Diaries; 19th – 25th December, 1914.

Saturday 19th December: Outterstene

Have just heard about the raid on Scarborough. Received Postal Order from the Boys in the Kingston. Along with a few of my chums had a great night.

Sunday 20th December: Outterstene/ Merville

At 5.30pm we received the order to get ready and marched off from here at 7pm. We marched on until 2am till we reached Merville South-East of Outterstene

Monday 21st December: Merville/ Bethune

After one hours sleep we moved on again at 3am but progress was very slow. Rain started to come down and we were hanging about the roads with no place for shelter but we reached a billet after passing through the town of Bethune at 5pm. We stayed here for the night.

Tuesday 22nd December: Festubert

After a bad night’s sleep in our wet clothes, as we did not get our blankets out, we were up and had some tea. Our troops have been having a hard time here. We are not exactly in the firing line yet; we are a good bit back waiting to see what is going on.

Nearly all the Indian troops are here and some heavy fighting has been going on with heavy losses on both sides.

At 4pm we went out to collect wounded, we advanced about 4 miles and were very soon under shell fire. Rain was coming down and the roads were 3 feet deep with mud and water.

We had to wade through it up past our knees. We were being sniped at all the time and falling into holes 6ft deep with water. We were out all night bringing in the wounded, one of the worst nights I have yet experienced. We worked all night till 9am bringing in all kinds of wounded black and white and could not put the stretcher down or the mud would have covered the patient. The Indian Ambulance gave us a hand, they are very good workers.

Three of the Glosters were drowned in a trench though they were not wounded, that is what it is like here.

We got back to a new billet at Chateau Gorre which we have made into a hospital.

Wednesday 23rd December: Gorre

After getting back at 9am we received a tot of rum which did us good and some breakfast.

We are now close to the firing line so won’t have so far to carry the wounded. After 2 hours sleep in the afternoon, we had to go out again at night through the water and mud. It is a hard job carrying wounded under such conditions. This place our Brigade are holding is called Festubert. It is right between Bethune and Le Bassee.

The 1st Division has relieved the Indian troops who are going back for a rest. It is horrible weather horrible roads.

Thursday 24th December: Gorre

We have cleaned all this house out and made it into a hospital. We are under shell fire but this house has not been hit yet. It is called Chateau Gorre.

We were out last night and expect to be out again tonight Xmas Eve. Just our luck, what a Christmas Eve! We went out about 9pm and brought in a few a few wounded. It has turned into a very hard frost and the snipers had their usual shot at us but got back just on the stroke of Christmas.

Friday 25th December: Gorre

The frost that started about 9pm last night held all night and it is freezing hard today. We had to turn out early this morning as the frost has taken a terrible toll on the trenches where the water is 3 to 4 feet deep. We had to work all day to carry men from the trenches with frozen feet. There were only about 20 wounded all the rest were frozen feet. We had to work till it grew dark with a shell now and then dropping near.

We had our Christmas dinner-Biscuits and cheese in an Advanced Dressing Station just behind the trenches. What a Christmas.

After a hard day’s work, we managed to get the last poor devil away just at dark. We got back to the hospital about 7pm and after a small piece of Christmas pudding and a pint of beer we had to go out again at 10pm to bring in another 5 wounded. We received a perfect volley from the Germans this time and had to get under cover for a while till it died down but were sniped at all the road back but got back at 12pm safe and sound. “Not a bad day”


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