Alfred Mills 

10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
(City of London Regiment) the 'Stockbrokers'
 and The Royal Engineers

Great War Diary 1914-1918


 

Friday 1 October Foncquevillers
Played cards and got some much needed sleep.

Saturday 2 October Foncquevillers
Winnie's birthday today. She's 20. Received letter from Dot and newspapers from Ma and Winnie.

Sunday 3 October Foncquevillers
Back to the trenches in afternoon. This time in the Front line and here we stay for the next 5 nights.

Friday 8 October Foncquevillers
In the Front line. Feeling really miserable, dirty and itching like mad. Loads of flies around during the day. Latrines overflowing which probably don't help. Our line on the right is bombarded by aerial torpedoes. No serious casualties from what I can tell and our company is ok. Mail arrives with a parcel from Dot which contains a cake for my birthday, which I share round. I send field service post cards to Ma, Winnie and Dot thanking her for the cake.

Saturday 9 October Souastre
We come out of the trenches this evening and march to Souastre about 3 miles back and the village before St Amand. In huts and chance to have a bath. Great estaminet which sells really cheap wine but it gives me the runs. Souastre is full of troops and is quite busy.

Sunday 10 October Souastre
My birthday today and I am 21. Received parcel from Emily. Wrote to Ma.

Wednesday 20 October Souastre
We've been here now for 10 days and apart from digging some trenches at night over at Bienvillers-au-bois, near Hannescamps, we've had an easy time and I feel a lot better.

Thursday 21 October Foncquevillers

Marched back here this morning and straight back into the Front line trenches. Getting used to it all now.

Tuesday 26 October Foncquevillers
Went out on patrol, 50 yards from enemy trenches. It is quite dark and feel quite nervous. We check for any new saps Jerry has run out from his trenches but find nothing amiss. The wire is quite cut up and we repair what we can and make a note for the repair party. We return to the Reserve trench.

Wednesday 27 October Foncquevillers

Went back into Front line in the afternoon. Raining now consistently and everything getting soaked. We have been lucky so far and the weather has been kind to us the last few months.

Sunday 31 October Foncquevillers

Parcel from Ma and letter from Dot.

Monday 1 November Foncquevillers

In Reserve trench. Raining all day. Letter from Ma.

Tuesday 2 November Foncquevillers

Back in Front line and bombarded for one and a half hours this morning with shells and sausages. Incessant rain. Came out of the trenches in the evening. Condition of trench absolutely awful with water over our knees and everything soaked through. We march back to Souastre in the rain this evening. I received a packet of newspapers in the mail from dear Winnie.

Wednesday 3 November Souastre
Rested all day. Parcel and cigarettes from Ma. Letter from dear Winnie. It seems my affections for Winnie is exceeding that for Dot. Wrote to Ma.

Thursday 11 November Foncquevillers

My rest period is over and we're back digging trenches at Foncquevillers, which looks ever worse for wear due to the shelling. Return to Souastre after 2 days of digging. Trenches are really bad with the water and everything is churned up.

Sunday 14 November Souastre

Leaving Souastre for Foncquevillers and another dug-out. I spend the next 2 days and nights digging trenches.

Tuesday 16 November Foncquevillers

On carrying fatigues this morning and return to Front line in the afternoon. Letters and newspapers from Winnie and letter and cigarettes from Ma.

Saturday 20 November Foncquevillers

Came out of the trenches this morning and returned to our dug-out in the village where I sleep for the rest of the day.

Sunday 21 November Foncquevillers

Back digging trenches at night. Wrote to Winnie and Ma.

Monday 22 November Foncquevillers

Digging trenches all day.

Tuesday 23 November Foncquevillers

Go into Support trenches this morning. Known as 'Sniper's Square' for good reason. I keep my head down.

Wednesday 24 November Foncquevillers

On carrying fatigues during night.

Thursday 25 November Foncquevillers

Digging all night.

