14th December 1916 – The last diary entry

Thursday 14th December: Headquarters

I am going on leave tonight.


My great-great-grandfather transferred to the Royal Engineers on January 18th 1917. He served with them until the end of the war.

Thank you for following along on this journey and reading along with me, this has been an amazing experience to share these with the world.


1st & 2nd December 1916

Friday 1st December: Ginchy

Off up the line again but had only arrived at Ginchy when I took ill. Lay in a dugout in Ginchy all night.

Saturday 2nd December: Ginchy/ Headquarters

Ordered down the line-my temperature is 103. Arrived at Headquarters and am staying here till I go on leave.

Diaries; 19th – 30th November, 1916.

Sunday 19th November: Montauban

Still resting at Montauban in the mud.

Monday 20th November: Montauban

We were to relieve No. 9 field Ambulance Bearers today but it is all cancelled. The whole of our Division is being relieved.

Tuesday 21st November: Montauban

We left here at 11.30am after our Division had been relieved by the Australians.

Wednesday 22nd November: Meault

We are billeted in the town of Meault near Albert.

The other two men who were in the dugout with me died in Hospital yesterday. We buried them today.

Thursday 23 rd to 30th November: there are no diary entries.

Diaries; 12th – 18th November, 1916.

Sunday 12th November: Meault

Still in the same camp.

Monday 13th November: Meault/ Bronfay Wood

We left our camp at Meault at 11.30 today and marched up to the line till we came to Bronfay Wood. There we halted and were packed into a hut for the night. The mud here is awful.

Tuesday 14th November: Bronfay Wood/ Lesboeufs

We were awakened at 5.30am and after a hurried breakfast we were told off in relays and set off up the line to relieve No. 9 Field Ambulance Bearers.

Owing to the mud no Ambulance wagon could get nearer to the line than 5 miles so we have to place squads all down the road in relays. I am in one of the six squads told off to get the wounded from the other side of Lesboeufs and carry them back to the sunken road.

Two of the six squads are taking the first spell of duty up in the support trenches the other side of Lesboeufs and the remainder of us are in dugouts here on the sunken road. The Germans have the road taped and are shelling it continuously.

Wednesday 15th November: Lesboeufs

I had a terrible awakening this morning.

There were six of us in a dugout on the sunken road-my squad and two of another squad. We were all asleep when Fritz dropped a shell clear through our dugout and it burst inside.

Before we could move another shell hit the top of the door and carried it all in on the top of us.

After a struggle, I managed to scramble out and went for assistance from my mates in the other dugouts and we soon had all my chums dug out.

One (Doig) was dead; the other four were seriously wounded. I was the only one who had escaped without a scratch.

We very soon had the wounded dressed and off down the line as the Germans were still shelling very heavily.

Thursday 16th November: Lesbeoufs/Montauban

It is terrible cold this morning and we were relieved by No. 4 Field Ambulance at 11am and marched back to Montauban where we were to stay for our 4 days’ rest.

Two more of my chums, that were wounded yesterday, have died.

Friday 17th November: Montauban

It has been a terrible hard frost all night and the top part of the mud is hard. We are resting in tents here at Montauban.

Saturday 18th November: Montauban

It was still hard frost this morning but it turned to rain in the afternoon and we were again knee deep in mud.

Diaries; 5th – 11th November, 1916.

Sunday 5th to Tuesday 7th November: Fresnoy

No change

Wednesday 8th November: Fresnoy

Our headquarters with all the transport, left here today for the Somme front again.

The remainder of us are going on Friday by motor.

Thursday 9th November: Fresnoy

We are leaving here tomorrow by motor.

Friday 10th November: Fresnoy/ St. Mavous/ Amiens/ Ville-S-Corbie/ Meault

We left Fresnoy at 9am and marched to the village of St. Marvous. After waiting here an hour we got into the motors and set off for the Somme again.

After passing through Amiens we halted at the village of Ville-S-Corbie then marched to a camp outside the town of Meault where we billeted for the night.

Saturday 11th November: Meault

We are staying here for the day in tents on the Albert and Bray road and are up to the knees in mud. I expect it is worse up the line.

Diaries; 1st – 4th November, 1916.

Wednesday 1st November: Vergies

The whole Guards Division was inspected by the Duke of Connaught today and he
presented a few decorations.

Thursday 2nd November: Vergies

We are still resting here at Vergies but expect to shift to some other village soon owing to reinforcements coming soon for the Scotch Guards.

Friday 3rd November: Vergies/ Fresnoy

We moved from Vergies at 2pm today and marched to the village of Fresnoy and opened a rest hospital for the Division in a big Chateau there. This village of Fresnoy is only about 3 miles from the last village.

Saturday 4th November: Fresnoy

We are still here in Fresnoy making everything shipshape for a rest hospital. Rotten weather, rain.

