WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9th

Hadn’t a minute yesterday. They’ve sent a Res. Lt. Col. [reserve Lieutenant Colonel] to be attached for two days to learn trench work. A nuisance he squashes us so. We gave the Huns half an hour strafe in retaliation for their strafe on the Downs yesterday a.m. 9 2 in., 8 in. Hows. etc., all on their trenches. They put back a few whizz-bangs into the village. One man of ours had his cheek grazed, otherwise quiet, and a quiet night. Snowing this morning which will make the trenches damnable. Am writing in the cellar while two others are dressing, and the breakfast things are being put out, and much turmoil. Griffiths, [sic] Smith, [sic] and C.C. came round in a.m. Latter didn’t show a liking for the sound of bullets. 10 a.m. Snow stopped and turning out fine, but everything very wet and slushy, and cold. Art’y [artillery] observing officer last night was Vallentine, [sic] son of the Gunner who drove Woolwich coach. Do you remember him? Such a squash in here. Very hard to keep things tidy. 6 p.m. They are shelling Div. [32nd Division] on our left very heavily. Continuous roar of heavy guns. I walked out with Johnstone [sic] across the marsh to their nearest battalion about 4 p.m., and examined the ground in front of our line from them. We had only left them a short time. The Capt. who we met was Knott, whose brother was James Richardson’s secretary at Bessbrook—16th Lancs. Fus. Bull and Cole-Hamilton came in to see us today. They are reserve about 1½ miles away. I hope they relieve us. Nothing settled about reliefs. I expect we go back on Friday or Saturday. Fergie written to say a shell dropped near his store today, 3 miles back. I expect it was the empty case of an Archie. The strafe has died down. Some excitement reported from one of our outposts. Just got Johnstone [sic] on telephone from the outpost. He says that he got a report that Germans were in the old mill, about 30 yards from our post. I went down and they threw a few bombs into the mill, and nothing more happened. 10.00 p.m.—All quite quiet again. Clear, frosty night; going to lie down.


Footnotes

At this time, the frontage of 36th (Ulster) Division extended north-west from the River Ancre; hence 32nd Division being on its right. It would not be until March that the Division would extend its line into Thiepval Wood and straddle the River Ancre.

Lieutenant Colonel Blacker’s hope that the Battalion would be relieved by 12th Royal Irish Rifles proved prescient—for the rest of the war, until brigades were reduced to three battalions, these two battalions would be ‘paired’ and would relieve each other time and time again in the trenches of France and Flanders.

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