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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

War Diary Entry: August 9th, 1916

This morning we discovered that practically the whole of the left coy of the Inniskillings and the left coy of the Hampshires (next to us on the right) had been gassed, but not the right company of the Inniskillings which was between them. All the rats in the trenches and the birds and a cat in Potije Wood had died. 21 transport animals of the Inniskillings which were up in Potije died after they got back to their lines. Later in the day (about midday) several men in the right company of the Inniskillings began to go sick many of them dying quite suddenly, until the total casualties in this battn reached 15 officers and about 150 men, about a third of these being dead by the afternoon.
Those who succumbed at once when the gas was first discharged died peacefully without apparent pain, those who were only affected some hours later turned blue and foamed at the mouth & nose.
The alarm worked well & everyone appeared to have had the warning, but I think some of the officers & NCOs went about without their helmets on seeing the men were all right waiting for the first sniff, and then it was too late. Other men apparently exhausted after wearing them for 2.5 hours took them off after midnight and lay down to sleep in the bottom of the trenches and dugouts which were still not properly cleared of gas.
Then a number of men who had been affected, but did not know it worked hard all the morning clearing away the casualties, and this exercise had fatal results. We found a number of dead and dying rats in Ypres. One of the bdes in the 4th Divn on our right was also gassed and had several casualties, the Germans attempted a raid on them but were beaten off. Some Germans came out of their trenches opposite us, but our machine guns kept up a fire the whole time so they did not come on.
The Borders and Inniskillings were relieved after dark by the 86th Bde & the whole bde came back into reserve just E of Poperinghe.

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