As I thought, we go into the trenches tomorrow; go down again this p.m. to settle matters. The Division have climbed down now about quintuplicate, and say they will do it [copies of medal recommendations]. A man in Royal Scots—Mudie—has succeeded Spender, friend of Pratt’s. Haven’t seen him yet. Thank heaven they’ve left us absolutely alone this rest tour.
They haven’t got their plans out for the working parties, so we scored. Next time we will be hard at work digging. A draft of 90 arriving today. Hear they are Notts and Derby men. It’s warm again today, mist early, but no rain. I fear very, little rain will turn these trenches and this place into a sea of mud. Padre has taken over the mess, and already an improvement. Finger all right again; due I think to lack of veg. and tinned things perpetually.
10.45 p.m. Went round our new line this evening, three hours solid walking from here. Rather weary, and so hot. Saw Holt. He will act as 2nd in Command of Downs till Bob Maxwell returns. The draft came in this evening, and I inspect them in the morn. Fergie says a fine looking lot.
The draft, in fact, comprised 88 men from 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) at Sunderland. Some were newly trained men and others were recovered wounded or sick who had served previously in France, or with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. It was the first of a series of drafts of English reinforcements that joined the Battalion and reflected the difficulty in keeping the Division up to strength using men from the reserve battalions in Ireland alone. You can read more about the Englishmen who joined the 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers here.
Another roasting day. I think six days in the line will be enough here. Cole-Hamilton succeeds Pelly in 8th R.I.R. [Royal Irish Rifles] We go in tonight, leaving here at 9.30 p.m. Hope it won’t be a late relief. These 18 pdrs. of ours have begun their afternoon’s strafe, and collected thought is impossible.
Relief finished by midnight. Downs had a man killed by M.G. fire while going out, and 12th a man wounded coming in. We relieved 13th, and 12th relieved 11th [Royal Irish Rifles] The Division is full of Majors waiting for commands. Well here we are in Stinking Farm, quite the worst we’ve struck, small, smelly and unhealthy. Today is muggy and damp, and we are all feeling slack and cross. Four beds in three places which I think were pig-styes when the farm was a going concern. I wandered round the trenches at 4.00 a.m. and again at 11.00, and am weary, and hot, and slack. The flies are very bad here. There is such heaps to be done, both from the defensive and the comfort (sanitary) point of view, one doesn’t know where to begin. I find that moving one from one bit of line to another, like we have done from last tour to this, is apt to knock the go and keenness out of one, certainly at my age. Then the flood of memos fired at one, all wanting an immediate answer. They trench mortar the front line every 4.00 p.m. They haven’t begun today, have taken precaution of moving nearly every one back from trenches they usually strafe. A gunner [has] come to discuss some defence scheme.
Will send Lady Carson’s Fund a sub. from Battalion funds. They are evidently doing good work. M’Calmont writes me that a working party of 2nd Irish Guards have found Townsend’s body and buried it. Very warm today. Was round at 5.00 a.m. and again with Charlie at 11.00 a.m. They put over T.M.’s [trench mortars] in large numbers yesterday p.m., about 50, and many 4.2 shrapnel. No damage done luckily, but the ground shook and the noise was bad. We retaliated with Hows [howitzers]; M.G. fire severe last night; two men of a ration carrying party, M’Commick and Corden [sic], both ‘B’ Coy., wounded by M.G. Former is a gallant old bird, father of 10! They’ve begun the afternoon’s performance with T.M.’s but not severe so far. I am in hopes Padre will get leave as a special case, to see his father, who is 94.
Major A C Pratt
Such a roaster today. Thick fog up to about 8.00 a.m. You will see by enclosed that I am losing Pratt. I am very sorry. Of course, he has been of enormous help to me. Have been wandering round trenches, planning, etc., and making preparations for winter. I believe we shall move our H.Q. shortly to another farm—better in all respects, but too far from the front line. G.S.O.1. looked in today; so pleasant and helpful. I am sitting in shirt sleeves (as I have been all day) and perspiring at every pore. The afternoon trench mortar strafe now begun. I got a delicious ‘dig’ at Bde. staff today.
Major A C Pratt was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed to command 11th (Service) Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Donegal & Fermanagh). For his service with 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was killed in action during the Battle of Langemarck on 16 August 1917. Originally buried near where he was killed at Wieltje, his remains were reinterred in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery in 1919.
Robert Lucas MM
A sprinkle of rain in night, and it’s cooler today, but the night was very warm. The usual M.G. fire at night, and today about lunch time they put about eight 4.2’s near this. No damage. The 11th R.I.R. did very well on July 1st. This is a very bad place for Hun gas, and when the wind is E. special precautions have to be taken. The wind is now N.W. I’m glad to say.
An officer and two men who have been recommended for award are to go to be seen tomorrow by the King. Padre and Sergt. Lucas are going. Duke just been in and had a chat, pleasant and helpful.
5 p.m. The usual T.M. strafe has begun, but on our left, and our Hows. and 18 pdrs. are replying; such a din going on. Wire come in cancelling visit to King.
Trying to rain, but warm. They altered again, and this morn Padre and Lucas went (they didn’t take Barbour). Personally I am very sceptical about any of our men being prisoners. Fairly quiet last night except for usual M.G. They scattered a little big stuff round this a.m. and yesterday p.m., but no damage. I think they are short of guns here. Our guns are firing night and day, which must harry them, but they don’t retaliate. Sun come out and rain cleared off.