Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of Bridgnorth, Shropshire, who died during the two World Wars.
Arriving at Folkestone at 11-45 a.m. we reported to the
The crossing lasted one and a half hours, our escort was a topping little thing which looked capable of going at a tremendous pace.
The men on board gave a good cheer when she left us about a mile out of-- It took us some time to land. The senior then reported to the Landing Officer who told us to leave by train for the Base at 6-30.
We got in the train at 6-15, it was a tremendous length; after sitting ages in the station it started at 8 p.m.; half the people were wandering about the station when it did start and so they nearly missed it, as no signal was given.
At about 9-15 we reached our destination, 20 miles or so away and got sent to the 37th Infantry Depot, where we found a bit of a tent and got to bed pretty tired at 11-30.
The next day I got up at 8-30. We had bayonet fighting under a Scots' Sergeant and a lecture.
Just after tea a notice came out saying certain officers would proceed to the front early the next morning, all our names were there ! I was awfully bucked and very surprised.
Next morning we were called at 3-15 and got to the station at 4-15. We travelled 2nd Class; the train started at 6-15.
We came along at a gentle pace and stopped about 8-30 at C--- for half-an-hour and got some tea and buns; at 12-45 we arrived at a place where we had to report, we were told the same train would take us on to another reporting place at 1-15.
It started just after 3. I don't suppose you have ever been in a French train. Take my tip and don't ever go in one if you can possibly help it, the expresses are decent but a troop train -- oh!
At 4 we reached our destination and were told that the transport would be arranged for 5 p.m.; the detraining point was about 9 miles from the firing line.
We got the horse transport at 5 and reached the transport of the battalion at 8 p.m. about 5 miles from the firing line.
It was a glorious evening and the guns were kicking up a good old din on their evening strafe. It is a weird sort of music when you hear it for the first time; we watched two aeroplane strafes, shells bursting all round them in little puffs of white smoke. But otherwise there was very little sign of war, the country all round is very much cultivated, the woods are lovely and there are some pretty little streams.
The scenery is very like certain parts of England and you could hardly tell the difference if it wasn't for the roads - cobble stones along the middle, and earth on each side, being lined on either side with big trees.
I was put to an entrenching battalion and am billeted in very comfortable quarters. The work consists of work parites during the night and nothing during the day, or practically nothing.
One evening I was detailed to go out with a working party to do some cable laying for the R.E. While working, the Bosche took it into his head to reply to our Battery.
The first intimation we had (we had just started digging) was the whistling shriek of the shell overhead, and the beastly thing burst just above us, being shrapnel. We immediately got cover. I got into a ditch which had some water in it but I can assure you I didn't bother about the water. A chap next to me. touching me practically, had his arm broken by a splinter, the worst thing was a shell which came into the ground 15 yards away and didn't burst.
My feelings when that first shell came over were difficult to analyse, but it wasn't as rotten as I expected it to be, I felt more surprised than anything.
On August 2nd we returned to our battalion, after a useful experience with working parties, being out nearly every night on road mending and various jobs.
On August 3rd I had to go out with another working party, this time in the front line trenches, where I spent two or three hours. It is an absolute fact that I walked along 300 yards of the front line without knowing I was there!
Tonight, August 4th, our company mess is having a dinner, a menu has been drawn up, which runs more or less as follows: "W Coy. Night Operations."
Roast Beef a la "U" Frame
Pommes de Terre Shrapnelles.
Cauliflower a la — censored.
Jelly weather permitting).
Sardines on Stretchers
Cafe a la Dugout.
Dessert a la Crime Sheet
Last stretcher at 11pm. Guests please bring their own plates
(Later ) I have just come back from three days in the trenches,
we had a pretty quiet time up in the line and no one was damaged.
I was on duty all night the first night and didn't get any sleep till 6 a.m. except for ten minutes in my dug-out.
A night in the line is a fine show, the flarelights are a treat and look jolly fine. There is a special kind of parachute light which floats down very slowly, being attached to a small parachute.
All one could see of the Bosche line was a wavy line of brown earth They were quite close and there was a line of trees just behind with no branches or leaves and but little bark, away on the left were the ruins of a village perhaps the size of Morville, but a village that will be famous in history — a few walls standing, with here and there a bit of a roof and everywhere heaps of rubble.
