1st. May. To Arras for money.
2nd. to 4th. Sunday rides around the area. New officers have arrived, including Willie Haldane who played in the school rugger team with me.
(The Divisional History, (1926) by Col. Stewart and John Buchan records that our battalion in these two actions, April 9th. to 30th, lost 8 officers killed and 12 wounded, i.e. a complete officer establishment almost. In addition, Colonel MacNeil died of pneumonia, contracted soon after. The men suffered almost as severely in the same period, 92 killed, 305 wounded and 47 missing. The 15th. Division went into action on 9th. April with 433 officers and 11,499 other ranks. It lost 80 officers killed and 203 wounded and 10 missing. A total of 293 officers. There were with other ranks, 887 killed, 4410 wounded, and 723 missing, a total of 6020. Altogether 6313 in three weeks.)
David Robertson and Colin Mitchell also arrived. No word of leave yet.
6th. May. Sunday. Uninspiring service by Padre Kelly of the Camerons. Football in afternoon and watched a good game at night. The recuperative powers of the British Tommy are wonderful.
7th. Blanket fatigue to Wanquentin. Division transferred to XVIII Corps for training - this does not augur well. We are to go further back - high time too! No word of leave yet. Glorious weather. Major Duncan, the "Conscientious Obstructor", in command, as Col. MacNeil has died.
8th. March to Sus St. Leger.
9th. Rode over to Souich and Lucheux with Robertson. Glorious ride and lovely part of the country. Gave Robertson a hot time as he had never been on a horse before. Football match at night. 5 and 6 platoons against 7 and 8. Latter won by 4 goals to 1.
11th. May. A field day with Richards in command. Football. Away riding with Hollins before brekker. Range. Felt disinclined to work. Then a field day under the General's eye. Good fun. Back at 8.30. More conferences. Paid the company. Got word that 10 days leave has been granted to me. Also got word that I can't go on leave - have to take over temporarily as Adjutant. Cheerful!
12th. Plenty of fun. Very busy, yet time for a canter. Adjutant of the Day for Brigade - had to borrow a tunic and kilt for the show. Quite imposing Guards Parade which I got through without any big mistakes.
First Leave Home
14th. May. Field Day. Then buzzed off on leave. Horse to Frevent. Train via Doullens to Abbeville, and then Paris Express from there to Boulogne. Crossed on 16th. Then forgot all about the war for ten days. Succeeded wonderfully well. The details about my leave might be interesting but they don't matter much now.
Sunday 27th. May. Crossed again from Folkstone to France. Not seasick for a wonder. Boulogne at night. Went on to river. Stayed at the Louvre Hotel.
Monday 28th. To Etaples, with early train. Paris Plage in afternoon. Disgracefully quiet. Dinner in Officer's Club. Then wrote an awful lot of nonsense in my diary at night.
Note from RLM, 1972: That would be about my leave, etc.!!!! I forget now.
Tuesday, 29th. May. The Adjutant of the Depot told me I would not get up the line until tomorrow. Felt I could not stand another day in the wretched base so, without saying "By your Leave" to the adjutant I got out the back door, and bluffing the Railway Transport Officer I got on a French passenger train which took me to Hesdin by 11 a.m. - only a short distance from Le Quesnoy where I found the battalion in glorious surroundings. Gibb Mitchell the O.C. Coy. is at the seaside recuperating and a fellow Macleod is in command of the company. Robertson still there and McCallum is back.
Wednesday 30th. Might still have been at the base, eaten by, and eating, flies. Trial inspection parade for visit of C.-in-C. of French armies tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow came, but the C.-in-C. didn't! Bath parade to Caumont, 5 miles off.
Thursday 31st. Felt sad. Was it the all day fruitless parade? or the reaction of leave?
The Best Of War
Friday 1st. June. Field day. Awfully funny. Macleod lost himself, attacking the enemy on a front of 5,000 yards with a company 30 strong, organised in 4 platoons of 4 sections each. Strength of section = 1 man, commanded by himself! This is the only 'mistake' that Macleod ever made. (Note from RLM, 1972: But such was our company strength at this time, instead of 200.) In action afterwards, he showed himself absolutely magnificent, and extremely efficient.
Dined with 'A' Company. Read the Browning Love Letters at night, in bed. Disappointed, though not displeased. Felt I could have written a better love letter myself in spite of my tender years - and lack of experience.
Saturday 2nd. Heard that "Strafer" Campbell, the adjutant is going away to a base job, and that a new adjutant is required. Three names mentioned for the job - Hood, Macleod and myself. Would like the work immensely, but fear there is absolutely no chance. Great meeting at night at 'A' Coy. to celebrate A.G.Cameron's well earned Military Cross.
Sunday 3rd. June. Church Parade. Took over 'B' Coy. vice Macleod who becomes adjutant. Out riding in afternoon on "Donald" (the MO's horse) looking over the manoeuvre ground. The beast bolted, I lost my stirrup and cap, and couldn't stop the brute. Nearly had many accidents. After going about two miles like old John Gilpin it stopped. Then we cantered back the same distance, a few miles, to pick up the various parts of my equipment which lay on the road! News of the death of Colonel MacNeil at the base.
Monday 4th. Out all day as O.C. No. 1 Coy. in outpost. Got on very well.
7th. Harry Lauder came to us at night, accompanied by William Hogg, M.P., a Liberal, I'm sorry to say, but a notoriety hunter. His speech to the men was in shocking taste and very ill-chosen.
8th. Lauder again. A party of us rode over to seen him.
9th. Practising with tanks. A full day.
10th. Church parade. Cricket against Royal Scots. Did rather well. Won by 1 run. Reading the Browning Love letters in my spare time.
16th. Swimming in the River Conche. Ride in a tank. Toothache. Tremendous heat.
Sunday. 17th. Lay in bed until 10 a.m. Some luxury for Active Service! Cycled into Hesdin with Robertson.
18th. Prosecuting at Field General Courtmartial at Fontaine l'Etalon. Very hot day, yet we had hailstones 3/8" in diameter. General McCracken has left the Division, promoted to a Corps. This is a very serious loss indeed as we may not get a man to understand us so well. We need, too, a Scotsman to lead a Scotch Division. Rumour has it that our duty in the coming offensive is to take us to the most salient point of the front at Ypres. Expect that it will be grand show, though we certainly won't take the Hun by surprise as we did two months ago at Arras.
19th. Out training signallers and observers. The former very efficient, the latter the very reverse. We are to move on the 21st. Heard that my school (Hillhead H.S.) are sending out 10,000 cigarettes to the battalion. Very decent indeed! Finished "Micky O'Halloran" by Gene Stratton Porter.
