Brigadier General CHT Lucas was CO of the 87th Brigade on the Somme. An Old Contemptible and Captain in the BEF, he had spent 1915 in the Dardanelles. This blog is made up of his Diary entries and letters written in the Summer of 1916. These are his words, published on the corresponding day as when they were written in 1916. In August 1916 his brigade was withdrawn from the Somme and deployed to the Ypres salient.
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Monday, 25 July 2011
Letter to Mother (envelope mis-labelled): July 9th, 1916
My dear Mother
Please send out at once a uniform coat and trousers also a pair of breeches. The ones I want are the ones sent by Flight and Hammond after I had returned from last leave.
I can’t tell you much more about this scrap than you see in the papers, it is still going quite well down south of us. In our area it stopped on the first day. We met the main German strength, as they expected main push from us and so had everything ready. The result was that our brigade and another on the left went over the parapet and got a very unpleasant mauling, hardly anyone got through their wire. We collected a small percentage that night after dark. We came in for a good deal of heavy shelling all the remainder of the day, and there were some very nasty sights.
During the 7 days bombardment our headquarters were well underground about 1200 yds behind the firing line and we were not worried much. The noise was not very much, though we had all our biggest guns firing over us from just behind. The last evening we moved up to our deep dugout 150 yds behind our front trench. The dugout bounced about a good deal during July 1st, but nothing was blown in, even when our mine containing 20 tons of explosive went up 500 yds away. Since then we have been holding the noisiest bit of line I have ever been in (in the same old place). An incessant stream of shrapnel, 5.9 high explosives, and gas shells bursting all round, but never exactly where we were and none of the gas reached us. It is a great strain on the men, we have just started a few days breather which ought to put them right again.
I am making inquiries about John but fancy he must be 5 or 6 miles south of us. The Germans seem to be very disorganised down there; all the prisoners seem to have had a very rotten time before they were captured. We are still pushing on satisfactorily there, though of course slowly, as we are not right through their numerous systems of trenches. I doubt we shall have enough fresh troops to push on very much further. I am afraid there is not much prospect of leave til August now. Brand is going to leave us, he has just been pushed up into a bigger job. I hope the two invalids are progressing satisfactorily. our loving son Cuthbert