Category Archives: July 1916

All diary entries written in July 1916

21 July 1916; Friday

Up at 8 o’clock. Had breakfast. Watched aeroplanes. Glorious morning. Read The Passing Show1, and a couple of chapters in Corinthians. Received orders to move at 12.30. Hunted for lice and found over 20 in my shirt. Left our camp about 1 o’clock. Arrived further up road near a battery of 60 pounders and made a dug out for a first aid dressing station. Got down for the night with Bascombe, Piggy Wood and a few others with orders to be up at 5 o’clock. Very cold and damp all night and a terrible noise with the guns. The 5” gun over the way and some 8” guns quite near made an awful noise. Troubled a lot with lice too. Germans shelling the road. Watched aeroplanes fighting and being fired at. Beautifully fine.

  1. The Passing Show” was a small tabloid-size magazine published by Odhams Press. It was later merged with Illustrated. It featured cartoons and short stories and cost 2d. 

20 July 1916; Thursday

Arrived about 4 o’clock at our resting place. Don’t know where it is. Tossed for the stretcher and I won. We were issued with blankets and I got one to myself. Slept well. Awoke about 7. Got up about 9 o’clock. Had good breakfast. Washed, wrote up diary and lay on stretcher. Near to very heavy (probably 6”) gun. Watched about 8 or 9 big guns with traction engines go by. A tremendous number of field guns and troops continually passing. Received letter from home and wrote a reply. Watched aeroplanes (sometimes 21 up together) flying and saw one brought down. Saw captured German field gun brought down line. Received orders to move, but these were cancelled and we stayed all night. Found out we were near the château to the right.

19 July 1916; Wednesday

Up at 7 o’clock. Physical drill in the morning. Kept fine all day. Received letter from George Crawford and replied to it. Washed feet at night. Received orders to fall in about 7.30. Marched off about 8 o’clock. Many stops by the way and arrived at an open place near some artillery about 4 o’clock in the morning.

Most interesting though tiresome march. I was with my new squad. Bascombe, Hall, Houghton and myself. Talked with the others and found them all right to talk to.

17 July 1916; Monday

Up at 7 o’clock. Dull and damp in the morning. Received rumour that 4 of the 104th Field Ambulance men were killed in the château we left1. Killed by a shell bursting in their billet. Received orders that we were not to stand by after dinner. Went to Ribemont at night with Walsh and Lee and had eggs. Got wet in going. Went to bed at about 9 o’clock. Big dispute with Forrest and others about football until about 11 o’clock. Watched the rats playing about in the rafters all day.

  1. “The château we left”: Probably Fricourt Château again; see map on 7 July entry. 

16 July 1916; Sunday

Up at 7 o’clock. Still standing by and no church service. Rumours of Germans’ retreat up the line. Wrote to Willie Whittaker. Fine morning. Service in the field in the afternoon but it rained and so we stopped before the sermon. Rained a bit at night. Wrote letter home in reply to one received and also to Willie Whittaker and Franchie Inwood. Went to bed early at night. Lay awake with toothache, but generally slept well.

1 killed and 9 wounded of the 57 Ambulance at La Boisselle.

15 July 1916; Saturday

Called up at 6 o’clock. Had breakfast shortly before 8 and was relieved then. Wrote letter to Joe and one to Charlie. Went on at 12 o’clock. Was relieved shortly before 2 o’clock. Just beginning dinner when we received orders to go to our billet and pack our kit. Packed kit in 20 minutes and paraded by the A.S.C. park. Had tea and waited. Received orders to go back to the billet and wait there. Beautiful afternoon. Wrote to Ernie. Turned in at the usual time.

14 July 1916; Friday

Up at 7. No bread and rotten dinner, boiled bully. Got hair cut. Physical drill at 11 o’clock. Wrote to Gertie. Received two copies of the Daily News from home. Rain in the morning but fine in the afternoon. Got new cap two sizes too small. Paraded at 6 o’clock with the guard. Went on from 6 until 10 o’clock. Got two blankets and slept with Lee on a fairly comfortable bed in the hospital barn.

13 July 1916; Thursday

Up at 7 o’clock after a bad restless night. Hunted in shirt and pants and found about 6 big lice. Paraded in the morning for cleaning waggons etcetera and then physical drill. Lay down all afternoon – no parade. Had some peaches for tea. Received some papers from Betty and also a letter from home. Went out at night with Lee and called at a village. Bought some chocolate. Afterwards met Leaky and Duggins and went with them to Ribemont1. Had eggs, coffee and cakes and bread. Walked round village and bought card for Gertie. Saw a few thousand cavalry go by our village and understand they are going to charge in the morning.

  1. Ribemont: presumably Ribemont-sur-Ancre, 7km SW of Albert, not Ribemont, SE of St Quentin. 

12 July 1916; Wednesday

Up at 7 o’clock. Church parade at 11 o’clock. Very nice service – C of E – and good hymns O God Our Help, Jesu Lover of my Soul etcetera. Read Bible a bit. Read British Weekly and enjoyed article by Claudius Clear1. Went to concert in the open by the Town Major’s house. Our C.O. and a captain took part in good dialogue. I dropped a 2 franc piece and couldn’t find it at a shop. Called again with Walsh and the woman recognised me and told me where she had found it – on the window sill. Washed shirt, pants and socks and wrote a few letters.

  1. Claudius Clear: alter-ego of William Robertson Nicoll (1851 – 1923), a Scottish Free Church minister, journalist, editor, and man of letters who founded the British Weekly, a Nonconformist newspaper.