Alfred Mills 

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

Great War Diary 1914-1918


 

Sunday 1 July Messines

Left our MG Outpost at 1:30am and relieved by King's Royal Rifles on our left in another MG Outpost. Rotten place, falling to pieces. Saw one of our aeroplanes brought down in flames.

Monday 2 July Messines

Nothing much has happened today. Still in the same place (Advanced Outpost). Thought we were going to be relieved, but it's not so. "Tomorrow night" says Wickham.

Tuesday 3 July Messines

Still here

Wednesday 4 July Messines

We are going to be relieved tonight, thank goodness. The enemy must be creeping back nearer to us. He sent over some pineapples (trench mortars) about 10:00pm. Very fed up. Relief will now be until tomorrow night.

Thursday 5 July Messines

Fritz put some more pineapples over this morning. They must be hunting for our Post. Very cold today. They strafed like hell most of the day. Still no relief.

Friday 6 July Messines

Advanced our Post early this morning. Big aeroplane battle right over Fritz's lines. I think we did very well. Hell of a strafe at 11:00pm. It has been a beautiful day (weatherwise).

Saturday 7 July Messines

Lovely day today. Saw 3 aeroplanes brought down in flames. Enemy plane came right down over our positions an so we had to lie doggo for about an hour.

What joy! The relief has arrived and so went back to the Support line. Shelled going down and we got a hot reception when we got there. Shells all over the place.

Sunday 8 July Messines

In the Support line. How nice to wash even if it's just shell-hole water and shave my ruddy beard off. On ration fatigue tonight.

Monday 9 July Messines

In the Support line. On ration fatigue tonight. Hell of a strafe about 9:30pm. Stunt going on, on our left.

Tuesday 10 July Messines

We?re relieved by 63rd Brigade. Very glad indeed to get out. Getting out of the Support line to return to Dranoutre, we came across a shallow grave just over the trench parapet with a bayoneted rifle stuck in the ground at its head with a Pears Shaving Soap tin (golden colour) tied to the trigger guard. A note inside obviously written by a padre stated that it was an Irish soldier, no name given. Somebody said "Let's make a cross", which a sargeant carpenter with us, did. I hand printed the inscription on the cross. We hoped it would survive the shelling.

Wednesday 11 July Dranoutre

We have a day off cleaning up. It's nice to be away for a while from the Line.

Thursday 12 July Dranoutre

On parade morning and afternoon.

Friday 13 July Dranoutre

On parade this morning and then we had a medical inspection this afternoon.

Saturday 14 July Dranoutre

On parade this morning. Afternoon off because we're on night operations.

Sunday 15 July Dranoutre

On Church parade this morning.

Monday 16 July Dranoutre

Went to Baths and had clothes fumigated. Went to Barn Owls Concert this evening.

Tuesday 17 July Dranoutre

Marched to Bailleul training ground today for a series of attacks. Got back about 6:00pm

Wednesday 18 July Dranoutre

Ordinary parade today

Thursday 19 July Dranoutre

Drill in morning and on the range up to 5:00pm. Paraded for digging in Front line at 6:30pm. Enemy rather nasty with his shells.

Friday 20 July Dranoutre

Came back off digging party at 4:00am. Very tired.

Saturday 21 July Dranoutre

Working on Compound all day.

Sunday 22 July Messines

Salving from old Front line all day. Beautiful weather.

Monday 23 July Messines

Paraded for digging party this morning but dismissed. On ordinary parade during day. On digging fatigue tonight. Nearly caught it. Badly shelled.

Tuesday 24 July Dranoutre

Came off carrying fatigue at Messines at 4:00am. Had to clean up for inspection due tomorrow.

Wednesday 25th July Dranoutre

Supposed to be on inspection but it has been raining all day. Back to Messines on digging all night.

Thursday 26 July Dranoutre

Came off digging party at 4:00am. Baths at 10:30am. Heard we're going to relieve the 63rd Brigade.

