September 1915

Wednesday 1

Our guns very busy with the enemy who send over about one shell to our ten.  9pm until 9.15pm vert heavy artillery fire heard towards Ypres.  Heavy outbursts of rifle & MG fire at ration parties after dark.  A large number of shells fired on asylum and Houplines during day.  Our arty put one right into enemy trench, others destroyed the parapet.

Thursday 2

10am went on our lines enemy burst 2 shrapnel quite near, one was extra heavy giving off dense black smoke.  4th Durham Howitzers shelled —— all morning.  No reply from enemy.  Enemy trenches again get it from our guns.  4pm very heavy and continuous firing towards Ypres.  Some of the largest guns engaged by the amount of it.  Firing subsided about 6pm.  News of Sarah’s death on Aug.31st.[1]

Friday 3

5am Heavy arty firing again seemed to be near Kemmel.  I was at Advanced Bde HQ testing wires twice today ready for tomorrows test.  Party of Life Grds[2] came mounted.  They dismounted at our place horses were sent back.  Although dark enemy put four HE, shrapnel over to try and bag a few.  That is proof there is spies near.  First a full burst 5 mins. After they arrived, quick work.  One burst right over our Signal Office.

Saturday 4

We have had a field day.[3]  800 yds behind the firing.  It consisted of testing our communications in case of a hostile attack.  Everything satisfactory.  Enemy shelling a road where we passed to our Battle HQ.  Shrapnel again fired on town about 5.45pm, heard nothing of casualties.  Went to concert at Div. cost 1 Fr.  It was a splendid affair.  One can barely believe there is such talent among the troops.  A few shrapnel bursting near gave us the impression that the enemy had heard of it as well and were trying to shell us out.  That didn’t trouble us after the concert got going.  French 75s I could hear going strong further south as we came out of theatre.

Sunday 5

Nothing much doing all day, a few shells into the town and a few around our place at various times of the day.  Aeroplanes busy.  Heavy artillery fire can be heard at 5pm in the distance, cannot tell the direction.  All guns busy at night on our front.  Enemy using a new star shell also 4 searchlights on our front.  One of our planes compelled to descend near our place.  Engine trouble.

Monday 6

Enemy shelled road near here and our place also all day long.  Many civilians killed, one a little girl, and wounded.  An officer took a platoon of Leinsters[4] up at that time, the fool.  A shell got among them killing 3 wounding 11.  Many casualties among troops also.  Many amusing incidents occurred at the time.  We are relieved tonight by 149th Bde.  Relief complete at 11.30pm

Tuesday 7

Back in rest billets for 6 days.  Hope they are as easy as last time we were in.  Enemy again shelled Lille road near to our old HQ.  Enemy aeroplanes very busy so was our anti-aircraft guns.  Four of ours chased one German plane back to his own lines.  Baths were inspected by G.O.C. in C.  Gen Plumer.[5]  We were not included in this inspection.

Wednesday 8

Aeroplanes and anti-aircraft guns busy on both sides.  Enemy only put a few shells into Chapelle d’Armentieres.  After dark very heavy outbursts of rifle, rifle batteries and machine gun fire up to midnight.  I paid a visit to plunge baths.

Thursday 9

Today is just a repetition of yesterday.  No.3 Coy ASC[6] have now got their dump in the town.

Friday 10

Enemy shelled our Bde HQ in Chapelle d’Armentieres badly wounded Bde Office clerk, others fell in and about our old billets there.  Shell burst among working party of 6th DLI – 15 wounded, some of them our local lads and badly wounded.  HE, shrapnel burst over Sjt. Howey and I while looking in jeweller’s window in Rue d’Lille.  I expected the window being shattered, us as well, but we were never touched although men were wounded on either side of the shop.  Many shells fired on the town in retaliation for our Arty activity.  One burst near Div. HQ others fired in the town.  One, an incendiary, buried itself in front of our Sig. Office, when dug out, it was 6’ deep and it all fired on exposure.  Heavy rifle & MG fire after dark.

Saturday 11

Enemy aeroplanes busy with daylight.  Our guns shelled them heavy.  From 5am until 8.30am shells were fired on the town but it has been very quiet all day since.  Concert at Div HQ postponed.  11pm heavy MGun fire going on.  Enemy known to be building light railway down to their trenches so he intends staying the winter.

