Alfred Mills 

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

Great War Diary 1914-1918


 

Saturday 1 July Bailleulment

Big offensive started today. Bombardment stopped early this morning. Huge amount of gunfire from the south of us.

Letter from Ma.

Sunday 2 July Bailleulment

Parcel from Ma.

Monday 3 July Bailleulment

Enemy shelled the bottom of the village and had to get up at 4:00am.

Parcel from Ma. Letter from Effie.

Tuesday 4 July Bailleulment

The Town Major, 2nd Lt Passenger, left today as did Rusden and Maidment. I have to stay pro-tem. Had many farewell drinks with my new French friends.

Battalion went back to Mondicourt this morning. I stood outside the office and cheered them as they marched past.

Wednesday 5 July Bailleulment

Still here waiting for wagon. Received wire from Mr Passenger to "hang on", in reply to my wire to him for instructions. Received another wire from A.T.P, so am now going to Mondicourt tomorrow.  I feel sorry to leave the people here.

Thursday 6 July Mondicourt

Journeyed from Bailleument to here with Mde Caillenet. Started at 5:00am and got here about 7:30am. A.T.P taking over as Town Major and moved office to the Chateau. Fine place and made friends with the proprietor's girls from the Chocolate factory.

Tatler from Emily. Letter from Dot.

Friday 7 July Mondicourt

Working hard.

Sent post cards to Ma, Dot and Winnie.

Saturday 8 July Mondicourt

63rd Brigade, 8th Lincs and 10th Yorks and Lancs came in today. They have been rather cut up.

Sent post cards to Ma and Dot.

Sunday 9 July Mondicourt

63rd Brigade Town Major came to take over here. Ordered to return to unit.

Wrote to Ma.

Monday 10 July Mondicourt

Left here at 2:30pm by motor ambulance for Doullens. Left there by train for Amiens reaching there at 7:00pm. Sleeping on station until train comes in at midnight. Fall asleep on train.

Battalion moved up to Ovilliers.
Attack on Ovillers.When the 10th Battalion came up on July 10th they left one amazing experience to go to another. On the night of the 9th, the battalion camp at Albert was heavily shelled and a grenade dump (50,000) detonated, wounding an officer, killing one man and wounding two others. But in the Front line death and destruction were everywhere, La Boiselle was level with the ground. The trenches were battered and exposed. Dead bodies lay about on all sides. At 9:00pm, C and B Companies were pushed up in relief of the 13th Rifle Brigade, who, attacking towards Pozieres, had suffered from machine-gun fire; and the battalion lay in advanced positions under heavy shell fire for two days.

Tuesday 11 July Amiens

Left here at 6:00am and reached Mericourt at 8:00am. Got a lift to Baisseux, and thence to Albert. Came on to Transport lines by staff car and got ready for the trenches. Went up to join my company but sent back by adjutant to Transport lines. Bivouacked on plain. Heard the battalion went over last night and that and my unit, B Company together with C Company are pushed up in relief of the 13th Rifle Brigade who had been badly cut up by machine gun fire.

Wednesday 12 July Albert-Pozieres Road

Hung around waiting for orders.

Thursday 13 July Albert-Pozieres Road

I was detailed for Officers' Mess. Feel guilty in not being at the Front.

Friday 14 July Albert-Pozieres Road

Rained slightly during day. Offensive is going well. I see many batches of prisoners during the day.

Newspapers from Winnie. Reynolds from Ma.

Saturday 15 July Albert-Pozieres Road

Lads attacked today, many casualties. Jimmy Smythe killed.

Monday 17 July Albert-Pozieres Road

Left Transport lines and rejoined Battalion which has returned. Feel a lot better.

Tuesday 18 July Albert-Pozieres Road

Had rifle inspection this morning. Spent afternoon playing cards.
Wednesday 19 July Albert-Pozieres Road

Parade this morning. Played cards in afternoon and marched down to Albert in evening. We're being relieved by the Australians. Staying the night in Albert.

Thursday 20 July Albert

Marched this morning to Bresle. It is a small hamlet hidden in a small valley about 2 miles from Albert off the Amiens road.

Friday 21 July Bresle

Detailed for Machine Gun section. Very pleased as the gun is a Lewis Air Cooled.

Saturday 22 July Bresle

Doing instruction on Machine Gun. Played cards afterwards.

Sunday 23 July Bresle

Walked over to Henencourt.

Wrote to Ma.

Monday 24 July Bresle

Drill parade with Company this morning and Machine Gun instruction in afternoon.

Wrote to Talbot Butler and Effie.

Tuesday 25 July Bresle

Machine Gun instruction and then inspected by the Corps Commander, Lt Gen Sir W.P. Pulteney.

Letter from Ma.

Wednesday 26 July Bresle

Machine Gun instruction this morning.

Parcel from Ma. Newspapers from Winnie.

Thursday 27 July Bresle

Firing Machine Gun this morning.

Tatler, Daily News and Reynolds from home.

