Category Archives: 1976

These entries comprise Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of part of his diaries completed in 1976.

26 June 1916; Monday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Paraded with the guard. Tossed up and I won the officers’ guard. Had a bath in a biscuit tin. Also on guard at one o’clock and finished at five. Went to the village at night and bought three handkerchieves. Listened to the bank of 8th Glosters in front of the village church. It rained later on in the evening. Owing to the guns again? Saw twelve observation balloons in the air. A damaged aeroplane went through the village on a trailer.

27 June 1916; Tuesday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Paraded as usual. It rained. We were told to get ready for moving. Helped to load waggons in the afternoon. Walked to the village in the early evening. Fell in and marched off at 6.40. Long march and guide lost his way and we had to sit down and wait until the officers found the right road again. Packs got heavy and hard going towards the end. Reached steep bank which the transport mules could not manage. Ordered to take off packs and push the waggons up the bank to help the mules in the dark. Reached a sort of “plateau”. It rained. Headquarters, tent sub division (dressing orderlies) and horse lines, stayed at the top. We stretcher bearers were marched down to the bottom into the village of Laviéville and billeted in a dirty barn. Finished the march at 1.40 a.m. A stray German shell hit the church as we marched through the village in the dark. Slept well.

28 June 1916; Wednesday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Up at 9 o’clock. Very heavy rain all night and all day. Wet through walking from billet up to plateau for meals. Our billet in a squalid farmyard where a shrewish wife blaggards us all day in shrill French we do not understand. To repay her, Charlie Ford, a lively Cornishman is trying to teach her little boy of about five years a few ugly English swearwords. Ordered to parade at 5 p.m. and then this order was countermanded. Bully and biscuits for midday meal. An R.E. told me the attack was postponed for forty eight hours owing to the heavy rain. Rain stopped in the evening and we walked to the end of the village and watched German shells bursting in Albert a few miles away. Most of the men playing housey-housey.

29 June 1916; Thursday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Walked up the bank for breakfast. Lee gave me a slice of bread – a nice change from biscuit. Standing by all day. In the evening walked with Lee and Duggins to the next village (Hénencourt) to the Y.M.C.A. there and counted 22 observation balloons in the air on the way there. Watched a German anti-aircraft gun shelling our planes and saw one shot down. Turned in about 9 o’clock.

30 June 1916; Friday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

(This and the next few days written from memory when we left the Line for a rest. It was all very confusing and we lost all sense of time.)

Up at 7 o’clock and we went up the bank for breakfast as usual. Lovely summer morning and we were aware of the contrast between the peaceful country scene behind us and the war a mile or two in front of us to the East. Received orders for stretcher bearers of B and C sections (I was in C) to go up the line tonight. Paraded in the afternoon and given two extra iron rations (3 altogether) and handed in our packs (valises) to the quartermaster’s store. A perfect June evening. Had a meal at 8.30. I read 23rd Psalm and a chapter from St. John’s Gospel. Detailed off in bearer squads and I was with Paddy Graham, Duggins and Leaky. Paraded in the farmyard. Getting dark; intensely exciting; very quiet. As we stood on parade a troop of cavalry passed through the village street, sabres hanging down sides of horses. Very dramatic and encouraging. Our brigade (57th Infantry) passed through the village and we joined them at about 10 p.m. Progress terribly slow due to congestion of masses of troops on narrow road. Frequent and long halts. Welshmen in our Division sang quietly most of the way. No sound from the guns tonight. Only one gun spoke out at long intervals. Paddy and I carried our stretcher most of the way. Reminded me of the book “The Invasion of 1910”. Lay down beside a broken down barn for a short time. Reached assembly trenches about midnight.

1 July 1916; Saturday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Lay awake with the cold. Dozed off a few times. About 6 o’clock awoke with the tremendous heavy firing of guns and big shells passing flying overhead. Stood by our billets and watched troops moving up. (the Albert – Bapaume road). Had breakfast of cheese, biscuits and margarine and tea.

Received our orders and then returned to dugouts. Bombardment continued. Lincolns moved off and captured first line (we heard). Desperate fighting going on. 8th Division has lost about half its strength. Watched German aeroplane being shelled by our guns. Heavy batteries behind us pounding away all day. Even horse ambulances full of wounded galloping back down the Bapaume Road. Told to turn in at 10 p.m. and almost immediately received orders to go up the line. Some uncertainty about orders then marched off after about twenty minutes. In Albert about 30 minutes later. (Now quite dark.) Were given steel helmets at our main dressing station in Albert, taken from casualties. All very bewildering noise with two 15” howitzers in Albert firing as quickly as they could. Marched out of Albert up the road. In the fields on either side massed British field guns and French 75s and behind us massed heavies. All blazing away. Scores of green flares dancing in the sky before us with occasional red flares calling for support. Terrific noise and real Bedlam. Utter confusion.

