The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: June 1915

The War Diaries of Roger Stamp: June 1915

The diary continues with Roger on the outskirts of Vlamertinghe, his section is ordered to Sanctuary Wood where he is wounded for the first time….

Tuesday 1st June 1915 – Had diarrhoea last night and today very bad. More practice at bomb throwing this afternoon. Splendid weather continues. A rumour came out that AUSTRIA had asked for peace, I don’t know yet if it is true.

Wednesday 2nd June 1915 – No confirmation of the report or else would have heard. It cannot be true. Still at the same place. We are just a couple of fields from VLAMERTINGHE, about 800yds and yesterday and today the Germans have dropped a few bombs on it. They seem to take a delight in pure destruction, for it is nothing else, and when the time comes should be made to pay very heavy for such work as this. As they have been forced to retire they have shelled practically every farm house and village they have had to leave. A letter from home with a photo group of Annie, Tom and Albert. It is very good.

Thursday 3rd June 1915 – Parcel each from Tom and Mother, also letter from home and 2/6 from Tom. Fruit and ginger cakes, short cakes, chocolates and caramels, candles, matches, cocoa and Rock. All very acceptable. Today had issued, which has been sent through the Northern Echo by the members, The Athenaeum (AE), West Hartlepools, cigarettes, tobacco and peppermints, also I hope a section U card has been given to each man so that he can personally give a receipt for the gifts which are gratefully received. The cards have printed appreciation in. Tonight two officers and 1 sergeant per company have gone to the firing line to get the ground.

Friday 4th June 1915 – Received letters from F. Finch and E. Green, also a bar of chocolate from E. G[reen]. Have moved about 1 mile from huts and at present are in the open. F. Finch included the Anniversary Hymns also same for the Cantatio with a list of the services, with the news that they received a baby on the 29th May. The last part was the best.

Saturday 5th June 1915 – Had a bath, splendid weather continues, the same for Sunday.

Sunday 6th June 1915 – Had 30 Park Drive cigarettes issued today. Move tonight to the trenches. I think a lot of chaps are being left behind us unfit. Had a service, C of E, this morning. The lesson was the rich man and Lazarus Luke 16. We did move and I had the opportunity to buy some bread but would not as the day was Sunday. After arriving at the trenches I was told off for ration fatigue. The trenches are the best I have seen or been in, in some places 9ft high, a ledge to stand on runs full length, latreens [latrines] and communication trenches all along.

Monday 7th June 1915 – It is Tom’s birthday and I forgot to congratulate him in my letter, which seems bit off, after him being so good. The sun makes us sweat doing nothing, while at its height had full length of trench to shine in, phew it was hot. Had a maconachie, platoon end of us for dinner which was left by the out going men. Had supplied us Gas Helmets.

Tuesday 8th June 1915 – Received letter from M. Pearson and letter and parcel from Bradburys. I was informed that another parcel was dispatched from them 3 weeks ago but this I have not received. Today’s parcel contained 4 eggs, salt beef, pineapple, biscuits, writing material and pencil. Last night had to do every other hour on guard because others on traverse were on fatigues. During the day only one man per traverse looking out, it runs out to every seventh hour at present. More glorious weather. Had a heavy quick thunder storm this afternoon but afterwards with the rain clearing the air it was splendid. Periscopes have been issued along the line.

Wednesday 9th June 1915 – Parcel and letter from home … chocolate, soap, baccy, twenty Players, cake, …Mirror and Comb case, 3 …, and malt and milk tablets from Tom. On ration fatigue all night … night we have been …. Another lovely day. … the tin and charcoal has been supplied [so] we have been able to make stew …

Thursday 10th June 1915 – Moved from the trenches last night to dug outs. 1 Section was put on to Group picquet all men having to keep … 2-3am this morning … 5.30pm. The Platoon … rushed us out this morning so when it was fair improved the dug out. I have a nice sized one to myself.

Friday 11th June 1915 – Another shower here first thing but I was alright this time. Had a bath this morning and this afternoon I along with the rest of the platoon had to do 3 hours at some trenches which are being made in the woods for emergency in case of retreat. We are in SANCTUARY WOOD.