Walked to Ribemont this evening and had a feed.

Friday 28 July Bresle

Machine Gun cleaning this morning

Letter and cigarettes from Winnie. Wrote to Ma.

Saturday 29 July Bresle

Letters from Emily and Ma. Tatler and newspapers from home. Started a letter to Winnie. Played cards in evening.

Sunday 30 July Bresle

Warned that we would be moving. Packing up ready to move off. We left at 3:45pm and marched to Albert where we bivouacked for the night.

Monday 31 July Albert

Left at 8:40am and marched to Mametz Wood. Hell of a journey with boiling hot sun. We are in Reserve and have to dig ourselves in. Mount guard with Machine Gun in trench. There is a heavy bombardment going on over to our right.

Tuesday 1 August Mametz Wood

Continued digging in morning and rested in afternoon. Enemy strafed our wood this evening and heavy artillery duel all night.

Post card from Winnie.

Wednesday 2 August Mametz Wood

Cleaned the gun this morning. Mounted same in evening and was hit by shrapnel during the night. Only bruised though.

Newspapers from Winnie.

Thursday 3 August Mametz Wood

Moved up around Mametz Wood into Support at Bazentin-le-Petit in afternoon

Parcel and letter from Ma.

Friday 4 August Bazentin-le-Petit

On duty 2:45am to 4:30am. Deuce of a bombardment on. Working on consolidating the trench all day.

Saturday 5 August Bazentin-le-Petit

On duty Midnight to 2:30am. Shelling still going as hard as ever. Hit by a piece of shell on my hand in the morning. Only a scratch.

Wrote to Ma.

Sunday 6 August Bazentin-le-Petit

Went into Firing line at 1:00am. Trenches only about 2ft deep. Worked at getting them deeper. Some shelling.

Monday 7 August Bazentin-le-Petit

In Firing line and don't think much of it. Air is thick with dust and powder. We are expecting a counter-attack tonight. We pick up a German who had got lost.

Tuesday 8 August Bazentin-le-Petit

Hell of a strafe all night which ended in an inferno at dawn. We were relieved at 4:30pm in the afternoon and came down to the Reserve line.

We were sniping at Jerry as he came out to bomb out some Jocks from their forward position.

The bombardments are terrific affairs like all hell is let loose and they culminate in what we call drumfire as all the guns fire as fast as they can.

Even, so during the attack, the noise of rifle and machine gun fire drowns out the noise of the shelling.

It was the stopping of the bombardment that usually woke us up after dozing on the fire step due to lack of sleep. Sudden quiet after the noise.

Wednesday 9 August Mametz Wood

Moved back here to Reserve line but the enemy is shelling us all day.

Thursday 10 August Mametz Wood

In Reserve line and trenches are shelled all day.

Letter and Daily News from Ma. Lloyds News from Anglo-Saxon Petroleum. Newspapers from Winnie.

Friday 11 August Mametz Wood

In Reserve line and trenches are shelled this morning. It is getting monotonous.

Parcel from Ma.

Tuesday 15 August Mametz Wood

We left the Reserve line and march to Bresle. Have dinner at Becourt camp.

Wednesday 16 August Bresle

Walked over to Ribemont

Thursday 17 August Bresle

Loaded Machine Gun limbers

Friday 18 August Allery

Left Bresle at 7:30am and marched to Frechencourt where we entrained at 1:00pm to Airaines, from where we marched to here.

Parcel from Ma. Letters from Dot, Dad and Winnie.

Saturday 19 August Allery

Leave here at midday and marched to Longpre where we entrained and moved off from at about 4:30pm. Passed through Etaples, Boulogne, Calais and finally Bailleul.

Sunday 20 August Estaires

Arrived at Bailleul before dawn and had breakfast in space adjoining the station. Marched here and it looks a lovely town. Nice to be near civilisation again.

Sent field service post cards to Ma and Winnie.

Monday 21 August Estaires

Felt rather rotten with stomach pain this morning but seems better this evening. Thunderstorm.

Tuesday 22 August Camblain-Chatelain

Rose at 4:15am and left Estaires by train to Lillers. Marched from there to here. Go for walk in evening to have a look round.

Wednesday 23 August Camblain-Chatelain

Cleaning gun and ammunition this morning.

Wrote to Ma. Letters from Winnie, Nellie and Ma.

Thursday 24 August Camblain-Chatelain

Gun drill.

Letter from Dot. Parcel from Ma. Newspaper from Anglo-Saxon. Wrote to Winnie.

Friday 25 August Camblain-Chatelain

Cleaned gun this morning and played cricket this evening.

Wrote to Accounts at Anglo-Saxon.

Saturday 26 August Camblain-Chatelain

Cleaned ammunition this morning.

Wrote to Dot. Letter from Ma.

Sunday 27 August Camblain-Chatelain

Go for a walk this morning to Pernes

Parcel and newspaper from Ma.

Monday 28 August Camblain-Chatelain

Cleaned gun this morning. This evening we had a smoking concert in commemoration of joining the Army two years ago.

