Diary extract of Trooper in WWI
#1

Hi All,

Just come accross the following diary extract of a relative who served in WWI.

Thought it may be of interest due to him being in the 8th Royal Sussex Pioneers a British regiment during WWI.

 

PFC "Puddles"

SELHG England

 

 

 

Diary of 7336 Trooper Horace E. Mansbridge

 

8th Royal Sussex Pioneers

 

FRANCE - JULY 1915

 

24th - Left Southampton at 19.15hrs.

25th - Arrived Le Havre at 01.00hrs.

Disembarked at 07.00 and marched to camp just outside the town.

Stayed overnight.

26th - Left camp at 06.00hrs and marched to the railway station.

Departed at 12.00 noon for Amiens.

Arrived there at 22.00hrs and then marched to Fiessels.

27th - Reached Flessels at 06.00hrs.

28th through to 8th August - In camp for this period.

Drill, Route Marching and Wood Cutting.

Inspected by General Maxie.

 

August 8th - Left Flessels and marched to Behencout.

Arrived at 18.00hrs.

Went on Guard duty.

Weather very hot.

Received my first parcel from home.

9th - Left Behencout and marched to Montigny.

12th through to 23rd - Wood cutting.

24th - Left Montigny and marched to Meaulte arriving there at 19.30hrs

25th - Started to dig our first trench dutlng the night.

Marched off at 19.30hrs and arrived back at billets at 02.00hrs.

The first time we had been under fire but began to get used to the ping of bullets by the time we had finished.

Had one man wounded in the foot.

Kept at this job until 28th.

When we had finished it the trench was over 1 mile long.

29th - Went wood cutting close to the village of Morlincourt but we were within the range of the German guns all the time.

We saw the British firing on a German plane but they did not bring him down.

We kept wood cutting until 8th September.

We marched about 12 miles everyday.

 

September 9th - Went to a village called Sous Corlie with 15 Platoon for more wood cutting.

10th - Went by Morl to another wood.

The Germans fired a few shells but they all fell short.

15th - Marched to Morlincourt and billeted there for one night to be nearer our work.

Stayed there for one night only.

16th - Marched back to Meaulte.

17th - Rest day.

18th - Went to work in the trenches again.

The Germans fired a few shells over our heads.

19th - German shell dropped on edge of the trench we were working on.

Whilst marching home the Germans dropped one shell about 10 yards behind us - no one was hit.

The order was given to ‘step short’ and ‘keep in fours’

20th - We did bayonet fighting and foot drill

21st - Worked on some dugouts behind the lines.

22nd/23rd - Dug a new communications trench under hot fire about 100 yards from our firing line.

24th - We started another trench under hotter fire’ and one of our section, Burt Baker, was wounded in the side.

25th - We finished the trench.

26th - Rest day.

27th - Went to work on the dugouts again.

28th - Started another trench - rained hard all night.

29th - Got wet through and we had a rest.

30th - Had drill.

 

October 1st On Guard duty.

2nd - Went for a bath at Ville du Ancre.

3rd/4th - Went to the trenches at 05.SOhrs.

5th - Trenching again and then rested.

In the night we were shelled by the Germans.

The shells dropped about 15 yards away from our billet.

6th - Trenching.

7th - To dugouts.

8th /13th - Trenching for the whole period.

14th - Went for a bath and then went to the picture palace at Merricourt.

An enjoyable evening.

We were about 5 miles from the firing line.

15th - Drill with full pack.

16th - Went repairing ‘C Co’s Billets.

Had to use mud and straw for plaster.

17th - Same again.

Went on Guard duty at 16.30hrs.

18th - On Guard duty.

19th - Went to a redoubt close to Albert called ‘Maxies Redoubt’ to dig a tunnel about 150 feet long.

20th - Went bricklaying in the boys store room.

In the night we were called out to a fire.

The fire engine was a tank with a pump and a piece of hose fixed to it.

The Germans shelled the village.

2lst/22nd - Tunnelling

23rd - Went for a bath and finished the day with bayonet drill.

24th - Rifle drill and Church parade.

25th - Tunnelling.

26th - Trenching.

27th - Repairing billets and went on Guard duty.

28th - On Guard duty.

7th Wiltshire Regiment came to billets in Meaulte.

29th - Tunnelling.

30th - Went for a bath and then drill.

31st - Rifle drill and Church parade.

 

November 1st - Trenching at night.

