THURSDAY, JUNE 8th

3 p.m. Not a bad day, but not very instructive. Talked to Morland. Rain began again 2.00 p.m. Saw and spoke to Rawlinson. He has aged a good deal. Oliver droned for ¾ hour, platitudes. Morland short and to the point. I hear from Ricardo that Repington is very optimistic as to an early end. Am skeptical, but R. has not been optimistic in the past. It’s bitterly cold this afternoon, and hard to keep warm. I hear Rosy Smyth’s 2nd in Command, (Brush) has succeeded Hessey. I don’t see any reason for depression over the war; things are going on all right. They are making frantic efforts at Verdun and Ypres, but even if they fall the Huns have paid an awful price, and the line is not broken. The Naval Battle was, I believe, a far greater success for us, and a blow to Germany than we make out. Much of their Fleet is crippled and they’ve lost large numbers of sailors, which they can ill afford; and the Ruskey’s are pushing ahead. All is well, but the end is not yet.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 9th

Huts are improving; have got waterproof sheets to cover them, and ablution places and basins, with brick floor and pathway; good incinerators, laundry and baths working, but after rain the whole place is a sea of mud. It rained up to 5.00 a.m. and the place was awful; now dried up fairly. Pak laid me 60 frc. to 40 that the push will take place before the end of June. I think I shall win his 60 frc. Am sending C.M.J. on leave on 17th, ‘At.’ on 12th, if its not stopped before. Rode home from field Day with Holt. There was not much strafing. Such a wet morning today. Just off to Field Day. Hessey has got 110th Bde. Very sorry to lose him. Rotten arrangement. Rained all night; fine this a.m.

SATURDAY, JUNE 10th

Everyone got soaked. I enclose list of wounded from Lurgan and Portadown. Three bales sock—500 in all—arrived June 3rd. No word of B.M. [Brigade Major] yet. Dined with Oliver; most affable. I put one or two things strongly to him and he was quite of my opinion. Got in some good ones to Singleton and Comyn. Oliver said he would like to wash his feet in the Rhine, and burn a Hun village. The camp is a sea of mud. Remember when the Push comes we shall be cut off probably for a week, owing to bombardment; no letters in or out, or rations or messengers. We are laying up a store of food, so you mustn’t be alarmed at not hearing. I have no idea when it will come off, many people think soon, and others are skeptical, but preparations go on busily. Such a bore this daily attacking trenches on someone else’s ground. Our attack place has not been marked out properly yet. I don’t take much interest in it. I fancy we shall get into the Bosche trenches easily enough and without much loss, but staying there will be costly. Have written D’Arcy asking him to be careful as to whom he allows to come out as chaplains from the Diocese, pointing out how wonderful is the influence of the right sort, like Halahan, but what harm to religion can be done by one not suited. I don’t think any of them except Halahan go into the trenches.

WHIT-SUNDAY, JUNE 11th

After a night of rain it is a sunny day and the place is drying, but it’s such a mess. Have been with Charlie all morning, then back for a talk with the officers about the attack. Now I want to ride over our ground, and have to go up about six miles to see an R.A. Group Commander about wire cutting. A bathe this morning. No B.M. [Brigade Major] yet.

9.30 p.m. Had a long afternoon over our practice ground, then on to see 1st Battalion, and then called on Peake on my way back and had tea there. He told me he’d tried to get me back to R.A., but hadn’t succeeded. A lecture, about 2½ miles from here, on the Jutland fight, by a man who was there. Brew went, most interesting. The man was a Major in the next Div. home on leave, got a permit to visit the Fleet, arrived 6.00 a.m. on morning, was put on a battleship as a guest, sailed at 9.00 a.m. and took part in the fight. Saw it all in the fighting top. Jellicoe’s Fleet consisted of 24 Dreadnoughts. They didn’t see much of Beatty’s action, but saw ‘Defence’ blown up, and ‘Marlborough’ hit. She heeled over and then righted herself and went on firing. Says his ship sank ‘Lutzow.’ Admiralty claim to have sunk 30 ships, he says. Mine layers were sent round to lay a mine field between German Fleet and Wilhelmshaven, which they did successfully, and were the means of sinking some German ships. There was a Bosche raid into our bit of the line last night. Our casualties six killed and 14 wounded. We accounted for one Bosche officer, killed, and six dead in our trench, besides others wounded outside.


