Diary Kept by Rifleman B. C. Stubbs of the Second Draft Sent to the Queen Victoria Rifles in France by Stubbs, Bernard C.
book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)
[Illustration: BERNARD CASTLE STUBBS]
_So at the threat ye shall summon--so at the need ye shall send Men, not children or servants, tempered and taught to the end; Cleansed of servile panic, slow lo dread or despise Humble because of knowledge, mighty by sacrifice.... So ye shall bide sure guarded when the restless lightnings wake In the womb of the blotting war cloud, and the pallid nations quake._
DIARY KEPT BY RIFLEMAN B. C. STUBBS
OF THE SECOND DRAFT SENT TO THE QUEEN VICTORIA RIFLES IN FRANCE
CHICAGO PRIVATELY PRINTED 1915
COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY RALPH McCOY
“_Dulce et Decorum Est_”
MR. B. C. STUBBS
Once again the shadow has fallen darkly on all associated with the Union-Castle Line, both in the City of London and at sea. Another young member of the Company’s staff at the Fenchurch Street offices, Mr. Bernard Castle Stubbs, who joined the Queen Victoria’s Rifles (9th Battalion London Regiment) in September last, has laid down his life for his country. Shortly after enlistment, he volunteered for the first draft which went out to make good the casualties in his regiment, and on arriving in France last February was sent direct to the firing line. He was in the famous fight on Hill 60 during the night of April 20-21, under the command of Lieutenant G. H. Woolley, who gained the first Victoria Cross conferred on a Territorial officer for his gallant efforts in that bitterly contested struggle. On June 22 Private Stubbs sustained a shell wound in the head, and he died on the following day at the Receiving Hospital at Bailleul, without having regained consciousness. The lad was educated for eight years at Slough, where he was distinguished both in his classes and in the school sports, and was head boy of the school during his last few terms, as well as captain of the cricket and football teams, the holder of a cup for the school championship at “fives,” and the winner of the swimming medal of the school. He later captained the Old Boys’ football team. On leaving school in 1907 he entered the offices of the Union-Castle line, and his death at the early age of 24 has closed what was a very promising career.
DIARY KEPT BY RIFLEMAN B. C. STUBBS
WEDNESDAY, _February 10, 1915_
Owing to wire calling me back from leave, left Watford by 7:51 train, catching the 9:10 from Victoria to Crowboro’. Left Crowboro’ by 6:03 for Southampton after a fine send-off from rest of Battalion. Arrived Southampton at 11 P. M. and spent a good night on floor of board school in the town.
THURSDAY, _February 11, 1915_
Morning spent in having hair cut short and a nice hot bath--just to make sure that anyway I leave England clean. Afternoon we marched to Army Stores and drew new rifles and bayonets. In the evening sported 3d at a local cinema. Another good night on school floor.
FRIDAY, _February 12, 1915_
Stood by till 12 noon all ready to embark, and then told owing to submarines in Channel we could not get away. Hung about Southampton all afternoon and did a music hall in evening. Shall be glad to get a move on, although Southampton people are very kind.
SATURDAY, _February 13, 1915_
Fred Karno’s army again! Stood by all morning, then told no chance of going to-day and dismissed till roll call at 9:30. Had a game of billiards after drawing ten bob from local Donald Currie Office, and just going to have tea when told to return to schools at once as we were just off. Hurried back and stood by for an hour, and then dismissed again. Did another picture show in evening, but spent a rotten night owing to toothache and squash through more troops coming in.
SUNDAY, _February 14, 1915_
Off at last! Told definitely we embark at 12 noon and actually did so, but did not leave quay until 6. The whole way down Southampton water we were covered with searchlights, and then picked up an escort of destroyers who saw us safely across. But what a voyage! About 8:30 I found myself wedged with others into stable with horses a few yards away. Ship, a cargo boat and rolled like hell! Any amount of men ill but thank goodness I kept fit. Eventually dozed off about 11:30.