21st. June. Left Le Quesnoy with regret, after having a tremendous row with Major Wilson, O.C. Battalion at the time. As he afterwards, (next day or that day) apologised, everything is now forgotten. Arrived late at night at Blangermont Chateau. Acting as O.C. Coy. We had to leave an officer behind at Le Quesnoy till next day to look after about 20 to 30 of our weaker brethren who could not march owing to the boisterousness and thoroughness of their farewell to the place. Willie Haldane was detailed for this rather unpleasant job. Nearly every man in 'D' Coy. had his waterbottle filled with beer, instead of the regulation water, in spite of orders. The officers however didn't take much notice at the inspection parade before marching off, but when we got on the move the beer became frothy and bubbled over on their kilts. Major Wilson, this was his first experience in commanding the Battalion, dealt most admirably with this delicate situation.
22nd. Blangermont to Tangry. Good billets. Met George Morton plus spurs in a motor car just outside St. Pol. Talked with him on the march about old times and exchanged news about our old school.
23rd. To Auchy-au-Bois as O.C. Advanced Guard. J.F.C.Cameron coming to 'B' Coy. as O.C. Coy., probably - reason, to see if charge of a company steadies him! He made the interpreter helpless at Tangry!
25th. Left early for Boesinghem. Men marching well - none falling out despite the long distances. Rotten billets. Rode into Aire with Robertson and Gray for dinner. Had some trouble afterwards with my horse, but got back alright!
26th. March to Caestre. Air raid.
27th. Still marching. Up at 3 a.m. and marched into Belgium, via Forge, behind Poperinghe. Bad roads. Country here very flat. Inhabitants different too. Flemish spoken more. French less common.
28th. June. Cleaning.
30th. Marched to near St. Omer - 22 miles, and it rained all the time.
1st. July. Church parade. Quite noisy again. Bombardment going on. Hope the guns do their work well and save us casualties.
3rd. Battalion practice for the coming show. Cycled with Robertson and McCallum into St. Omer at night. Left at 6.15 p.m. and were getting on fine when we reached the top of the last hill about the town. Began to free-wheel down. I followed Robertson who was going down pretty fast and who was rapidly overtaking some cyclists in front. Meanwhile my pace increased at a deuce of a rate and my front wheel began to rattle. Found my brakes were bust. Passed Robertson at a terrific rate but found myself running into a horse and cart and two motorists coming towards me from round a corner at the bottom. Don't know how I got past, for the horse began to rear.
Then there was a collision behind me (Robertson and the motorists) and a noise below me (my tyre bursting) followed by a jagged rattle as some spokes went west and I found myself disentangling myself from the ruins of the bike at the foot of the hill and being helped up by a sentry of the 7th. Bn. Argylls, of the 51st. Division!
Robertson had a wonderful escape, carrying away one of the motor cyclist's pedals and knocking the man in the side car senseless. When I went back I found him only able to stammer "Me Shocky" (He was a Belgian). Jove! I should think he was. Tried to get a new wheel for my bike from a 4th. Gordon Sergeant. Went into St. Omer and had a nice quiet dinner. Back to the Bn. before midnight.
5th. Company out on working party. Easy day. Offered job of assistant adjutant. Gibb Mitchell to England.
6th. Brigade Field Day. Made Assistant Adjutant. I accepted it on condition the job would not keep me out of the trenches.
The Salient - Ypres, July 1917
8th. Left for Arneke to get train to Toronto Camp, half way between Poperinghe and Ypres. No arrangements made for our coming, so we annexed a camp. Busy day. Battalion went up to map square H16 at night to 'Bivies' (bivouacs) shelters etc. I was left behind to look after 'details' at Toronto Camp, a lousy place in a real sense. While not built as a permanent camp it had been used continually as such for three years.
9th. Very busy. This job is no sinecure.
10th. The battalion had 85 casualties last night while relieving the Seaforths. A raid came over. Hun strafed. Our leading companies caught in the barrage - a box one - confusion, and a jam up. The men could not move forward or back. Lieut. Blyth killed. Haldane seriously wounded, Mills slightly. At the moment our figures are 12 killed, 44 wounded and 29 missing among the men. Some of these poor beggars had never seen war or trenches before, in daylight. They went up in the dark and either fell or were brought out in the dark. A man hardened to it does not mind so much, but it must be terrible for a new fellow. Willie Haldane lost a leg. He was a splendid three quarter at school.
11th. At Field General Courtmartial in the locally famous McMahon case.
13th. Asked Major Wilson's permission for 4th. time to let me go up the line to see the battalion. He let me go, remarking that I would never get near the place. [I had no trench map. Moreover, he had been up the previous day, and had made a terrific song about having to march 20 miles so he naturally wanted us all to think he was the only one who could get up - how human even the greatest of us is!]
Journey Up The Line On A Quiet Day
I set off with Wright, my runner. (I had dismissed Milligan for impudence, even although I had had him for a year). The first few miles were dusty and not dangerous. Then came a rotten bit. I had intended going along a corduroy track over a marsh, but the near end of it, "Shrapnel Corner" was getting hell when I came up, so I moved slightly to the left along the Roulers Railway.
As soon as I was getting on to it a shower of 5.9"s began to fall so I had to get nearer to Shrapnel Corner again and work my way in between the two places. I next crossed the railway near "Hell Fire Corner", a very nasty spot, and struck out for Dragoon Farm, our Bn. H.Q. Got pestered with desultory shelling all the time.
Owing to the fact that the Huns were round us on three sides of the salient he had only to direct his fire into the centre and he was sure to hit something or other, a store, a dump, a cross road with traffic or a dugout. Every night during this Ypres offensive he succeeded in putting up one or more dumps of ours. Big and dangerous blazes they made too, some leaving holes or craters 30 feet deep and 60 feet wide.
I found H.Q. alright, but it wasn't a farm - just a sort of primeval hut covered over with sods and incapable of resisting even a pip-squeak. Open, too, to the four winds of heaven. Had lunch and then went round the whole line and saw the companies. Strange trenches - quite different from the ditches of Arras and the Somme. Here they were all boarded and revetted, besides being banked up at the sides. At the same time too the sides and parapets were covered with beautiful poppies and daisies. There would be about a foot of water in the bottom of all the trenches. It was really a wonderful sight! Piccadilly trench where we lost all these 85 men was being well attended to by 5.9"s when I was going up, so I gave it the slip and went up another trench. Never like to see poppies now, as it makes me remember the wretchedness of Ypres, and of this particular trench, when, two nights ago, my company lost four sergeants killed.
