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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Grandfather's journal April 5th 1915

All his journal entries are in my book "World War 1 - An Unkept Promise" on Kindle or paperback "The Great Promise" on Amazon Available in US, UK, EU

April 5th - 23rd

Remained in this position firing on enemy's trenches and guns, but aeroplanes were very active and often stop us from firing. Very little night doings. Our observation station in the brewery was a veritable trap, for it was continually shelled.

In spite of this we stuck it for four days, until one shell hit direct on the little cellar, wounding Grogan and Smith, (the two telephonists on duty). Lt Richie had a marvelous escape, but poor Grogan died afterwards, and Smith was so shook up, he was sent away. We now used the remnants of a house, which we called the green house, for the observation post. It was shelled often, but we had no further casualties and nothing out of the ordinary happening; just the usual give and take.

The batteries in rear were shelled occasionally, but nothing came within harming distance of our guns.

Can hear sounds of continual heavy fighting far away to our left towards YPRES and on our right by LA BASSEE; some pretty hard scrapping was in progress on the French front,

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grandfather's journal April 4th 1915

All his journal entries are in my book "World War 1 - An Unkept Promise" on Kindle or paperback "The Great Promise" on Amazon Available in US, UK, EU

April 4th
Collins and I proceeded to CROIX BARBETTE to take over wires and communications of 35th Battery, which we were to relieve. We arrived about midday, and went along observing line to the observation station, which was what little that remained of the brewery in Neuve Chapelle.
It was interesting to go over all the ground that we had won in the big scrap on the 10th March. Everywhere was hapless ruin and the old German trenches were in a very battered condition.
One could not walk for shell holes and graves; many of the graves had been ploughed up by shell and the remains re-buried. There were still scores of dead Germans between the trenches, and the smell was not pleasant.
The church and churchyard was utterly destroyed, but strangely enough, a large crucifix was standing intact and apparently untouched, while everything else within a mile from it had been battered to pieces. In the whole village, there was not a house standing.
Rifle bullets were plentiful as we wired, at times in full view of the enemy trenches. However we fixed up the line without mishap and on the way back we came across the grave of a telephonist of the 35th that had been killed. We felt sorry for we knew him quite well, and worse still he had been killed by one of our own 6" shells which fell short. A 6' Howitzer had also blown up in a field in front of the battery, killing 3 and wounding several.
We were told that it was not so quiet here, as it was when we were here before. From the sights around, it was quite evident, but still the little farm was still intact.

All the inhabitants of the village in the rear had been cleared out. I got a woollen mattress, which made a grand bed, and was much preferable to the straw we got; it was firm and warm. The battery came in rather late, and things seemed a little noisy in front, but it was only a 'wind' attack from the batteries in our rear firing slowly all night on barring. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Grandfather's journal March 18 1915

All his journal entries are in my book "World War 1 - An Unkept Promise" on Kindle or paperback "The Great Promise" on Amazon Available in US, UK, EU

March 18th to April 3rd
This period was very quiet. We were firing for registration only, by observation and by aeroplane. I find this very interesting, signaling to the aeroplane by means of a very powerful light. We were credited with doing damage to German gun targets.
Hostile aeroplanes were very active, but invariably our 13" pounder anti-aircraft guns gave them a warm reception.
The Germans brought down one of our aeroplanes, which fell between our fire trenches and theirs. We destroyed it with our guns to prevent the enemy getting any of the remnants.
The enemy aeroplanes frequently drop bombs on ESTAIRS, some 5 miles from us. Almost every day they drop a few shells in LAVENTIE. As in every place, the church, a beautiful old structure, is utterly destroyed.
I came through the town one day at a stretch gallop, as it was being shelled. Stopped a little way outside and watched the fire, which always seems to have a fascination for me. They did some grand shooting and repeatedly hit the church, one shell clearing off clean the one of the four pinnacles that remained.
I learned that the 37th Brigade, including my old battery, the 55th, were in action near us. After a deal of scouting and a ride on my old charger, I almost rode up to the trenches, when I was chased back by the infantry. Eventually found them and spent a pleasant afternoon. All my old comrades were Sergeants; Sergeant Majors and two others had got their commissions, for great changes had taken place during the last 3 years.
All the old officers, excepting one, had gone. I learned that several of my old chums had been killed and felt very sorry about one of my old friends named Hayman. The last time I met him was on Christmas Eve 1913, when I was shopping with my dear wife. I little thought then that the next time I heard of him he would be 'blown to bits, as we only found his legs'. He married a girl living in Battersea, only two weeks before the war.
On Good Friday I was interviewed by my CO. he told me he would forward a strong recommendation for old George and I, that we both should be granted commissions and advised us to take promotion which we had previously refused.
I had several rides to wagon line through ESTAIRS and LAVENTIE and enjoyed this period of what was practically inactivity; during the whole time only two shells came near the guns.

The bombardment of AUBERSs was postponed and we received orders to take up an old position at, CROIX BARBETTE. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Grandfather's journal March 13 -17 1915

All his journal entries are in my book "World War 1 - An Unkept Promise" on Kindle or paperback "The Great Promise" on Amazon Available in US, UK, EU

March 13th to 15th

[It was] rather quiet, done little firing. Collins had a squeak on 14th whilst going along [the] wire, a shell bursting near missed him, but caught a Garhwal, and cut him clean in two.
I went into RICHEBOURG to have a look round; I went all over the deserted and desolate piles of ruins that had a little time before [been] a pretty little town.

The church had suffered severely, only parts of the walls and tower remaining. The churchyard was pitiful to look at, graves and tombs absolutely heaved up skulls and bones lying about everywhere. The top of the steeple had been caught fair by a shell and had fallen off and the top stuck firmly in the ground just by the door. It was as if it had been planted there. Everywhere was a hopeless mass of wreckage, which can hardly be described and wants seeing to actually believe.

March 16th

Marched to PAQAULT and billeted, orders to move before dawn. [i]

March 17th

Marched and dropped into action near LAVENTIE. This town was deserted and partially in ruins. Were busy all day laying our line to a ruined house in rear of our trenches, from where we could observe the German lines and AUBERS, a town in their possession. Whilst doing this, we went into an establishment, which was not damaged, and had only been abandoned the day before. It was beautifully furnished and in the attic were [an] abundance of women’s clothes. We secured plates and cooking utensils, several things that would be handy to us, and took [them] back to the guns.

 In a field near the establishment were a good number of graves of our chaps, quite a miniature cemetery, and every grave head a cross and name upon it, etc.  It was fenced in. I thought it will [be] a consolation one day perhaps, for some woman to visit the spot where someone dear to them was laid. This was a very unhappy day for me, for my thoughts were far away, and I slept but little at night, more due to my thoughts than the cold.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Grandfather's journal March 12, 1915 Part I

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

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.