Wednesday

Laid a line into CRE’s place at RE Dump Fricourt Circus.  Reeled an old one up.  Heavy arty fire on our left at mid-day and 7pm.  No idea of the cause of it.  Rained practically the whole day long.  Cut my head this morning about 7am.  Had it dressed at 2nd N.Z. Amb.

5 Thursday

Very cloudy but no rain.  Nothing to do until 1pm. when I started to reel up old arty lines from our 252 Bde, the Bde having moved up in the advance about 2 mls.  Came across the 20th DLI (Pals Bat) and got to know that F. Purvis [2] was killed.  I got back to HQ at 6.15pm.  Saw one of planes descend.  It was flying lop sided and came down on its side.

6 Friday

Nothing special today as far as I know, except the usual arty fire.  Finished reeling up 252 Bde. lines and got started with the 253 Bde.  Got in just after tea today.

A later entry reads

Order of the day issued by Maj-Gen P.S. Wilkinson CB GMC 6/10/16

Nobody could be prouder than I am at Cmdg such troops as you of the 50th Div.

Within a few days of landing in this country you made a name for yourselves at the Second Battle of Ypres.  Since that battle you have gained a reputation on account of your magnificent defence of a portion of the Ypres Salient during the worst months of the year.

From the 15th Sept to Oct 3rd you have had another chance of showing your qualities in attack and it is not too much to say no Div in the British Army has or could have done better.

You have advanced nearly two miles and have taken seven lines of Germans trenches.  Your gallantry and determination in every occasion since you joined in the battle of the Somme have been worthy of the highest traditions of the British Army.

I deplore with you the loss of many of our intimate comrades.

I thank you all for the excellent and cheerful way in which you have undertaken every task put you.

Signed P.S. Wilkinson

Maj.-Gen. Cmdg

50th Div

7 Saturday

Reeling more old lines up at 253 Bde HQ.  Heavy fighting going on nearly all day.  23rd and one or two other Divs attacking.  Heard that Le Sars has been taken but our lads failed to take Butte de Warlencourt.  About 6pm the arty fire was hellish.  I concluded that arty was counter attacking.  Total prisoners through III Corps Cage 160.  Divisions engaged were 23rd 47th 15th and Canadians.

8 Sunday

At daybreak our arty fire was awful again.  I heard that Canadians like the 47th have failed and had to attack again.  I have not heard how we went on.  Up to 8pm total prisoners today 7 officers 330 men.  9pm sounds like another attack is underway towards Bapaume.

9 Monday

12.50pm left LMR (near Fricourt Wood) and returned to Div HQ Millencourt arriving about 2pm.  Weather very fine 9pm paid out for a trip to Amiens tomorrow.  Brother Joe went to seaside for seven days.

10 Tuesday

7.30 left HQ with motor lorry arriving Ribecourt station 8.30.  Left there by train 9am.  After a few stops we got within 4kms of Amiens then we got out and walked the rest.  Had a fine day in the town, walked out to control post, caught a motor lorry that brought us to Franvillers, caught another to Lavieville then walked the remainder to camp arriving about 9pm.

11 Wednesday

Weather very unsettled.  Slight showers.  Had a good hot bath in Millencourt.

12 Thursday

Nothing special just the usual stable routine now that I am back on the horse lines.

13 Friday to 19 Thursday

No entries

20 Friday

Capt. Bagnall’s groom found dead in his bivouac at 6.30am.  Died of heart failure.

21 Saturday

Capt.’s groom buried at Warloy at 2pm.  All men who could be spared went to his funeral.

22 Sunday and 23 Monday

No entries

24 Tuesday

Busy all day preparing for tomorrows move to east of Fricourt.

25 Wednesday

Left Millencourt with transport at 10am had a ride of 2½ hrs. in the rain arriving at Fricourt Wood 12.30pm.  2pm walked up through Death Valley to 151 Bde Adv’d Div HQ also 149 and 150 Bds at Bazentin l’Grand.  The roads are in a fearful condition in some places more than a foot of slush.  I got back to Fricourt at 7.30pm.

26 Thursday

Nothing special, busy all day on horse lines.  J. Marham stayed overnight going home on leave.

27 Friday

Weather still continues very bad, over the ankles in mud no matter where one goes.  Usual stable routine.

28 Saturday

6.30am walked and carried a drum of cable to Eaucourt l’Abbaye and commenced laying line for Div. O.P. Walked back to camp arriving about 4.30pm, thoroughly tired out, never had a bite from 6.15am.

29 Sunday

8am left with limber for same job as yesterday, got down as far as Flers switch.  Saw the outskirts of Bapaume, Butte de Warlencourt, Martinpuich.  Left Eaucourt about 3pm got back at 5 soaking wet.

30 Monday

I had a pleasant surprise this morning when I received a message from the Capt. congratulating me on being awarded the Military Medal.  9.15am went in Capt.’s to Bazentin-le-Petit, walked to High Wood, fixed point for Visual Station, walked to Bazantin le Grand and fixed the other terminal.  Got back to camp 1.30pm and found my tent gone to pieces in the wind.

31 Tuesday

Stable routine all day.  German plane over about 8pm dropping bombs.  No casualties in our company.


[1] It was during this attack that Lieut.-Colonel Roland Boys Bradford was awarded the Victoria Cross. See Wyrall p.168

[2] 20/255 Acting Corporal F. Purvis, 20/DLI was killed in action 16 September 1916, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France.  He was 24 years old and came from Willington.