The Journey Down Again
Went round the line. Tea in a filthy little shelter in the support line. Left Bn. H.Q. at 6.30 p.m. and came back via Ypres. Easy up to a point. Back by Menin Gate and the Ramparts. Passed by the ruins of the Cloth Hall. Not a soul to be seen in the whole of the square. Terrible feeling of loneliness. Felt like the last man left alive, or as though I had been asleep for centuries and had awoken to find every one dead, and the world in decay and ruin. After every memory of adventures, escapes, battles has left me, I think (to use an Irishism) one will still remain, that of the look and atmosphere of Ypres in 1917.
As we were getting out by the North West Gate, the Hun began to crump the Station with heavies. Wright increased his pace from the regulation 27 inches to 37 inches. I probably beat that! Struck off across country from the Asylum. Things were now quieter. Just as we were approaching Divl. H.Q. I decided to cut a corner. Lucky I did so, for at the very instant at which I reckoned I'd been turning that corner down came some long range stuff.
Got back to Toronto Camp - no sooner back than the camp was shelled. This was about 8 miles behind the line! One shell burst about 30 yards from us and we all got spluttered with mud. Such is life in the Ypres Salient! And it is the same every day now.
13th. Managed to put myself on a special course for aeroplane instruction. 2 days it lasts. We should then be taken up in a plane. It will be a change from the monotony of life on the ground. 9,000 cigarettes arrived from Hillhead School. Top hole! Three balloons brought down today.
14th. Up early. Bus to the other side of Poperinghe where I idled away time with the Royal Flying Corps until 3 p.m. Toronto Camp shelled at intervals during the day and night, causing casualties to men and animals.
15th. To R.F.C. again. Gusty day. Disappointed at not getting up. Lot of work on return. Odd ammunition dumps going up at intervals during the day. Our serial offensive and other preparations began today. Rode to H16.c (map square) to meet battalion coming out. Long wait, till after 6 a.m. Am being told that I am now a bit thinner. Got to bed at 8 a.m. today (16th). Up again at 12 and worked with MacLeod.
17th. My left arm slightly poisoned and a little sore.
19th. Reconnoitering billeting area on horseback.
20th. Summaries of evidence. Clearing up in afternoon. Long wait - till after midnight, on Bn. coming out. Heavy bombardment by our guns.
21st. Easy day. Cycled away just as the Hun was dropping some heavy stuff into Toronto Camp. Billeted in L13. Officers in tents. Saw Bn. in alright.
22nd. Sunday. Busy all day. Toothache all day.
24th. Detailed to take A.D.M.S.'s party on Zero Day. Got soaked to the skin. Lunch in Poperinghe. Saw A.D.M.S. and got instructions as to my duties.
Thursday 26th. To St. Lawrence Camp.
27th. Bombed at night.
28th. Rode over to inspect some ground. Push postponed. Hun said to have left his front line. Wise man! Collapse of Russia.
29th. July 1917. A bit wet. And a Sunday
Third Battle of Ypres. Begun 31st July 1917
30th. July. My 21st. birthday. Lot of knocking about Eerie Camp. Champagne Dinner at night. Had to go away at 11.30 p.m. with my 50 Argyll stretcher bearers. Got them on the move and moved up towards the 'show' which would begin in a few hours time. Another officer and 50 men of the 13th. Royal Scots now joined my party so I had 100 men.
Got to Bivouac Camp. We were now all ready for the show. Felt things strange of course. Although I had by this time begun to dread this corner of the earth I did not feel the least bit afraid. In previous shows I had gone into action feeling that I would come out again. This time I had no such feeling. Felt, almost knew, that I would not come out again. Did not, however, leave any addresses or messages behind because I believed it unlucky. [So many officers had gone into action who had left addresses to be notified that it became looked upon by me, at any rate, as an ominous sign, e.g. Alan Whyte, and in this show, MacCallum.].
As we marched along, I felt quite cheerful, in spite of this somewhat melancholy reflection, and would not consciously have wished myself anywhere else. Soon, I became so engrossed, that I lost every outside thought, and could only think of the present business. No regrets for the past, and no fears for the future worried me. I mention this psychological state of mine because never in any previous or subsequent battle did I go into action with the same nonchalance combined with the feeling that I was not coming out again and the feeling only lasted the length of the march, being soon replaced by others.
The Ecole, Ypres. 1st August 1917
Hefty bombardment at 3.50 a.m. on 31st. when the offensive opened. We got shelled a bit in the afternoon. An R.E. was killed amongst my party and several wounded. I had only one man wounded. Bother about rations which did not arrive until about 6.20 so that I had to march off leaving a party behind to bring them on. Moved up to the Ecole, Ypres. This is where a whole company of the Camerons were gassed a few days previously. No shelling at this time. Heard we had taken the Green Line but that the Division on the right had failed us - I got astonishing confirmation of this later from McClure who had to shoot some of the beggars to prevent them running back. Reported to Menin Gate for duty with my party. Found we were not wanted until 4 a.m.
Wed. 1st. Aug. My H.Q. are in the Ecole. The men are in a cellar, indescribably filthy, with an awful odour and three inches deep in water. Here they have to rest, sleep and eat if they can. I should be down with them but preferred risking it above ground in a tin hut (which was constantly being shelled) behind a broken down wall. A pip-squeak could have finished it and me.
I've read so many descriptions in newspapers of the ruin and desolation caused in this war. Famous literary men have tried their powers of description and All (with the possible exception of Gilbert Frankau) have failed to convey the repulsiveness and awfulness of the scene. The Ecole was one of these places - That's all!
Began work at 3.15 a.m. - a cheerless hour. It was raining I think. Moved up. Searched ground up to Blue Line. Terrific rain, heavy and prolonged. Ground churned up. We could scarcely move one foot after the other. Our job was to carry down wounded. This is my first job as a bearer. I hope to goodness it is my last - prefer going over the top.
Heard about the Battalion. MacCallum killed. I'll have to write to his girl. Also Leitch and D.R.Cameron, Gray and Robinson and Sinclair wounded. We took Green Line but had to retire on our right, as that flank was in the air. Division on our right driven back. Losses not apparently heavier than we expected. Huns well prepared for us. You can't lay out ferro-concrete blockhouses with anything less than a 12 inch gun. And we never see them.
Tuesday 2nd. August. Clothes in bad state with mud. Moved off again at 11 a.m. - nobody rested - in response to an urgent message. Had to snake a way through three very bad barrages on the way up. I found openings in them more by good luck than anything else. Must have been a terrible strain on those behind, in the rear of our party. I had them in single file, and we could only move slowly. Rested them two minutes in recent No Man's Land but had to get them on the move forward. It wasn't safe to stand. Never before have I seen artillery fire like this. The Somme was a picnic and Arras a joke compared to Ypres just now. Escaped with only one casualty or so.