If you turned round and looked over our parados you could see green fields with wild flowers growing almost on the parados itself, — a short way in the rear a wood in full leaf which looked as if it had never seen war. At present we are billeted in a village which saw fierce fighting in 1871 and there is an old chap who fought against the Bosche then, he had a most exciting time ami described it all in voluble French.
October 2nd. We are camped in a wood here, a very pleasant spot in summer but apt to be muddy just now. We have been reorganising the company this morning. The battalion strength when we came out was 150, but we have had about 300 reinforcements and a good number of the wounded have turned up again, being only slightly hurt.
For one night and half a day I had the company in the line, which was no joke, it practically meant I had to be up and about all the time, as I didn't like to leave it. At dinner time on the next day a sub turned up leaving me 2nd in command.
I got one or two souvenirs during the show, including a Boche bayonet, which some one else bagged, some Boche ammunition, and ammunition pouches.
Some people got helmets, a good many got caps, one had a saw-edged bayonet and when we came out of the line a good many of our people were wearing Boche caps.
It is surprising how used one gets to a strafe, I don't mind anything now except a 5-9 almost on the trench. The moral effect of a 5-9 is greater than that of anything else, I think for some reason.
I have been made Mess President of the company now, which means looking after all grub, there is a fair amount of work attached to it, especially when one has to scour a French village for eggs and fresh butter, and make them understand what you are driving at.
October 12th One night when we were in the line another sub and I had to go and reconnoitre the Boche line, or rather we had to gather some information which was rather important, though it didn't necessitate going up right to the Boche line which was about three-quarters of a mile away. The direction happened to be due North and it was a lovely night. We had a compass, but it was quicker to go by the North Star.
We went too quickly, very difficult to realise distance at this sort of business, out in No Man's Land in the dark.
We dropped down and lay without movement at every flare that went up but we didn't trouble to crawl: we walked bent up with our bodies parallel to the ground, which is considerably quicker than progressing on one's tummy.
We were disagreeably surprised after a few minutes more, a flare dropped very close to us, and though we dropped at once it wasn't quite quick enough, or else someone moved a bit. Anyhow a raucous voice about 60 yards off yelled out "Wer geht" or something to that effect; then five bombs were thrown in quick succession. We got up and ran as fast as we could, over that rough ground. Several more flares went up as soon as the bombs had gone off and of course we wanted to be behind them as soon as possible to be out of sight.
We saw the Boche plainly, he was obviously very frightened and jumping about on top of the slight ridge where the position was. It was evidently an advanced listening post we had come up against. The N.C.O. with us, wanted very much to fire but I wouldn't let him, as we had attracted enough attention as it was and as we had our information our duty was to get back with it. Throwing the bombs alone is a sign of his fright, because a Boche in a funk usually chucks the first thing handy.
I have just been sent to a town 8 miles off with a working party. The billets are topping, I am in a house which is intact though the place next door has been demolished by a shell. It is quite luxurious to have an upstairs bedroom and a bed.
The town is getting quite civilised again — there is a cinema and fairly frequent concerts!
The job is known generally as a soft job for an officer. I find it a bit tedious as there is nothing to do. We are working for the Engineers and that is all I can say.
November 16th. I had a very cheerful job one night carrying rations up to the line, it took me and my party 4 hours to go 1,000 yards up the Communication Trench with the rations. At one point we were heavily shelled for 20 mins, not long after starting and had to stop and keep well down in the trench for a bit. However, no damage was done The Boche does these, silly things at times — heavy shelling of certain favourite spots.
The men were heavily laden by reason of the ration bags and as it was inclined to be a bit frosty the mud was very sticky. One or two idiots left their gumboots stuck in the trench; they evidently hadn't done the straps up tight enough. There a strap round the ankle and if it isn't fastened and there is a lot of mud it is apt to hold the boot when you pull your leg up. At the top, the boots fasten on to one's brace buttons. The weight of the mud on one of my boots dragged the button from its moorings and I had already lost both back buttons I was in rather a parlous condition, I am now wearing a belt.
We were all about done at the end of the journey. The men stuck to it well; I was carrying some rum, and a jar is more awkward than ration bags, which can at least go over one's shoulder when tied in pairs(we use ordinary sandbags for rations).
On the way back we went along the top most of the way making the journey much quicker, going, up we couldn't do so on account of the moon. Several times the mud was half-way up our thighs on the way up.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.