Sunday 12

Enemy sprayed liquid on grass in front of their parapet then fired it.  It burned up to our parapet.  It is probably an effort to destroy our barbed wire but was unsuccessful.  Our artillery did some splendid shooting obtaining direct hits on enemy trenches, splendid day.  Aeroplanes busy.  One German was shelled.  Very heavy and some very accurate shots put near him but he got clear and managed to drop smoke bombs giving position of one of our batteries who cleared out in quick style and were just in the nick of time.  We relieved 150th Another 12 days in action.  The usual MGun fire after dark.  Heavy bombarding north all day.

Monday 13

5.5am awakened by the sounds of our guns heavily bombarding enemy trenches.  It was the 8th Div on our left and lasted about 45 mins.  The enemy only put two into the town wounding a woman.  At 5.30am enemy aeroplane brought down after a fight with one of ours.  Cause of mornings firing, enemy fired a mine 50 yds from our trenches then commenced shelling.  This was at 4.45am.  Observer & pilot on plane both killed.  Enemy fired on town all afternoon.

Tuesday 14

Rain, clear about noon.  Enemy then commenced shelling town with HE & HE Shrapnel.  Just as we finished tea a HE 4” burst just 15 yds from our billet, wounded the cook.  Youngsters playing about at the time but none hit.  Two of our men wounded with shrapnel at Houplines, one severely.  The enemy fired a very large number into town today.

Wednesday 15

Quiet today until 5pm heavy firing either side of us.  Aeroplanes busy.  27 Div. being relieved by 23rd.  One of our men sent back to hospital, the other too ill to move, not expected to live.  Some very heavy guns could be heard after dark from the south.  M.Guns also busy on our front.

Thursday 16

Dull today therefor quiet.  I only heard one shell fired on town all day.  There has been heavy guns firing occasionally on either flank.  Our artillery was also busy as usual.  Munn[7] wounded on Tuesday night died this morning, was buried at 9.30am.  This makes about 50% of our section gone through it.  Heavy guns heard south after 7pm.

Friday 17

No shells on town today.  Aeroplanes busy.  Arty not so active.  Heavy arty fire south from 4pm until about 7 pm.  Heavy rifle fire north about 9pm.  Enemy transport heard quite plain tonight and the usual method of dealing with them rifle MGun fire and shrapnel put on them.  Enemy busy with sausages,[8] footballs[9] and grenades this morning.  On the morning of the 17th about 5.30am large number of our aeroplanes came back in group of three.  They must have been raiding the enemy country again.

Saturday 18

Awakened about 6am by our “Archies” [10] firing on 3 German aeroplanes.  They have been busy all day.  Artillery busy all day also.  None fired on town.  Chapelle d’Armentieres Bde HA moving.  Out tonight on account of enemy shells.  Heavy firing going on towards Ypres and has done all week.

Sunday 19

4.15am Enemy commenced shelling our trenches with whizz-bangs, footballs and sausages.  The whole of the 1st Bde RFA retaliated.  Arty busy all day.  6pm went up to Battle HQ our billets struck near us.  MGuns very busy trying to get on to transports.  Cannot hear any arty firing tonight.  We got strafed[11] onto road often under MGun fire.

Monday 20

5am Enemy started shelling our centre Batt then 5 Lancs.  Our arty retaliated.  The bombardment lasting until 7.30am.  Aeroplanes busy.  One German had over 500 shells burst near still got away.  Our arty, as arranged commenced shelling at 4pm.  It lasted till 4.30.  Heavy arty fire heard south all day.  Black Redoubt badly damaged.  Women & children seen in the streets of Perenchies during the firing.

Tuesday 21

4.30am Enemy again strafing our trenches.  Our arty replied very effectively, it was kept up until 10am.  Further south towards Arras very heavy artillery fire been going on all day.  Heavier than usual. 650 shells according to Town Maj. fired on Ypres during 17th 18th & 19th inst.  17” shells fired on Vlamertinghe.  Aeroplanes extremely busy every day.  10pm violent shock like an earthquake – no report heard.

Wednesday 22

Our guns fired on enemy all night.  Lively cannonade from daybreak until 9am.  Aeroplanes very busy theses sharp clear mornings as observing is much better I expect.  Heavy arty fire still goes on south.  Trench mortar fired into enemy trench brought the reply “if you want the ——–trench, wait until October.  Not so bad.”  Our heavy guns kept up fire all night again.