Got to blockhouse on top of Frezenberg Ridge. Barrage closed down all around us. Took down wounded. Sent off men in parties until I had only three left. Found at last, when no other of our men could be seen, a demented wounded Boche. Felt like leaving the blighter, but could not. Got him on a stretcher. But men objected. Took an end of the stretcher myself. Then Boche turned a machine gun on us as our little party with the wounded Boche stumbled down the Roulers Railway Line. So much for civilised warfare! I fear that no prisoners will be taken by any of my men in the next show.
Dumped the Boche at an 8th. Division dressing station and got a Britisher in exchange. Cruel work for men with a stretcher, owing to mud, and holes, and wire. Thank God I'm not permanently in the R.A.M.C. bearer section, and with a conscience. Finally got back, physically useless, to l'Ecole at 5 p.m. or so. Bombarded all night with messages, so got no sleep.
Here, I have in this party, a sergeant, Sgt. McQuarrie, of 'D' Coy., one of the bravest and best gentlemen I have ever met. He has been utterly invaluable to me on this job. Lord knows all he has done. He'll certainly not get his deserts in this world. I have more respect for this man than for any other dozen I have ever met.
Friday. 3rd. August. Trouble with my men. Had to rout them out myself. The poor beggars, were, of course, done up and many wanted to parade sick. Harangued them in my best (sorry it should have been necessary). Got them out by 5 a.m. Went up with Colonel Worthington to see how things were. He was almost as filthy a sight as myself, and I must say, from what I saw of him, he proved himself a splendid officer in battle. He didn't seem to care a damn where he went. All the same he wasn't any further forward than I had my men yesterday. Got down nearly all the wounded.
McQuarrie And Self Have A Day Out
Sgt. McQuarrie and myself had an awfully narrow escape from a 5.9". We were going back, at the end of the day - all the men had preceded us - down a cobbled road, when a 5.9" burst on the road with an awful noise about 5 yards - not more - behind us. No theory ever invented will account for our escape.
Making Ourselves Popular
Went to a blockhouse. Found it stuffed with R.A.M.C. bearers under a sergeant. During the three days I had been in the forward zone I had not seen any R.A.M.C. bearers. It may have been because I was too busy - but I didn't see them. Now my temper simply boiled over at the thought of it. I had those fellows out of that blockhouse quicker than they got in, and striking for the front line. My threat to use my revolver and my looks (as tho I meant it) settled the question. As soon as I got them outside a shell dropped among them, and four were saved the trouble of going forward - they went back on stretchers!
When I got back to the Ecole I found that most of my men, who were back long before me, had been taken by some 15th. Divisional staff officer, shoved into buses and taken Lord knows where. So McQuarrie, a few drifters and myself were left to spend another night in the Ecole. We had jam and cocoa for dinner.
Saturday 4th. August. Paraded about 6 a.m. Walked through Ypres, the Hun not forgetting to put shrapnel over us as we marched out at the Station Gate. Was he not laughing at us? Situation quiet. By dint of stopping lorries and buses I managed to get my party of 16 off to Winnezeele, behind Watou, fairly quickly. Reached Bn. about 11 a.m., a bit tired, and certainly unclean, and reported for duty and for breakfast. Took things easy all day. Couldn't change, as my valise was lost. The Q.M. had left it somewhere.
Sunday 5th. Traced my valise to 7th. Camerons. Found it, less a glengarry and field glasses. Got some sleep at night.
Monday 6th. Lot of work in Orderly Room. Toothache. The officers' recommendation for the show are Capt. Matt Wilson, Capt. McClure, Lieut. J.F.C.Cameron, Sorley and Colin Mitchell (this last did exceedingly well), and I think Prosser later on.
31st. July, 1917. Zero hour 3.50 a.m. when a terrific thunderclap of fire broke out. The sky was lit by dozens of flashes at the same time so that it seemed light. Our Division, the 15th., attacked just north of the Ypres-Roulers Railway on a two Brigade front. 44th. Highland on left, 46th. on right, and our 45th. in support behind Ypres. Our brigade, 45th. moved off at zero by the corduroy track south of Ypres and formed up in "No Man's Land" at zero hour. They then advanced through the 44th. and 46th. Brigades to attack the Green Line. The 44th. and 46th. were consolidating on the Blue Line.
The 45th. did their work well and in good style, but the division on our right (8th. Divn.) could not get level with us. When some of them did get up, they fell back again and one of our captains had to go over and use his revolver against one, as an example. Still, our right flank remained hanging in the air. The Argylls and Fusiliers did quite well. Poor MacCallum was killed, shot by a sniper. Captain Leitch, a splendid, frank, and popular officer and D.R. Cameron were both killed. Miller (A.S.) and Sinclair were wounded.
The Battalion was relieved that night by Gordons who had to fall back a little. The Argylls were brought back to the old British front line, but they had to go up next night (the 1st/2nd) for a counter attack. They advanced in utter and complete darkness - no moon or stars - and took the position allotted to them correctly, being the only battalion in the Brigade to do so, so we must confess there may have been a certain amount of luck in their move. They dug in, in front, without losing any men, while the other three battalions were a little unfortunate in losing some men.
Our losses from 31st. were 4 officers killed and 5 wounded, and 140 - 150 other ranks.
The C.O. As Signaller
The C.O. Major Duncan - I'm told on all hands - was a perfect marvel and showed a total disregard for danger. He went about waving a huge signalling flag above his head so that ALL his men might spot the whereabouts of his Battalion H.Q. Unfortunately a Hun aeroplane spotted the flag, and brought the Hun artillery on to it, and suppressed him for the nonce. His disregard for danger was like the disregard of a religious maniac for death. What a pity he lacks that most necessary of all things - even before bravery - common sense and 'savoir faire'.
In regard to my own party, I was relieved and happy when the work was done. The R.A.M.C. men were not up to scratch. Fortunately, I must and can say that their officers were splendid, above all was their C.O., Colonel Worthington who richly merited the D.S.O. he got for that day. I saw him on the Frezenberg Ridge in the midst of a barrage, and if it had not been rather dangerous I would have lifted my steel helmet to him!
My instructions, and they were never changed, were to carry wounded in the back areas, which would have been easy, but the R.A.M.C. asked us to do the forward areas, and we did it. I didn't mind where we carried, but the R.A.M.C. did not play up to us. The R.A.M.C. doctors - particularly Captain M---, agreed with this.
My own men, with one exception, were simply glorious, in conditions so tiring, so demoralising and so dangerous that the Somme and Arras offensives (as far as my judgment goes) were almost as picnics to this one. The carrying alone, through the mud and up and down shell holes and through barbed wire, was in itself absolute torture, as I found to my cost when I had to supply a gap in the last party.
Winnizeele, Behind Ypres
Monday 6th. Wrote a letter or two.
