Tag Archives: Gas

Diary entries which mention the military use of gas during the war.

1 October 1917; Monday

Up about midnight running up the canal bank after an officer. His man had taken him down the tunnel and he was quite dead when brought down. His first time up the line. Had two gas alarms in the night and some gassed artillerymen in in the night. Rather a busy time and we were fed up after it. Went round the aid posts in the morning with the 57th officer and Lee Hughes. Two German planes flying extremely low.

14 August 1917; Tuesday

Up about 7 o’clock. Cleaned up stuff in the panniers until about dinnertime. Went up for a bath before dinner. Worked an hour or so in the afternoon. Went out with John Dory at night. It rained heavily and compelled us to return. Had long talk up the river side. Had some eggs in the farmhouse last thing.

Received letter from Ranald MacDonald saying that he is in hospital at Boulogne slightly gassed.

13 August 1917; Monday

Up at about 7 o’clock. On fatigue in the morning. Pay parade at 11 o’clock. Box respirator1 and clothes inspection at 2 o’clock. A few chaps drunk on parade and got into trouble for it. Lovely day. Had walk with Dory at night on to the top of the ridge. Had eggs for supper at the farm house.

  1. A box respirator was a kind of gas mask using  a two-piece design with a mouthpiece connected via a hose to a box filter. Two types of box respirator were used, the large box respirator (LBR), which was ultimately deemed too bulky for use by infantry, and the small box respirator (SBR). It is unclear which type of box respirator was issued to ALL although it seems likely to have been the SBR which would have been more suited for use by stretcher bearers in trenches. See also Chemical Weapons in World War I at Wikipedia. 

22 March 1917; Thursday

Up at 7 o’clock and on duty at 7.30. Kept busy all day. A bit of tension but only a few patients in. Went to Locre1 at night with Sergeant Powell and Ike Taylor at night and saw part 3 and 4 of the Somme pictures. Had a snack at the YM hall.

Gas helmet parade.

  1. Locre: now (Flemish) Loker (B), 3km SSW. of La Clytte/Klijte (A), Michelin square I3. 

17 January 1917; Wednesday

My Birthday 271.     Up at 5.30. Breakfast at 6. Fell in full pack at 7 and marched off about 7.20. Heavy fall of snow and still falling as we marched. Several of us fell down as we came down the hill from the camp. The march tired me a lot and I was nearly beat after the first stretch. Put into a deep dugout near to the Welsh aid post, along with Sergeant Powell, Holman, Bascombe and other 9. Slept pretty comfortably on the floor. Ball, the new man, on gas alert a bit. Went up to aid post and had to get down a few times. They knocked in the parapet near shortly before we went along. A lovely birthday!

  1. “27”: 17 January 1917 was ALL’s 27th birthday. 

2 September 1916; Saturday

On guard at 9 o’clock. My turn in the middle. Had a few short walks and called in Y.M.

[The foregoing words are superimposed on “Father’s birthday” and “Dorothy 7th”, written faintly in longhand.] 12

On from 1 o’clock in the morning until 5 o’clock. Gas alert put on and gave me some trouble. Pinched some petrol and washed tunic next morning3.

  1. ALL’s father’s birthday was the 4th of September, not the 2nd. ALL noted his father’s 59th birthday on 4th September 1914, so he would have celebrated his 61st birthday two days after this diary entry. 

  2. “Dorothy” refers to Dorothy Wiseman, ALL’s niece and daughter of his elder sister, Marmie, and her husband, Joe Wiseman. “7th” refers to the date of Dorothy’s birthday, 7th September, and not to her age. The 7th of September 1916 would have been her 4th birthday. See also: Family

  3. “Washed tunic”: possibly to remove discolouration of buttons caused by gas? (q.v. gas test on 3rd June). 

8 August 1916; Tuesday

Up at 9 o’clock. Had breakfast and received orders to have dinner at 11.30 and fall in <in> full marching order at 12 o’clock. Marched off shortly after 12 o’clock. Crossed Belgian Frontier and arrived at the village of [space – probably intended to be filled in later when name known] 1 about 2 o’clock. Duggins, Corporal Stanton and I made a bivouac together. Very nice place. Don’t know what the future holds. Walked into village at night. Found out we could buy all sorts of things including newspapers and that most of the people talk marvellous† English. Bought some milk at a farm. Weather hot all the time.

News of Battle at Suez2.

Heard Last Post blown and it sounded fine.   Gas alarm at night.

  1. According to ALL’s own 1976 transcription, the village was Westoutre, now Westouter. 

  2. “Battle at Suez”: Probably the Battle of Romani (3-5 August 1916), the last ground attack of the Central Powers on the Suez Canal at the beginning of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during the First World War.