Made our way up to Support trenches at Wytschaete. Nearly caught it in the neck. Guide lost his way and took us through heavy enemy strafe. Very lucky indeed there were no casualties.

Friday 27 July Wytschaete

In Support trenches. On ration fatigue, carrying to D company in Support line. Nothing happened.

Saturday 28 July Wytschaete

In Support trenches. On carrying fatigue for Royal Engineers all night. Strafing going on, on our right.

Sunday 29 July Wytschaete

In Support trenches. Terrible storm this morning. Just heard we're being relieved tonight; How jolly. Did not expect the relief.

Monday 30 July Wytschaete

Went back to Transport lines this morning but then heard the rotten news that we're coming back here tonight in Support to an attack that is planned.

Tuesday 31 July Wytschaete

Stunt came off at 4:00am. Fine barrage we put up.

Wednesday 1 August Wytschaete

Left Support line for Front line. Some Line! Isolated shell-holes full of water. Some Hope!

Thursday 2 August west of St Eloi

The mud and water is the limit. A stream runs right into our hole. Shall have to be careful in case we get drowned. Yesterday, while carrying the Lewis Gun on my shoulder and going though  the stream, I tripped on some barbed wire and fell full length into the water. The gun went into the water and was of course completely useless. We had nothing dry with which we could take it to pieces and clean it. The fact that I was soaked to the skin, was of small consequence.

Friday 3 August east of St Eloi

Our hole absolutely collapsed today. Sitting practically on top, raining all the time. We have to sit all day in mud and water. When dark, we ease up onto the hole?s edge and we all cry with the pain as circulation gets moving in our legs and we try to get warmth back into our bodies. These conditions are the worst yet. We thought Hamel was bad, but here is beyond description.

Saturday 4 August east of St Eloi

Moved back to Support line just about day break. Fritz is strafing our trench a lot, including Mustard Gas shells which make a soft plonk when they explode, so we have to watch out not to get splashed as it burns through everything!

On ration fatigue tonight to A company. The enemy blew our trench to hell just by our cubby-hutch, a baby elephant let into the side of the trench, whilst we are away. Lucky! Up at the Front line, there are dozens of lads lying out on top, all wounded stretcher cases.

Sunday 5 August east of St Eloi

Caught a packet in the leg when shells hit our trench, so went down to Aid Post for wound to be dressed. Had to walk a hell of a way to the CCS, about 3 miles and I was just about all in when I got there. With me, I had a Cpl Stiles with a wounded arm and another lad who was suffering from shock. When we got to the CCS, I was inoculated against tetanus by an orderly who stuck a blinking great syringe in my chest, I then passed out. I came to and they gave me some chocolate and I was taken down to Field Ambulance.

Monday 6 August Dranoutre

Bank Holiday Monday. Arrived here late in night and had a good sleep. CCS manned by Australians who redressed my wound. Being evacuated to Bailleul tomorrow.

Tuesday 7 August Bailleul

Waiting to be evacuated. Left here at 6:00pm on Red Cross Ambulance train.

Wednesday 8 August Etaples

Hospital. Arrived here about 3:30am. Had a good bath and hospital clothing. Wrote to Ma.

Thursday 9 August Etaples

Marched (sort of) to Camp today. Had a bath and went to concert in evening.

Friday 10 August Etaples

Paraded in front of Orderly Officer at 10:00am

Saturday 11 August Etaples

Drew khaki this morning. Left hospital for Convalescent Camp No.6

Sunday 12 August Etaples

On Fire Picket tonight at 9:00pm. Wrote to Winnie.

Monday 13 August Etaples

Came off Fire Picket at 7:00am. Left Convalescent Camp No.6 at 5:00pm for 39th Infantry Base Depot.

Tuesday 14 August Etaples

Drew equipment this morning and attended medical inspection where I was passed fit. Went to cinema this evening. Sent my address to Ma.

Wednesday 15 August Etaples

Sent my address to Winnie.