Macleod, the adjutant, turned to me tonight in the Orderly Room and told me that Sergeant McQuarrie of 'D' Coy, who was in my R.A.M.C. party had come up to him, on behalf of the men of the party to ask him to tell the C.O. how well I had done or something or other in the way of work during these barrages. Felt very bucked at such a thing coming so spontaneously from the men, though it is all nonsense, for I 'had the wind up' all the time. Macleod, I believe told the C.O.
Note from RLM, 1972: In a quite fortuitous conversation a year later with Quarter Master, I learned that the men had recommended that I should receive a decoration for the show, but the C.O. had considered it grossly irregular that the men should do such a thing, and the matter dropped. But I was aware at the time, somehow, that the attitude of the older majors and captains towards me had changed, and they had now accepted me as one of themselves, an original, proved member of the Battalion, and not an untried interloper. Their speech lost a curious harsh element or tolerance, and was replaced by a still more unexpected understanding. Such was the 'esprit de corps' of the 11th. Battalion Argylls.
Tuesday, 7th. August. Hard at work all day. Finished late at night. Battalion getting big drafts, of very fine looking men too - brand new to this life - poor devils!
Wednesday 8th. Inspection by Divl. General Thuillier, who said a few nice things.
Thursday 9th. Rode over to Steenvoorde for dinner with Tobermory Maclean. Appointed Signalling Officer for about the 8th. time.
Saturday 11th. Rode to Steenvoorde with Prosser in the evening. Heavy rain. Learned that Mackay of the Camerons was missing. Understand that we have to go into the line again. Another "Horoosh".
Sunday 12th. August. Church parade. New minister. Rather enjoyed the sermon. Easy afternoon. Finished Vol. 1 of the Browning Letters - rather a feat for Active Service!
Monday 13th. A chit came in through Division H.Q. from the A.D.M.S. saying that the three officers i/c the Brigade stretcher parties were being brought to the notice of the Divisional General for their good work, and I happened to be one. Don't know what to think about it, because of the men. Pleased on the whole that the R.A.M.C. should take notice.
Field General Courts Martial. 2 cases.
Tuesday 14th. F.G.C.M.s - 4 cases. Very boring. We move up again on Thursday 16th.
Wednesday 15th. August, 1917. This was the night when I rode to Cassel with Smith when he lost his cap, his stirrups and control of his horse, and the Colonel, his temper. It's not worth while trying to play John Gilpin these days - though it is just as funny for the onlookers.
Two more F.G.C.Ms. and yet we are not a bad battalion, as battalions go.
Back To Toronto Camp
Thursday 16th. Very busy morning. Heard that 16th. Irish Division had taken the Green Line and that we are to relieve them, and do a "horoosh" as the men call it. Hope it will be successful. Moved off from Winniezeele at 2 p.m. Very fine warm afternoon. Got to Toronto Camp about 7 p.m. Saw Nairn of the Gordons on my way up. He's a funny little devil.
17/18th. Tremendously busy. Conferences until late at night. Brigade has rather a rotten task before it. 16th. Division have not been able to get forward at all.
Sunday 18th. Work at top pressure. Tremendous lot of 'stuff' in from Brigade (Paper). At night moved up to map square H17a. Got up safely; bombed at night. Still more midnight conferences. Signalling arrangements for the show completed.
Monday 20th. The balloon just above our heads shelled by 9.4" - pieces falling all around us. The Boche are good gunners - the more I see of them the more admiration I have for them (in a way!). A temporary Medical Officer - would that we had Jimmy Dickson!
"For It" Again
Went on ahead at 4 p.m. with pioneers, signallers etc. to Bill Cottage. A 'windy' passage up the line. Looked round successfully for signal wire. Fine night. Had a slight dinner with the K.O.S.B. Their H.Q. - the worst I've seen for a bit - to wit, a piece of cloth or canvas tied to the lee-side of a broken wall. No landmarks near. A bad spot to find in the dark. Wandered right up to the front line. No communication trenches here, no trenches or any kind - only MUD! Don't think that hell itself can be worse than this place. Laid my line with Signaller Start (a magnificent fellow) and another, a mile long at least. Got shelled to blazes. Took us 5 1/2 hours. We should in theory have been killed in laying this Low Farm line. Got back to Bill Cot at 1 a.m. If I were a millionaire I would take all my signalling section on to my staff. Don't know whether I could get a better amongst them, since they're Argylls - but for dangerous or any other work I'd back them against any others.
We Stay At A Farm
21st. August 1917. When I got back I fell into a farm muck pond which I had not seen. Took me up to the arm pits. Took off my kilt and slept as well as I could. In the morning the sun came out and dried it, i.e. the kilt. Boche planes over, and more paper from Brigade. When will we be able to run a war without paper? Heavy shelling round H.Q. Moved up H.Q. to front line at Low Farm.
Low Farm is not a white-washed cottage, but is a filthy, waterlogged Boche pill-box, about 4 feet high. Its western wall is intact, solid and windowless, so that we need not fear our own guns! Its eastern wall is not intact, is not solid, and it possesses windows, through which the Boche sends M.G. bullets - we actually had two or three men who were sitting on the floor inside the cottage wounded by bullets coming in through the window and they were almost level with the ground - of course, Boches were only a few yards away, about 100 to 150, in Beck House and Borry Farm. The door faced the South and was half-blocked by a stone which was an important factor when you consider that Boche had a M.G. trained on it and it took you ten to twenty seconds, according to your girth and accoutrements, to wriggle inside. The inside dimensions were those of a decent caravan, but half the height, and 30 men were crowded inside it. This is the first farm I've ever stayed at!
Waiting On The Dawn
21st/22nd. I was on the move along the line, at intervals, the whole night. It was a dark, black, creepy night and the Hun was very 'windy' indeed. He put practice barrages on us frequently, and nasty things they were. The Bn. was formed up alright, and tapes laid out by the Officers i/c Coys. O.C. Coys. gathered in this wretched farm for a final talk before the attack. Captain Porteous, O.C. 'D' Coy. was shot through the head, and Billy McClure said it was his duty to take over command of 'D' Coy, which he did immediately.
Our men began to assemble for the attack while it was still dark. It was terribly difficult work, for the Hun seemed nervous. He either knew or suspected an attack. He put a particularly damnable barrage on our lines at 3.30, while at 4.35 a.m. he again let loose. In the interval Billy MacClure walked into the enemy's lines in the dark. His servant was taken prisoner, but he himself escaped with a bullet through his steel helmet. Ye Gods! Some men have all the luck!
Dawn - On 22nd August 1917
Zero Hour was 4.45 a.m. and was a sight I will never forget. God knows how anybody got over at all.