Saturday 12th June 1915 – On ration fatigue last night, all the company leaving those lying in and on ration fatigue to be an Engineers’ fatigue getting planks of wood and wire. [First?] worked in the trenches from 9am to 7pm. The weather is glorious now.

Sunday 13th June 1915 – Anniversary day. I read some of the Hymns, the 91st Psalm and the 7th chapter of Revelations. I always read one chapter per day from my bible. A splendid box from home containing fruit, green, sponge cakes, soap, cocoa, shirt, socks, 4 lovely apples and orange, milk and malt tablets from Tom and a big box of chocolates from Uncle Frank. Had a letter from Tom also one from E. Weighell with a quarter of chocolates. Had an issue of butter today so altogether had a great tea. Very quiet but we think that something will happen very soon as all has been quiet for a week that we know of. Sent letter home. Special event, put my clean shirt on, the other one out to wash the live stock off.

Monday 14th June 1915 – Nothing special only fine weather, it is the day for the anniversary tea, for my tea I had … jam and fruit cake, bread, butter, marmalade and honey. Letter to Meggie.

Tuesday 15th June 1915 – The good weather continues. Written a letter to Tom.

Wednesday 16th June 1915 – This morning an attack to recover some trenches on our left was made this morning [sic] and along the line all opened fire to divert the attention. The trenches were first shelled and then we heard the rifle and machine guns go, then we got our orders, we could only fire at the trenches for in our part the Germans did not show, of course our fire was returned. It only lasted about half an hour altogether and all quietened down again. Letter to Albert.

Thursday 17th June 1915 – Very quiet and the relieving party came in, we having to move out to dug outs in the wood as before. At 9.30 one of the returning party asks me if I have seen anything of a dixey, he had left one and it seems they had got back to the exact position they were in before I relieved them. I was on the ledge talking to him when suddenly I was knocked dizzy, it felt as though I was spinning round on a pivot and had a pain at the side of my head. I had been grazed with a stray bullet. It could be nothing else for it was too dark to see anything like the 350 yds distance to or from the enemies lines. The S.P. happened to be placed about 5 yds off and one had me bandaged up. While doing this the word came to move but I sat first with a SB [stretcher bearer] to steady me. We went to the doctor’s dug out in the wood … and then on to the dressing station where the Amb[ulance] car came to. I left word that my parcels had to be shared but asked for any personal things and letters to be saved. All my equipment, pack and contents, rifle, are left, only taking my overcoat which I am wearing. After waiting for a long time all the wounded had to set off to another place, for some reason the ambulance could not get up and about a four mile walk we arrived at the vans against YPRES I think. Had about ¾ hour ride to hospital and on my turn my wound was inspected and redressed, then I was inoculated on the chest. Along with three other cases had to go to a house to sleep on the floor for the night and the men in the house kindly lent me a pillow and was soon off to sleep. On arriving at the hospital we all got a tumbler of [rum?]

Friday June 18th 1915 – After awakening were taken to hospital in clearing ward, given a stretcher to lie on and some tea, bread and marmalade. About 10am everybody was again put in cars and taken to another larger hospital about 1½ hours ride. Was again inspected and dressed and am now in No. 4 ward. I think the place has been a school. It has exceptionally large rooms. Was given some stew and had a bath and afterwards had a sleep being awakened for my tea, tea and bread and jam. I think it was my turn to go on guard when first awakened. I managed to borrow some soap and washed my hands, the first wash since the Saturday before. It took us all our time to get drinking water never mind washing. I wrote a letter to Mother and Dad this morning while at the first place. I hope they don’t get alarmed, I put it as easy as possible. I met J. Cousens, an apprentice from Ropners, he is with the RAMC [Royal Army Medical Corps] here, I find it is called Baylluiell [BAILLEUL]. At 7pm had some cheese and cocoa and then they cleared out 16 Germans had been brought to this place. I saw them being put in the vans to go to the station, one only looked about 16 yrs old. A beautiful incident took place at the first hospital this morning, I saw a Sister of Mercy looking through the window and then she brought some roses in a vase, put them through a broken window and was gone. I was given a rose by one of the attendants. Every now and then she came back, and what a beautiful picture I thought it made. We were all taken to the station as fast as the vans could take us and place in an aisle train with 2 rows of beds at each side. We were given some cocoa about 10pm. We soon being on our way, we settled down in our beds and I for one was soon off to sleep, it being the first time for a month to be in a bed.

