Friday August 18th: Have a shave and general clean up, and for most of day take it easy, although we get many big shells round our dug-outs, as there is a 60 pound battery close by. We are camped in what is on the map as Bailiff Wood, just below Contalmaison; nearby are 2 of the German field guns captured by the Black Watch. One of our battle planes drives home 2 German planes. Fritz heavily bombards our newly gained positions.
Saturday August 19th: Rise at 7am get breakfast, spend the morning reading, after dinner we collect all of our boxes for firing at night; 32,000 in all which we take up about 7 o’clock. We got a warm time going up, I get hit in the foot by a piece of shrapnel, which does not penetrate. We fire indirectly at 2,500 yards on Fritz trenches and roads, we fire 32,000 rounds by morning. The 2nd Brigade attack after a sharp bombardment and gain their objective, although losing heavy. By some mistake they get into our own artillery barrage; we have one dead many wounded and one gun blown out. [From next day’s entry this must have been Will’s gun.]
Sunday August 20th: Get ready to go up again; we have to take up a fresh gun as ours is blown out; also boxes of ammunition. It is raining all morning which made walking very difficult, and shells which made us hurry. The smell of the dead and flies again greets us, it is a little quieter this time (not much) and after dark Fritz puts over a shrapnel barrage. I get a lot of phosphorous round me. We improve our trench most of night.
Monday August 21st: I manage to sneak a few hours sleep, but am awakened. Fritz again livens things up by shelling us with heavy shells. Is a fine morning, Fritz has another plane up but does not stay long. We turn our machine gun on him, he replies, he also renews the artillery barrage and makes things very unpleasant. We have many casualties in our line. I help to dig out a buried chap. Fritz also attacks us about 7.30 but our barrage returns to his lines.
Tuesday August 22nd: The 6th Batt gets relieved by the 5th and many men are put near us. Fritz sends over 12 planes which bomb Sausage Gully, getting a few men; part of our trench gets blown up killing one man a yard away. It was a phosphorous shell, making an unpleasant smell. Fritz has a balloon break away, which our men bring down, also a plane brought down by liquid fire. A heavy bomb of our trenches in evening. We get relieved and get a great many shells to leave with, the sharpest I ever ran, as they were being enfiladed with 5.9s.
Wednesday August 23rd: Carry guns and tripods, leaving ammunition and then pick up rest of Coy, and march via Sausage Gully to Albert, and pass through the town and camp in a paddock, about 3 miles the other side, marching in all about 7 miles, and feeling very tired. Turn in, having only waterproof sheet to cover me. About 9am we started off for Warloy, arriving there about 12. I had a good wash and feed and get my watch back and two pairs of socks from Aus. Turn in for a sleep.
Thursday August 24th: Pack up again for another move to Rubempre and camp in an orchard. In afternoon we get paid, slight rain in evening. I have a look round the small village, there is no fresh water near for washing, only foul smelling water. I turn in early. We are warned we are liable to turn to at midnight, but we do not.
The 1916 diary from which these extracts are taken inspired my novel, Liam’s Story, originally published in 1991, and now available in both eBook and paperback from Amazon and other online bookstores.