MONDAY, _February, 15, 1915_
Made my way out of stable to find ship lying off Havre at about 6:30 A. M. Eventually docked at 12 noon and then transferred to another and smaller ship for our journey up the Seine. Very surprised at the size of docks at Havre. The town looked very pretty from the ship and should have liked a short time ashore, but nothing doing! Turned in at 8 o’clock, but horses made such a row could not sleep. Walked round ship whilst we left harbour and anchored in mouth of river, ready for our trip to Rouen in morning. Finally fell asleep on a form in men’s quarters and slept fairly well.
TUESDAY, _February 16, 1915_
Up at 6:30 and luckily got a cup of coffee from ship’s cook. Have lived on bully beef and biscuits since leaving Southampton, so coffee was properly appreciated. Started our voyage up the Seine at 9 o’clock. When we left Southampton, we had over 1000 troops on board; all left at Havre except our 100 and 50 Artists Rifles, so we are a merry little crowd. The trip up the river was simply great. Glorious day and the scenery ripping the whole way. Arrived at Rouen about 5:30 but stayed on board the night. Slept on the mess-room table and had a good night.
WEDNESDAY, _February 17, 1915_
Left the boat at 8 o’clock and had a 5-mile march to reach camp. Poured the whole way, so our first footing on French soil was hardly encouraging. Arrived at camp and put eleven in each hut (or tent), and then, thank God, breakfast turned up. Tea, bread and jam--and didn’t it go down well! Another medical inspection and kit finally examined; rest of day to ourselves. Did a cinema in evening and had a good night in tent.
THURSDAY, _February 18, 1915_
Up at 7 o’clock, and, after an inspection by some General “cove” or other, had day to ourselves. Did cinema again in evening. Hear we are off to trenches to-morrow. Now it’s so near, I’m very keen on getting there and hope it comes off.
FRIDAY, _February 19, 1915_
No luck! Stood by all day and no orders came out. Should like some work to do, as hanging about in tent tends to make me liverish, humpy and irritable.
SATURDAY, _February 20, 1915_
Work in earnest. On road making and mud shifting from 7:15 to 4 o’clock. Got a grand wash in the evening and felt happy and fit once more.
SUNDAY, _February 21, 1915_
Rifle inspection only. Rest of day to ourselves. No further orders and once again we show our capabilities at standing by. Awful job to get water to wash with, and the feeling of filthiness is positively appalling.
MONDAY, _February 22, 1915_
Nothing all day beyond rifle inspection in morning. Told off for not shaving. _Inter alia_, the trials of a voluntary soldier, consist of making fires without wood and shaving without water.
TUESDAY, _February 23, 1915_
Off to the trenches at last. Paraded at 2 o’clock and marched to Rouen Station. Tremendous train with all sorts and conditions of troops. Rotten carriages, a bit worse than the third class on G. E. suburban trains. Left Rouen 5:50 P. M. and arrived Bailleul 11:30 A. M. February 24, 1915. Detrained to the sound of artillery.
WEDNESDAY, _February 24, 1915_
Joined up with the First Battalion and met many old chums from Crowboro’, just back from trenches on a few days’ rest. Attached to “B” Coy, and billeted in a barn over a cow shed and pig sty. Had a grand night’s rest; woken up once or twice by the guns which seemed horribly close. Now in Belgium and disgusted at the state of the peasants and hovels in which they live. No idea of cleanliness and seem to revel in dirt. Was present at a search for live stock by party back from trench; several captures witnessed, and have now some idea of what is to come.
THURSDAY, _February 25, 1915_
Rifle inspection followed by a hot bath in a brewery tub and a change of linen. What luck! and what a lovely clean feeling. In the evening letters from home turned up; four from Jim, one from Mother, and p.c. from Tick. All are well and I’m much relieved at hearing after three weeks.
