Friday, 8 August 2008

1915 DIARY

Taken from 38th Brigade Royal Field Artillery War Diaries (National Archives).
You can track Frank’s locations during 1915 by following this map link.

1+2 January 1915: At Messines.
3 January: Withdrew to Dranoutre to overhaul guns.
4-6 January: -
7 January: Moved to Neuve Eglise.
8-10 January: -
11 January: Engaged various targets with good effect. Howitzer shells dropped in enemy trenches (enemy forced to evacuate).
12-26 January: -
27 January: No change. Kaiser’s birthday – all quiet.
28-30 January: -
31 January: Enemy shelled fairly heavily road in front of 65th Bty between 3-4pm.

1 February: Still at Neuve Eglise. 37th Bty attached to Indian Corps (or 28th Div); 61st Bty grouped with 27th Bde RFA; 65th Bty grouped with 28th Bde RFA.
2-7 February: -
8 February 1915: Frank posted from 38th Brigade to 12th Brigade.
8 February:
At Armentieres: Field howitzers opened fire of 24th Bty; they were engaged and eventually silenced. “Daily allowance of ammunition exceeded. The hostile fire then increased”. 12th Bde at La Houssoie: did not fire.
9 February: Fired four rounds at Goods Station near Rue du Bois (“4th round went through roof”). Lt McHair of 87th Bty wounded in morning.
10+11 February: 38th Bde did not fire.
12-15 February: -
16 February: Shelled crossroads at Blanc Coulon.
17+18 February: Dispersed working party.
19+20 February: -
21+22 February: One gun sent to new position near L’Armee to register trenches.
23-27 February: -
28 February: “Germans put two light shells through house occupied by observation party – but all the men got out in time”.

1-8 March: -
9 March: Registered trenches in front of Bois Blanc.
10 March: Bois Grenier.
11 March: Frank posted to 72nd Battery.
12-21 March: -
22 March: Big attack made successfully on Neuve Chapelle. Fired on firing line trench in retaliation for shelling Bois Grekier. Fired 8 rounds.
23-29 March: -
30 March: Registered French by La Houssoie. “Two German batteries opened fire and we immediately located. Fired 36 rounds”.

1 April: -
2 April: Registered trenches in front of Wez Macquart.
3+4 April: -
5 April: Battery re-assembled at its position Rue des Charles.
6-12 April: -
13 April: “3pm: Shelled hotel at La Houssoie – obtaining five direct hits”.
14-29 April: -
30 April: “Life continued as before”. Second Battle of Ypres 22 April – 25 May War Diary file at The National Archives contains booklet by Col E Harding-Newman, published 1919: “Action of the 37th Battery RFA in the Second Battle of Ypres, 22 April – 3 May 1915”.

1-22 May: -
23 May: Co-operated with the 49th Division in attack on some houses at Touquet. 12th Bde cut wire and bombarded trenches to east of Bois Grenier-Radinghem road.
24-29 May: -
30 May: Poreringhe. One section from each battery went into action. 72nd Bty temporarily detached from 38th Bde and joined 24th Bde north-west of Ypres. 24th and 134th Bty relieved 149th and 366th Bty of 146th Bde.
31 May: Relief of 146th Bde completed. Zone of 38th Bde is from Verlorenhoek road to Roulers railway.

1 June: Ypres. Quiet day.
2 June: Germans shelled Ypres and district heavily during afternoon.
3 June: 24th and 34th Bty registered and 65th Bty fired six rounds at German trenches, obtaining 3 direct hits.
4+5 June: 24th and 34th Bty registered. 65th Bty not engaged.
6 June: 24th Bty located and silenced field battery. 34th Bty registered. 65th not engaged.
7 June: 24th and 65th Bty each dispersed small party of Germans. 65th Bty afterwards fired at German sausage balloon and caused it to descend.
8 June: Ypres. Fired at party of Germans walking up lane.
9 June: Searched road from Verlorenhoek to Frezenberg. Direct hit obtained on some buildings and also later fired to stop sniping at the request of infantry.
10 June: Fired at working party in the trenches.
11 June: -
12 June: At 5.30pm fired a few rounds at field gun which was shelling north of Potijze and it stopped at once.
13-15 June: -
16 June: Assault on Bellewarde Ridge. Wire cutting and bombardment took place from 2.50am-4.15am and was effective. By 5.45am Bellewarde Farm had been taken. De Bellewarde: 38th Bty formed barrage preventing reinforcements from coming up from north-east. Fire on Bde used in moving to disperse counter attacks.
17+18 June: Not engaged.
19 June: Shelled German front line trenches.
20 June: Ypres. Silenced a battery and then turned on observation station. Also shelled railway station at 1am at the request of infantry (who were being shelled with gas shell in this area).
21 June: Engaged howitzers and afterwards shelled enemy trenches.
22 June: Took part in operations to take an earthwork and to make a trench running north from it to join our own trench crossing the Roulers railway. Bombardments at 10 minute intervals.
23+24 June: Quiet day.
25 June: Fired a few rounds at Verlorenhoek road.
26 June: Registered anti-aircraft gun and silenced it.
27 June: Shelled parties of men behind wood and registered an enemy gun emplacement in this wood at 9am.
28 June: Ypres. Registered three line trenches and shelled centre of Frezenberg in retaliation. Silenced howitzers which were shelling in the direction of Menin Road.
29 June: Shelled field guns.
30 June: Shelled woods as working party was reported there. Also shelled observation station in trench south of Roulers railway.