Saturday 19th June 1915 – 9am. Stopped the train and had a good ham … and coffee for breakfast. The train has to stop every now and then, I don’t know why. Are stationed here at Cliffcorville Station. Dinner 1pm. Tea 5pm, passed ROUEN 6pm, cocoa for supper arrived in HAVRE about 9pm. I well remember after being hit the first they did was to pray for life. I wanted to live. Taken right to a hospital that is on the quay and given a bed.

Sunday 20th June 1915 – About 5.30am was awakened to get the wound dressed. Was afterwards given a shirt and socks and had a bath, my clothes being fumigated, the same as ever. Had eggs for breakfast. About 11.30 was again dressed and everybody was inspected and various labels given. The worst had to go on a hospital ship near at hand to go to England. Dinner at 1pm, plate of meat, veg, and rice after. About 2.30 I along with 20 others had to go to PALAIS in a charabang. PALAIS was to be a fine building facing the sea at the other side of HAVRE. After arriving here all were bodily inspected and put in different wards. I am in ‘B’ ward right in the centre facing the front. Again we had to have a bath and full issue of clothes, blue suit, white shirt, socks, slippers, handkerchief and tie etc. Had eggs and jam for tea and again dressed. I find it is more my ear which is discharging that is the worry….

Monday 21st June 1915 – …padding today. We have to be in bed at 8pm, and it is great being back in a bed between sheets. It is my ear which is the cause of me being in hospital for it is discharging, the wound now being almost better.

Tuesday 22nd June 1915 – Another splendid day. Had a concert party of 7 entertainers to amuse us this afternoon. Had my ear dressed twice today, the same as yesterday.

Wednesday 23rd, Thursday 24th, Friday 25th June 1915 – Still at PALAIS.

Saturday 26th June 1915 – Left the hospital today and taken in a car along with 5 others to the Base camp. Reported at the adjutant’s office and finally sent to No 17 camp. Reported at 17 orderly room and instructed as to my tent in which I found all 5 DLI men. Was given rations on leaving PALAIS but tea was ready just after I arrived here so did not need these rations. I find at this place a YMCA hut, also Exp[editionary] Force canteens, 2 cinemas so we are well catered for. I spent 1/- in things to eat, cakes, chocolate, tea, not because I was really hungry but more for the pleasure of spending.

Sunday 27th June 1915 – This camp is just outside of HAVRE , today the Durhams all had to go on fatigue taking tents down and putting them up at our camp, they were transported by motor from the place they were taken down. I purchased some cake and tea at the YMCA, those who wait give their lot to the work, it is not a money making scheme, had it been otherwise I would have done without, but the counter is solely for the soldiers’ convenience, the same as in England. I finished reading the New Testament today and tonight had a splendid service in the YMCA hut , Capt Watson, chaplain presiding, it was great, what a real blessing these YMCAs are and have proved.

Monday 28th June 1915 – On guard today, the Durhams had to provide it. Started with Psalms today.

Tuesday 29th June 1915 – Finished the 24 hour guard at 9am and are on fire piquet as a consolation. Yesterday was inspected by a doctor and expect to go with the next lot to the battalion. Also attended a 6.15am prayer meeting, a quarter hour at YMCA yesterday morning. It has been raining on and off today.

Wednesday 30th June 1915 – Attended the 6.30am prayer meeting again and this afternoon had a good chat and interesting as well as educational chat with Mr Murray in charge of the YMCA. At 5.30 we the casuals along with the reinforcements proceeded to Montevilles [MONTIVILLIERS] to entrain en route for the Division.

Rogers diary continues with July 1915