FRIDAY, _February 26, 1915_
Nothing on to-day so spent afternoon and evening in Bailleul. Guns rather noisy to-day but otherwise things fairly quiet.
SATURDAY, _February 27, 1915_
Ordered to parade to march to trenches at 4:30. Understand we are going in for eight days, four each in firing and support trenches. Arrived in firing trench at 9:30. Cold, wet night, and continually sniped at during last mile. Relieved Cheshires in trenches opposite Messines Ridge, and just to encourage us, Williams and I, who were together in a lookout, were told by a sergeant we were in one of the most dangerous parts of the line, as they had had eight casualties there during the day. Surprised at the calm way in which we both took this; and we spent the night on watch, hour in and hour out, without being worried beyond a few sniper shots.
SUNDAY, _February 28, 1915_
A very interesting day. In the morning had a glorious view of an English airman shelled by anti-aircraft gun. In the afternoon had my first taste of shell fire, but the Germans are not good at it and did very little damage.
MONDAY, _March 1, 1915_
Sunday night was a perfect beast. Cold and wet and snipers very busy. As for to-day, my first real feeling of funk. A shell burst on parapet just in front of me and gave me a bad shaking. Upset me for about a quarter of an hour, but kept it to myself and pulled myself together again. In the evening, while fetching water, a man shot down three yards from us. Also rather upsetting but kept my head this time. Reached support trenches about 10 o’clock, and had a ripping sleep safe from snipers and fairly so from shells.
TUESDAY, _March 2, 1915_
Nice calm day to-day in redoubt behind firing line. Nothing to do all day but sleep and did that very well indeed. Worked all night in cutting down hedge so as not to affect fire in case of attack--rotten job, and sniped at all the time.
WEDNESDAY, _March 3, 1915_
Another calm day. In the afternoon watched German shells smashing into a village about one half mile from redoubt. Very interesting and a sight never to be forgotten. Thank Heaven, the people had gone. Returned to firing line at night.
THURSDAY, _March 4, 1915_
On Sunday the 28th I wrote the Germans are not much good with their shells. I now beg their pardon. The beasts shelled us with heavy guns from 7 in the morning until dusk, and I sincerely hope I never have a similar experience. It’s a horrible nerve racking job and I felt it pretty badly, but everyone was the same, so there is no need to blame myself. No sleep all day and all night; I did lookout hour in and hour out.
FRIDAY, _March 5, 1915_
A fairly calm day after yesterday, but in early morning surprise fusillade from Germans. Machine guns and heavy rifle fire. Gave them plenty back and they soon stopped. Returned to redoubt at night absolutely done to the world.
SATURDAY, _March 6, 1915_
My twenty-fourth birthday. Woke at 2 P. M. and felt much better for long sleep. Wrote Jim and Mother, and spent afternoon chatting and generally lazing. On guard from 7 to 9 in evening and 1 to 3 early Sunday morning.
SUNDAY, _March 7, 1915_
A quiet day in dugout. Found it hard to sleep owing to heavy artillery fire. Should really return to billets to-night but ordered to remain as supports. At 7 P. M. I and fifteen others ordered to proceed to firing lines. There for three hours during which time I was on listening patrol--a particularly nervy and rotten job. Arrived back in dugouts about midnight.
MONDAY, _March 8, 1915_
Very quiet day in dugout and had a good sleep. Worked all night on fatigue, and returned to supporting line at dawn.
TUESDAY, _March 9, 1915_
Stood by all day, and at night received joyful news to return to billets. Reached them at midnight, and relief at being out of all danger for the present cannot be overestimated.
WEDNESDAY, _March 10, 1915_
Slept on well into the day. In evening walked into village of Dresouke and had a good wash, shave, and meal. Ye Gods!
THURSDAY, _March 11, 1915_
Busy all day on various fatigues. We come from trenches for what is called a “rest.” I should like to know what the Army Authorities call “work.”
