The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: August 1917
Roger’s diary continues on from July 1917…
Wednesday 1 August 1917 – Too wet for parade, had a lecture in the marquee used as officers mess. Tonight a meeting of the LSD (which I joined at BAYINCOURT) was held in the YMCA, this is about ¼ hours walk , easy when the roads are good and feel dry, at the last minute JD was detailed off for canteen duty so could not get, I met another LSD member while getting washed so arranged to go together. Had a fine meeting and as it was so successful another is to be held tomorrow night.
Thursday 2 August 1917 – Again I attended, several men gave themselves up to God. The singing is fine, there is a piano in the YMCA and I think nothing is so nice to hear a choir of men sing all old hymns, one which I asked for was ‘When peace like a river attendeth my way’ and it was sang.
Friday 3 August 1917 – A short parade today owing to rain and at 3.15 paraded to QM stores and then to the baths at NEUVILLE VITESSE. At the QM stores we got a clean change and after baths returned to the QM stores our dirty clothing then tea, I was liking it easy and when looked at my watch was surprised to see it was 5.50pm and a sacrament of the Last Supper was to be celebrated at 6pm at the YMCA. I hurried to get ready and then for JD, he was uncertain whether to go owing to the rain having started, he eventually decided to go and we got to the YMCA about 6.12-6.15pm but prayers were on, there was about 8 waiting to go in, owing to me being deaf I did not know when prayers were over, the sacrament was celebrated in a hut behind the YMCA and not till after the sacrament had started did I know prayers were over but too late then to go in. I was vexed for had I come myself I think I would have been in time. Another LSD service was held in the YMCA at 6.30pm at which I stayed.
Saturday 4 August 1917 – Three years of war completed. No running parade and we were not hustled out at reveille, then after breakfast fell in for morning parade but immediately fell out, orders having just been issued that a church parade will be held at 10.15am. We expect to go in the trenches tonight. Yesterday after service had a little drying wind and although a little rain this morning the say altogether has been better, the sun shining this afternoon. This morning on church parade the singing was very bad, nothing like what we have had at our services in the YMCA, the chaplain read a leaflet which will be read in the churches at home today and tomorrow as the anniversary of the war. It was I think as this anniversary that the service was held, not as I thought before the service as a preliminary to going to the trenches. After service the Holy Communion was celebrated, I attended and took it. After the service the chaplain took the names of the men so I told him I was Wesleyan and asked if it was alright me attending the C of E service, he said ‘All right old chap, whenever you can not get to your own service you are quite free to come here.’ The reason I told him was not that I had any feeling of wrong in my mind, my conscience has not forbidden me to go to any C of E services or communion, I only did not want putting my name down as a member of the C of E. Fell in at 7.15pm to go to the trenches. The afternoon has been much finer and have had a good drying wind. The roads were much better than I expected after so much rain, came to reserve in Egret trench between Chicken trench and Kestrel avenue. The rifle sections came up in advance of the remainder and tonight they do ration fatigue. Had a good night’s sleep being awakened to get rations at 8am.
Sunday 5 august 1917 – Another lovely sunny day, for breakfast and dinner managed ourselves but had tea made by cooks. This afternoon a party was set on carrying barbed concertina wire up the line, I was not on. About 7pm, having just been detailed off, and got the men warned off for to put wire out tonight, that which the party carried up this afternoon, I was talking with some other NCOs when a company runner bought me a message – ‘Please inform L/corp Stamp to report at Hd Qts sometime tonight a a a, he will return.’ My first thoughts were I was to go on ammunition’s and then I thought it might be concerning my commission, again I thought it might be something that I did not know of, this piece ‘he will return’ showed I was not to be sent away at once or I would have been ordered ‘full kit.’ (We came up fighting order plus overcoats though I did not bring mine, bringing my ordinary and also french ground sheet.) I handed my list of names for the working party if I did not return in time, then shaved and had a lather brush wash, not knowing whom I was going to see and went to battalion Hd Qts, all the way down being accompanied by my various hopes and thoughts, chiefly hoping it was ammunition’s I was wanted for. On nearing the Hd Qts I saw the orderly room clerk who beckoned to me (if I had seen no one I would have looked for and asked to see the Adjutant) and soon I saw it was a form to fill up concerning my commission. Amongst other details wanted were 2 persons who could give me references, 1st education, the second for work, so I referred to Mr Potts my headmaster at Bailey St for education and W Shields for work, I thought it best not to refer to Squire Stamp seen as though we are related, then the doctor had to give me a certificate. I told him about my ears, saying he much rather stopped the form going now than my ears let me down later and having to come back a failure. Had I not mentioned my ears I think I would have passed him alright but owing to me explaining the impediment the doctor wrote as regards health-fit though rather deaf in both ears, this after testing me. The form completed I returned praying to God whatever happens to be for the best, I firmly believe If I am not allowed a commission it will be for the best and vice versa. Back in time to do my working party which was putting wire out, after carrying it from close supports putting it out near a post. Nothing was said about any patrols being out, we were about 200yds from the front line and so the men in the post estimated 60yds from the enemy post. While on wiring I noticed some chaps looking particularly keen in front, I looked and saw 2 men coming in not knowing who they were but thinking they were enemy I turned round and of the men who were on the wiring more than half had run away.
