August 1916

Roger’s diary continues on from July 1916

Tuesday 1 August 1916 – I paraded sick today with my knee, got a formation on it.

Wednesday 2 August 1916 – My knee is a lot better so have been on parade. The weather is very nice and is very hot, has been for a fortnight. On Monday last we had a big draft of reinforcements, amongst them Bob Young and W Porter, both from North Terrace, and the first things to speak of is that Porter wanted to know if I had any writing paper and borrow a franc or two. I had nothing less than a 5 franc note, having only been paid that day. I lent him 5 francs. On a working party.

Wednesday 2 August 1916 – My knee is a lot better so have been on parade. The weather is very nice and is very hot, has been for a fortnight. On Monday last we had a big draft of reinforcements, amongst them Bob Young and W Porter, both from North Terrace, and the first things to speak of is that Porter wanted to know if I had any writing paper and borrow a franc or two. I had nothing less than a 5 franc note, having only been paid that day. I lent him 5 francs. On a working party.

Thursday 3 August 1916 – Still having lovely weather. No fatigues for anyone in the company tonight so I went to LOCRE and bought a present for Mother. We were paid again today. W Porter immediately brought me back the money he borrowed.

Friday 4 August 1916 – Had to go with rations to 3 separate sentry posts this morning. Moved to trenches tonight. Today I sent Mother a silk scarf and Annie a handkerchief and half a crown.

Saturday 5 August 1916 – We came to Sandbag Villa last night which is classed as support in reserve trenches. I am acting as platoon guard and do any errands needed but miss working parties while here. Still having very good weather.

Sunday 6 August 1916 – Still at Sandbag Villa.

Monday 7 August 1916 – Was relieved last night and went to LOCRE huts.

Tuesday 8 August 1916 – At 1.30pm had to fall in and we marched to CAESTRE, the sun was very hot but it was not such a long walk as before. We came to the same billet which we had before but by a different route.

Wednesday 9 August 1916 – Rifle, bayonet and foot inspections today.

Thursday 10 August 1916 – I saw a few days ago a man threshing wheat by hand, he used two sticks about 3ft 6inches long, one tied to the other which he used like a whip. Usual inspections, we are still having lovely weather.

Friday 11 August 1916 – Reveille at 3.30am, breakfast at 4am then prepared to march to BAILLEUL setting off at 7.30. Here we embarked at 11.30am for destination unknown. Reached DOULLENS at about 7.30pm. Here we rested near the station and had our teas, we had had our dinner in the lorry trucks which we journeyed in. After our meals we set off to march and reached AUTHEUX about 11.30pm. We were all well paid out after such a long day. Our billet is an old cottage, number 1 platoon in similar.

Saturday 12 August 1916 – Foot inspection, the men with bad feet having to go to the doctors. Have bivouacked out today.

Sunday 13 August 1916  – Reveille 5.30, marched about 2.5 km away, clean fatigue, went into a field and was told to take our boots off and walk about bare footed in the grass. It was supposed to be a two hour parade. Service at 11.30am after which the Lord’s Supper was held. On a table was a wooden crucifix so I asked after the service what it was for. Our chaplain, Wesleyan, said it was only to set the table off as it looked bare. We got on talking and I learnt that the Wesleyan service is the same as the C of E, the real service that is, as Wesley never left the church. He saw there was not only little sincerity behind the services so he preached against it and people started to follow him, so as he had not money to get things for his services, they had to do without and when the other churches, Wesleyan, started they followed the simple, unceremonious services so that it was really an accident our services are different from the C of E.

Monday 14 August 1916 – Had a battalion parade today. The Colonel lectured about marching and discipline. It lasted from 8 to 11am.

Tuesday 15 August 1916 – Reveille at 1.30am fell in about 2am and marched to battalion parade ground where we had tea and cake, some of today’s rations. Fell in again at 3am and set off on another move passing CANAPLES and FLESSELLES and finally reaching VILLERS-BOCAGE. At VILLERS-BOCAGE we went to billets and after having breakfast at 11.30am went to sleep . Had dinner at 4.50pm and tea at 8pm, then off to sleep again, marched 18-20 km.

Wednesday 16 August 1916 – Reveille at 6.30, breakfast, fell in at 9am and the battalion marched about 5½ km to a wood where we stayed the day near MOLLIENS.

Thursday 17 August 1916 – Reveille 1.30 then breakfast, afterwards falling in and we marched about 13 miles stopping at MILLENCOURT, here we are in billets. Last night we bivouacked out. We can see the shells over the firing line.

Friday 18 August 1916 – Running parade, morning parade, fired ten rounds at the range this afternoon.

Saturday 19 August 1916 – Had a night manoeuvre for 2 hours last night. Today was told off as a platoon guard and attended a lecture on reading maps. Did not go on a night march tonight.

Sunday 20 August 1916 – Running parade, morning and night parade. Wesleyan parade at 12 noon, still having good weather.

Monday 21 August 1916 – Went to HENENCOURT today, nothing special there though.

Tuesday 22 August 1916 – Still having champion weather, parade at 7.30am and practise taking a trench. We have to do it in the dark tonight. We parade at 10.45pm, may go to ALBERT after tea. Did go to ALBERT, the only thing of any note is the church which has been a fine building but has been shelled. A figure of the Madonna and child which surmounted the steeple is now, through the shelling, hanging over the road at an angle of about 60% from the steeple. Had a night parade taking and defending a trench.

Wednesday 23 August 1916 – Just usual parades today, the weather is still very good.

Thursday 24 August 1916 – After breakfast parade then at 3pm fell in again when our brigade practised a cross country attack. We were on hold 7-7.30pm

Friday 25 August 1916 – Morning parade, shooting this afternoon and lecture tonight as it was raining.

Saturday 26 August 1916 – This afternoon I went for a bath, the nearest place four kilometres was a village called something like BUIRE-SUR-L’ANCRE. Night parade when I came back.

Sunday 27 August 1916 – Had a good Wesleyan parade in the village schoolroom. Tonight practised a brigade attack.

Monday 28 August 1916 – Had a brigade inspection, that’s all today. The last 2 days we have had some very heavy showers of rain but the sun has come out afterwards.

Tuesday 29 August 1916 – Paraded to the bathing place this morning and just started some battalion sports when a heavy storm stopped proceedings and the sports were not carried on.  I wrote to D H Wilson, 82 Merchant Cres, Edinburgh, about some ear drums which I had seen advertised and enclosed £1 order, the cost of a pair of drums and nickel forceps. We are now in the SOMME district and have been transferred from 2nd to 4th Army Corps and at present are in special reserve.

Wednesday 30 August 1916 – Had a kit inspection by the Colonel this morning. A very wet day.

Thursday 31 August 1916 – We do not get as good rations in the 4th as in the 2nd army. We have only had a loaf between 3 about twice, a 3lb loaf that is. We generally used to get this before, but now it is a loaf between 4, 5, 6 and once 7 men. We have to buy bread or eat biscuits and only one place sells bread. It is brought from a distance and when it was in the cottage is practically besieged. I saw 50-60 men round the door one night I went for bread. Had practice of brigade attack tonight.

Roger’s diary continues in September 1916