FRIDAY, _March 12, 1915_
Marched into Bailleul and took up fresh billets in another barn. Very glad to see some really respectable people, and the barn for a change happened to be nice and clean.
SATURDAY, _March 13, 1915_
Morning spent in physical and bayonet drill, and in the afternoon had a bath and change of linen. Very nice indeed, and after a good meal spent evening in recreation-room.
SUNDAY, _March 14, 1915_
Ye Gods! what a day; turned out at 5 A. M. and left billets in full marching order for unknown destination at 9. Marched all morning over an awful cobbled road and bivouacked in wheatfield all afternoon. In evening marched to trenches about four miles to the north of Armentieres. Got right to firing line to find we were not expected and not wanted. Here we are twelve or thirteen miles from billets and done to the wide. Spent two hours lying on the road whilst an empty farm was found which we reached about midnight. Went straight off to sleep, and never remember feeling as whacked before.
MONDAY, _March 15, 1915_
Spent day in farm waiting for further orders, and at 8 P. M. once more marched to trenches. Placed in supports in what once was a village--now not a whole house standing. I and six others put into a small coal cellar of a house of which one wall is now standing. Spent night on guard. Plenty of snipers about and grenades fairly frequent, but no shells.
TUESDAY, _March 16, 1915_
Quiet day in cellar. Only two shells over, but no harm done. Evening on guard again similar to last night.
WEDNESDAY, _March 17, 1915_
Another day in cellar. Slept most of the time and only a few shells over. In evening relieved by Dublin Fusiliers, and started on our return march to Bailleul about 9 o’clock. Reached our billets at 1:30 A. M. Thursday morning, very, very fagged. That beastly cobbled road is too awful, and everyone felt whacked, although the total distance marched could not have been more than twelve miles.
THURSDAY, _March 18, 1915_
Up about 10 o’clock and spent morning cleaning up once more. In evening had a good meal in town and retired early, fairly happy once more.
FRIDAY, _March 19, 1915_
Rifle and equipment inspection in morning; afternoon and evening to ourselves. Toothache very bad all day and glad to stay in billets.
SATURDAY, _March 20, 1915_
Route march in morning and spent afternoon sharpening Company’s bayonets. In the evening visited cinema open for first time in Bailleul to-night. Very good show and thoroughly enjoyed it.
SUNDAY, _March 21, 1915_
On guard all day outside billets. Very uninteresting and monotonous except for mild excitement caused by a German Taube appearing over town. Too high up for effectual rifle fire and it soon cleared off.
MONDAY, _March 22, 1915_
A most interesting march to that poor ill-fated town of Ypres, twelve miles--the whole way lying a little behind the firing line. Flying machines galore--two heavily but ineffectually shelled by the Germans. Ypres in shocking condition. Quartered in Belgian barracks, roof of which has been smashed in in many places. Don’t feel particularly safe as town is still shelled daily, but here’s hoping our luck will stand.
TUESDAY, _March 23, 1915_
Had a stroll round Ypres and returned horribly depressed. Most beautiful buildings absolutely ruined, and town is one mass of ruins. A few people still living there, mainly proprietors of cafés, etc., otherwise streets deserted. Two shells fell into town to-day but happily missed the barracks.
WEDNESDAY, _March 24, 1915_
Told to be ready for forty-eight hours in trenches to-night. Spent day making necessary preparations, and at 8 o’clock started for what perhaps is most important point of British lines. Our Company attached to Kings Own Scottish Borderers--a fine regiment and awfully decent chaps. Reached supports about 10. Terrific rifle fire but we got through with only nine casualties.
THURSDAY, _March 25, 1915_
Hard at work before dawn improving dugouts, and, as snipers left off at daybreak and we were in dead ground, were allowed to stroll about during day. Heavily shelled for about an hour from 10 to 11, during which time we laid low. At work during night improving roads, turning in at 4:30 A. M.
