WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8th

Mid-day. Such a night! Flooded out at 3.00 a.m. Now 3½ feet of water in the Elephant. Am hanging on here for a bit, but must retire on new H.Q. tonight or tomorrow. Was up at 3.00 a.m. and just got my kit packed and out in time. Am still unshaved and unwashed.

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9th

A lovely day and the floods gone down, but such a mess. Large parties baling Elephant and tidying up. All the trench boards in the trenches afloat, and trenches impossible. Padre and I stayed here last night with a few H.Q. people, and move back this p.m., after we have got things a little ship-shape. Of course, the Bosche has seen men working, and has begun putting Whizz-Bangs over, which stops work.

3.00 p.m. Just moved to new H.Q. ready to hand over tonight. We really cleaned up the place wonderfully, and you could hardly tell there has been a flood; fires lit in Elephant, where there was 8½ feet of water at 9.30 a.m. Front line; really wonderful.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10th

[Bulford Camp]

We got back here all right last night, and completed the tour without a casualty again, which was providential. Another lovely day, which is such a blessing the day after we come out. Saw Campbell, the Moyallon [House] groom, today. He is in Transport of 16th [Royal Irish Rifles]. Handed over to Savage at new Bn. H.Q., which is about half a mile further back. Safe, but not comfy at present. Hope they’ll do something to it. It’s a concrete casing inside a brick barn, with concrete pillars down the middle, rather ecclesiastical and cold. It’s divided into three—one dormitory, one living room, and one small bunk at the end for C.O. A 40 minute walk from the front line, which is ­­­­[word removed]. Slept well last night in a comfy bed; quite a nice room. I have the Padre next door, and the others in the huts, about 200 yards off.

Slater from Armagh, Sergt-Major of ‘B’ Coy., has just got his commission; been with us all the time, and a very good fellow. Vennard takes his place as Sergt-Major. Three more names gone in, Espie and Campbell among them.

7.00 p.m. Lovely day, and the men dried, cleaned and refitted. Rode out for an hour on Betsy Jane, who has been clipped and looks very smart. Went to Transport and back by Neuve Eglise. We are on N.E. [Neuve Eglise]—Bailleul Road, about a mile from former. Pratt came over in the afternoon; very cheery—full of bukh. Bowen, Commanding Y.C.V.’s [14th Royal Irish Rifles] has gone home sick. Hooper and I were really rather clever though roused at 3.00 a.m. in the dark and with only 15 men to pack up; everything was brought out, and I lost nothing, not even pipe cleaner, which was hanging up on the wall. Wednesday was a horrid day. Couldn’t shave or wash till evening, and then was too tired. We were quite cut off for some time by daylight—I mean except movement over the lid.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11th

Am to dine with G. Bruce tomorrow night in ‘B’ Mess. Dull heavy day, but no rain. Go to Div. H.Q. about 4.00 p.m. Owles, who left in May to go to Flying Corps, turned up today for lunch. Rather interesting. He delights in his work. He says one of our flying fellows has brought down 29 Bosche ‘planes. Parcel of bread and jelly come; poozy.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12th

I had a long talk with Singleton’s successor, Leslie. Such a nice fellow. Cavalry, and so boyish, but has 16 years’ service. Fixed up various tocks about promotion, etc. Am dining at ‘B’ Mess tonight. Farnham rolled up last night on his way back from leave; going to N.I. Horse.

Fancy, the average daily consumption of ammunition on the Somme since July 1st has been ten thousand tons! I find I can get Shill. appointed 2nd in Command from August 21, and Ensor Temp. Captain from same date, and Given from July 2nd. Quite a nice day. Gen. very affable. Small party here, only two A.D.C.’s, [Aides-de-Camp] G.S.O. 1 and 2, [General Staff Officers Grades 1 & 2.] and Comyn [Assistant Adjutant & Quartermaster General]. Very comfy large room and good bed, electric light and bathroom. Had a good strafe on yesterday about men’s washing place at Bulford, and have fairly stirred ‘em all up! I read yesterday’s ‘Times’ at 9.30 p.m. last night. Pretty good. The R.E. and Pioneers were heavily strafed over the flood! Why, I can’t think, I suppose they should have control over the elements. Had my hair cut today by Saunderson’s servant, who was a hairdresser at N. [Northern] Counties Hotel, [Portrush] and is in the 16th Pioneers. Did I tell you potatoes are getting very scarce?

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13th

Got back at 10.30 a.m., in a car. Battalion Parade at 11.00 a.m., quite good, which was marvellous as it was the first we’d had for six months, I think, and I got about 360 men on parade. Lovely day. Things are fairly humming now with regard to washing place, cookers and tables and forms for the Camp. ‘Q.’, R.E. and medicos all buzzing round. I got back from ‘B’ Mess in time to have a chat with Keane. Charlie Hope’s father left £400,000, besides £20,000 a year! Very pleasant dinner; such a nice lot. I enjoyed my week-end. We played 12th at rugger, Saturday 11th, and beat them. They are very sore. A young officer in the Brigade was killed on patrol two nights ago, and another shot through the lungs.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14th

A dull day. The whole Battalion marches to B_____ [Bailleul] for a beano—cinema and follies. Wander round town, tea, and home about 8.00 p.m. Rather an effort, but the men will like it. Hope it will keep fine. Cramsie has rejoined the 12th. They are fearfully short of old officers, only about three of the original ones left. 13th and 11th much the same. We, I think, are a little better. C [Cramsie] has been Brigade Intelligence Officer for a year. More R.E. [Royal Engineers] buzzing round this morning laying on the water to ablution room and fixing up overhead cover, etc. A fair move on now. Good news about Beaumont Hamel. Can’t say now how things are doing, but I don’t think any great strategical advantage has been gained. It will take long yet, and England will have to strain every nerve to win a real victory. The danger is a stale-mate, and that gets more possible, I fear, as time goes on. We roughly get three leaves a week! and 214 have not been home yet, of those who came out with us. I told Div. H.Q. it was absurd to strafe R.E. and 16th over the flood.


Footnote

In the attack launched by 5th Army on 13 November, 51st (Highland) Division captured Beaumont Hamel. On its right flank 63rd (Royal Naval) Division attacked over the ground where 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers and 12th Royal Irish Rifles had suffered so many casualties on 1 July; it succeeded in capturing its objectives, which included Beaucourt Station, the final objective of 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers on 1 July.