This continued for half an hour, when the light was just making itself apparent. Then we noticed a few Royal Scots fall back, and then, nearer us, one or two Argylls. More and more came, so J.F.C.Cameron got his Lewis gun ready and looked after the left half of our front. I took the right half, intending to stop the men, and get them to reform, or if necessary, to dig in where they were.
Failure. "We Gained Some Ground In Front Of Ypres" - Press Bureau
At this time I noticed large numbers of Boche, and a counter-attack was developing on us, and across our front from the direction of Zevencote. The Boche were really getting busy, and their snipers made it difficult to move. I had to go at the double all the time - that, however, did not mean much as the bits of wire, and the mud and other obstructions made me relatively slow.
Got all our fellows who remained, (the others I could not but presume to be either dead or wounded or prisoners), together and spread them out with guns along about 500 yards parallel to the Frezenberg-Beck House Road. Our attack on Beck House and Borry Farm was a failure. These places could not be touched by our artillery. A big shell of ours could bounce off them! Their garrison probably exceeded that of our battalion. J.F.C.Cameron, in his escapade of the previous day when he got within 30 yards of Beck House found it garrisoned, and saw about another 50 men enter it.
After what seemed a long journey I got in touch on the right with the H.Q. of the Royal Scots. Their H.Q. was as bad as our own. I had to enter all doubled up, but the poor fellow who followed, a Scot, almost at my heels, was shot by a sniper, through the head. The sniper was some 50 yards off. Gradually we got a grip of things and organised a decent but terribly weak line. Boche gave us a thin time of it with his sniping and shelling.
Once I could not help feeling amused. Boche started shelling with light stuff, and I had to get down behind a wall, or rather a bit of a wall. Then our fellows started shelling with heavy stuff which fell short, and I had to crawl round to the other side of the wall, i.e. the Boche side. J.F.C. on the left flank did glorious work. His sang froid was extraordinary. He had rather a bad bit of line with a nasty big curve in it. He and his sergeant, a tough named Flynn, well deserved the honours they got for the show. Not an officer of ours came back, except McClure, Chesney and Muirhead, and they were all badly wounded.
I got the drink and ammunition problem settled by darkness - a difficult business. At night our gunners put down a terrific barrage which cheered us up considerably. Boche replied with another one, but as his shells fell behind us we merely sat still and watched it. Square Farm behind us got a terrific dose. Some of our men were said to be still in front (so Brigade told us from the rear) but we could not get any trace of them, except one or two on the right of my part of the line.
Note from RLM, 1972: I remember we got a message from Brigade at this time saying that Square Farm was being attacked by Boche. This FARM was a good 1/4 mile behind us! The message ended with "Please Explain".
Camerons Attack Beck And Borry Farms
The 6th. Camerons blew up in detachments at midnight. They were to attack Beck and Borry again, and were supposed to go through us. I sat on the ground and watched them file past in the darkness. Their attack, like our own, proved a failure. One company lost itself, the remainder dug in on the left part of our line. They had only 70 casualties. I fail to see how they could have taken the position, or any position, from the way in which they passed me. Their men didn't get a chance.
Macleod was rather amusing once here. In the afternoon, he decided to take a trip along my part of the line. He went for 200 - 300 yards, and saw all that was to be seen, but the Boche played with him as much as they did with me. He arrived back at H.Q. absolutely breathless, but instead of appearing horror struck or disheartened with what he saw, and with the day's failure his first and only remark was "Well, Thank God it isn't raining".
23rd. My knees began to give trouble. I had fallen several times on top of barbed wire which instead of scratching me went in right through the skin. They swelled up greatly, and to crown all, stiffened completely, so that in moving I seemed to be on crutches. They also got a bit painful.
The runners did glorious work. How these men stuck it I don't know. All my signalling schemes came to naught - a 6 inch cable wouldn't have stood for three minutes in the artillery fire! We used pigeons with effect. The C.O. (Major Wilson) and Macleod moved back to Bill Cot on the 22/23rd. about dawn, on Brigade orders. These two fellows, MacLeod and Wilson, are the finest soldiers, the most efficient officers and the truest gentlemen I have ever met.
Getting Back To Toronto
The C.O. Major Wilson, came back again in the afternoon, and ordered me down to hospital or to the Casualty Clearing Station. I went about nightfall - 8 o'clock, with Wright my servant. Missed a beautiful crump - one of those big, black, solitary ones that come for no apparent reason, by...well, it seemed inches, although it must have been 40 yards, in the open. Got a limber through Potize to the Field Ambulance at Vlamertinghe, and J.F.C. was left alone in command of the line! Got a A.T.S. injection. I believe I did a bit of talking at that C.C.S. I still smelt smoke. Got a car out of them to take me to Toronto Camp where I arrived about midnight on the 23/24th, still talking a bit!
The battalion was relieved an hour or two after I left it, so J.F.C. was not so unlucky as I felt he would be. Bn. got train from Ypres and arrived at Toronto Camp shortly after me.
24th. August. So tired I could scarcely sleep.
Battalion In For A Third Time
25th. Bn. ordered to the line again for 26th. C.O. ordered me to stay where I was. I fear I could not have walked a hundred yards anyway, but was terribly sorry to see the battalion go off without me. Bn. is ordered to do a raid on Beck House and Borry Farm. The C.O. managed to change personnel a bit to save the men. The idea of sending men in such a state as our brigade was in - for the third time in three weeks - was preposterous. Fortunately the weather broke completely, and the scheme fizzled out, but the Brigade had a disagreeable three days the 27th. to 29th. Bn. came back to Toronto on the 30th.
Not feeling particularly bright these days. Suppose it's leave I need.
31st. Moving to Wormhout, the first stage of the journey of the Division back to the Arras Front. Thankful to quit the Ypres Salient.
1st. Sept. Now entraining officer for the Battalion. March to Esquelberq for the train. Left for Aubigny behind Arras at 8 p.m.
2nd. Sept. Arrived at 2 a.m. Very sleepy. Guided Battalion through village as I happened to be acquainted with the place and then had an 8 to 9 mile march to the "Y Hutments" where we had met the 10th. Argylls before the April 9th. Arras Show! Arrived there 6 a.m. Slept for an hour and then got busy. Rode to Habarcq with Captain Wilson in the afternoon.
3rd. Sept. Feeling like nothing on earth, with a rash all over me, even on my toes. Must have eaten something. Tinned fruit?. Carried on half-heartedly and then had to go off to 'bed'.
5th. Marched from the huts to Rifle Camp just beside Fred's Wood - the actual ground over which the Battalion had advanced in the 9th. April show. Warm day. Into tents.
6th. Took over temporarily from Macleod who is not going into the line. The poor fellow has had a rotten time with the C.O. Duncan. Wish we had another C.O. Left at 2.15 p.m. for shelters and dugouts on the Railway Embankment, this time just North of the Scarpe. This is a wonderful place now. The shelters are almost palatial looking, but I found mine was leaky. Still, they were like heaven compared with the rat holes at Ypres.