Friday 26 November Foncquevillers

We leave the trenches in afternoon and march to Pas, just over 7 miles.

Saturday 27 November Pas

Go for bath. Hand in kit for laundry. Nice to be clean and I can stop scratching for a while.

Sunday 28 November Pas

Parcel from Ma.

Monday 29 November Pas

Letter from Ma and cigarettes from Winnie.

Tuesday 30 November Pas

Parcel from Ma. Sent post card to Ma.

Monday 6 December Pas

Spent last 6 days working in a nearby wood where we cut down trees and fashioned planks and support timbers. Loads of letters and parcels including one from my old employer, Anglo-Saxon Petroleum with chocolate and cigarettes. How thoughtful.

Tuesday 7 December Souastre

Rest over. March back to here from Pas. Pouring with rain.

Wednesday 8 December Foncquevillers

March here from Souastre. William Findlay killed today. We stand to as his coffin passes to go to the little village churchyard and Colonel White coming to the salute as the small procession silently passes.

Received newspapers from Winnie.

Thursday 9 December Foncquevillers

Back in the trenches tonight, digging and repairing. Still raining.
Friday 10 December Foncquevillers
The battle has by this time practically died down, and the battlefield sank into an uneasy state of rest which covered the whole line. Winter had come, and the new battalions had time to grow accustomed to the realities of war. Many amused themselves by erecting notice-boards near the German trenches when any particularly heartening piece of news was available. The 10th Battalion placed a large notice-board with a report of a peace demonstration in Berlin, on the German wire.

Monday 13 December Foncquevillers

Been in trenches now for 3 days and they are in an awful state. Constant pumping. I'm covered head to toe in mud.

Tuesday 14 December Foncquevillers

Go into Support trenches, 'Sniper's Square', where dug-outs have been created. Received newspapers from Winnie. Sent field service post card to Ma.

Wednesday 15 December Foncquevillers 
Go into Front line at 4:30pm for a 24 hour stunt.

Thursday 16 December Foncquevillers

Come out of Front line at 5:00pm and dead tired. Received letter and newspaper from Ma.

Friday 17 December Foncquevillers

Sent a field service post card to Emily. Wrote to Ma and Dot.

Saturday 18 December Foncquevillers

Go into Front line for another 24 hours. Conditions now getting really bad and water over my knees everywhere I go. All dug outs are waterlogged, so no respite and no possibility of sleep. Standing up all the time.

Sunday 19 December Foncquevillers

I come out of the Front line into the dug-outs in 'Sniper's Square' in the Support trenches..

Monday 10th December Foncquevillers

The East Lancs arrive to relieve us in the evening and we march back to Souastre. Received Xmas cards from Dot. Letters and Xmas cards from Winnie and Ma.

Tuesday 21 December Souastre

Received parcel from Ma and a parcel from Manfields containing the most welcome and lovely pair of brown lace up leather boots, which are waterproof in water up to 12" deep.

Friday 24 December Souastre

Went for a bath at Pas. Received Xmas cards from dad and Emily.

Saturday 25 December Souastre

Went for Xmas dinner in the canteen.

Sunday 26 December Henu

Went digging all day in the stone quarries at Henu, which are about 5 miles from Souastre on the road to Pas. Received a letter from Dot. Wrote to Emily.

Monday 27 December Souastre

Wrote to Ma and Winnie. Received a letter and a new diary from Winnie. Bank Holiday today being Boxing Day. I wonder if they still had a Bank Holiday back in England.

Tuesday 28 December Souastre

Went for a bath at Pas. Fancy 2 baths in 5 days!

Wednesday 29 December Souastre

March to St Amand where we spend the whole day digging. Returned to Souastre tired and dirty. Letter from Ma.

Thursday 31 December Souastre

Lay awake and saw the old year out. No celebrations.

Foncquevillers in 1915

Souastre in 1915

Trench map clearly showing Sniper's Square. September 1916
Courtesy of Paths of Glory