Thursday 23

Lively this morning again at daybreak.  Aeroplanes very busy, one I saw unable to get over our lines owing to our aircraft guns.  23rd Div. also further south kept up artillery duel with enemy.  Enemy shelled our trenches heavily all day doing considerable material damage.  Relieved after dark by 149th Bde.  Firing south still going on at 7pm.  Heavy thunderstorm tonight.  Arty busy all night.

Friday 24

4.30am very heavy firing on our right, a continual cannonade. Heavy firing on Chapelle d’Armentieres.  Firing all day been very heavy here.  Bde HQ in action have moved up to their Battle HQ tonight and we are under orders to move at 1 hours’ notice.  What’s on I cannot find out except we are going to have a few days bombardment.  Enemy shelled town all night.

Saturday 25 [12]

Shells falling very close awakened me proper at 5.45 one burst in next billet 8th QM stores killing a Corpl.[13] and badly wounding the Lt. QM. both in bed at the time.  Good news arriving of our attack on the whole of front.  British making good progress assisted with gas, French and English Cav. got in among the enemy doing good work.  Enemy strongly counter attacked drove our men out of majority of trenches but we took them and more beside during Sat. night.  Enemy shelled this town all day.

Sunday 26

Good news still coming through.  A total of 8740 prisoners and 5 guns with considerable number of maxims captured.  Artillery duels going on all along the line.  7th Divisional punished 1st Army right afterwards good progress.  Enemy again put 4” into town.  We relieved 36th Inf Bde.  All our Div in trenches now.  Violent cannonade at Ypres.

Monday 27

Quiet until afternoon when more shells were put into town a few dropping in 8th Batt billet killing and wounding a good number.  We had more good news.  Total prisoners 800 Guns 31 more maxims.  We are taking over more trenches from 37th Bde tonight.  Going up now 5 o’clock to see lines.  Got back 10pm to bed at 1am rained all time.  French captured total of 46 guns, 2nd Army still progressing captures 53 officers, 2800 men, 18 guns and 32 MGuns.

Tuesday 28

9th Batt went into 37th Bde. trenches last night also 13th Canadian Highlanders.  With this Battn .the 50th Div. now holds trenches originally held by 2 Divisions.  It has been very quiet today.  We are still receiving good news of the Allies offensive.  Not much fighting in this front as we are in a salient therefore it is not necessary to advance.   Shells fired in town during the night.  All the 12th Div. relieved and left here now.

Wednesday 29

Very dull and wet all day.  Arty fire busy all along the front.  Heavy towards Ypres 10pm.  2nd Canadian Div. opened heavy Arty, rifle and M.Gun fire on German trenches.  It rained into tents at the time.  Enemy did not reply.  This near Ploegsteert.  Enemy opened heavy rifle fire on one trenches at 8pm on trenches held by 5th Lancs.  A very dirty, wet night for the troops in the trenches.  25th Div of the New Army (74, 75, 76 Bde) arrived today.

Thursday 30

Nothing much doing locally today.  Aeroplanes busy.  It looked to me as though one of ours was brought down in the distance.  French continue to do well.  Total prisoners 25000, over 100 guns, British also are doing splendidly under the conditions that obtain.  Arty fire about the usual.  Met my cousin Sam[14] today.  7.30pm to 8.30 very heavy bombarding going on near Ploegsteert.


[1] Find out who this is

[2] Guards

[3] “Have a field day”:  A practical training operation. To have one on the front line meant everything had gone to plan.

[4] Possible 2nd Battalion, the Leinster Regiment, 73rd Bde, 24th Division

[5] General Officer Commanding in Chief

[6] Army Service Corps

[7] 49202 Pioneer A. Munn RE (33rd Signal Coy.) died of wounds 16 September 1915 and is buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres.  He came from Clydebank, Lanarkshire.

[8] Sausage=usually refers to a squat German observation baloon

[9] Football=60pdr or 2in medium mortar

[10] Anti-aircraft gun

[11] Strafe: German word for ‘punish’ adopted by the English-speaking troops to mean a bombardment.

[12] Start of the Battle of Loos, to the south of Armentieres where the 50th Division were stationed

[13] 1977 Corporal H. Tait 8/DLI killed in action 25 September 1915 and buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres.  He was born at Morpeth, Northumberland.

[14] 7267 Pte. S. Rowlandson 11TH Lancashire Fusiliers Signal Section 16th Inf. Bde. 6th Division