The following excerpts were written on Sept 11 1914 The Great Promise
At 6:00 a.m. we marched ahead of the main body and we
were soon engaged in the thick of the fight that afterwards
would be called the battle of the Marne. We dropped into
action in the open. My chum and I ran our headphone wire
over a small ridge from our observation post and then back
to the battery. As we were running the wire a French Cavalry
man galloped past me with blood running from himself and
I was about to connect my instrument when I heard a loud
whining sound followed by a horrific explosion. It was our
christening of heavy artillery fire, amounting to two hours of
Our forces came under heavy artillery fire for more than
2 hours and many of our infantry started to run. CRA General
Finley and Colonel Sharpe tried to stop the retreat by urging
the solders to turn and move forwards. In the process the
General was killed and two officers were wounded.
The German artillery found the range of our battery and we
came under heavy shelling. As shells were bursting all around
me, I crouched beneath a gun limber. The whine of incoming
shells followed by deafening explosions kept up for what
seemed like an eternity.
Fear started to overcome my sense of duty and I had to force
myself not to run. I don’t know where or how I found the courage
to stand up and yell out orders to the battery leaders so
they could fire their guns.
As the Northampton and Sussex Regiments retreated through
our battery they also drew the enemy’s fire. During the infantry’s
mad rush they broke my telephone wire. I thought that
my chum at the other end had gotten knocked over — he
thought the same of me.
Without the ability to communicate with my chum on the
other end, the battery guns couldn’t fire.
To overcome this problem, we resorted back to using semaphore
flags4 to pass down firing orders.
With things seemingly under control, I set out to mend the
wire and restore communications. While I crawled along the
ground following the wire, I could hear bullets pass over my
head and striking the ground around me. Thank God the
Germans were lousy shots! I found and mended the break
just in time for the battery to help support the 60th Rifles’
advancement. They were able to retake the position that the
Northampton and Sussex regiments held prior to their retirement.
As the 60th Rifles advanced, the enemy retreated. The
regiment suffered heavy losses during this engagement. The Great Promise