FRIDAY, _March 26, 1915_
Went to sleep in dugout about 7:30 after a good drink of hot bovril. Slept well till noon when woke up to heavy shell fire. Laid low till dusk when shelling ceased, and we left for our return to billets at 8:15 P. M. Arrived at camp at 10:30 P. M. and once more thankful at coming through all right.
SATURDAY, _March 27, 1915_
Up late, and having no parades took things easily. Afternoon had a game of footer and thoroughly enjoyed the exercise.
SUNDAY, _March 28, 1915_
Police duty from 7 to 8, 10 to 12, and 4 to 5. Very quiet and no arrests made.
MONDAY, _March 29, 1915_
Paraded in morning for drill and bayonet exercise. In the afternoon walked to Popperinghe and had a very good time. Fine place untouched by shells, and found a shop where they sold English tea--what a luxury!
TUESDAY, _March 30, 1915_
Joy of joys! Ordered to parade for a bath. First one since the March 13th, and it was very welcome. Am now decidedly “Itchy Koo” and am so ashamed of it, but am afraid it cannot be avoided.
WEDNESDAY, _March 31, 1915_
Marched from camp back into the barracks at Ypres, and understand we are now once more standing by and will go into trenches on Friday evening.
THURSDAY, _April 1, 1915_
Bayonet drill, etc., in morning. Town shelled during day. One in barracks but not much damage.
FRIDAY, _April 2, 1915_
Not going to trenches to-night owing to dangerous roads when carrying on relief. Instead we are to do five days straight off from Monday next. Quiet day, nothing doing beyond fatigue work, attended Morning Service for first time since leaving England.
SATURDAY, _April 3, 1915_
Town again shelled during day. More civilians killed but barracks again escape. Drill and fatigues only. In afternoon attended service conducted by Bishop of London. Short but very nice service.
SUNDAY, _April 4, 1915_
Church in morning. Quiet all day till 9, when I went up to trenches on digging fatigue. Got to bed about 2:30 and jolly glad to lie in on Monday morning.
MONDAY, _April 5, 1915_
Up late, and spent day getting ready for our trip to trenches. Left barracks at 6:45 and carried out relief at 9 P. M. Very busy night. Continual deliberate fire and, oh, how it rained! No cover whatever and we’ve got this for five days. Ye Gods!
TUESDAY, _April 6, 1915_
Rained on and off whole day. Impossible to sleep owing to rain and shells. Feel very despondent and miserable, but long time to go yet so must stick it. Another busy night and more rain. Am now properly soaked, so it does not matter if it pours all the time.
WEDNESDAY, _April 7, 1915_
Weather slightly better, but still plenty of rain on and off. Artillery active, otherwise day fairly quiet. Periscope very useful indeed. Night very busy indeed, continued rifle and artillery fire. Several narrow escapes whilst searching German lines. Twice covered with sand from shots in bags to my right and left.
THURSDAY, _April 8, 1915_
Thank goodness! decided improvement in weather. One or two hail showers but not much rain. Wind very cold, and, by jove! it’s hard to sleep. Quiet day but another busy night. Spoiled so far as I am concerned by violent toothache; must see a dentist after this spell, without fail.
FRIDAY, _April 9, 1915_
No sleep all day owing to toothache. Hard luck as day comparatively quiet--very little shell fire from either side. Night again very busy but glad of the work as helps me to forget the pain.
SATURDAY, _April 10, 1915_
Relief coming to-night and arn’t I glad. Slept a couple of hours in morning and again in afternoon. Artillery busy once more. Bedfords turned up, 11:30, so we got away about 12; reached camp 1:30. Had a cup of tea and asleep at once. Another spell got through and so far not touched. Thank Heaven for my luck!
SUNDAY, _April 11, 1915_
Woke at 2 P. M. Had a wash and shave and feel fine once more. Spent evening writing letters and going to make most of rest.
