THURSDAY, JUNE 29th

2.00 p.m. I shall just win my bet with Pak. owing to hard time we were relieved last night to get the men rested. Came back very short distance. Such a wonderful scene. The heavens alight for miles with discharge of guns, and a continuous roar, which goes on without ceasing. ‘Downs’ did a good raid; brought out 13 prisoners, one officer, and penetrated a long way. A chance big shell caught a platoon of them last night and killed 14 and wounded 30—Bob slightly, Adjt. severely. We had six killed and 33 wounded while we were in. All day yesterday they were trying to find the elephant; came very close but didn’t succeed. Fergie has fed the men splendidly, and they are in good form. 11th had a bad time—100 casualties, and standing in wet trenches for five days, on bully beef. Oliver paid us a visit at dejeuner today, 12-noon, and sat and talked while we ate. Very affable and optimistic. I took the opportunity of telling him some points which he promised to see to. I think everything promises well. George Bruce came to see us about 11.00 a.m. (I was in bed!) Full of chat. One more comfy night. Fine last night, but threatening rain now—warm. I used ear protectors last night, the noise here is worse than in the line. I am getting up my valise for a comfy night, and a change. Ugh! I’m so dirty. I wonder how you are getting these letters. Thanks to Fergie we’ve got them away each day. No one else has in the line. I got in at 2.00 a.m. wet to the knees. Every one resting, such a relief to have nothing to do. Fergie brought in letters, papers and parcels, so we are well provided. News good today; especially from our immediate front. Roads and tracks very bad.

9.30 p.m. We had six casualties today—two severe and four slightly wounded, but it’s been a great rest to the men, from the wet and discomfort of the line. I hear Bob Maxwell is in hospital after all, but wound only slight. The Adjt. severe in groin. I don’t expect I shall get another letter off after this for a day or two, but will snatch any opportunity. My valise is up, so I can get a change of underclothing, which is welcome. The din still goes on. It has been dry all day, and the men have been able to dry their boots and clothes, and are in excellent heart. Shill and Fergie visited us today from their bivouac. ‘Joseph’ is busy examining prisoners—one small man in ‘Downs’ was escorting two large Bosche prisoners back across No Man’s Land; they thought he wasn’t going fast enough, so they each took an arm and hurried him o’er the danger zone. Another yarn—one of the prisoners said to his captor “Hullo, I played cricket against you at Donacloney”.


Footnotes

The shell that hit the men of 13th Royal Irish Rifles killed 14 and wounded over 30 others, of whom nine died of wounds later. The fourteen men killed immediately were buried together—the first burials in what would become Martinsart British Cemetery. This cemetery is unusual in that the gravestones are made from red sandstone.

Martinsart British Cemetery

Martinsart British Cemetery

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