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Continuing my serialization of my Great-Grandfathers WWI Diary. Part 1 is available here..


Oct. 23rd. Again went into the trenches & on the morning of the 24th I was warned to go back to G.H.Q. with two more & a corporal to take a woman sniper who had been caught by our patrol during the night. When we got to G.H.Q. the woman was searched & was found to have a string fastened round her neck containing 24 Identity Disks: belonging to our fellows & the Australians & the General ordered her to be shot straight away & we were ordered to blind-fold her & lead her on to the beach & to give you an idea of the hatred our fellows had for her I will tell you what happened.

No sooner had the volley been fired than the six which composed the firing party dashed forward & plunged their bayonets into her body an act which I considered very indecent on the part of a British soldier as the woman was already dead. After this episode the like of which I never want to witness again I was sent back to the trenches & was making bully beef stew on the 25th when I had the narrowest escape I had had up to now I had placed the tin of bully beef on the parapet & was reach for it when I must have got my head too high for I head the ping of a bullet & soon found it had pierced my helmet right through & I considered myself lucky & kept low after this.

Oct 30th: Contracted Dysentery & was sent on Hospital Ship Induma from the Peninsula to a Canadian hospital at Lemnos. We here got a change from Bully & Biscuits. I remained here for nearly a month the best part of my time in critical condition.

The RMS Aquitania as a hospital ship.
Nov 23rd. Left Lemnos for England on Hospital Ship Aquitania after two previous attempts the boats being full both times. Nov 27th arrived at Naples in Italy where we stayed for 24 hours to coal & water. We had a splendid view of the town from deck & could also see Mount Vesuvius which was smoking. Dec 4th arrived at Southampton after a shaking up in the Bay of Biscay as it was very rough. Was sent to Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Nr Portsmouth. It was not a bad place but I was anxious to get home so I worried the colonel of the hospital who was dying to send me to Bournemouth to a convalescent home until he discharged me from hospital on Jan 21st 1916. I was sent on 10 days leave which expired Jan 31st when I reported at my Depot Richmond & I must say had an easy time while here.

On Feb 19th I was sent to West Hartlepool a town on the East Coast & went before a medical board & was passed Temporary Unfit & exempt from all duties (& me & I?) more had nothing to but answer roll call at 7 o’clock in the morning which we used to do from our beds as it was too early to get up at least we thought so.

Mar. 20. Transferred to Machine Gun Section & carried on until May 17th when the camp was flooded out & on the 18th I was sent into hospital at Newcastle suffering from Nephritis caused thought sleeping in the water as there was not a dry place in the camp. 2nd of July I was sent from hospital back to my regiment & on the 4th of August I was warned for a draft & after a bit of a fight I got 48 hours leave. Aug 10th left Hartlepool by the 7 o’clock train at night & arrived at Folkstone at 8 o’clock the following morning.

Aug 11th. We went to a rest camp & had breakfast such as it was & at 10 o’clock boarded the Princess Victoria for France where we arrived at 12:30 disembarking at Bölonge. We then marched to a rest camp a distance of about 2 miles from the dock & arrived here at 2 o’clock as it was all uphill & and the roads were made of rough cobblestones & we were thankful when we got there. We stayed here until 9:45 the following morning, Aug 12th when we marched back to the station at Bölonge and boarded the train which consisted of cattle trucks for Etaples, where the base was situated. Arrived here where we got the best meal we had had since leaving Hartlepool at 1 o’clock, and I must say if you don’t like fast travelling go to France as I believe if you were to get out at the front end of the train you could gather a bunch of flowers & then catch the rear end, not to mention the stops on the way for the Engine driver to mash his tea or something of the sort.

The next day was Sunday so we only had Church Parade but on Monday the 14th Aug we had No. 1 and C.O. inspections & was sent up the line to join our regiments. I got drafter to the 2nd Batt. Yorkshire Regiment which was then at Festubert but as they were then up in the line we had to wait until they came out so we stayed in a farmhouse which consisted of nothing else but windows made by Jerry’s shells at Gorre about 2½ miles from the front line trench. Eventually they came out & was due to return to the front line on the 20th when we went in the trenches with them for the first time & I must say we caught it hot going in as I think he send every kind of shell over that he had & I think our party was very unlucky as out of the 46 who joined the regiment with me when we came out on the 27th there was only 18 left.

We went to a rest billet at Essars, close to Gorre, and was billeted in an old Estaminet[1] which was infested with rats as indeed every place I had been in up to now seemed to be.