Footnote

The raid mentioned was against 15th Royal Irish Rifles, one of the battalions of 107th Brigade, holding the line while 108th and 109th Brigades prepared for the forthcoming attack. Nine men of the Battalion were killed.

MONDAY, JUNE 12th

I was spared the journey to see about wire, but had a useful p.m. The Russkys are pushing ahead well, but the ice creamers [Italians] seem to be taking a knock. It was a lovely day and things have dried up wonderfully, but it looks like rain again tonight. ‘At.’ went off this a.m. He will be home Tuesday to Friday. I expect you will see him. After a threatening morning it has settled down to steady rain again. With regard to Ireland a compromise is the only chance of peace, and civil war would be hell. It’s the lines I foreshadowed—sad, but each side must give way. Remember the Nationalists are giving up Belfast, and their majority in M_____, [Munster] C_____, [Connaught] and D_____, [Dublin] is large, and should have a say in the matter.

TUESDAY, JUNE 13th

A wet night and threatening a.m., which turned to heavy rain about 11.00 a.m. Consequently we all got drenched and the camp is a sea of mud again; so cold! I believe when we go up we shall go direct into the line, and lie there during the preliminary bombardment of some days, during which time nothing can come up. I have soup, but if you can manage to send meat lozenges they would be useful, specially in the Push; but they must come quickly. The trenches must be in awful state with the wet and the hammering they get; and very hard to repair in the wet, and the Bosche guns playing on them at night to prevent work being done. I’m glad we’re out of the line, bad and uncomfortable though the camp is; after all we have no shells or bullets. If this wet goes on we shall have a lot of sickness. It hasn’t come yet, but is bound to come. We are bothered by scabies. It began at Bordon where we took over infected barracks and we’ve never been really clear since; aggravated by life in the trenches, and latterly lack of baths, owing to move; we are full of it—about 100 cases, mostly quite mild, and only away about two days, but recurring every day. Practising the attacks through crops waist height, and saturated with wet, is very trying on men, as they have no chance and no means of drying their clothes. It was drenching doing it today.


Footnote

The Battalion was based at Martinique Barracks, Bordon in while it completed rifle shooting at the end of its training and just before sailing for France. This postcard, showing a photograph of Martinique Barracks, was sent home by 14561 Private George McCarroll.

Martinique Barracks, Bordon

Martinique Barracks, Bordon

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14th

4.15 p.m. Poor Vennard badly wounded in head, fear is bad. Don’t know what hospital. One never knows when they leave this where they are. The Bde H.Q. lived in Martinzart with a French family. I made a point of never going there for a meal, so never saw the females. It was, in my opinion, absolutely wrong—things were talked about at meals which should not have been discussed before strangers. Quite possible they were spied. Charlie got ‘ratty’ if he heard the word ‘spy.’ Said there weren’t such things! We begin summer time at 12.00 midnight tonight; all clocks go on one hour. Everything has suddenly been advanced. We go into the line Monday, for some days. You will get no letters, I shall receive none; but don’t be uneasy. I’m sure the Battalion will do well. I pray it may not suffer. With a little luck we ought to be all right. We stay here till Monday; others leave tomorrow and the day after, so we score. Rain again last night and showers early, but it has now cleared up and is drying fast, but such a mess everything is in. I managed to get a rum ration last night; the men were chilled to the bone, and their clothes were soaked. Owing to this advance of everything C.M.J. isn’t going to take his leave. They have reduced our leave ration to one now. The elephant is now occupied, you’ll be glad to know. New B.M. [Brigade Major] appeared this a.m. on parade. He seems very youthful.