The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: October 1915

The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: October 1915

Roger’s diary continues on from September with him still in the area of Armentieres… at this time the Battle of  Loos (25 Sept – 19 Oct) was being fought less than 10 miles away.

Friday 1st October 1915 – I made a splendid rice pudding today, I let the rice steep overnight then after cooking it added the sugar, milk and a bit butter. We had more rain last night and it is cold today. I had occasion to go along the trenches yesterday and saw a piano in our trenches, a good one too.

Saturday 2nd October 1915 – I got some brambles today from some bushes between the firing and support lines and have stewed them for tomorrow’s tea. It was fine last night.

Sunday 3rd October 1915 – I received a lovely parcel from Annie today containing ginger snaps, short bread, lunch biscuits, line thread, pair leather straps, tin pineapple, soap, butter, sardines, writing pad, mittens, novels and papers, all of which mother tells me Annie has saved up for out of her pocket money and included was the sleeping helmet for soldiers what Annie said, a very nice card and pencil.

Monday 4th October 1915 – Since Friday stand to has been at 5.30pm and finishes at 5.30am. Moved out of the trenches tonight to reserve in Asylum. Found a few reinforcements waiting. Each day in the trenches it was the rule we had to do an hour’s work besides guards each day.

Tuesday 5th October 1915 – I went out tonight without a pass after getting paid and it happened a working party from ‘A’ Co[mpan]y had to go out and I was to be on, but the orderly came too late to warn everybody. I was up with the others for being out of billets without a pass, no orders being given that we could go out. Had a bath today and change.

Wednesday 6th October 1915 – The case was dismissed on account of us not being warned. I got a pass out tonight and went to a concert, it was ½ franc admission and very good. The set of Pierrots were all from Corps stationed in ARMENTIERES except the local [cuties?]. Another co[mpan]y had to provide a working party tonight, I think we get it too long.

Thursday 7th October 1915 – Again I went out without a pass and got some rice, butter, milk, and bread 1/10 [one shilling and tenpence = 9p] altogether to take up the trenches, we go tonight. Met Archie Finch today.

Friday 8th October 1915 – The bombers are in the 4th line, this is the first time I have seen so many in support. We had to do ration fatigue some of us, the others go out digging in front of the firing line the trenches in which to put the new barbed wire. I had not to go on anything last night.

Saturday 9th October 1915 – Not over bright a day.

Sunday 10th October 1915 – This morning went round to all the bomb stores with Corporal Lake and on the afternoon had to go on digging, the men who did not go out at night time had to work during the day. At night I had to also go in a party to dig in front of the firing line in a trench for the new barbed wire. The trench was pretty deep, no danger being attacked except from a stray bullet for it was impossible for the enemy to see us.

Monday 11th October 1915 – This morning we had what was called drill, the bombers we had arranging of parties etc. and this afternoon again but to do some digging, 1½ hours, we just loosened the soil,  kneeling and setting to the work we were not interfered with by the enemy. We got into the trench along the listening post. On Saturday nearly all the company was up at company office for not being shaved the previous Thursday, we did not get ‘crimed’ but had to do 2 hours extra work. My task was to dig a hole for refuse. Tonight we had to go out again, digging for three hours. I think we are getting it a bit thick and all naturally grumble.

Tuesday 12th October 1915 – It rained a little last night but today is very nice, the sun is out. Parcel from Bradburys contains milk, sugar and tea, fruit cake, pork pie, sweets, chocolate and almond slices, and Milords. Had to work from 11am to 2pm and 7pm to 10pm digging.

Wednesday 13th October 1915 – On fatigue 9 to 12am and at 2pm we are bombarding, at present we are standing to at the bomb store. Stood to till 4.45pm and had ½ hour for tea then ‘stand to’ again. I had just got my tea boiled, it was too hot to drink when the word came, I managed a slice of bread and another in my hand going along when I saw Major Raimes at the end of the trench so I put my bread and jam on top of a trench as I had to pass the Major. At 6pm the bombers all had to go on carrying fatigue. There was a lot of grumbling for the majority of these men had had no tea. We were on carrying sandbags, boards and corrugated iron to the Battalion Headquarters from the dump till 8.40. It was 9pm when we got to the company. We were informed we had to go for three hours digging at 10pm so we went to see the Major about it. He was asleep and would not be on duty till 11.30pm but Captain Hill, 2nd in command, gave us permission to sleep till then. Found we could see him at 11.30pm and had to work till 1am this morning, 2 hours off.

Thursday 14th October 1915 –Today had to clear the lines on the morning and another bombardment was on in the afternoon so we ‘stood to’ in our dug outs. We moved out tonight to the schools.

Friday 15th October 1915 – Were issued with 2 pairs of pants and 1 singlet today new, also went for a bath and change of shirt.