MONDAY, _April 12, 1915_
Paraded sick and doctor gives me pills for toothache. What a fool! Shall keep at him till he sends me to a dentist. Visited by a Zeppelin during night. Dropped six bombs, nearest two hundred yards from camp. Enormous holes but no damage. Our luck in again!
TUESDAY, _April 13, 1915_
Received more pills from doctor. Nearly called him a fool. Had a lazy afternoon, and no sign of Zeppelins.
WEDNESDAY, _April 14, 1915_
More pills in morning. Afternoon footer match between Ninth and Twelfth battalions. We lost 2-0. Played very well together; jolly good side--the Twelfth--and it was a good game.
THURSDAY, _April 15, 1915_
More pills. Have now sufficient for a shop, but shall stick at him till I get it out.
FRIDAY, _April 16, 1915_
Hurrah! Told to go to hospital at Popperinghe and see the dentist. Jolly nice chap and tooth soon out. Pretty painful job, but expected that, and am so glad to get it out. Spent afternoon in town, and back at camp at 7:30. Quite a successful day.
SATURDAY, _April 17, 1915_
Drill in morning and afternoon, standing by ready to leave camp at one hour’s notice, owing to attack to be made on trenches and hill outside Ypres. Tremendous bombardment commenced by our artillery at 7 P. M. Kept up all night, and must have given the Huns hell!
SUNDAY, _April 18, 1915_
Turned out at 7 and told we leave for reserve line at 8 to support our Brigade, in view of expected counter-attack--our attack on their trenches having been successful.
MONDAY, _April 19, 1915_
Germans started our game of artillery bombardment, and gave it us hot all day. Understand they counter-attacked twice but were repulsed. Not moved out of reserve line.
TUESDAY, _April 20, 1915_
Our chaps getting it hot all day, and at 6 P. M. we were moved up to firing line under perfect torrent of shells, shrapnel, and machine guns--most awful hour ever experienced and nerves absolutely gone. Two of our companies have had very hot time, losing many men. Luckily we did not have quite so many casualties. At dawn moved back into supports, our position being taken over by regulars. I pray I may never have a similar experience. Too ghastly even to write about.
WEDNESDAY, _April 21, 1915_
Laid in supports all day. Situation apparently died down a bit, but we are staying here through night.
THURSDAY, _April 22, 1915_
Relieved and returned to billets. Had not been there ten minutes before to our horror we saw French retreating on our left in a panic. Battalion rallied and dug trench prepared to do our best. At 12 midnight informed that Canadians had saved situation, but French trenches still in hands of enemy. Our Brigade told off to retake them.
FRIDAY, _April, 23, 1915_
Moved to new position north of Ypres, and trenches retaken by Kings Own Scottish Borderers and West Kents, we acting as supports. Stayed all night making fatigue journeys to firing line, and oh! how I should like some sleep.
SATURDAY, _April 24, 1915_
Hurried off to another part of line where Germans had also broken through. Journey made under terrific shell fire and half Battalion is now gone. Position taken up in reserve trenches to be held at all costs. Very exciting but keeping calm and cool. Never prayed so fervently before, but am quite prepared to face whatever is to come and, please God, we shall stop them. Shell fire is awful.
SUNDAY, _April 25, 1915_
Reinforcements up at dawn and attack in open order started. At first successful, and then to our horror saw our chaps retreating in disorder and Germans behind them a mile to our front. Most awful fifteen minutes of my life--shells everywhere--men being blown to pieces, and we unable to help, but bound to wait for Germans and drive them off. Then our chaps rallied and to our joy turned the tables, driving them back into woods and holding them there despite shells and foul gas bombs. Stayed there all day, shelled whole time. Evening position unchanged and we must stop here.
MONDAY, _April 26, 1915_
At dawn hear more reinforcements are up and we can go. Thank God, it’s over and the position safe. Trench strength of Battalion is now 230 rifles which will show what we have been through (normal strength about 1000).
