Tag Archives: Fricourt

Diary entries written while Arthur Linfoot was in or near to Fricourt and its ruined château.

31 July 1916, Monday

Up at 7 o’clock. Very hot all day. Remainder came down from trenches in the afternoon. We marched off to Laviéville1 at night. Went to old billets. Slept on top again.

  1. Fricourt, presumably the starting point for this march, (A) on map, and Laviéville  (B). 

30 July 1916; Sunday

Up at 7 o’clock. Had breakfast. Marched down to the horse lines. Made big shelter with the big waggon sheet and the waggons. Hot day. Very tired. Finished writing little story. Germans shelled heavily to the right and left of us with big stuff. After tea a few squads went up in reserve to the 59th and the remainder of us came back to the château near Fricourt12. Told to be ready to fall in and go up the line any time. Slept with only Lavere again.

Gas alarm at night.

  1. Fricourt: This is the first time ALL mentions Fricourt by name although this château was very probably the same one mentioned on 7th July and again on several occasions since. Fricourt is between Albert and Mametz, about 2km from latter; map sq. I 7/8 in Michelin. The map accompanying this post shows the approximate location of the château. 

  2. Fricourt had been a salient in the German front line prior to July 1916 and was taken by the British on 1-2 July. It was presumably during this fighting that the château was ruined. 

28 July 1916; Friday

Up about 5 o’clock. After sleeping very little. Read inscription in Testament on a heap of woundeds’ equipment, From your loving mother Dear Will read a verse every day and God will keep you safe. Mind you say your prayers.

Marched back to near the chateau and went to our old bivouacs. Weather still fine. Had bath in a horse bucket. Felt better after it. Newspapers from home and letter from Sandwith. Went to bed about 9 o’clock.

26 July 1916; Wednesday

Got piece of shrapnel out of the L & Y & L1 shoulder2. Stayed up until 1.30, then lay down until about 7 o’clock. Had quiet night although the Germans sent over gas shells all the while. Were relieved at 8 o’clock. Marched down to dressing station, then to the billets near the château, after calling at an Army Service park. Got to know a big ammunition dump had been fired. Sergeant Jones killed and Sergeant Brown wounded about 8 o’clock. 2 men gassed the night before and a few men down the line. Fine day. Returned to old billets with Lavere. A dead German buried in the side of the trench and his foot sticking out and smelled horribly. Got to know a day or two ago that Ted Trim had got a DCM3 on July 2nd. Received parcel from home and letter from Joe. Had eggs and brown bread and butter to tea.

Two pieces of trench art (the matchbox cover engraved "The Great War"; the paper- knife engraved "Albert", and "Ancre" on the reverse; the handle is a spent .303 cartridge, for a Lee Enfield rifle or a Lewis machine-gun); and a piece of shrapnel preserved by ALL (exact origin not known but possibly related to the July 26 diary entry).
Two pieces of trench art (the matchbox cover engraved “The Great War”; the paper- knife engraved “Albert”, and “Ancre” on the reverse; the handle is a spent .303 cartridge, for a Lee Enfield rifle or a Lewis machine-gun); and a piece of shrapnel preserved by ALL (exact origin not known but possibly related to the July 26 diary entry).

  1. Y & L: ALL first wrote “L & Y”, but corrected this to “Y & L”: the 8th and 9th Battalions of the Yorkshire & Lancashire Regiment were in 70th Brigade, 8th Division – not the 34th or 19th Division, but nevertheless in the central sector of the front. 

  2. ALL wrote in his more detailed 1976 narrative that he had kept this piece of shrapnel as a souvenir – possibly though by no means certainly the one in the illustration accompanying this entry. 

  3. “DCM”: the Distinguished Conduct Medal was for Other Ranks; officers got the Distinguished Service Cross. 

24 July 1916; Monday

Arrived at a place about 10 o’clock (23)1 and got down2 with Lavere under a waggon. Ordered to move on again. After delay fell in and marched to the place near the château where we were on Friday. Got down in the open with Lavere and slept well although damp. Got up and had breakfast about 10. Shaved and washed. Washed feet and hunted for lice. Received parcel from home, and letter from home and a letter from Leishman with a photograph of the barracks R-, N.C.Os. Spent day agreeably. Made good shelter for the night.

  1. Presumably means 10 pm on the 23rd. 

  2. “Got down” means “lay down to sleep” as elsewhere in the diaries. 

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.

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. 

8 July 1916; Saturday

Called out at 7 o’clock. Assisted with a case to the 59th bearers. Captain Johnson met me and told me to lie down. Couldn’t find any place to lie. Sat crowded in dugout and had some most welcome tea, bully and biscuits and jam. After the usual delay got a case and carried down to château. Had biscuits, jam and tea. Stayed all afternoon and had bully, biscuits and tea at 5 o’clock. Everybody tired out. I thought I was going to drop first thing, but felt better afterwards. Shoulders, back and feet tired. Everything mud, and in most awful condition. Appalling stench from dead men and horses. Captain Johnson made a speech and thanked us for the manner in which we had done our work in the most difficult circumstances and then asked for volunteers to bring in a few more men. I volunteered. We set out and were shelled terribly. Had marvellous escapes and were struck by pieces of flying mud. Two men of the 59 slightly wounded but we all got clear. Returned to château with no wounded.

7 July 1916; Friday

Called out of bed at 7 o’clock and told that we should have been on parade at 7. Hurried up, packed our kits†, and grabbed breakfast as best we could – biscuits and tea. Marched up to château1 where we found * bother†. Some very heavy bombardment going on most of the while. * * *. Sat in the ruined château in ruins. Marched up the line. Got lost as usual and squads were hopelessly mixed up. I kept with Paddy Graham and we carried a case along with some regimental bearers. I assisted a man who was suffering from shell shock. Returned and carried a man, he died as I was carrying him. Had violent convulsions, tried to vomit, and then died. Beautiful sunset. Night worse than in nightmare. Rained heavily later. Troops passing up trench made stretcher †pair miss†. Sat down steps on dug out until done. Wet through, cramped and too crowded <to> sleep. Horrible night. Nearly * dead in trench * *.

  1. “Château” and “the ruined château”: very probably Fricourt Château (approximate location shown on map), just north of the village, known to have been ruined by shelling.