Diaries; 1st – 10th October, 1916.

Sunday 1st October: Bronfay Farm/ Mericourt/ Bellay/ Frettecuisse

We left Bronfay Farm at 7am and marched to Mericourt where we were joined by the whole of the 3rd Brigade of Guards. At 12 mid-day we all got into French motor buses and after travelling 70 kilometres, passing through the town of Amiens, we halted and got out of the buses at a village called Bellay then marched to another village called Frettecuisse where we billeted for the night.

Monday 2nd October: Frettecuisse/ Vergies

We stayed here in this village all day till 5pm then we packed up and marched to another village called Vergies where we again joined our Headquarters who had marched here. We are to rest here for some time.

Tuesday 3rd October: Vergies

This is a small village about 18 miles from Abbeville and all our Division is in villages around here. We are well behind the line here and can’t hear the guns and we are all getting new clothes as our clothes were all torn.

Wednesday 4th October: Vergies

We are still here in Vergies and leave has started for the Division and we have been
reinforced by some more men.

Our total casualties, on the Somme for our Ambulance, were 5 Killed, 15 Wounded and 10 Shell Shocked and we were only 80 strong up there all told. Two men received the Military Medal.

Thursday 5th October: Vergies

This part of the country is not unlike parts of Scotland and it is a very quiet country district.

Friday 6th to Tuesday 10th October: Vergies

Still here resting but we are getting rotten weather.

Diaries; 24 – 30 September 1916.

Sunday 24th September: Ginchy

We were out carrying wounded all night from Ginchy Ridge to Frooms Wood owing to the wagons not being able to get up; the roads being too bad. After breakfast we went out and finished the dugout at the support trench, a German aeroplane spotted us and the Germans strafed us but we got it finished alright.

The attack is coming off tomorrow and the Tanks are working their way up to the first line today. Three of our aeroplanes are now lying in the open between the support trench and Ginchy Ridge having been brought down this last week. The pilot of one of them is lying beside his machine having been burned to death.

Monday 25th September: Ginchy

The attack is coming off between 1 and 2pm today; we are all ready for it and have
everything ready. It has turned out a fine day and everything seems to be in our favour. The guns have been hard at it all night and are going at it harder than ever.

The last of the Land Dreadnaughts are passing on up to the first line.

We are standing by ready to move up to the front line as we are to follow the infantry over the top. A few German shells are passing over our heads and dropping in Frooms Wood and a fight between two aeroplanes is going on over our heads.

We moved on up to the support trench and there had to crouch down in funk holes for at 12 o’clock every gun seemed to break into one great roar. The noise is terrible and the Germans are strafing this trench for all they are worth.

We did not have to stick this for long as the German fire lifted as our troops were now advancing. The Guards having already taken Lesbeoufs and the prisoners are coming down in droves.

We can also see our Cavalry coming up on our left near the village of Flers but we did not have much time to watch anything now as we had our share to do. As we went over to our old first line we could see our infantry moving out of the other end of the village and advancing up the slope in front.

We now had to work our hardest and though the Germans strafed us heavily we still had to keep on. We have lost few of our Ambulance and are working short-handed.

Tuesday 26th September: Lesbeoufs

We were at it all night bringing in the wounded and are still at it. About mid-day the Germans strafed us very heavily when we were out collecting and we lost three of our bearers killed and three wounded, two of those killed have been with us since the start of the war.

The Division on our left the 21st did not get their objectives yesterday but after a short bombardment got it today with the aid of the Tanks and from the ridge we were on we could see the Germans in the wood in front and also our Cavalry trying to find a way through.

I don’t think it was much of a success with the Cavalry though they brought back some prisoners with the Germans shelling them all the way back.

Wednesday 27th September: Lesbeoufs

We were at it all night again but had them all clear by daylight when we were relieved by No. 9 Field Ambulance bearers who had gone back yesterday for a rest.

After being relieved we came back to Ginchy ridge for a rest and lay down in shell holes near our old Dressing Station there. In the afternoon we were shelled by the Germans very heavily but they only managed to wound two of our bearers though one was serious. At 7pm we went further back to the other side of Frooms Wood where we lay down and slept in a trench for the night.

Thursday 28th September: Carnoy

After breakfast and after burying three of our bearers ”who had been killed with a shell two days ago” we marched back to Carnoy where we billeted in a field.

Two German aeroplanes were over here last night dropping bombs; killing 70 horses and wounding over 200, only one or two men were hit.

Friday 29th September: Bronfay Farm

After staying in Carnoy nearly all day we packed up at 5pm and marched to the Corps Dressing Station at Bronfay Farm near Bray and joined our Headquarters there. We are out of action for a week or two now and the Division is going back for a rest.

Saturday 30th September: Bronfay farm

All our transport and Headquarters left here today, the remainder of us go tomorrow by bus.