Thursday 16 August Etaples

On light duty

Friday 17 August Etaples

On light duty

Saturday 18 August Etaples

Went to the Bullring today.

Sunday 19 August Etaples

Fatigue this morning.

Monday 20 August Etaples

Baths and Washing parade today.

Friday 24 August Etaples

This is my fourth day at the Bullring. It is a large parade ground with all sorts of assault courses. One is subjected to all kinds of drills just like we had as raw recruits in Colchester back in 1914. The fly in the ointment here is the sargeant instructors, they are known as canaries, on account of the yellow pullovers they wear. And a worse set of bastards it would be hard to find. They bully us in everything we do, but the thing that gets our goats is that we are mostly old soldiers from the trenches.

On the bayonet course, they showed us how to use the bayonet and rifle to kill the enemy. They would come and show you how to do it as in their opinion, we're not doing correctly! We have only been doing it for the past 2 years up the Line, after a years training. This naturally made us smile and my godfathers, he would soon take that off our "f****** faces". We obey their commands as we just want to get the hell out of this place and back to our units. The best part of all this is that all these instructors have never been up the line. Real base-wallers!

Saturday 25 August Etaples

Standing By

Sunday 26 August Etaples

On fatigue during day.

Monday 27 August Etaples

On fatigue during day. Draw ammunition this afternoon.

Tuesday 28 August Dranoutre

Transport lines. Reached here about 10:30pm after leaving Etaples about 6:00am.

Wednesday 29 August Dranoutre

Transport lines. Went up with rations this evening and got back here about 10:30pm.

Thursday 30 August east of St Eloi

Came up with Transport after dark to join company in Support line.

Friday 31 August east of St Eloi

In Support line. On carrying party to Front line after dark.

Saturday 1 September east of St Eloi

In Support line and are relieved tonight and move back to Kemmel where we  are staying the night in Bell tents.

Sunday 2 September Kemmel

Move from Bell tents into shelters.

Monday 3 September Kemmel

Cleaning up today. Wrote to Ma.

Tuesday 4 September Kemmel

On parade today. Having Dinner this evening to celebrate August 29 1914. Enemy came over bombing after dark.

Wednesday 5 September Kemmel

Marched up to St Eloi and on digging party all day

Thursday 6 September Kemmel

Marched up to St Eloi and on digging party all day

Friday 7 September east of St Eloi

Left Kemmel and moved up to and took over the Front line.

Saturday 8 September east of St Eloi

In Front line trenches

Sunday 9 September east of St Eloi

In Front line trenches. We gassed the enemy after dark.

Monday 10 September east of St Eloi

In Front line trenches. Enemy gassed us after dark.

Tuesday 11 September east of St Eloi

Relieved tonight and came down to Irish House.

Wednesday 12 September Irish House

We were going to Locre, but orders have been changed. Warned that we are going up the line tomorrow.

Thursday 13 September Irish House

We didn't go up the line. On parade today. Wrote to Ma, Emily, Dot and Nell.

Friday 14 September Bus House

Left Irish House and came here, in shelters. Wrote to Jean.

Saturday 15 September Bus House

On carrying party this afternoon. Wrote to Anglo-Saxon Comforts Fund.

Sunday 16 September Bus House

On carrying party this afternoon. Parcel from Ma.

Monday 17 September Bus House

Parcel from Anglo-Saxon Comforts Fund.

Tuesday 18 September Bus House
Leave here today and march to Bailleul

Wednesday 19 September Bailleul

Wrote to Ma. Post card to Anglos-Saxon Petroleum

Thursday 20 September Bailleul

Batch of prisoners arrived, so went on guard for the night. Tatler from Emily

Thursday 27 September Veerstrat

After a week of guard and routine, today we marched from Bailleul and are bivouacked near here.

Friday 28 September east of Ypres

Came up to the Front line as carrying party. Wrote to Emily. Field service post card to Ma.

Saturday 29 September east of Ypres

On carrying fatigue to Front line.

Sunday 30 September east of Ypres

In trenches