First touch of winter in the air last night and today. Wet this a.m., now sunny, but a sharp feeling. Night fairly quiet here. There was a strafe on further north; not our Div. Rain showers during the night has made everything messy, especially when repairs to trenches are going on. Saw young Edgar today and had a talk with him. He was looking very well. We go out tonight after a rather rough time. The right Coy. have had a bad time.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17th
I have got a recreation hut for the men and a Sergeant’s Mess going, and three more huts for the men. Relief satisfactory, and I was here [Red Lodge] at 7.00 p.m. I am afraid there are many who do not realise what practical patriotism means. We have an afternoon strafe on, of every sort of missile, and the din is hideous. Have been wrestling with officers’ promotions all p.m. We’ve got a stove working in the hut, and a window in! So it’s quite comfy.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 18th
Such heavy rain all night, fine now, but of course everything messy. Have managed to make every man up to three pair socks. The sun has come out, but the clouds are heavy all round.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19th
Heavy rain all night and today so far—a depressing wet Autumn day. The nights now are most fearfully dark, literally inky black. I couldn’t move a yard without my little torch. Roumania seems in a bad way; outranged in guns. Rain stopped and sun struggling out. Just off for a walk. Dark at 4.30 p.m. now.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20th
Fine day, frost and cold night. Just off to trench with 109th [Brigade]. It kept lovely all day, but bite in the air, and N.E. wind. I saw Ricardo, but only for a short time. Saw Shuter and Menaul. Have been suddenly ordered to send off six of those 14 new officers to 1st Battalion. Taken a bit of doing as many are sick and away for various reasons; also a bother. Bale of 348 pairs of mitts just arrived.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21st
Such a lovely summer day, but another sharp frost, and cold night. We were at tea when H.Q. were shelled. No one was stunned or hurt. Great tribute to the Elephant. Tables upset, which caused loose articles to roll about. Only thing lost was a knife. I even found my collar stud on the floor, but pipes and tobacco were found minus a stem, hurled to the sides and under boards.
I wasn’t hurt in any way. Plum puddings are liked, and I suppose, some money should be sent to ‘D.T.’ [Daily Telegraph] and ‘Daily News’ Fund. I like Curtin’s articles, very interesting, though, of course, rather ‘Daily Mail’! Football match this p.m. against 12th [Royal Irish Rifles].
T. Daniel Curtin was a United States-born, Harvard-educated, war correspondent who wrote for a number of newspapers, including the Times and the Daily Mail. From October 1916 to early-January 1917 a series of over 30 articles by Curtin was published in the Times. They were written during a visit to Germany and titled ‘Ten Months in Germany’. The popularity of the articles resulted in Curtin giving a series of lectures and talks about his experiences. Here is one of his articles, dealing with British prisoners of war, published on 21 October 1916.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22nd
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.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 23rd
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.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24th
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.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25th
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.