The Scarpe Again
7th. Spent the day sending in returns to the Brigade H.Q.
8th. September 1917. Immensely busy day. Feeling brighter. Got through lots of work. Swim at night with A.G.Cameron and Emma (Matt) Wilson in a lake beside the camp.
9th. Sept. Church Parade. We are in Brigade Support. Out for a swim. Up late getting out orders for our move tomorrow to the front line.
10th. Change in orders at last moment. Dispositions altered. Bad relief, and guides lost as a result.
11th. to 14th. Worked 19 hours per day. Remaining 5 were spent sleeping, and they were interrupted. It is the unnecessary correspondence which keeps one busy. I enjoy the Adjutant's work, however. Went round line at night, but it means a tremendous amount of work when one returns. Relieved by 7th. Camerons on 14/15th. Got to bed at 3.15 a.m. Easier day. Very tired. Visited Alan Whyte's grave and got some improvement going. Hot bath in Arras. It was grand! Hope we can get them in Heaven. Good sleep. Heard of George Mackinlay's death in action. (Hillhead School).
16th. Sept. Too busy to attend Church Parade. Macleod goes on leave tomorrow. Hurrah! It's my turn when he gets back! And then I'll waken up Glasgow!
Lunched with Captain Beith of 10th. Argylls, but introduced him to the C.O. as Captain Ian Hay. He is a good story teller. Author of "The First Hundred Thousand".
17th. Cold bath!
18th. Cold bath - each in a huge crater filled with lovely clear water in Blangy Wood. Awful rumour that Captain A.W--- is coming to the battalion.
19th. Took things easier and found that it paid. C.O. expects the dickens of a lot done. I palmed off a lot on him and kept him going.
20th. Fed up with C.O. Argument with him. The blighter has a conscience and allows himself to be bullied by it. No use in the Army! As a result he is full of mad quixotic ideas. Cycled into Arras for a breath of air in the morning. Have got a good cross made for Whyte's grave.
22nd. September. Cold night. Signs of winter. Did not have a bath. Seven new officers arrived:- Welch, C.E.Black, Cassie, Sutherland, Evelyn, McElwee, and Muirhead. Highly interesting situation created thereby. Took McElwee into my tent with Sorley in order to ensure that he'd not commit any indiscretions.
Tonight, "Y" reckoned by common consent to be an out and outer, offended and insulted every one at dinner. (Note from RLM, 1972: I can't remember him.)
Sunday 23. Moved off to Scots Valley Camp. Posted McElwee to 'B' Company. "Y" placed in open arrest by C.O.'s order. Took a summary of evidence against him, a job I did not like at all. Gave young McElwee a bit of advice at night as I had heard some officers quoting his remarks.
24th - 26th. Business as usual.
27th. Moved to Wilderness Camp in the morning, relieving 13th. Royal Scots. Bleak hillside. Had fine sleep and did not rise until 8.30 a.m. Have not had much exercise of late. Will remedy that when my leave comes. Had Ryan the Brigade Major to dinner. Pulled his leg about being in love - the poor devil's just back from leave - and looked it!
Sat. 29th. Feeling fine. Did my work at express speed. Hear Macleod is back. He sent up some fish which was much appreciated.
Sunday 30th. Macleod up. Handed over clear to him. Buzzed off at 9 p.m. from Bn. H.Q. Visited Q.M. and Major Newall, the latter being in his usual spirits. Train at midnight.
Monday 1st. October, 1917. Arrived at Boulogne after 7 1/2 hours journey. Was caught at the station and given some 200 men to march somewhere or other. For all I know they may still be marching, for I left them, marching, at the first street corner and doubled back for the boat. Left at 10.40. By 12.40 we were in the train at Folkestone. Crossed over with General Allgood, our G.O.C. Glorious day. Felt I could almost make a sailor.
Arrived London 2.30, sleepy, tired and dirty. Visited Cox's Bank at 16 Charing Cross, and relieved Mr Cox of the anxiety of keeping money for me. Had a barber at Hotel Cecil followed by bath at Euston Hotel, I think. Had lunch, tea. Roamed about. Behaved myself! Entered a picture house. Three people in it. Came out. Air raid on. Went to St. Pancras Hotel - people outside seemed to have the 'wind up'. Sat inside the hotel, on the stairs, listening to some music. I remember the piece was "Destiny Waltz".
Train three hours late in leaving. Slept for 12 hours in it till 8 a.m. on 2nd. October, and reached Glasgow at 12.10 p.m. Here we draw a blank, as the things which happen on leave, though interesting, don't affect the situation on the Western Front.
Note from RLM, 1972: The Divisional History by John Buchan gave the losses of the 11th. Argylls as follows:
10th. July. On relieving the Seaforths - one night on way up. 12 killed, 44 wounded. 29 missing. These last must have just disappeared in the mud and shell holes. They were not prisoners.
Operations, i.e. Two battles in period 29/7 to 31/8/1917. Officers. 6 killed. 13 wounded. 5 missing. Other ranks 41 killed. 278 wounded. 135 missing. A total of 563 for the battalion.
The casualties for the 15th. Scottish Division totalled 6468. The division strength was about 12 or 13 thousand.
Note from RLM, 1972: Here ends Vol.1 of my diary, covering the first 13 months of my service in France. Now follows a list of the officers who served with my Battalion, the 11th. Argylls during that period. The normal establishment of a battalion is about 22 or 23 officers.
Officers of the 11th. Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, in France, September 1916 to amalgamation with 8th. Territorial Battalion of the Regiment, 10th. June, 1918.
