7 October 1914; Wednesday

This is a guest post from the diary of Leading Seaman Arthur Hawes.

We were aroused from our bed of straw at 2 o/c am & moved off at the double in order to get a bit warm. After the first mile we slowed down a bit & proceeded steadily on for the next four hours. Soon after dawn we came up to the Belgian artillery & here we halted for an hour. The Belgians gave us some hot coffee of which we were very glad. The kindness shown us by the Belgian soldiers all the time we were with them was remarkable; they seemed willing to put up with everything rather than let us go without. About 7.30 we arrived in our trenches (just outside Borsbeek) & we straightway fell to strengthening our positions. This took us all day & half the night. All the time firing was going on over our heads, on both sides. We worked in relays & by about 11 o/c we all felt we had done enough. On the average each of us had had about two hours of sleep since arriving in the trenches. This was how we spent that day. At 11 o/c the order was given “Man the trenches” & so the rest of the night we spent on the alert. Our position was this: – Immediately in front of the trenches were a few yards of open ground; then about 25 yards of barbed wire entanglements; then another stretch of cleared ground. About 1200 yards from us was a line of woods, farm houses &c. Behind these were the enemy. All night our forts fired into their position & several times we let off with our rifles as it was very likely they would try a night attack. They did not however, & dawn relieved the tension & we were able to have a short rest. Of course everyone did not go to sleep together but we worked in watches.