Such a wild stormy night, rain and wind. Sunny today, but high wind and occasional showers. Comyn was over today; he says—1. We are going to be filled up with Englishmen. 2. Leave will probably open 10 November. 3. There is a great shortage of potatoes. We had a case of measles this morning; rather mysterious, as the man has not been away anywhere. Padre in great dread they may make him senior Chaplain of the Div.; it might mean his leaving us, which would be a great blow; but I don’t think it would necessarily. I’m going to see what I can do, anyway. Clouded over again and pelting with rain.
7.00 p.m. A strafe just begun by our guns, to cover a raid by 11th [Royal Irish Rifles], and the table is shaking so I cannot write.
10.00 p.m. Our strafe lasted till 7.45 p.m. The Bosche only put two shells back over here, which did not damage. Haven’t heard result of raid. The _____ [unknown battalion] did one a few nights ago, which was not successful. Colder and clearer tonight, so I hope we may be in for better weather. Shall go over tomorrow morning to see our rest place, next time we come out, to find out the hang of things.
Another blustery, showery wet day. Splendid, 444 pairs socks coming. We went into the line only 367 last time. This time we should be well over 400 again—all the difference in getting work done. The R.E. did repairs outside of Elephant, but are going to put in concrete floor and mend wooden partition. Two new officers joined today, five more en route. One is Darling, son of Dr. at Lurgan. Godson has gone to Bde. Intelligence Office for a few days. The change will do him good; he is a capital fellow. Was at Oxford, law degree, and after being called to the Bar he went on the Stock Exchange. He has ideas, and is A1 at Intelligence work, and in charge of snipers. What with carrying parties and working parties, we have no time for any parades this time. Hope we may have a few fine days when we go back next time. Tuesday the whole Push marched into B_____, [Bailleul] goes to Cinema, Follies, then tea and then roam round for a few hours on their own and then home. Div. band to march too, I hear. The place is quite comfortable. Judge Green made a very nice reference to ‘At.’ at Lurgan Quarter Sessions. Would rather like some magazines now. ‘19th Century’, ‘Contemporary’. I find I want something these long evenings. I’m glad to say we’ve got one Military Medal for the raid—one Sergt. Wolfe, son of Pratt’s gamekeeper, a very fine gallant boy.
The magazines referred to by Blacker were ‘The Nineteen Century and After’ (formerly ‘The Nineteen Century’), a critical monthly periodical; and ‘The Contemporary Review’, a magazine of politics and social reform.
The Nineteenth Century and The Contemporary Review
Relief went off all right, and we had no casualties during the whole tour, notwithstanding a good deal of shelling. Draft of 54 arrived last night, and 30 more on the way, I hear. Worst class of day, rain and wind. Owing to Hun raid on Channel no letters yesterday. Yes, the place behind is well in rear of our guns. We have to find 200 men in the 24 hours for working parties. B_____ our Medico [medical officer] gone on leave, and we have a man from Malay States. Seems a nice fellow. Was through the mutiny at Singapore, in February, 1915. We are getting five more men’s huts here, which will make things better. The roads about are awful. I went in nearly to my knees in mud on the ‘road’ about a half a mile from here last night. Trenches are quite dry walking, but the roads! We leave one Coy. in close support. They are quite comfy and like being there. Am going to see them this p.m. Little house, quite cosy.
Quiet night and fine morning, but S.W. wind. The missing draft of 50 turned up last night at Transport. Saw Brock in the trenches yesterday, and suggested all staff and higher commands from Corps Gen. down, should in turn spend six days in front line, to make them realise the conditions, which they utterly fail to do so at present.
Feeling much better. Charley wants me to go and stay with him for a day or two for a change. Shall see when we go out. Raining again today. Fairly quiet night.
7.00 p.m. Drizzling rain off and on all day. Glad you got dominoes and mouth organs. The 1st Battalion are in the Push and have suffered, I hear, hence their appeal for officers. Capital about amassing more socks. Gum boots are very severe on socks, and I see the men will live in them this winter. Still very quiet so far tonight.
The 1st Battalion—in 10th Brigade, 4th Division—had attacked on the Somme on 12 October during the Battle of Le Transloy. In the three days prior to the attack enemy shellfire caused a number of casualties and the attack itself was defeated by shell and machine-gun fire. The Battalion suffered 385 all ranks killed, wounded and missing; only five company officers remained at duty.
Feeling much better. I walked up to a conference of C.O.’s at R.L. [Red Lodge] and think it did me good. The men must take their turns. There are 60 or more who have not been on leave at all. Some took part in the Push and were wounded; some also have been in the raid, and these must come first. The afternoon turned out sunny and nice, but everything very messy. Saw N. [General Nugent] at R.L. He says the draft are coming to me all right.
Fine morning, colder. Looks as if it might turn to rain. Quiet night. Our trench mortars are having a strafe at 11.00 a.m., so expect Bosche will reply.
7.00 p.m. Bosche didn’t retaliate much on our line. Threw it about a bit, and was evidently stuffy. No damage to personnel or material. Vegetables very hard to get now, and very dear. Splendid, more socks coming. They are always welcome. Have suddenly got heavy cold.
A drizzle all night, and still continues. Quiet night and morning. Ate chicken last night—excellent—reheated deliciously. Trenches very wet this morning and pumping going on. A still autumnal morning, rather misty, and steady drizzle.
9.30 p.m. Another quiet day, I’m glad to say, but steady rain all the time, till about 5.00 p.m. I did a good deal of pedestrian exercise and tested the new boots in the wet. I find these long evenings I have time to read. Magazines are, I think, the best. I, somehow, don’t fancy novels. We don’t go back this time after all, only R.L. [Red Lodge] again. I’m rather glad for various reasons. The night is clear, so I hope we may be in for more fine weather. They seem to be doing well on the Somme, but Roumanian news is not good.
Not so cold. Elephant decidedly warmer than huts. Stove going well. Went round the line at 6.00 a.m. Rain and T.M.’s [trench mortars] have played havoc with it. Much has to be done. Unluckily we are just 50 weaker than last time owing to casualties and many going sick. Today another sunny day, with fog at times. We have a tame magpie here now. (Downs [13th Royal Irish Rifles] discovered it), and it hops about and feeds out of the hand. Every man has come in with a muffler, one pair mitts, three pairs socks, and a pair long gum boots. Gas wind still on order, though the wind has gone S. [south] Elephant has been patched where it was hit. Very peaceful night and day so far. Not a shot or sound to be heard. They will wake up in p.m., I expect. We had a regular change round this relief, Downs going back and 11th [Royal Irish Rifles] to R.L. [Red Lodge] Quite a peaceful sunny day, warm. Spent it hodding round settling what to tackle in way of repairs. Much milder; hope it doesn’t mean rain. The leaves still hang on hedges, which is a blessing, as it saves screening, which is a lengthy job.
Screening involved the erection of hessian cover-from-view screens to prevent the enemy seeing into trenches and along roads and routes.
Still cold and bright. Heard from FitzG. that the draft of 50 he sent us on October 11th have been sent to 16th Div. I have written in a snorter about it. Shame. The next time we come out we go back about four miles to some huts, and do that alternately. They are going to put up a Church Army hut here, which will be a boon. Another cold night. Gas wind on, which is harrying. Two football matches yesterday.
- Officers v. 12th (Rugby) We lost 3-love.
- 9th v. 12th (Assoc.) No score.
Relief went off all right, and we dined here at 8.00 p.m.
The reinforcements sent to the 7th and 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers in 16th (Irish) Division were replacements for the casualties suffered in the attacks on the Somme at Guillemont and Ginchy in September 1916.