The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: July 1915

The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: July 1915

After recovering from his wounds Roger returns to his battalion…

Thursday 1st July 1915 – Arrived at ROUEN about 6am and was pleased to find a canteen open to get refreshments. We are to stop here all day. Had a good dinner at the canteen and later managed to get out, this against the rules, and in the town was pulled up by a M.P. [Military Policeman] and sent back. After this I kept at the other side of the bridge, had two tries to get some rice pudding but the cafes had none. I purchased some cherries and went back. Had half an hour out again after tea and set off again in the train at 11pm.

Friday 2nd July 1915 – Travelling till 8pm when arrived at BALLIEUL and proceeded to the camp. Coffee was made for us. The battalion was in the trenches and came out after we arrived tonight.

Saturday 3rd July 1915 – Went with the company for a bath and change of shirts, had breakfast then paraded again and were on parade till 12.40pm, so could not get a letter home as they had to be in by 1pm.

Sunday 4th July 1915 – This morning had an inspection of almost everything, absolutely needless I think and I hear the men are being charged for some of the goods, a bit off seeing as we get no kit allowance. After the inspections we were paid. I received 10 francs. I was put in for a pass to DRANOUTRE by my sergeant but the passes did not come out till about 4.30 instead of 2pm and as the time was only till 5.30pm it was useless to go out. I got a good book given and spent a pleasant night reading amongst some new made hay in the next field to us. I slept outside last night and again will do so tonight for the nights are splendid.

Monday 5th July 1915 – Running parade at 7am, breakfast at 8, bacon, the tea has no sugar or very little and never any milk, I did not know I would drink tea like this till I had no option. It was that or nothing. Monday had to parade today, all the bomb throwers reported, some new arrangements are being made and also 40 men are required so volunteers were asked for and had no trouble in getting them.

Tuesday 6th July 1915 – Move tonight to trenches. Moved at 7.30pm

Wednesday 7th July 1915 – The bomb throwers had to go in the firing line but stayed near the headquarters for instruction. We were at BURNT FARM.

Thursday 8th July 1915 – Digging fatigue 6.30 to 11.30pm and on Friday morning 9th July 1915 – we were roused about 3am, a party of 12 having to go to the firing line with bombs as there was a likelihood of work. At 6am a sap, one of ours, was blown up and we were ready in case the enemy attacked but they did not. Stayed in the trenches till about 1pm and then back to the farm, 6.30pm to 11.30pm digging fatigue and then stayed at RE [Royal Engineers] team.

Saturday 10th July 1915 – Letter from home and from Bradburys also a parcel from Bradburys. Parade at 10.30am to go in the trenches and stayed there till relieved about 9.30pm when we made straight for rest camp.

Sunday 11th July 1915 – Church parade and service in the field, inspections afterwards. The leave started today, 2 men out of our battalion going. I understand the names are drawn for.

Monday night 12th July 1915 – ‘A’ Co[mpan]y, all services, had to go to work 60yds of the firing line to dig and make a barricade. We were out all night not getting back till 3.30am,

Tuesday 13th July 1915 – and we did no parade today, not the bombsters but the company only; we had running drill. Tonight I made enquiries about O’Grady but got nothing definite, all the 4th Yorks are in the trenches, only a few fatigue men left behind.

Wednesday 14th July 1915 – Go up to the trenches again tonight. It rained all the way there and part of the night, it was miserable.

Thursday 15th July 1915 – In dug outs, support trench.

Friday 16th July 1915 – Came out of trenches, it again rained, put up in billets for one day.

Saturday 17th July 1915 – Miserable day raining on and off. Move tonight from DRANOUTRE to ARMENTIERES. While in the trenches on Friday I went to the 4th Yorks and enquired about O’Grady but all the sergeant could tell me was he is missing. It is terrible out here when it is wet, the roads are dreadful.

Sunday 18th July 1915 – At ARMENTIERES, a fine day now, we are in a factory. Had a pass out tonight and explored the town.

Monday 19th July 1915 – Still at same place, it is a cotton factory and apart from the place we occupy, is working all day.

Tuesday 20th July 1915 – Still at same place, today had a change of underwear and bath.

Wednesday 21st July 1915 – After parade the company went for a swim in the canal. I along with three others did duty as lifesavers but were not needed.

Thursday 22nd July 1915 – After parade had another bathe in the canal.

Friday 23rd July 1915 – Same place.

Saturday 24th July 1915 – Again parade to the brewery for a bath and change of underwear. I have been surprised the Germans have not shelled ARMENTIERES as we are only about 3 miles [away] and today while at the baths some shells were sent over as though to say we can hit you if we want. The shells came much too near the brewery for my liking. It is supposed the enemy expect to get back here and then will be able to use the mills for their own benefit. Move to trenches tonight.

Sunday 25th July 1915 – In the trenches. These trenches have boards at the bottom elevated out of the ground so to keep clear of mud, also there are dug outs. The enemy is about 700 yds away.

Monday 26th July 1915 – In the trenches.

Tuesday 27th July 1915 – During the night when not on duty everybody had to fill and improve the traverses with sandbags. F. Finch asks if he can send a parcel and what do I want as he does not know what to send.

Wednesday 28th July 1915 – Filled more sandbags during the day. Parcel from home.

Thursday 29th July 1915 – Letter from Bradburys and E. Green with box of choc[olate]s from E.G. A few shells are being exchanged at present but up to now it has been very quiet. My watch arrived in yesterday’s parcel and on getting hold of the screw to move the pointer the screw came out but after winding it worked alright. I mentioned this in my letter home. I took the watch off last night so that I would not damage it by laying on it and this morning I found it stopped at 4.30am. It wound up alright but the pointers would not catch so that I have taken it off and will keep it in a box till I get home.

Friday 30th July 1915 – Each day we all work in pairs and fill 25 sandbags. Tonight I was comparing this life with the home life. I often do this. While being contented and making the best of things a longing comes naturally to be back again at the old home among my old friends and associates and all the good things to eat. I do miss the puddings which I long for, this pudding and then that, but the time must come when the war will end, the sooner the better. Today a trench mortar fired from our trenches. It was only about 40yds from us but we were not allowed to go near and could not see it on account of traverses but we saw the shell, it was like a bird and saw the explosion in the trenches direct in front of us. They hit the mark every time, some 7 or 8 were fired, 2 failed to explode. The enemy retaliated to the trenches on our left, 2 being killed and 1 wounded, F. Moore was one of the killed. Tonight it is to be every other man on guard and tomorrow one in every four.

Saturday 31st July 1915 – In mother’s letter today I am explained that Mr and Mrs Hogg, also Jem Taylor have both sent me parcels but neither have been received by me. They both have been waiting for a reply and I wrote at once after getting to know. Tonight 6 bombers and L/C [Lance Corporal], I amongst them, went out with 2 bombs each to three places in front of our barbed wire, this being two men in each hole. The enemy were expected to send men to cut the wire but nothing happened. We were out from 10pm to 1am….

Roger’s last diary entry for July is continued on his first entry for August 1915