2nd - Rest day.

3rd - Bricklaying in our mess room.

4th/8th - Started tunnelling some new dugouts.

9th - Started LEAVE.

Left Meautte at 15.00hrs arriving at Merricourt at 16.00hrs and left there at 18.45hrs.

Arrived Amiens at 20.00hrs by train and left there at 20.15hrs.

Arrived at Le Havre at 05.l5hrs on the 10th.

10th - Left Le Havre at 08.00hrs for Southampton and arrived there at 14.00hrs.

Left Southampton at 17.4shrs by train for Waterloo and arrived there at 20.00hrs.

Travelled by bus to Victoria and left by train for Hassocks at 21.00hrs.

Arrived Hassocks Railway Station. at 23.20hrs and reached Hurstpierpoint at 23.45hrs.

11th/l4th - Stayed in Hurstpierpoint

15th - Spent the day in Brighton.

16th - Started away from Hassocks at 12.l5hrs to return to France.

Arrived at Victoria at 14.20hrs and bused to Waterloo.

Left Waterloo at 16.00hrs arid arrived at Southampton at 18.20hrs.

Left Southampton for Le Havre at 19.30hrs and arrived there at 02.35hrs on the 17th.

17th - Left Le Havre at l6.30hrs by train for Merricourt and arrived there at 04.00hrs on the 18th.

18th - Reached Meaulte at about 08.00hrs.

Went to the trenches and put up frames of the dugouts and were kept at that until the 20th.

21st - Had Church parade and then had a bath.

22nd - Went building dugouts at the end of South Avenue

23rd - Went through Becordel to dig a new trench at the back of Tambre.

24th - Finished the trench and they sent over some sausages.

25th - Went to dig some new dugouts in Happy Valley close by Bray.

26th - Went on guard duty - mounted at l6.00hrs.

27th - Guard duty.

28th - Went to Happy Valley on the dugouts again until the 2nd December.

 

December 3rd - Rest day.

We had an inspection and smoke helmet drill and then went to the baths.

Had to turn out to a fire at 23.30hrs as we were on fire picket.

Stood too at 12midnight and then were dismissed.

4th - Went to clear out some mud out of South Avenue.

Had to go through mud and water up to my thighs.

Had to be pulled out twice as I got stuck in the mud.

We started from Meaulte at 08.00hrs and got to where we had to work at 15.30hrs.

Worked for an hour and then went home via Maidstone Avenue.

5th - Clearing mud out of Canterbury Avenue.

6th - Had a day off to get my boots mended.

Went to the picture Palace in Merricourt.

7th - Deepening the new trench.

8th - Went to Dernancourt loading transports.

9th - Draining Maidstone Avenue and putting down gratings.

10th - Learnt bomb throwing and had four days at bombing and then passed out.

14th - Went into dugouts at the Citadel.

Dug a new trench.

15th - The sides of the trench slipped in so we had to revett it.

We kept on revetting until the 20th.

21st - We had rifle and smoke helmet drill and baths.

22nd - Went putting gratings on the bottom of the trench and then went on night work throwing back the parapet to keep the sides from slipping in until the 24th.

25th - Christmas Day.

We had the day to ourselves.

We had plenty to eat and a quart of beer to each man.

We had roast pork, roast mutton and plum pudding for our dinner.

Also had fags, nuts, oranges, apples and plenty of jam so we did not do so bad.

We had a football match in the afternoon - play about 600 yds from the German trenches.

26th - Repairing trenches and our guns bombarded the German trenches and Fricourt.

27th - Orderly Man.

Stopped off parade to look after dugouts.

28th - Went to trenches in the morning and then moved into another dugout.

29th - Went sandbagging up at the Quarry.

The Germans shelled our trenches for about an hour.

30th - Went to the trenches sandbagging.

31st - Went for a bath and had to shift to another dugout.

 

1916 - January 1st - Went to do some more sandbagging.

2nd/3rd - Still sandbagging at the same place.

4th - Marched back to Meaulte and I had to mount guard as soon as I got there.

5th - On guard duty.

6th - Went to South Avenue at night work.

7th - Went for a bath.

8th - Went to Becore Chateau to make a redoubt of it.

9th/llth - We were at the same work.

12th - We started revethng the fire trench around the Chateau.

13th - We started sandbagging the fire platforms - myself and A.N.Other had to do that.

