Fergie has sent in the letters. Rather a bad relief. Heavy thunderstorm 3.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.; turned the tracks into mire, and trenches into rivers. Kit and men got very wet. Not finished till midnight. Bombardment now going on, but at present not very severe, and the Bosche has not warmed up yet. The elephant is very safe, but of course pitch dark, but really excellent. Have hardly brought anything in except coat. B.W. [British Warm], one blanket, and washing kit. The march over the track by which we were ordered to come was intensely hard on the men, and they were quite cooked, but are perking up today. Heavy showers with sun in between.
Saturday 24 June was ‘U’ Day, the first of five days of bombardment by British and French artillery prior to the attack by nine British and French corps across a frontage of over 20 miles, scheduled for the morning of 29 June—‘Z’ Day. While the majority of 36th (Ulster) Division would attack the Thiepval plateau south of the River Ancre, two battalions of 108th Brigade would attack north of the river, on the left flank of the Division, from Hamel to the railway station south of Beaucourt sur l’Ancre. The plan called for 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, reinforced by a company from 12th Royal Irish Rifles, to attack on the right, alongside the River Ancre, and for the remainder of 12th Royal Irish Rifles to attack on the left. It was planned that, for the period ‘U’ Day – ‘Y’ Day, 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers would be forward in the trenches at Hamel with 12th Royal Irish Rifles in support in Mesnil. The latter Battalion would then move forward on the night prior to the attack.