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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grandfather's journal March 1915 Part II

All his journal entries are in my book "World War 1 - An Unkept Promise" on Kendle or paperback "The Great Promise" on Amazon

March 11th

We opened at dawn on the BOIS-DU-BEIZ, which was still held by enemy. We learned that the 7th Division had advanced as far as possible on our left, but had failed to take the AUBERS RIDGE. So to cooperate, our Division (Lahore) was ordered to consolidate the position we had won, and to hold it, which we did in spite of numerous counter attacks.
It was awful to see the Germans mowed down by our guns, for they made attack after attack in close formation, and were literally blown to pieces. Every attack, leaving the ground in front of our trenches more thickly covered with bodies.

A column of their reinforcements were caught plumb by our 15’  Howitzer. One round made a gap in the column of about 60 yards – men, horses and vehicles going in the air. In a confused mass, this our most mighty gun, did some terrific work.
My line, marvel of marvels, still held, only being broken once by shell fire. The day was much the same as yesterday – continual firing.
A stream of wounded and prisoners, as one batch, was coming through the RUE-DE-BOIS. Three of their own shell[s] came long into them, [which] killed or wounded about 20 of the prisoners. Strangely enough [they] never touched any of the natives who were escorting them.      

Our artillery observers in the vicinity [said that] it was funny to see the niggers laughing at the Germans, the thought of them being outed by their own chaps seem to amuse them greatly. They made the Germans walk slowly and keep to the road, for it was evident the scared prisoners would have liked to have run across country. 

March 12th

[We] kept up steady rate of fire throughout the night, raising a little at dawn, and throughout the morning [we] engaged various targets. The enemy commenced to bombard RICHEBOURG (which was about 400 yards to our left) with salvos from their 8.2 Howitzers (nicknamed coal-boxes or Jack Johnsons).
In the afternoon my communication broke down; consequently the battery had to stop firing. I went along the line and whilst crossing a main road, shell[s] were falling pretty thick, although the majority were going into the village. I found the break in the wire; a shell had hit it square and chopped a piece out. I took our now favorite cover and got in the hole made by the shell. [I] repaired the line, [then] tapped in and found everything alright. Another line running in the same direction was also broken like mine, so I repaired it, tapped the line and asked who they were, it was the 9th Brigade. They were profuse in their thanks for it had saved them an uncomfortable job.
Was still pretty hot when I reached the battery; the guns were very lucky for nothing fell between us and the village.

They were bombarding the poor old church fiercely.  Three of us (two telephonists and myself) were watching the effect of the fire and speculating which would be the next to go in the air.      

Several splinters [were] whizzing over our heads at every salvo, but we took no notice, until one small piece hit me in the muscle of my right arm, but [it] did not penetrate.
The next salvo, a good sized piece, just grazed my cheek and went about 2 inches into the ground at my feet.  I scratched it out, [but] had it been a couple of inches more near, it would doubtless have given me a nasty knock. 

We thought we had watched the fun long enough, so we went into our little house and had ‘ tea’  – nothing short of an earthquake would make us miss that at this time, for some cows near bye [sic] kindly supplied us with milk, and milk in tea is ‘ bon’ .
In the evening the Manchesters caught 5 spies in RICHEBOURG. They were found in underground cellars and must have been there months. They received scant ceremony, and no doubt were soon put out of the world quickly. For spies, either man or woman, were promptly dealt with, especially by the French.
The night was rather more quiet, only doing little firing; we had gained and consolidated our objective and the Germans seemed glad to keep quiet, as long as we would let them.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Grandfather's Journal March 1915 Part I

His entries in March are many and therefore I decided to start early and continue through March.

March 4th – 9th

Preparing for the big bombardment, Batteries were everywhere. Under almost every tree there was a gun, and our giant 15’  Howitzer was to make her debut, as well as quite a few of our new 9.2’  Hows.

 We laid out double lines to our observing station, as well as lines to various parts of the trenches. [Supply] dumped a large amount of ammunition [so that] every preparation was made to give the Germans the biggest shock they had yet received at our hands.

March 10th

The bombardment of NEUVE CHAPELLE commenced at 7:30 am. It was horrific to hear the tons of metal going through the air; in all we had 476 guns on about a four mile front. The 18 pounders were cutting the enemy’s wire embankment.
The heavy artillery were all concentrated on the enemy’s line of trenches and the fierce fire was kept up for ¾ hour.
We then lifted to the BOIS-DU-BEIZ to enable our infantry to attack. Our trenches were lined with Garhwals , Purchase,  and several other regts of native troops. The Leicesters made the first charge, taking the German trenches in grand style but were held on the edge of an orchard outside NEUVE CHAPELLE. A regiment of Territorials  came to their assistance. A terrific hand-to-hand fight ensued, especially at a spot we called, ‘ The Street of Hell’ . Eventually, after fighting that can hardly be described, we gained the village about midday. Many prisoners were captured. They were brought in batches and they all seemed terrified and glad to be captured.

The natives advanced on the right and captured the trenches in front, but were held up by machine guns in a redoubt by the left edge of the BOIS-DU-BIEZ.

The Gurkhas did grand work, especially with their wicked little knives, which accounting for many German heads. As the Germans ran from the trenches, the little Gurkhas were after them, and many of the little chaps clambered on the backs of the big Germans [with] the knack [of] Sweeney Todd for throat cutting.
The Seaforths were brought to assist the natives at this point, and in a splendid charge, (which according to our officers and many old campaigners who were observing with us), was the finest sight they had ever witnessed. They went into the murderous fire as if they were going on a picnic. In spite of the enormous losses they incurred, the[y] captured the redoubt and its contents of Germans and machine guns.      

All his journal entries are in my book "World War 1 - An Unkept Promise" on Kendle

Monday, February 9, 2015

Western Front Feb 1915 Part II

The complete journal is in my book 

World War 1 - An Unkept Promise

Feb. 8th

          Had a day on my own strolling about, waiting for the Battery to come – they arrived about 6 pm. As we could not bring the guns into action until after dusk, on account of aeroplanes observation, the 56th Battery went out of position and moved towards RICHEBOURG. We took up the position of their guns, also the farm, and it was about the most comfortable billet we had ever had, as regards accommodation, for the building had escaped shell fire, which was strange, considering the village at the back had been ‘ through it’  as had those on the left and right.

          Feb. 9th – 17th

One day whilst in front, the Leicester’s found the bodies of two young girls in a nude condition, underneath some straw, just in front of the trenches. They had evidently been violated and murdered some long time before, for the bodies were decomposing – just two more innocent victims and proof of the way the blaggards fight. [i]
 During this time it was very quiet; we did little firing. It was the nicest position we had ever been in.
 It was a change, except for Collins having a couple of squeaks while repairing the line. Nothing worth recording happened, for nothing in the nature of a shell came near us, and we did very little night firing – we called it rest.