5.30 p.m. Padre returned today looking all the better, and so cheery; he is such a dear. We bombarded and generally stirred up the Bosche last night, and he has been stuffy all day, plugging in shell just over this at short intervals from about 3.00 a.m. up to now. I don’t think he’s done much damage. Such an uncomfortable day yesterday, but today sunny, and drying wind. Everything was wet in huts and dug-outs; they all leaked, and such a wind, and the rain drove in. Looks as if leave might open soon, but I couldn’t leave yet. Have to find 66 men every night to wire on our front! It’s too bad. Of course it’s urgent, but they should knock off the other parties. Be sure and impress on all who come out to insist on coming back to 9th. If they are firm they will get back. I can do nothing here.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30th
Don’t think there will be any Push till the Spring, when as Repington says, we may push from the sea to the Somme. It hasn’t ceased raining since last night. You may imagine the state everything is in. My sandbag residence is streaming; it has no door and the rain drives in. Lutton gone back to his Coy. Soon we shall want socks in large numbers. Will find out about roll call on 1st July, but they are busy at present getting out the list for R.P.M. [Regimental Pay Master]—a big job. Just seen Pratt, he seems very chirpy. Have been trying to mend holes in all roofs, but it’s a big job. We have to find 65 men every night. Luckily they cancelled some of them last night, and today, owing to the weather. The only good thing about the rain is it stops the deafening guns! I see Germany is raging at Roumania coming in; it ought to turn the scale well and help Russia. Bulgaria will find she has backed the wrong horse. It’s great, 400,000 men, and freedom for Russia to move means a lot, and of course, as Roumania didn’t join in Balkan wars four years ago, she will have plenty of reserves. Everything is damnably wet. Just found I’ve been sitting in a pool of water collected in my chair.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 29th
Got a cheery letter from Wingfield. I am in hopes he will do all right. He had a bullet right through his body. He was stooping tending a wounded man, and he got it in the back, but it seems to have missed his stomach. I really believe he’ll pull through all right. Quick relief was finished at 10.00 p.m., was up here at 10.45 p.m. Today heavy rain and thunder, everything in a fearful state as every roof is full of holes, and I’m going over ankles in mud, and no way to dry. Such a noisy p.m. with guns and thunder. Shill. takes up duties of 2nd in Command con amore and is being most helpful. I was glad to get out of the line—the extra day told. We only had three casualties, two officers and one man wounded. Considering T.M.’s [Trench Mortars] and M.G.’s was fortunate. The Div. have wired about our 22 so hope they come soon. Have written in reams on the subject frequently! Feel so relieved about Wingfield, but is such a gallant boy, only 17, [in fact 19] with a splendid spirit.
MONDAY, AUGUST 28th
We have got some good work done this time. I have only two Coys. actually in the line, and two back in support. By this means each Coy. only gets six days in 24 in front line.
Heard from R.P.M. [Regimental Pay Master] in answer to my letter. He’ll do all he can to prevent stoppage of separation allowances, but wants me to send him a roll of Battalion with addresses of dependants, and if any allotment has been made. Rather a grind, but we are going to do it. Do go and see young Dickson in Tandragee. He was wounded in May, wiring, still has a bullet in him. He feels being out of it, and not getting any better. Very warm again last night. I hear young Wingfield is doing ‘fairly well’ only. During our six days ‘rest’ we have to find 70 men every night for work here. Every man has to be bathed; baths three miles away. Every man has to attend one day for instruction at anti-gas school, five miles away, besides finding ordinary guards and posts. It takes a bit of fitting in and is called a rest. It’s almost more restful in the line. When at Tandragee you might go and see the Jacksons—Sergt. Jackson’s people. He is missing, I fear killed. Was in U.V.F., and in Estate Office at Tandragee; very brave and gallant.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 27th
Rain last night has made everything muddy, but it’s fine and drying now. Things fairly quiet. We are only six days in and out, seven days in this time owing to a working party arrangement. Work out here is like at home, if you plan out the tocks to be done and organise parties for each, making some one responsible, and the work is done, but if you don’t do this, and simply let things slide, nothing is done—they neither wire nor work. We go out tomorrow night. Sergts. Barbour and Vennard are both doing splendid work.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 26th