Tuesday 29 August Camblain-Chatelain

Loaded Machine Gun limbers this morning.

Wednesday 30 August Bouvigny

Left Camblain-Chatelain at 10:00am and arrived here at 6:30pm. It has poured with rain the whole day. Feel wet and fed up.

Thursday 31 August Bouvigny

Did drill this morning.

Post card from Winnie.

Friday 1 September Bouvigny

Did drill this morning. Play football this evening.

Parcel from Winnie. Tatler and newspapers from home. Letter from Dot.

Saturday 2 September Bouvigny

Did drill this morning. On cookhouse fatigue all the afternoon and watched football after tea.

Post card from Winnie.

Sunday 3 September Bouvigny

Did drill this morning and ammunition cleaning.

Newspapers and post card from Winnie an newspapers, parcel and letter from Ma.

Monday 4 September Bouvigny

Inspected by General Count von Gleichen today.

Wrote to Emily. Letter and cigarettes from Winnie.

Tuesday 5 September Bouvigny

Had Cleaning parade this morning. Paraded at 2:30pm and moved off to Bully-Grenas. Raining most of the time.

Wednesday 6 September Bully-Grenay

Town looked quite good when we arrived here ad is in fact two adjoining towns, Bully and Grenas but are merged into one.

Paraded at 9:30am. Iron rations inspected. The company moved back to a village behind us but us machine gunners stayed in the town.

Thursday 7 September Calonne

Paraded at 11:15am and marched up to the trenches from Bully-Grenas. We are in the Support trenches in a village called Calonne. Been ordered to instruct the Dublin Fusiliers machine gunners. On sentry 10:00pm to 11:00pm

Friday 8 September Calonne

On sentry midday to 2:00pm and 8:00pm to 10:00pm

Saturday 9 September Calonne

On breakfast fatigue.

Registered letter from Dad and newspaper from Anglo-Saxon Petroleum.

Sunday 10 September Calonne

On sentry duty this morning 8:00am to 10:00am

Monday 11 September Verdrel

Were relieved about midday at Calonne and marched back here to rejoin company.

Parcel from Ma. Letter and Tatler from Emily. Newspaper from Anglo-Saxon Petroleum.

Tuesday 12 September Verdrel

Paraded and said farewell to Colonel White as he is leaving today.

Wednesday 13 September Verdrel

Paraded at 9:30am for Lewis Gun drill

Thursday 14 September Verdrel

Paraded at 9:30am for Lewis Gun drill. Listened to band in evening.

Friday 15 September Verdrel

Paraded with Lewis Gun for inspection by the new Colonel at 10:00am. Paraded for field work at 2:00pm.

Saturday 16 September Verdrel

Paraded at 9:30am for Lewis Gun drill

Sunday 17 September Verdrel

Packing up this morning to march back to Bully-Grenas

Monday 18 September Bully-Grenay

Had Physical drill parade and Machine Gun drill. Raining all day.

Wrote to Dad.

Tuesday 19 September Bully-Grenay

Gun drill today.

Letter and parcel from Ma.

Parcel from Anglo-Saxon Petroleum

Wednesday 20 September Bully-Grenay

Relieved 13th King's Royal Rifle Corps in Front line. Don't like this place at all what with mines, minenwerfers and canisters.

Thursday 21 September Bully-Grenay

Enemy blew up a big mine just on our left this morning. Obviously a nice friendly welcome. This area is a big coal mining area and lots of shafts and tunnels.

Friday 22 September Bully-Grenay

Tatler from Emily. Letter and Winnie. Newspapers from home.

Saturday 23 September Bully-Grenay

Enemy blew up a mine this morning. This is going be a real cosy place.

Sunday 24 September Bully-Grenay

My nerves are going again. Shaking uncontrollably. Report sick this evening and sent to Field Ambulance at Bully Bridge.

Monday 25 September Barlin

Leave Field Ambulance at Bully Bridge at 10:00am and arrive at Hospital at 10:30am, which is in Aix-Noulette. Left here at 1:00pm and arrived CCS Barlin about 2:00pm. Have gas alarm during night.

Tuesday 26 September Arques

Left CCS Barlin at 6:00am and arrived here at 9:00am. Went to Hospital to have eyes examined.

Wrote to Anglo-Saxon Comforts Fund.

Wednesday 27 September Sains-en-Gohelle

Left Arcques at 2:45pm and arrive here about 7:00pm and am staying the night.

Thursday 28 September Bully-Grenay

Arrived back here and immediately went up to rejoin my unit in Front line.

Had two years conduct/service stripe issued today

Parcel from Ma.  Newspapers from Winnie.

Friday 29 September Calonne

Leave trenches (and Machine Gun)and rejoin my Company. On ration fatigue. It seems they cure you the hard way.

Wrote to Ma that I'm sending my glasses home. Field service post cards to George, Winnie, Dot, Nellie, Shindler and Emily.