14th - Went for a bath and then came back for smoke helmet drill and had my boots repaired.

15th - I made a machine gun emplacement and sandbagged it all round.

16th - Went to the Chateau to do more sandbagging to the fire platforms.

18th - Went to Dernancourt to load some of our transport wagons.

19th - We had baths and then had smoke helmet drill and rifle drill.

20th/27th - Went to the Chateau again for sandbagging.

Gas attack In the evening of the 27th.

28th We were a loading party for the transport.

29th - Went on guard duty at Battalion HQ.

30th - On guard duty.

31st - We went hack to the Chateau to work.

 

February 1st - Went to Dernancourt again to load transport.

2nd - Went back to the Chateau to work again.

3rd - We marched to Albert and were billetted in a house at No. 8 Rue Daussy

4th/7th - Went to the Chateau to make port holes round the house.

7th - Went on guard duty.

8th/l1th - Went back to the Chateau again.

12th - Had my boots repaired so did not go out to work.

13th/21st - Went back to the Chateau.

22nd/24th - Went on a bombing course.

25th - Had baths and the rest of the day to ourselves.

26th - Went to the Chateau until dinner time.

Then came home to get ready for guard duty.

27th - On guard duty.

28th - Went to Carnoustie Street to make some new firing platforms.

29th - Went to do some night work and the Germans started shelling.

We got no further than the Chateau and we had to get into a dugout until it was all over.

We had a very narrow escape from the shells as one dropped about 3 feet from us.

Thank God it was a dud!

 

March 1st - Had to parade before the Colonel in full marching order with our steel helmets on back of the pack for him to see which was the best way to carry them.

There was one from each Company.

2nd Went to the Chateau clearing a trench.

3rd - Turfing over the firing platforms.

4th - Loading transport.

5th - Kit inspection and full marching order for an N.C.O’s inspection.

6th - Kit inspection and boots repaired.

7th - Recruits drill.

 

The town had been shelled heavily and much damage was done to the Iron works and some Cycle works beside dwelling houses and shops.

The figures of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus Christ had been knocked over by a shell and was hanging over the street but it had not fallen to the ground.

 

8th - We were on fatigues all morning and, in the afternoon, we marched back to Meaulte.

9th - Rest day.

We were playing football nearly all day.

10th - We went to Watling Street via Park Lane to work revetting the sides of the trench.

11th - Went scavenging in Meaulte.

12th/l4th - Went to Rue de Albert on night work.

15th - Went to the baths and then to Rue de Albert and Watling Street.

TheGermans sent over about 50 “sausages†in about an hour.

So you may guess they came pretty thick.

16th - Rest day.

17th - Marched to Happy Valley into dugouts.

18th - Rest day.

19th - Rifle Drill and fatigues.

20th - Making stables for our transport.

21st - Baths and rifle drill.

22nd/24th - Went to make some dugouts in Billen Valley through Carnay Avenue.

25th - I went on a demonstration of flame throwing and tear shells.

26th - Went to some fresh dugouts in Copse Valley.

Had to go through Billen Avenue to get there.

27th/3 - Still at Copse Valley.

Issued with a new pair of boots.

31st - Went to Marlecourt to fetch some timber for the dugouts.

 

April 1st - Working on the dugouts.

2nd - Baths and a football match, in the afternoon, between 8th Sussex and 2nd Bedfords.

We lost 3 - 1. Then ‘D’ Coy played ‘B’ Coy and beat them 3 - 0.

Went to a concert in the evening.

3rd - On the dugouts again.

4th - Digging a new trench close to Mariecourt.

5th Trench digging close to the front line in front of Carnay.

Moved from dugouts to tents in a wood which was very oftenshelled by the Germans.

6th - Deepening Fifty Five street.

7th - Dug new trench close to Carney.

8th - Finished fifty five street.

9th - Baths, foothall match and concert.

10th - Went and dug new fire trench about 200yds away from the Germans.

 

The diary ends on the above date.

 

It is known that Horace was wounded in the head and was bought back to the U.K. for surgery.

 

He was operated on in a London Hospital before being discharged.

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#2

I just love reading the war diaries. Nothing gives you the feel of war as some young man's constant attention to the events surrounding him.

 

When I got to the bottom and read, "The diary ends on the above date.", my first thought was, oh no! :armata_PDT_23: , but then read that he was injured, but he DID get to go home.

 

Trenches a mile long... :unsure: War is hell.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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