TUESDAY, _April 27, 1915_
Spent all day just behind firing line in reserve, and shall probably be here for some days. But what a difference a night’s rest does make, and I’m ready to go forward at any time.
WEDNESDAY, _April 28, 1915_
Another day spent in reserve. Did nothing much all day and glad of the quiet. Shells falling pretty close to billet, but none near enough to hurt.
THURSDAY, _April 29, 1915_
Ordered to return to trenches and left at 7 P. M. Arrived firing line at 10 P. M. and spent night on watch. Nothing much doing; just a little sniping, and they got a pal of mine through the neck a few yards from me. Blackguards!
FRIDAY, _April 30, 1915_
Shelled from early morning to late at night. Another rotten experience, and am rapidly developing that awful complaint of “shellitis.” If no attack at dusk we are to be relieved, so here’s hoping they keep away from us.
SATURDAY, _May 1, 1915_
We were relieved during night and marched some way from trenches into a wood, where we are to stay for a day or two. Rigged up a covering of twigs, etc., and slept during day. Sing-song in evening and feeling a bit more cheerful.
SUNDAY, _May 2, 1915_
Quiet day but called out at night owing to German attack. Laid in reserve trenches all night and returned to woods at dawn.
MONDAY, _May 3, 1915_
Slept during day and once more called out at night owing to another German attack. Reserve trenches again all night, but once more attack repulsed and returned to woods.
TUESDAY, _May 4, 1915_
Actually off for rest at last, and marched five miles from Ypres to a village where we spent night. Understand we continue our journey in morning.
WEDNESDAY, _May 5, 1915_
What jolly hard luck we are having. Hill Sixty lost last night and we are to return to Ypres to help in counter-attack. Marched all day back in boiling sun and spent night just behind firing line. Understand we go in to-morrow. Rather dread it, but it’s got to be done.
THURSDAY, _May 6, 1915_
Spent day in dugout whilst troops gathered together for to-night’s attack. Eight from our Company picked out to do nothing else but carry up ammunition as our men advance. Moved up to Hill Sixty at dusk, and at 2:30 A. M. attack commenced. Carried up ammunition with another chap right up to advance trenches. Terribly hot fire from machine guns and whiz-bangs, and rather a terrible experience. Stuck it till my partner overcome by gas. Helped him to dressing station, and then gave a hand helping down wounded. Poor devils, but what pluck most of them have got. Turned in at 5 A. M. after hearing attack partially successful.
FRIDAY, _May 7, 1915_
Day in reserve ready for any counter-attack but none came off. Night on fatigue work: carrying sand bags, etc., to firing line. Off duty at 3 A. M., and moved back nearer Ypres, but are still in reserve. Adjutant killed this morning: fine soldier and great loss to the Battalion.
SATURDAY, _May 8, 1915_
Another day in reserve and night on fatigue, but was lucky in not having to go to trenches. Fetched rations and filled water bottles only.
SUNDAY, _May 9, 1915_
Firing line again, this time digging communication trench and repairing parapets where knocked down by shells. Wonderful view of Ypres on fire in three places and rapidly spreading.
MONDAY, _May 10, 1915_
Carried up rations to West Lancshires. Awful job--sacks very heavy. Man in front of me shot in chest coming away. Carried him into cover and fetched stretcher bearers.
TUESDAY, _May 11, 1915_
Sand bags to firing line after spending quiet day. Our dugouts shelled during day and three men hit.
WEDNESDAY, _May 12, 1915_
Good news! We are to be relieved to-night. Left dugouts at 10:30 and reached camp at 5 A. M. weary and happy.
THURSDAY, _May 13, 1915_, to THURSDAY, _May 20, 1915_
Most enjoyable week’s rest in camp at Locre. Did nothing of any importance and heard no guns and had no shells over. Felt all the better for it, but has gone all too quickly.
FRIDAY, _May 21, 1915_
Moved to huts nearer firing line and once more in sound of guns. Rotten!
