Diaries; 24th – 30th October, 1914.

Saturday 24th October: Langemarche

This morning opened very quiet but it was not long before shells were dropping all around and a great many passing over our head.

We had orders to pack up and get ready to move. The French are relieving us. We marched on to the road at 7pm then halted and waited for our brigade to come down from the trenches when a terrible rifle and artillery fire broke out on both sides. The bullets were whistling past our head and we had to get down under cover. We then had to go back to the farm as the French could not get up to release our Brigade owing to the heavy fire.

It was a great sight, just like a display of fireworks on a large scale, only we could not stand up and see it. We got inside the farm but shells kept dropping all around it all night. Our luck was in and the farm was not hit though we expected one through it every minute.

Sunday 25th October: Langmarche/ Ypres 

It quietened down in the morning after a night of shot and shell and the French were able to relieve our Brigade and we marched off at 8am. It was very quiet when we left after the terrible noise of last night. We marched on East then South-East till we reached the town of Ypres where we halted just after passing through it. We were alongside some British aeroplanes and we had a fine view of them going up and coming down.

We billeted in a farm here just on the outside of Ypres. The town itself is a fine place, all the shops are open and everything is just like peace time. It has some fine buildings in it one of which is under repair.

Monday 26th October: Ypres

We marched off from here at 8am but we only marched about a mile North-East when we halted in a big estate on the side of the road. We seem to be going amongst it again the guns are hard at it in front. We moved off again and advanced about another mile and billeted behind a big house about 2 miles East of Ypres. The guns are all around us and are going as hard as they can.

We saw an aeroplane come down in our lines this afternoon, brought down by our own infantry in mistake. It came down a sheet of flame, both men were killed.

Tuesday 27th October: Ypres

We moved off and advanced about another 2 miles. We are fairly in the thick of it now, we are only about 400 yards behind our first line of trenches and as it is open country we can see a large town in the enemy’s lines, some say it is the town of Courtrai.

We made a house here into an Advance Dressing Station and moved the rest of us back to a Chateau in a wood at the crossroads. ‘A’ Section Bearers were left on duty at the Advance Dressing Station. They were only there about 2 hours when a shell came through the door of the house killing 1 and wounding 2 more of our Bearers. The two wounded died later in the night. They were all buried by us.

A batch of German prisoners passed us on the road down. The 7th and 2nd as well as our Division are all about here. We had to sleep in the trenches in the wood as we could not find anywhere else to sleep tonight.

Wednesday 28th October: Ypres

The names of the 3 men of our Ambulance killed yesterday are Horgan, Duffy, and Parry.

The last two were buried down at Ypres where our Tent Section have formed a hospital. ‘A’ Section Bearers went down last night to assist them. We are still in the wood about 4 miles East of Ypres and heavy fighting is still going on. Shells are dropping all around us.

The 7th Division is the one that landed at Ostend and retired from there. ‘B’ Section Bearers went down to Ypres tonight to assist the Tent Section as they have their hands full of wounded. The remainder of us of ‘C’ Section Bearers being left behind as an Advance Dressing Station.

Thursday 29th October: Ypres

Awakened at 1am to go out with 5 other men and an Officer to bring in some of the 1 st Brigade wounded on the left. After a very hard job we got them all away by 4am and just at daybreak the enemy made a determined attempt to break through our lines. The shells were dropping like hailstones about us.

20,000 Germans were trying to advance on the crossroads. They were advancing 40 deep, terrible hand to hand fighting is going on.

I went out with Captain Worthington of our Ambulance to see if it was possible to get the wounded in but it was raining shot and shell and we had some marvellous escapes.

The Germans drove the Coldstreams out of the first line of trenches. The Glosters who were holding the second line charged to the rescue but could not hold the first line as it was full of dead.

We found it was impossible to get the wounded in at present as it took us all our time to get back, we will have to wait till it quietens down a bit.

Our men are holding their own but it is taking them all their time. We were ordered down to Ypres to our hospital as all the wounded from 3 Divisions were coming into it. They had their hands full when we reached there having over 500 cases in and more coming in every minute. I was left in charge of 8 wounded Germans all night.

Friday 30th October: Ypres

We are having a very busy time here; it is a big Industrial School we have made into a hospital and all the wounded are coming in from 6 Divisions. We are sending them off in Motor Ambulances as hard as they come in but the hospital keeps filling up. A few shells are dropping just outside and a terrible fight is going on in front of the wood we left last night. We have to work as hard as we can collecting wounded, dressing them and getting them away in Motor Ambulances. We also have to bury the dead who die of wounds. We were out in the wood tonight and brought in a great many wounded, some Germans among them. The guns are going as hard as ever.


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