Category Archives: November 1916

All diary entries written in November 1916

20 November 1916; Monday

Up about 8 o’clock. Laid fire and had breakfast. Mr Mudie1 arrived in the Ford car to take us away about 10 o’clock. He went to make enquiries about the people who are to relieve us. 33 F A relieved us about 4 o’clock. I walked to the cab station and Mr Mudie sent me on after Captains McCombie and Birrell to Aveluy post. There I got the Ford car and returned to the house where Corporal Chapman and I got in with our kit and returned. I received some letters, one from home telling me that Ranald McDonald was wounded in the leg and had trench fever2. Slept with the M.T’s.

La Verr3 killed.

  1. Mr Mudie: the Army convention was/is that lieutenants and 2nd lieutenants were/are addressed, and sometimes referred to, as “Mr. xx”; so although ALL elsewhere writes “Lieutenant XX”, Mr Mudie – if the name is correct – was probably not a civilian. 

  2. Trench fever is a moderately serious disease transmitted by body lice. It infected armies in Flanders, France, Poland, Galicia, Italy, Salonika, Macedonia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt in World War I. The disease is caused by the bacterium Bartonella quintana, found in the stomach walls of the body louse. Lice were, of course, ubiquitous as is well documented both in ALL’s diaries (for example, on 21 July 1916) and in other contemporary accounts

  3. “La Verr” is written very faintly in longhand and is barely legible. However, in the light of helpful information from a correspondent, this was very probably Private Matthew La Veere, of the 58th Field Ambulance, from Cambusnethan near Wishaw, Lanarkshire, who is buried in the British Cemetery at Contay, some 13km west of Aveluy 

18 November 1916; Saturday

Bedfords moved off about 8 o’clock. We spent the day by ourselves. Had roast fowl for dinner and plenty of toast† and good grub. Went to bed about 10 o’clock after writing a long letter home from a green envelope1 which we found amongst some dead soldiers’ papers. Brooks and Kinross brought rations for us in the rain.

  1. Green envelope: Letters from soldiers on active service were subject to censorship but, as a privilege, soldiers were also given one green envelope per month in which they could send uncensored personal and private letters. Evidently green envelopes were a valued resource, hence ALL’s use of this one left unused by its unfortunate owner. 

17 November 1916; Friday

Up shortly after 6 o’clock. Had breakfast along with the men of the Bedfords who were in our hut. Fine bright morning but very cold. Bedfords1 went up the line to clear the battlefield and bury their dead. Left as orderly room sergeant all day and did very well. Went to bed about 9 o’clock.

  1. The 7th Bedfords were in the 18th (Eastern) Division (54th Brigade) at the start of the Somme battle; the 18th Division had then been in the southern sector, attacking between Mametz and Montauban. 

16 November 1916; Thursday

Principal work all night dressing cases. Had over 40 cases in during the night. Got into bed about 9 o’clock, but had to get up to vomit and immediately afterwards Quarter<master> Castle ordered me to be ready to go with Corporal Chapman and the C.O. to take over a place. Went in the Ford†. Germans shelling shell heap. Wounded a man and our car took him back to Aveluy. As we waited on the road we watched a few shells fall near. Back over some huts at Martinsart1. Men of the 61st Naval Division came into the huts for the night. A few slept with us. I got down about 6 o’clock and slept well. Heard that Piggy Wood and Castle had received Military Medal.

  1. Martinsart: presumably Mesnil-Martinsart (A), about 2½km from both Aveluy (B) and Bouzincourt (C), and 4½km N. of Brickfields (D); Michelin square H7. 

13 November 1916; Monday

Got a few hours’ sleep during the night. Up all morning stretcher bearing at the dressing station. Went out with two horse ambulances in the afternoon to Buzincourt1. Found things pretty slack when I returned. Saw a lot of ambulances with wounded on the road. Treated about 70 cases at our station.

Our Division over the top. Naval Division captured Beaumont Hamel, Beaucourt & St Pierre Divion2 and over 5000 prisoners.

  1. Bouzincourt (A) again; ALL would have started this journey at Brickfields (B) as usual. 

  2. Beaumont-Hamel (C) is about 7km due N. of Aveluy, ie to the NW of the Albert – Bapaume road; Michelin square H7. “Beaucourt” is written in extremely faint pencil, and could be “Beaumont”, but Beaucourt-sur-l’Ancre (D) (Michelin square I7) is just 3km E. of B.Hamel and seems more likely; Saint Pierre Divion (E) (also square I7) is about 3km S. of Beaucourt, thus only 4 –5km N. of Aveluy.