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Hardships of a Soldier; WW1
Transcript of Hardships of a Soldier; WW1
Our billets were barns, and found them infested with rats, we even had them walking over us when asleep."
"April 21st 1916
It was Good Friday and many wounded passed this day, also many horses cut about and bleeding, the sight was enough to make one's blood run cold."
"June 9th 1916
We fell in at 8-30p.m and entered 'Wood Street communication trench' and passed the old fire trench and went up 'New Wood Street' which was only about 2 ft deep, then got on the top, passed our front line which was being held by 'The Rifle Rangers', through a gap in the barbed wire, we were paced out so many paces per man as a digging task, and told to dig ourselves in as quickly as possible.
We worked hard for about half an hour when the Germans opened heavy machine gun fire on us and swept us like a blanket, and being only 100 yds from the enemy lines it proved very trying, we carried on, off and on, for quarter of an hour when, when he got more machine guns sweeping that sector, by this time my part of the trench was about 18" deep so I could lie in it.
The machine guns keep on sweeping and the enemy opened out a 'miniweffer' (trench mortar) barrage, four of our rifles were laying on the ground about 4 ft away and these got a direct hit, that was the last I saw of my rifle, also blew the trench away and left us as it were on the open ground.
The man in front of me called for help and on going to him I found he had a piece of shrapnel in the left shoulder blade, this was Private Joe (Hurnival of Runcorn), also he was hit on the lower middle part of the back, many men at this time were calling for help, out of our Platoon we had three casualties L/Cpl Fineflow who was hit in the back and the pieces had pierced the lungs he was vomiting a lot of blood, and Pte Edward Coalthorpe (of Chester) who was hit in ribs and left arm, one man in No10 Platoon was also hit, Stretcher Bearer Mostan, he was serious as he was hit in the lower part of the stomach and between the legs, after we had got the wounded away we returned to billets, it was 6a.m."
The Diary of Edwin Evan Jones
March 7th 1916
"4 p.m. Oh, my God! What's happened ? The noise of guns and rifles is terrible!
The attack had started. The infantry were going on splendidly. Bullets were dropping all around us, but the excitement was too much. At last, the Cavalry came dashing along and we knew that we were advancing."
April 17th 1916
Another attack had started, and I was ordered up to the 1st. Aid Post with Capt. Sweet. The shell fire was terrible and we lived in fear. At mid-night we were ordered to return, and very pleased to.
On arriving at field ambulance, they were over-run with wounded, and we had to set to and help.
"It is Saturday Dec 4th 1915. Marching to trenches 4.10, dusk, shells bursting, someone says, boys it is Saturday night. Men coming out of trenches up to their thighs in mud. Reached trenches 5.30 bullets & shrapnel bursting over our heads, slept in Dug Out, lying with legs over one another & hundreds of rats as big as rabbits crawling all over us, biting holes in Haversacks for our rations. Sunday morning 8.30am men expose themselves & shell bursts within two yards of us boys hitting man in the stomach. We are served out with Gum boots, which reach to our thighs & fasten to belt round our waist.
March through communication trenches, up to our thighs in mud & water, often times above our thighs, water running into gum boots, takes 2 hours to reach firing line, only 500 yards distance, enemy firing over us all the time. Firing line worse than anything imaginable standing in waist in mud & all dug-out fallen in, two men killed in one dugout. I am appointed Q.M.Sgt in the trenches, our Q.M.Sgt Left at Bray. Heavy Shrapnel firing and enemies snipers continuously popping at us, but without success." The Diary of William Whitmore Something had gone wrong and we were turned about. A shell hit the parapet near by and a second burst on the inside of the parados, but 2 or 3 yards away. The man in front was killed, while I, who was lifted from my feet by the explosion and enveloped in a thick suffocating cloud of yellow fumes, remained unscratched. Such were the fortunes of war.
For the next hour or so I was suffering from shell-shock and only half-conscious of the withering fire that the enemy directed against us from the left sector of the old line behind us. The shelling was measured and nerve-racking. Each shell was intended for the trench and did not fall far away. E.N. Gladden The Pains of Soldiers