Saturday, 25 June 2011
The bombardment today was a good deal heavier, though by no means deafening. The 15” and 12” guns behind us did not (I think) open till the evening, and did not blow the farm down as we expected. I went out twice to watch the bombardment, there was a medium amount of smoke all along the line. About 12.15pm the Bosch put it across Collincamps (next village N of Mailly). They just kept on pumping clusters of big shells into it for ten minutes, causing a lot of smoke. Monkhouse came into tea. He has moved his headquarters up to be close to the forward batteries, with the result that the Bosch yesterday evening blew up his kitchen and cook, so he had to move house again. The Bosch is not replying much to our bombardment, everything appears to be fairly quiet in the trenches, but he opens furious squirts at intervals on batteries and villages behind. When the 4th Divn discharged their gas last night , the Bosch opened a heavy bombardment on their firing and support line, but did not shell the trenches just behind at all.We were to have discharged our gas tonight but wind again unfavourable.
My dear mother
We are getting very noisy in our parts, otherwise everything is quiet at present.
We had a very heavy thunderstorm 2 days ago, the rain came down in torrents for about an hour and flooded the trenches in one or two places.
I believe I have had a touch of hay fever last week for the first time in my life.I saw Roger rand again for a few minutes the other day looking very flourishing.
Our present abode is about 22ft underground and rather damp in consequence, though we get plenty of air, and a good deal of light.
I hope Raymond got through his operation all right today an is quite cheerful again. It will take a good deal of digging to reach his appendix.
Please send all my sadlery down to Raban to look after.
Your loving sonCuthbert
The first day of the bombardment. Sent round about 9am to ask the gunners if the show had started, as everything was as quiet as possible. They were rather hurt. The guns got a little brisker this evening. They are only wire cutting today and the 12” and 15” guns are not firing. I walked into Acheux & back in the afternoon to see our two battns in the wood. I went out after dark and watched all the guns firing, you see the shells bursting along the line well past Albert.
We were to have let off gas at 10pm but the wind dropped, the discharge was postponed an hour and a half and then cancelled althoether. It hung up work and rations going up, as one did not wat the wind to turn and gas everyone. The 4th Divn on our left discharged their gas, and I believe it hung around in no man’s land all night, and gassed one of our own men. After this the Bosch shelled Mailly for the first time since we have been in the line killing 14 and wounding about 32 of the 4th Divn (we have recently handed it over to them).
We all moved our quarters into the deep dugout behind the office this evening, it goes down 24’ below ground and has 3 shell-breaking layers above the ground level; in spite of its 3 entrances it is very clammy down below, partly due to its being flooded out by the storm yesterday.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
87th Brigade relieved the 88th Brigade in the trenches, only 2 battns went up (the SWB & Inniskillings). They each have 3 coys in the line and one at Englebelmer. The other 2 battns are going to remain in the huts in Acheux Wood during the bombardment.
A very heavy thunderstorm came on between 3.45 & 4.15pm during the relief which flooded some of the trenches. I went to a conference at Corps Hd Qrs at 4pm and then on up to Englebelmer about 6pm.
All the inhabitants (those still there) were being cleared out. The old woman next door was leaving a lamb behind, so I had to buy it for 5 francs. A number of dogs and cats have been left behind.
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
This day's diary entry is missing. CHTL occasionally notes a day but writes little or nothing, Sundays usually. But the 22nd was a 'swap' of note keeping methods from a small pocket diary to loose pages. These loose pages cover the next 14 or so eventful days of the bomardment, attack and aftermath. During this time CHTL's HQ was a shell-proof bunker in amore forward position, so one could assume that he was 'travelling light', or had left his diary safe behind the lines.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Welch, Pierce and I went to Varennes at 10am by car , to discuss the attack with the 108th bde (36th divn), they are the next brigade on our right. They have got too big a front and so are leaving a gap of 200 - 300 yards along the left bank of the Ancre which may make it very unpleasant for us. De Lisle addressed all four battns on the bombing ground in the afternoon. A Corps conference at Marieux which all brigadiers attended at 4pm.
Monday, 20 June 2011
Brigade parade 9am in training area to practice atack. Divn conference at Acheux at 5pm which bde MG officers and Trench mortar officers attended. Divn gas expert lectured all officers on bombing ground at 2.30pm. Going came to dinner. Told we should probably go up to the trenches on the 23rd & the bombardment start on 24th.
Sunday, 19 June 2011
Brigade parade at 9am. De Lisle was there and very pleased with everything. Borrowed a car from the ASC and went in to Doullens with Hilton & Gillon. Met Havell there just back from Salonika. Concert in the chateau grounds at 8am, assisted by divn band. A large crowd turned up, several people came into supper afterwards. Morgan dined. Normand, our new interpreter arrived.