The date is August 1914. The British Expeditionary Force is in France and You're in the Royal Field Artillery. You're riding alongside one of the battery's gun limbers on its way to the assigned position on the east side of Mons, Belgium. This begins your journey into the Hell they called World War One. To purchase this historical memoir go to https://createspace.com/3649268

Saturday, October 11, 2014

1914 October 9th - 13th

World War 1 - An Unkept Promise

October 9th

Was [going to] be [a] well remembered day of this period.

During the morning things were a little more quiet than usual, we were sitting around the guns. I left my telephone, which was beneath [a] gun limber. We were having a feast of Bully Beef [1]and potatoes - (potatoes did not come our way often), [when] a battery of German artillery found us with shrapnel. The first round burst directly over our No 3 gun, which was just by me, we [all] scattered. 
 Poor old Bramwell, who was by my side, ducked, and got it in the head.  

I dived under the limber to phone my chum Collins, [while] two more gunners dragged Bramwell to the limber, for what shelter it gave. [Then] the two gunners were hit. Collins and I did what we could to poor Bramwell, but it was useless.

The [shell] bullets[2] simply hailed on the limber, and we expected to be hit every second, but it saved us. 
After the shower stopped, we removed poor Bramwell, it was an unpleasant sight to see a chums brains by ones [sic] side.

A shell case was stuck in the ground 2 yards from where I lay – lucky it didn’t splinter for Collins and I. would have been bowled over.
Everything seemed to bear marks of that lively hour excepting we two. We dug a hole that night and many times while there the hole saved us, for when it was most quiet, inevitably they would switch over on to us.

Several were wounded at different times when it was least expected, and about this time, night attacks were very frequent and severe, often 3 attacks during the night.

My wire often got broken by shell fire, through a wood of the observation point, in spite of a double line and was unhealthy at times to repair.  

On the morning of the 8th October a ‘ coal-box’  dropped by No 5 gun – killing one gunner and wounding four. We were shelled in the afternoon [and] they flung no fewer than 40 ‘Dud’ shell [sic] over us in an hour. It was amusing to feel the thud when they struck the earth, and no explosion ensuing.

We lost several horses and a couple wounded in Wagon Line.

A party was sent out to prepare a new position, but [they] were shelled out. The Major asked us at night would we prefer to move as the position was warm, but we decided at once to stop, for our place was as good as another.

October 12th, was the anniversary of my wedding and the thoughts of my dear wife and child, were more to me than the scrap that day. [I] had a long chat that night, with Lieut Marshall on the duration of the war – we thought ‘about Xmas’.

October 13th

I went with two Sections of guns to position on BEAULINE RIDGE. We arrived about midnight, [it was] pitch dark and heavy going. [We] could not use lights or even smoke, owing to close proximity of enemy. We got into position without mishap, at dawn next morning; it was a sight almost indescribable, [for] one could not walk for three yards unless he was in a great shell hole.

A small bank about 10 foot high was the only shelter and the guns and wagons were well dug into this.

We had trenches dug by the side – the guns we relieved must have had a terrible time – this place was called by us ‘ Pepper Hill’  and the infantry called it ‘ The Devil’s Own’ .

Collins and I worked like niggers and dug a small cavity under the bank and felt quite at home, we were in fact like rabbits when not firing.

We remained in this position until the night of the 16th, while leaving, a terrific night attack was in progress – we were relieved by the French.

 [We] marched all night [and] rested for a few hours next morning, and [then] marched to NEUILLY-ST-FRONT. [We] entrained, for unknown destination, what a great relief it seemed, to be away from the ceaseless sound of battle. 

[1] Bully Beef: Canned corned beef that was the principal protein ration of the British army.
[2] Shell Bullets: When a shrapnel shell explodes it splinters and releases round balls  called bullets