2 July 1916; Sunday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Left the road for a communication trench. Left our skeleton equipment at an aid post and were given two shell dressings each. Moved up the trench in single file led by the guide. Trench full of men: reinforcements, carriers of ammunition, rations, and water. Others coming down. Progress desperately slow. Guide lost his way three times and we had to move back. Machine gun and sniper fire and just about dawn we crossed No Man’s Land and entered a trench just captured where one of our regimental M.Os. was attending men in a dugout. We were given a man with a compound fracture of left tibia. Germans now shelling our front line heavily and we had to wait until they eased off. Trench a sea of mud here. Most difficult to get loaded stretcher down trench, especially round traverses. Took ages. Were nearly down when regimental stretcher bearer followed us and asked us to go back with him. Found several wounded unable to walk and carried them back to aid post. (No idea of time: now dark again.) Gas alarm and we had to wear masks. Lay down for a rest. Very heavy bombardment and heavy fighting in front. (some lead pencil marks too faint to read.) Sgt. Brown took several squads of bearers and led us out of front line trench on to open ground. Green flares going up all round. Crawled close to ground with machine gun bullets just overhead. Troops in trench (9th Welsh I believe) ready to go over at dawn. Noise, confusion and darkness. Led to a waterlogged empty trench and waited there until dawn in a few inches of water. At dawn collected stretcher cases at a German dugout just captured.

3 July 1916; Monday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Led by Sgt. Brown. A heap of 8 or 10 bodies lay like sardines in a sap next to the dugout door. Our squad got last man from the dugout. A man on heap of dead with piece out of his skull still alive, so next squad brought him down to dressing station. Went back from dressing station with Sgt. Brown. Lot of wounded. Stretcher squad had been blown to pieces in trench. We walked over mutilated bodies, with the stretcher. Man with genitals blown off. Infantry still advancing. Heavy fighting and gunfire in front. Heard that Sgt. More and two privates had gone down with shell shock. Dead beginning to smell badly. Got orders to return to dressing station. Saw a man on a stretcher who had gone insane. Saw a German . . . . . . . (cannot read) Joined Bill Jolly (Welsh boxer) and two B section men and went up to aid post. Very heavy shelling just in front and Jolly and one man lost nerve. Persuaded them to go on. Found N.F. sgt. with big wound in thigh who had been in a funk hole since first attack. Brought him down. Trench blown in just in front of us. Sheltered in small sap until shelling eased off. Had drink of tea. Fell in again and went up with Sgt. Brown. About 70 squads ( ? bearers surely ? ) . Lot of wounded. Water in trench. A sap full of water with several dead in it. Water pink. One of our snipers near me had his right thumb blown off by a German sniper. “He saw me first”. he said. Dressed his thumb with my 1st field dressing.

4 July 1916; Tuesday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Marched off at about 2 o’clock and back to Albert. First went to main dressing station and then taken to lie down by a wall on the ground. Paddy Graham and I lay together and shared a ground sheet. Took nothing off – not even boots – too tired. Immediately commenced to rain heavily. Wet through. Capt. Johnson came and took us to a stable full of vehicles which had not been in use from the start of the war. Everything filthy. I found a two wheeled trap leaning forward on its shafts and sat on the seat with my legs out in front. Went to sleep for hours. Woke up stiff and filthy with cobwebs. Had good feed of biscuits. Sent field postcard home. Received parcel with cakes in it. Rained heavily. Lot of men had German helmets. A rat ran up my shirt sleeve as I leaned out of barn window writing up diary. Wash and shave; first since Friday. Heard that 10,000 walking cases and 1,000 stretcher cases had been treated by our main dressing station in Albert. Went to sleep in badly damaged estaminet on red tiled floor. One man slept on billiard table and said cloth made it softer.

5 July 1916; Wednesday

This is an extract from Arthur Linfoot’s own transcription of his diary, written in 1976.

Up at 7 a.m. Paraded at 9.15. Marched back to trenches about 12. Reached aid post about 2.30. Shelled. Waited a short time then sent down with walking case to advanced dressing station. Had drink of tea. Very heavy shelling by both sides. Turned out bright and fine. Trenches in fearful condition. Wet to the skin wading up and down. More bodies about than last time I was here and smelling badly. Bearer in a squad in front of us lost his nerve, but recovered in a few minutes. Felt remarkably fit and cheerful. Had to wade waist deep in one stretch of trench. Left stretcher at aid post and was sent down with about a dozen walking wounded. Lent one of them my tin hat. He had lost his. Wet to the waist. Took off puttees and boots and tried to scrape off thick mud. Back to aid post again where we resumed carrying until about midnight. Ordered forward again and led over old No Man’s Land where the first attack had been made. Heaps of dead like sheaves of corn at harvest time and smelling pretty bad in the dark. Ordered to lie down until daybreak.