1 July: Ypres. Shelled wood.
2 July: Heavy guns turned on to trench. Germans seen to run away down Roulers railway. Also shelled observing house. Fired a few rounds in retaliation at Verlorenhoek dip.
3 July: At 6.30am was again shelled with gas shell. Trenches fired on in retaliation.
4 July: Occasional rounds.
5 July: Ypres. Engaged field guns which were shelling our trenches. They stopped firing.
6 July: Took part in a fire demonstration from 5.30-6.30am. Targets engaged (trenches). Owing to mist, little movement could be seen but some Germans were seen coming up communication trench and were shelled to good effect.
7 July: Obtained direct hit on advanced post. Shelled working party in Prinz Oskar Farm.
8 July: Silenced field guns.
9 July: Shelled party of 30 men in trench.
10 July: -
11+12 July: Shelled suspected observing houses.
13 July: Shelled working party on railway bank (battery retaliated). Germans rushed our advance post at Stink Houses on Verlorenhoek road. Batteries at once turned to form a curtain of fire round this post, while it was re-taken by our bombing parties.
14+15 July: Shelled working party.
16 July: Fired on trenches in retaliation. Shelled observing house and working party.
17 July: Shelled and dispersed working party leaving dug-out near railway.
18 July: Parties of men dispersed by Battery. Farm shelled.
19 July: Shelled working parties. Gun opened on our trenches at 1.15pm and was engaged. Retaliated on German trenches.
20 July: Exploded mine near Hooge. German artillery opened fire on numerous points and battalion commander asked for artillery support.
21 July: Shelled working party. Engaged field gun and scattered some Germans. Germans replied on 24th Bty billet and burnt it to the ground. Retaliatory fire on observing stations.
22 July: Ypres. Further fire on working parties and house (Stink Houses).
23 July: Four or five direct hits observed on chateau near Menin Road(?).
24 July: Shelled Verlorenhoek hollow and Prinz Oskar Farm in retaliation for single gun shelling. Shelled chateau “apparently hitting periscope”.
25+26 July: -
27 July: Shelled Frezenberg crossroads in reply to howitzer shelling south of Menin Road.
28+29 July: Fired on working party and anti-aircraft gun.
30 July: Ypres (note: war diary written by Lt Col Phillpotts). Co-operation during attack near Hooge to recapture lost trenches. Preliminary bombardment lasted from 2.00-2.45pm. Lots of action.
31 July: Continuing engagement.

1-7 August: Ypres.
8 August: All batteries fired intermittently during the night on German trenches between Bellewarde Farm and Roulers.
9 August: Infantry Brigades attacked Hooge.
10-30 August: Every day continuing engagement (summary).
31 August: A quiet day.

1 September: Single gun located. All batteries retaliated on German trenches.
2-30 September: Continuing engagement (every day)(summary).

1-21 October: Ypres.
22 October: 38th Brigade relieved by 24th Bde. Batteries were billeted in farms between Watou and Houtkerque. “The Brigade has come out for 3 weeks rest – the first it has had for nearly 12 months”.
23-26 October: -
27 October: The King reviewed detachments of 6th Corps today. 38th Bde sent 20 men”.
28-31 October: in rest.

1-22 November: At rest in Watou.
23-30 November: 34th and 24th Bty and Bde staff moved to Volkerinckhove. 72nd detached to Berthen.

1 December: Volk. Brigade in exercising camp near Watten.
2-5 December: -
6 December: In rest at Escquelbec.
7-15 December: -
16 December: One section of Battery goes into action at Ypres relieving battalions of 48th Bde, 14th Division.
17 December: Relief completed.
18 December: Ypres.
19 December: Germans commenced gas attack at 5.30am. “All batteries fired on their front line trench throughout most of the morning, retaliated occasionally during afternoon”. No infantry attack.
20 December: Retaliated hostile shelling in afternoon.
21 December: Continuing action.
22+23 December: -
24 December: 24th Bty was shelled with gas shells from 9am-2pm. No casualties.
25-31 December: Continuing action.


bigdaddystevieB said...

My brother Alan reckons the only WW1 matters he can recall Frank talking about were the following:
1. Frank reckoned he was on the receiving end of the first German chlorine gas attack (presumably at Ypres?) and, as they had “not been provided with respirators”, they urinated into their handkerchiefs and breathed through those as a 'filter', and
2. Somewhat amazingly, Frank 'bumped' into one of his brothers (we think it was Howard) at Ypres.

bigdaddystevieB said...

Alan's point about chlorine gas seems likely to have been the case - I've just across this quote in Geoff Dyer's excellent book 'The Missing of the Somme': "The first lethal gas, chlorine, was an inefficient weapon compared with phosgene and mustard gas which came later. Urinating in a handkerchief and breathing through it - as Robert Ross persuades his men to do in Timothy Findley's novel 'The Wars' - was often protection enough".