Lt.Col. M.MacNeil, C.M.G. Died R.G.Miller (Padre) Died of wounds Major Alston Died Morrison Killed Major H.A.Duncan, D.S.O.Invalided E.W.Wilson Killed Lt.Col. G.L.Wilson, D.S.O. Died George Beattie M.C. Killed Lt.Col. J.Mitchell, D.S.O. Died J.Farquharson Killed Capt. W.F.C.McClure Wded. A.W.Gray Capt. G.F.Macleod C.R.Gray Killed (Became Baron Macleod of Fuinary) J.Orr Sick U.K. Capt. C.A.Maclean Wded. D.T.McAinsh Sick U.K. Capt. A.Sc.Campbell Wded. Gillespie Capt. J.F.C.Cameron Wded. Mills to R.F.C. Capt. A.G.Cameron Young Sick U.K. Capt. C.D.Richards Sick U.K. Bates Sick U.K. Capt. Porteous Killed Ypres Bennett (Q.M.) Capt. J.G.Mitchell Transferred Baillie Wded. Arras '17 Capt. Leitch Killed Ypres Heyworth Wded. Capt. N.G.Wright Transferred Weir T. Wded. Capt. M.Wilson Wded. died '18 Ferguson A. Wded. Capt. D.Sorley Duncan Wded. (Became City Analyst, Glasgow) Shankland Wded. Capt. W.Irvine Wded. Capt. McIvor L. to U.K. Capt. Hood Sick to U.K. Capt. Healy (Padre) Wded. Lt. Cadett Transferred Capt. Wilson U.K. (Well known Scottish artist) Capt. Irwin Base Ewing Killed Ypres Major Newall Base Walter Miller Died of Wounds Strathie W.J. Chesney Wded Ypres '17 Stirrock Sick U.K. Denholm Wded. Sutherland Transferred F.C.Stewart Wded. H.R.Macleod Wded. Dow Killed A.R.Muirhead Wded. Richmond Prisoner of War A.B.Muirhead Wded. Hewer Killed Brown Killed in Raid Arras '18 Niven Killed Robertson Killed Enslie Killed Arras '17 Raid D.H.Stewart Killed Matson Wded Ypres '17 A.R. Smith Wded. Black Killed Arras '17 Raid Bertram Sick U.K. Stratford Wded. Janieson Gordon Roberts (To Trench mortars) Anderson Burbridge Mackie Sick U.K. Horton Base M.Mackay Killed Arras '18 Hurrell G.H.Mitchell Killed Ypres '17 W.B.Mitchell Wded. Fyfe. Wded. Crawford Sick U.K. A.H.Whyte Killed Bateman Wded. Harragin Died Alexander Wded. W.C.Smith (became doctor) McIntyre Wded. G.Campbell Sick U.K. Turfery Transferred R.L.Mackay Wded. Ruthven Wded. D.G.Prosser MC Wded. Evelyn J.L.Stewart MC Wded. Flind Wded. Hunnybun Wded. McElwee Wded. D.Robertson Wded. Forrester (Became M.P. for 25 years) D.Kerr Wded. Hollins Transferred Wded. G.Kerr Sick U.K. W. Haldane Wded. Colin Mitchell Wded. Innes Sick U.K. Blythe Killed Ypres Gilmour Killed Somme '16 H.Cameron Sick U.K. Scott Killed Somme '16 D.R.Cameron Killed Ypres Henry Wded. MacCallum Killed Ypres Donaldson Sinclair Wded. C.E.Black To R.F.C. Bradshaw Capt. Welch Wded. MacCaskill Sick (?) U.K. Bruce Died (influenza) Dixon Sick U.K. Suthery Died of Wounds Arras '17 Christie Wded. R.S.Dobbie Killed Kilgour Cummings Transferred Capt. Shewan Killed McCullick Transferred Todd Killed Moffat Transferred Capt. Cook (?wded) U.K. Shearer Transferred Coogan Wded. Boag (Brigade) Capt. Dickson R.A.M.C.
List of Officers of Old 1st/8th. Argylls who joined up with the 11th. Bn. Argylls to form the New 1st/8th. Argylls.
Capt. A.M.Pollock Wded. Capt. Matheson Major Kirsop Major Robert Moir Transferred Capt. Phillip Capt. Haddow Capt. MacIntosh Killed Lt. Caldwell Lt. Ritchie Lt. MacGregor Lt. Mactaggart Lt. David Barbour, M.C. Lt. Chas. Munro Capt. John Dusseldorf, M.C. Capt. Bugbee (U.S.A.) Transferred L.Swan Wded. Lt. M'Creath Lt. Smith Wded. Lt. Aitken Lt. Svenson Lt. Johnson Lt. Fisher Lt. Mitchell Lt. Elliott Lt. Hogben Lt. Furness Lt. MacBrayne Lt. Russell Lt. Hamilton Lt. Tolliday Wded. Lt. Thom Lt. Robertson Died of Wounds Lt. Cadell Lt. Gillies Lt. Traves
My diary unfortunately does not record the fates of some of these 35.
15th. Left Glasgow with night train for London, as my leave is finished.
16th. October. Thrown out at Shorncliffe, above Folkestone. Very stormy day with heavy seas running. Informed that the boat would not cross today, so took an exceedingly good lunch. After lunch we were informed that the boat would sail at 2.30 p.m. Left then, tremendous rolling and pitching. Everybody sick. I remember well standing at the rail with a general on my left hand and a major of the R.A.F. on my right, and talking to the deep with them. I felt like quoting "Death the Leveller" to them, substituting "seasickness" for "death". There was some humour in the situation. Boulogne. Put up at the Meurice and went to bed after tea.
17th. 11.30 a.m. train to Arras, tiring journey. Arrived at Q.M. stores at 7 and then went to Officers Club for dinner. Heard that the battalion had carried out a small raid. Went up to Battalion next day, and started work again as Asst-Adjutant.
20th. Bn. at Stirling Camp. Saw C.O. In future, whenever I write "C.O." here, the letters mean "Conscientious Obstructor" for that is my own and also the general opinion of Lt. Col. H.A.Duncan.
23rd. Am at Q.M.'s place in the meantime.
24th. Sat on F.G.C.M. - two simple cases with Major de Haviland.
25th. Emslie killed on patrol.
26th. Bn. came out of line.
28th. Wasted a lot of time at a G.C.M. before a court not properly constituted. Cold weather. More upheavals in the battalion.
29th. Officers all fed up and numbers wanting to leave or transfer. Battalion spirit being stamped out by C.O.
30th. Bn. moved into Left sector. Macleod came back to 'details' for a rest, and I went in as a/adjutant. Weather wet and cold. More 'Strafes'. Spent a very busy three days until night of 2nd/3rd. Nov. when we were relieved. During these three days in the line the number of letters, telegrams and reports received or sent out by me was no less than 451! I counted them! War! Eugh!
Note: by Robert Lindsay Mackay, 11th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
This Day in History
Union Admiral David Farragut leads a flotilla past two Confederate forts on the Mississippi River south of New Orleans. Moving at 2:00 a.m., Farragut lost one ship but successfully ran past the strongholds.
The Union army issues General Orders No. 100, which provided a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians.
British forces, along with Australian, New Zealand, and Polish troops, begin to withdraw from Greece in light of the Greek armys surrender to the Axis invaders. A total of 50,732 men are evacuated quickly over a six-day period, leaving behind weapons, trucks, and aircraft.
The 12-day Battle of the Hills began. During the 12-day battle, two battalions of the 3rd Marine Regt, lost 160 KIA and 746 WIA.
North Vietnamese troops hit Allied installations throughout South Vietnam. In the most devastating attack, the ammunition depot at Qui Nhon was blown up.