Monday 6 August 1917 – I’ve smiled several times today while thinking about them, I should have liked to have seen them reach the front line, some took their rifles others did not. I and two or three more, including the officer of our party, got into the trench and loaded up, a sentry on the post challenged and fired 3 rounds, on this the 2 men up and dashed into the post, they were 2 of our men, men who had gone out from another post to investigate the wire in front. Goodness only knows what our fellows would have done if they had been attacked for there was the majority of our party 200 yds away and no doubt put the wind up the men in the trench. I’ve found out since they thought we were being attacked, however they were brought back and we continued wiring, going back for the further supply and putting it out too. Back to Egret trench when it was finished, had a sleep then up for rations. We have a company cook here now for all our meals, another lovely day is Monday 6th August 1917. This afternoon on a party carrying wire up the line, off tonight.
Tuesday 7 August 1917 – On a working party tonight part of the party were improving and strengthening a part while I and some men wired out in front, this was in no mans land and very risky being on a high piece of ground however we were not fired upon . There was a covering party of 4 men and 1CO in front and 3 men on a post to the left, our working party was 30 men, 3 NCOs and 1 officer. When finished wiring, we worked well, my party were allowed to go back, we arrived back about 10 mins in advance of the men who had been digging in the posts.
Wednesday 8 August 1917 – Had tea about 3.30pm shortly after having a thunderstorm making the trenches very bad, at 8pm fell in to go in the front line. I and another NCO with 3 Lewis gunners and 4 other men being on No2 post, although the storm had not lasted very long, it being fair at 8pm, the trenches were very bad, over the boot tops in water in some places, I got my feet wet despite swaddling puttees on top of my ordinary ones, fortunately I brought another extra pair of socks up with me, our post is in a trench not a sop as I had expected and fortunately there is at a squeeze dug out accommodation.
Thursday 9 August 1917 – At stand to tea, which had been hot to set out with, was brought round to the post also rations, the bread instead of being in the usual 2lb loaves is in a small and what I presume to be a 1lb loaves, a nice sunny drying day today.
Friday 10 August 1917 (written on the 11) – About 8.30pm I received orders that I and 2 men from C coy would relieve a post in front about 100yds from the trench which we did do after dark. About 11pm a party of E Yorks came out to fill posts of the sap in, while doing this my men and I with some Yorks formed a carrying party in front, then when they had filled in about 50yds and were finished, my post took up our quarters in the shell hole about 150yds from the line. At 2-5am this morning the officer on duty came to inform me that L/cpl Stockdale would relieve me, I having to report to Hd Qts and then go on to brigade to be interviewed by the General regarding my commission. At about 3.30am we saw something of the enemy at what had been, till filled in, the old post. We fired and cleared them off, while firing Stockdale came up and I not wishing to leave the post with ‘this wind up’ decided to stay till all was quiet. Then when just thinking of going having not haversack on my back, we saw more of the enemy at the rear, again we fired and threw 1 or 2 bombs, the enemy did the same, the first dropping in our shell hole, we jumped to get clear but it got me knocking me over and for a while I was not clear what happened, the enemy cleared off and I was only 1 man left in the shell hole, very badly wounded. I had a bad wound at the bottom of my left leg and 4 others, I managed to hobble along the sop to the trench and sent the stretcher bearers to the chap on the post, ‘A’ coy having took me on a stretcher to the regimental aid post, and while here saw Stockdale who had also been wounded but had escaped, he told me remaining 2 men had been taken prisoner, that was 3 wounded and 2 prisoners taken out of the 5 of us. From the regimental aid post taken to 2/2nd field amb by stretcher bearers, this in WANCOURT, then by ambulance corps to 20th GC and here was redressed, later being put under the x-ray and in the afternoon being operated on coming round in a fresh ward.
Saturday 11 August 1917 – Spent a bit restless night, twice additional bandages were put on to catch the blood, it has been another worry lying in bed, I can not practically move my leg so have to more or less stay in one position. Yesterday was given nothing to eat owing to being chloroformed but had bacon, bread and butter for breakfast, duck with bread followed by rice for dinner and an egg with bread + butter for tea, cheese for supper. Wrote a letter home this morning, was collected in trays along with some cards.
Sunday 12 August 1917 – A better night last night, my wounds were not disturbed today. F.C. to home.
Monday 13 August 1917 – The two wounds in my right leg have dried up, the one in my left arm is drying up and today when the doctor had dressed the two in my left leg (I had practically no pain,) he told me the one at the top had progressed so fine that it could be stitched up and about 11.30am I was taken to the operation room, chloroformed, and the wound stitched up.
Tuesday 14 August 1917 – My dressings not disturbed today, letter home tonight in issue of a green envelope. After the operation on Friday the splinters were taken off my leg but after the stitching yesterday was put on again which I did not like.
Wednesday 15 August 1917 – Had the best nights sleep last night I’ve had since coming here.