SATURDAY, _May 22, 1915_
Moved further up into dugouts and are now back in line once more.
SUNDAY, _May 23, 1915_
Quiet day, but hard at work all night. Germans attacked 2 A. M. Monday morning and used gas. Horrible stuff. On our way to dugouts had fifteen in front of me knocked out by a shell. Awful sight and very upsetting.
MONDAY, _May 24, 1915_
Quiet day spent in recovering from effects of gas. Hard at work again all night.
TUESDAY, _May 25, 1915_
Remarks of yesterday apply to to-day. Hope this comparative calm continues whilst we are up.
WEDNESDAY, _May 26, 1915_
Shelled on way to dugouts, early morning, with shrapnel but luckily no casualties. Evening left dugouts for fire trenches at St. Eloi. Arrived at midnight and relieved the Liverpool Scottish. Quiet night.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY, _May 27, 1915_, and _May 28, 1915_
Two quiet days in trenches. Nothing doing beyond sniping. Friday evening we left trenches for reserve line in a wood.
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, _May 29, 1915_, and _May 30, 1915_
Two lazy days in wood. On Saturday night carried rations to trenches, and on Sunday returned to trenches for another spell.
MONDAY, _May 31, 1915_
TUESDAY, _June 1, 1915_
WEDNESDAY, _June 2, 1915_
THURSDAY, _June 3, 1915_
Four days on detached post connecting Queen Victoria Rifles with West Kents. Thursday night returned to supporting line about two hundred yards behind fire trenches.
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, _June 4, 1915_, and _June 5, 1915_
On fatigue duty in supports; both days improving communication trench. Returned to woods Saturday night.
SUNDAY and MONDAY, _June 6, 1915_, and _June 7, 1915_
Two days spent in reserve in woods. Quite enjoyed the rest from bullets and shells.
TUESDAY, _June 8, 1915_
WEDNESDAY, _June 9, 1915_
THURSDAY, _June 10, 1915_
FRIDAY, _June 11, 1915_
Four days spent in fire trenches. Nothing doing much beyond sniping, except last two days when we were shelled by pretty heavy stuff. Not much damage done.
June 24, 1915
_Dear Madam_: In answer to your inquiry by telegram, I regret to inform you that Rifleman Stubbs, B. C. No. 2655, was wounded by shell fire on Tuesday, June 22, and has, we are deeply sorry to say, since passed away, having succumbed to his injuries.
His death is much lamented by his officers and comrades, two of whom were wounded by the same shell, one rather seriously.
Deeply sympathizing with you in your terrible loss, I am,
No. 66, M. BROWN, Co. Q. M. S.
BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
June 29, 1915
DEAR MRS. STUBBS:
This is to convey to you my sincere sympathy in the death of your son, Pr. Stubbs, who died from wounds received last Tuesday. His death was most unfortunate, a large German shell falling right in our trench, severely wounding your son and two others; when I saw your son’s wound (a severe gash on the scalp), I was sure that there was very little hope of his recovery and I was surprised that he survived so long. Mercifully he was quite unconscious all the time, and so, I think, suffered no pain.
Although he did not come out with the battalion in November, he joined, I think, with the first draft and so has been through all the heavy work we have done. I am sure you will be glad to know what a good soldier he was, and that he was always cheerful and did his work well during the hardships of the winter months.
You may be sure his loss will be felt very deeply both by myself and by the rest of the platoon. But take comfort in this, that he died a noble soldier’s death in a magnificent cause.
Again assuring you of my deep sympathy, I am,
Yours very sincerely,
P. S. HOUGHTON, 2nd. Lt.
O. C. No. 8 Platoon,
Q. V. R.
Never the lotus closes, never the wild fowl wake, But a soul goes out on the East-wind that died for England’s sake-- Man or woman or suckling, mother or bride or maid-- Because on the bones of the English the English Flag is stayed.
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