We were relieved yesterday in the trenches and came back here, I got in about 11.00 p.m. Relief carried out successfully. This morning they put some 4.2 shells into the village, and killed one man and wounded one, I’m grieved to say. It’s not much of a rest place, and there is much work to be done on trenches nightly. Jos Johnstone [sic] had a pocket book in his pocket which was hit by a small bit of shell—a good escape. The man hit was Girvan in ‘C’ Company, one of the cooks. Steady and cold sleety rain all yesterday up to 9.00 p.m. Cold today and raw, but fine so far.
6.00 p.m. Hughes and Gillespie are really all right. Gross exaggeration in both cases. Have never felt less cold all winter. We belong now to XVII Corps. It makes no difference to leave, we get 50 instead of 20 [i.e. men away on leave]. ‘At.’, Ensor, Lutt and Jos Johnstone go on 17th. We have about 1,200x [yards] front, one flank resting on a marsh, with a post in the middle of it, and then the next Div., on our right begins the far side of the marsh. I was with them looking at our line from the flank. This is far from salubrious. In addition to the morning strafe, when they put in about 30 H.E.’s [high explosive]—4.2 I think—they kept putting in an odd one at intervals through the day. Our Heavies [Heavy artillery] give them beans at 4.00 p.m., and they replied about 4:30 p.m. for half an hour, with 5.9 I think. I was down at the cemetery with the Padre when they began, and on our way back they kept coming over our heads, and bursting about 50 to 100 yards over us, evidently trying to find the position of the Heavies, which they didn’t. The Downs had three more casualties this morning, I hear. I swear it’s _____ fault our being here. As a rest place he pointed out the way the place was shelled daily, but _____ didn’t care. Of course it’s no rest for the men, as they have large working parties every night to improve the trenches.
The casualty was:
14206 Private William Girvin, killed in action on 12 February 1916, the first soldier of the Battalion to be killed in action; Mesnil Ridge Cemetery.