Saturday 16th October 1915 – At present am at the Bombing School with the others, had to throw one dummy and 1 live bomb; it is a very dull day. On Thursday I saw for the first time a rifle battery (6 rifles) and I thought I could invent a means of reloading all at once.

Sunday 17th October 1915 – Moved to the trenches last night and this morning had to go over to a bomb store seeing all was right, the others doing the same. Yesterday I had a look around what I think is the principle [sic] church R[oman] C[atholic] in ARMENTIERES. It had 12 separate altars and was a very fine sight. Had to go digging on the night for 3 hours and in the afternoon we practiced bomb drill.

Monday 18th October 1915 – This morning had to take some clips off the bombs and have just finished 2 hours digging and filling sandbags, having also to place them up as a cover for the dug out cook house and officers cook house and at night had to finish, which took us three hours.

Tuesday 19th October 1915 – This morning had to take some bombs down to the dump. They have been ‘washed out.’ Three hours digging for the co[mpan]y tonight excepting rations fatigue and sentries, I was in ration fatigue. This time the rations were put in little trolleys at the battalion dump and run up to the battalion on rails, a railway running at the back of the trench.

Wednesday 20th October 1915 – Instruction this morning on bombs again, all other bombers except No 2 + 5 being called in. Relieved tonight just after stand to by Kitcheners, but had, the whole company, to do three hours digging before we left.

Thursday 21st October 1915 – Had a very easy day, no inspections but confined to billet. Tonight had to go to the firing line to do 3 hours digging. The co[mpan]y it is on a new trench for the new wire that we had to work on, it started raining just before our time was up so we moved prompt. I got an old ground sheet from the dug out we had been in last.

Friday 22nd October 1915 – The usual inspections today and at 5pm moved from the billet to the one we had last.

Saturday 23rd October 1915 – Paraded to baths day and also confined to billet but I went to the concert and while there saw our CO (Raimes).

Sunday 24th October 1915 – Paraded to Wesleyan service, it was a united one by three brigades, I believe, being 2-300 men there and was a splendid service [C… ?…] Keanes and Hinds taking part. I believe the names are correct. After service, sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was held, about 25 staying to it. When we got back to billets, 5 of us who stayed, fur coats were issued. We are to be allowed out after 2pm. Moved up the trenches, it was raining just before we went up.

Monday 25th October 1915 – Awoke this morning to find it raining heavy and about half way through stand to we got permission to go in our dug outs. During the day the walls gave in a bit and a few drops of rain dropped in. Still raining at stand to, [to]night and one had to go on carrying fatigue, we drew lots as four were not needed, I had got to go. Still raining when returned.

Tuesday 26th October 1915 – 7am stand to and prospects of a fine day.

Wednesday 27th October 1915 – Had to go, all of us, on digging fatigue, morning and afternoon. Altogether we have to do 5½ hours work.

Thursday 28th October 1915 – Yesterday 28 men from each co[mpan]y went to BAILLEUL to be inspected by the King, along with others they were down at the Q[uarter] Masters for two days so as to be ready and had to clean their buttons and went to and from BAILLEUL in motors, coming up to the trenches last night. Today it has been raining since 3.30am, now it is about 12 noon, we along with other parties are out supposed to be working but it is not much that is done. It is also cold. The afternoon we had not to go out, we were told to clean our rifles and bayonets and massage our feet.

Friday 29th October 1915 – Working today, nothing special.

Saturday 30th October 1915 – We had not to go out working but to clean the traverses etc. We had about 10 shells dropped all round about our dug out and were ordered by the CO to go in another trench out of the way. Moved out tonight.

Sunday 31st October 1915 – Paraded to baths this morning and before going had to give our fur coats in, after coming back were issued with mackintosh capes and cardigan jackets and in the afternoon I got a new pair of boots and puttees. Tonight attended the Wesleyan service and after meeting. We have for a chapel what is usually used as a canteen, a stage is rigged up at one end, the scene is a church window and altar and had an acetylene lamp, 2 foot oil lamps and 1 candle.

One of the trench songs:- Little grey home in the west.

My little dug out in the trench,
Which the raindrops continue to drench.
The sky overhead,
Mud and clay for a bed,
And a stone that I use for a bench.
Bully beef and biscuits we chew,
It seems years since we had any stew.
But where shells crackle and scare,
There is nought can compare,
With my little dug out in the trench.

Our friends just over the way,
Seem to know that we have come here to stay.
They sing and shout,
But they can’t get us out,
So there is no dirty tricks they can play.
They rushed us a few nights ago,
But we don’t like intruders you know,
Some left us quite sore,
Others departing evermore,
From my little dug out in the trench.

Rogers diary continues with November 1915