Captain Rose War Diary 16 – 25 Sep 1914: From trenches to billets in Septmonts

16 Sept

Morning comes at last, and rain stops a bit. Feel desperate shivers, but a tot of rum makes one better. Sun comes out, rather weak. To our joy, mail comes in, letter and chocolate from Hetty, general rejoicing. Some shrapnel came into wood, and many over. I think aimed at battery behind us. Get some sleep. Feeling rather stiff. Wring out my socks to get rough water out. Battle going on, but quieter than yesterday. Not a bad day, plenty of food. Watched aero. Assisting our shell fire by signals. Bright outside, very cold, much walking up and down. Fairly quiet. Nasty rain.

17 Sept

Miserable day of rain, chief events, into wood about 4-30 a.m. Try to make shilling [Scots word shiel – a temporary or rough hut and shieling -summer pasture with hut] A. Q [All quiet?] for some time. Sharp burst of infantry fire about 9 a.m. Few shells come into wood, piece comes to rest near Money. Aero working as yesterday, much shot at. Hear we are to move, as front too thick. Do not move out of wood at dark, rain clearing, feet and legs sopping, very inclined to be depressed. Village full of transport, shelled heavily with high explosive, probably spy, Bucy-le-Long.

18 Sept

[Sketch map from Capt Rose's war diary, drawn from the area of Venizel, with the River Aisne in the foreground, Bucy Le Long skyline left and St Marguarite skyline right.]

[Sketch map from Capt Rose’s war diary, drawn from the area of Venizel, with the River Aisne in the foreground, Bucy Le Long skyline left and St Marguarite skyline right.]

Move into wood again. After trying night try to improve shelter. Hot tea at Money’s fire. What a difference if we could only have a fire, and dry our clothes. (Noticed comet during night to R. of Great Bear). Snails all over place. Fair day. Awful night, rained steadily all time, shelter useless, very cold. Heavy fire during night.

19 Sept

Money’s fire in morning fans up. Boat to HQ across Aisne. Get at kits, and get a vest, also a waterproof sheet, and extra jam. Hear attack likely. F. [French] left attack has failed. Night good, but rather cold, have to walk up and down a lot. Men paid.

20 Sept.

Rain again, heavy showers, got five letters from Hetty at once, also collar, two socks. Shelter some good now, owing to waterproof sheets. Money has been moved. Curious how we harden. Have now been about seven days without taking boots off for any length of time, and feet not dry for nine days, yet no ill effects, bar slight soreness, and cold discomfort. Practice shelter trenches. Mail for 10th Sept. Mails better now. Sent to Septmonts to arrange billets, a difficult job. Bn, [Battalion] arrive very late, difficult to find places again.

[Line of march 20 Sep Venizel to Septmonts c 5 miles]

21 Sept.

To bed by 1 a.m., what luxury. On inexpressible comfort of a warm bed. A day of rest, getting dry, washing, shaving. A red-letter day. Hear there was heavy German attack yesterday, and we not entirely successful, also a good deal of loss. Stoppage. Hardinge [Lieut P R Hardinge, Platoon Commander B Company] joined Coy. [Company]. Early to bed.

22 Sept

Up at 5-30 a.m. parade 6-45. March to Carrière L’Eveque. One of the largest and best kept chateau farms I have ever seen. Draw tools and march to Billz, make entrenchments. Lots of artillery work all day.

See aero, chase, and firing, to bed early. Distant [?] Watch to Paris for new glass.

23 Sept.

Still at Septmonts, lovely day, day of rest. Joy of rest. Visit chateau and church 12th century, very interesting. Aero work.

24 Sept

Another beautiful day. Aero, work, Hear we will probably move, hundreds of rumours as usual. V has gone to Paris. The Germans are said to be shooting their own badly wounded. V is back. Watch mended, but a little loose. Aeros. being shot at. Hewitt [Lieut James Francis Hewitt, Platoon Commander A Company, b 23 Jan 1888 – Killed in Action 26 Oct 1914] arrived yesterday. This is four reinforcements, we are now getting too large.

25 Sept

Quiet day. Drill in morning. A good deal of shell fire at Aeros. Discipline improving. Hear that the wood we were in received a very heavy shelling. The G’s [Germans] have broken down over the compromise [?] shell.

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