A wet night and heavy showers in the a.m. Now cleared off. Various Staff visited us, all very affable. There is a certain amount of what is called trench fever going; it’s a sort of ‘flu’ temp. Muggy weather, I think, has brought it on. Godson returned from sniping course last night, very keen, and bright bird. Quiet night, but very hot. The Bosche put in a couple of shrapnel whenever he sees a small party showing themselves, and men are careless. He buzzed in three about 30 yards from here a quarter of an hour ago. They are very harmless unless you are just under them. Holt was down this morning, also the gunner Lt. Col. and the How. [Howitzer] Major, so we are full of visitors. We don’t go out till Wednesday owing to a night working show. Somerset Saunderson was rather impressed with the discomfort of our surroundings. It’s curious how you get accustomed to anything. I hardly notice it now, and am quite happy here, with an occasional growl. We get our ‘Times’ regularly now the next day. They seem gradually creeping up to Thiepval. I expect next spring or summer we shall have enough big guns and ammunition to make a simultaneous Push from the sea to the Somme.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 25th
The Coy. Commanders’ conference at 2.00 p.m., daily, and we have a talk over things, which generally lasts an hour. Then post comes and I write. Tea at 5.00 p.m., and a walk round various working parties. It always takes me a day to settle into trench routine, and then I am quite happy and hate nothing but the first day. I am feeling unhappy at the amount of work there is to do. Then once we begin to tackle it, one is absorbed in the work. Now I’ve got the hang of these trenches and got the work organised I don’t get up early except for some special reason. The afternoon Hate just begun. We sprayed inside of Mess with creosote and the flies are much better. I hadn’t been to ‘Wipers’ [Ypres] before. A sad spectacle! Not a wall more than eight feet in height left. The Cloth Hall practically disappeared. A quiet night; they put a whole lot of ‘oil cans’, [mortars] about 50, into Bde. on our left yesterday p.m., and were very noisy with guns and Hows. for some time, but they let us alone. Holt was down last evening looking round. He now commands a Coy. and rather likes it. So hot and muggy today, and the flies are very trying. The new lot are doing capitally, two of them out on patrol every night, quite on their own, and full of enterprise. Altogether I am very lucky. Kentish’s letter will interest you. Of course, he’s always flowery, but it’s quite a nice letter to get. Was called away to talk to some gunners, and gave them tea. Humphreys is B. Gen. R.A. of the Corps. I haven’t seen him yet. Someone says Horne has got 1st Army and that ‘Putty’ has gone home [he hadn’t], also Keir [he had].
THURSDAY, AUGUST 24th
Godson joined in March from 4th Battalion. Was in the 4th Hussars. He is capital, and so bright and full of views, and always quite unperturbed. Clements came from Armagh. He has got the Military Medal. Corps, Div. and Bde. Commanders congratulate him. The first man in the Battalion to be decorated. The order has gone out from G.H.Q that men are to be returned to their units. A quiet night and morning, very little M.G. fire, and only occasional shelling. Drizzle during night and this a.m., but all for heat. A pleasant breeze now got up.
Although Lieutenant Colonel Blacker had submitted recommendations previously for awards for gallantry just prior to and during the attack on 1 July—such as those to Captain Menaul, and Sergeants Foster, Lucas and Palmer—the awards to Godson and Clements were the first to be announced. They were published in the London Gazette on 26 and 21 September, respectively.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23rd
Bosche very active last night from 5.00 p.m. till 4.00 a.m. this morning. Trench mortars, 4.2 Hows, Field Guns and M.G. very vicious. They caught a wiring party of ours and wounded two officers and one man; one such a dear boy, Wingfield, only 18, so keen and capable. They got him badly through the stomach. He was one of those who did the patrol. I purposely saved him from the Push, he was so young, though he implored me to let him go, and now he is gone. I fear he can hardly recover—anyway we shan’t see him again. He came from 4th Battalion. The flies have suddenly got very bad, they pervade everything, crawl into all food and generally harry one—notwithstanding fly-papers, creosote, spraying and every device we can think of. The Padre will tell you all about this part of the line and the country. I miss him sadly. We are a very dull party without him. Fine, and pleasantly warm. Whenever the wind in E. they order a gas ‘Alert’, when gas helmets have to be worn in a certain way, and other precautions taken. Of course, the wind is S.W., but the gas ‘Alert’ is still on.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 22nd
Relief quiet and quick, over by 10.40 p.m. We are a throng in the line. Each Coy. about seven [officers]. Have Lutton and the new L.G. Officer at Bn. H.Q., and a man out from the Inns of Court O.T.C. for instruction for four days. Seems a nice fellow, called Buller, cousin of old Redvers. Spent 3½ hours round front line this morning. Depressing the amount of work to be done. Flies have got very bad here at H.Q. Air thick with them, and on all food. Have still got my £500 intact, but shall have to draw on it soon, I expect. Everyone else got through theirs I hear. Fine, warm, cloudy, today. Just heard from 11th Essex Regt. they have buried the following five men _____ [names not recorded]. Before leaving Somme area Div. said all surplus stores, private and public, could be left with them at a central dump. They have lost the lot, everyone saying. Luckily we didn’t send much of value, three telescopes at 10 guineas each is our mess loss, but perfectly iniquitous.